Heal

Daily prompt provided by the Daily Post aka Community Pool

“It’ll be okay, Junebug,” Lexi said to her three year old daughter, June, after a tumble on the pavement. “Scraped knees are a part of summertime.”

Little June wiped her honey blonde hair away from her wet brown eyes; the palms of her hands red from falling on the ground.

“Okay, mama,” said June. “But it still hurts.” Lexi’s heart swayed in her chest. June was such a tough kid, and big for her age, and yet still so little. So precious and small. If a scraped knee at the park affected Lexi’s  heart this badly, what will it feel like when June comes home after the first encounter with a bully? Or, heaven forbid, a more serious injury?

“It won’t hurt much longer sweet girl,” said Lexi, “it’s a healing pain now. Mommy cleaned the ouchy and put a Band-Aid on, but even as it heals it will hurt a little.”

June nodded and smiled. She reached up and gave Lexi a classically wet and somewhat aggressive toddler kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you, mama. I love you so very much in my heart,” June said sweetly. Lexi stared down into June’s serious dark eyes and scooped her up into a hug, amazed at her daughter’s ability to simultaneously break her heart and heal it.

Heal

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Elementary

Writing Prompt provided by Writer’s DigestThere’s a knock on your door. Upon opening it, you find yourself facing a man dressed distinctly like Sherlock Holmes. He informs you that he is a detective, and that you are a suspect in the disappearance of a person named John Watson. What happens next?

“Right,” I say incredulously. “Is this for the new show airing down at the station?”
The man stares at me blankly. I must say the costume is amazing. This guy looks like he stepped straight out of nineteenth century London and on to my doorstep.
“Airing? Airing what? And no, I come from no station sir,” the man takes a long draw from his pipe. “I’m Detective Sherlock Holmes, and you, Mr. Nathaniel Caddock, are an official suspect in the disappearance of Dr. John Watson. Be a good lad and don’t make a scene. Perhaps you should step aside and allow me in.”
I look around along the sidewalk, but I can’t see any cameras or crew. Maybe it’s some sort of secret publicity stunt. He must have a camera hidden on a button of his coat or something. I guess it can’t hurt to play along.
“Make yourself at home then, Mr. Holmes,” I say as I step to the side of the doorframe. The Holmes impersonator steps briskly over the threshold and straight down the hall into the dining room. I follow behind him, breathing in the lingering scent of pipe tobacco; sweet and woody.
The man stands beside my black leather couch and takes in the room.
“Odd style of décor I must say,” the Sherlock man says to me. “Quite progressive.”
“I guess so…my girlfriend likes IKEA,” I tell him.
“IKEA?” the man asks puzzled. “I’ll take your word for it.”
He pauses for a long moment, staring at the black and white photo of Paris on the far wall. This is a bit dull for a publicity stunt. Should I get more into character? Act more surprised? Angry? Confused?
“Let’s get down to the point, Mr. Caddock,” the Sherlock man says suddenly. “Where were you the night of May twenty-first between the hours of one and three in the morning?”
My blood runs cold.
“I, uh, I was at the bar with my mate Thomas and a couple of friends of his,” I stare at him as coolly as possible. “I don’t remember their names.”
“I see,” Sherlock takes another long draw from his pipe and slowly, agonizing slowly, blows out the swirling gray smoke. How does he know about that night? Who is this guy?
“Can your friend, Thomas was it? Account for your whereabouts for the entirety of that evening, Mr. Caddock?” Sherlock asks. My skin goes clammy and cold. Is this some new stint of the police?
“I…I stepped out to get some fish and chips from a pub down the street. Thomas stayed at the bar, otherwise we were together the whole night.” I swallow, my throat tightening and sickeningly dry.
“Interesting. And what was the name of this establishment?” the man eyes me steadily. My stomach bubbles with acidity. I think I’m going to throw up.
“The Doctor’s Box,” I say coolly. “But everyone calls it Watson’s.”

Back to the Grind

Oh, sweet little blog. I have such a love/hate relationship with you. I resent the process of trying to build platform, but there’s simply no way around it. I love the process of writing, and allowing my brain to make some space as I empty it out on the page.

I’ll spare the details as to why I, once again, put my blog on the back burner. Transitioning to life with two kids was harder (and so much more beautiful) than I thought, my husband finishing up grad-school nearly crushed us both (WHY IS THAT MUCH HOMEWORK ALLOWED. EVER. ANYWHERE. WHY.), and I had another loss in the family.

What kicked my butt back into gear was a very unexpected, yet extremely encouraging email from a kind lady in publishing. She came across my blog and asked if I’d be interested in submitting some work. I was (1) shocked (2) so so SO excited (3) humbled (4) shocked again (5) filled with despair because her email got sifted into SPAM and was almost a month old. Nevertheless I wrote her, apologized, and hoped for the best. At the end of it all I couldn’t have been more encouraged by her email, or surprised that she found me through my neglected blog. Even if nothing comes out of my submissions, her email was a pivotal point in my writing journey.

Yesterday was the four-month anniversary of my cousin Adam passing away. I was pretty grouchy and emotional most of the day. So, told my husband I needed ten minutes by myself before I lost my mind and I drove a couple of miles down the road to pick up some pizzas for dinner. En route to MOD Pizza and on the way back, I spent that time crying/venting/whining to God. Summing it up to: life is short, and I don’t want to waste it on things that aren’t going to happen, or don’t matter. Writing just must not be in the cards for me, no matter how badly I want it. I’m a stay at home mom, and my full focus should be on my  kids. I pulled back into our apartment parking lot and told God that if writing needed to no longer be a focal point in my life I’d let it go completely.

Ten minutes later I read the email from the woman in publishing, and fifteen hours later we had corresponded (forgave my egregious delayed response) and my submissions were sent in.

To say it encouraged me is an understatement, but I can’t think of any word more accurate (it’s 10pm and I hang out with a three year old and 10 month old all day. How YOU doin?). This could amount to absolutely nothing with the publishing house and honestly? That’s okay. This little light gave me the push that I needed and poured a little hope into my empty tank.

To dreamers. May we love them, may we raise them, may we be them.

Ali

2967

Prompt provided by Writer’s Digest! I do not consider myself a Sci-fi writer by any means, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of this prompt. The following is an excerpt from the Outer Space Treaty written by the United Nations in 1967.

[T]he exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind; outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States; outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means; States [i.e., countries] shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner; the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes; astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind; States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities; States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and … avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

With that in mind, here’s your writing prompt:

It’s the year 2967, and you are the delegate from the United Nations to the Intergalactic Committee for Planetary Relations. Your mission is to persuade the delegates from the other developed and armed planets on the Committee to adopt a variation on Earth’s Outer Space Treaty in the interest of better intergalactic relations—but the vote needs to be unanimous. Everyone seems to be on board … except for the delegate from the planet Kryzlak, which is on tense terms with Earth following a dispute over mining colonies on one of Kryzlak’s moons. What happens next?

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“Delegates of the Intergalactic Committee of Planetary Relations, war is upon us,” I pause. I’m overwhelmed by the number of delegates and the eruption of murmuring.

“If we wish to keep the peace we must make variations to the treaty. We must be able to harvest the Lunar Basalts from Earth’s moon,” I continue. “They are our only hope of creating weapons strong enough to destroy the Annihilatins. They are relentless, ruthless killers and they will stop at nothing until they’ve claimed Earth, Lux, Ventus and Lapis. Do not think for one moment that our capture will satisfy their lust for power and resources. They will find reason to claim us all, and unless we wield weapons to stop them, we do not stand a chance.”

“Agaaaiiin wit zee lunar basalts,” Kryt, the delegate from Kryzlak, calls out from his seat. “Kryzish basalts ‘ave been harvested for centuries and ‘ave powered a myriad of weapons not only for the ICPR, but any military operation. You greedy Earthlings are always looking for ways to rob lesser planets. Mining on your moon means more jobs and more money for your people, while we Kryzlakians waste away.”

“Kryzish basalts are a far cry from lunar as they are the most deteriorated basalts in all the galaxy,” I pause again, blood boiling. Kryt has some nerve. Waste away indeed. Kryzlakians would be living in abundance if Kryt and the rest of the royal family would share the wealth. Instead they stuff their three bellies each with enough food to feed half of Kryzlak while hoarding mountains of gold within their palace walls. Yes, harvesting the moon will take away jobs from the Kryzlakians, but it will guarantee the safety of the entire galaxy. Sacrifices must be made.

“Lunar basalts have eighteen times the amount of iron and its mineral content is unchanged by water. No other basalts in the galaxy have such potential for weapons of mass destruction. We need to alter the treaty, and we must harvest on Earth’s moon. We’ve already lost Vitae and Arbor. Earth’s Board of Lunar Agriculture is prepared to begin mining immediately, and has set aside three hundred positions for citizens from other planets to claim if they wish. We must be ready, and we must work together.” I take a deep breath and scan the room. Three hundred delegates. I need at least one hundred and fifty votes. Ideally two hundred to make it unanimous.

“All those in favor?” I ask, my voice tight. Kryt mumbles something under his breath and sinks into his chair. It creaks and bends, barely able to hold he enormous man’s weight. All around the room hands shoot up into the air. Ten, fifty, eighty, one-twenty…

Unanimous.

The Lady of the Opera

I entered a Poetry competition the other day, and the challenge was to write a poem titled, “The Lady of the Opera.” I rarely dabble in poetry, but I have to admit I had fun with this! 
Lights glisten, stage glows.
People filling in the rows.
Up above but no one knows,
The Lady of the Opera.
She gazes down upon the room
Her sorrow opens, starts to bloom
The stage, again, her open tomb,
The Lady of the Opera.
One more night, that’s all that’s left.
She’ll sing her song, her heart bereft.
The maestro sways in treble cleff.
The Lady of the Opera.
She hurries down and waits backstage.
Tempo changes, they turn the page.
It’s all come to this, unleash the rage.
The Lady of the Opera.
She steps into the polished scene,
The lights aglow, the stage serene.
She smiles and sways, a numb routine.
The Lady of the Opera.
The maestro nods, the cello hums.
Piano beckons, the harpist strums,
Her heart pounding with the drums.
The Lady of the Opera.
She sees them there, the second row.
Secret love, their cheeks aglow.
He’ll pay his dues, because she knows.
The Lady of the Opera.
Her voice rings out, a Nightingale
Her eyes meet his and lifts the viel
He understands, she will prevail
The Lady of the Opera.
She reaches in her hidden pocket
Grabs the gun, no one to stop it
She takes her aim, right through the socket.
The Lady of the Opera.
The crowd erupts and screams abound
Yet her ears untouched by sound.
She sings her song, another round.
The Lady of the Opera.
Mass exodus to leave the room
She’s left alone with her dead groom
Love and hate, they both consume
The Lady of the Opera.
She walks slowly to her lover
His sins and lies love couldn’t cover
She lifts the gun, lets it hover
The Lady of the Opera.
Four to the chest, one for each girl
She walks away, a spin, a swirl.
Her freedom full and rare, a pearl.
The Lady of the Opera.

Goodbye Pants

Prompt provided by Writers DigestFavorite Piece of Clothing Eulogy: You favorite article of clothing has finally out-lived its life (and then some). It’s time to say goodbye, but you love it so much you feel a need to send it off properly. Write a eulogy dedicated to that piece of clothing and all the times you shared together.

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“A perfect pair of jeans who can find? They are worth far more than rubies. The owner has full confidence in them and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:10-11 (Personal Paraphrase)

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, hanging there on the far back wall of American Eagle, the last day of summer before my Senior year of high school. Has it really been over ten years since that moment? I’ll always remember how soft you felt in my hands, despite never having been worn. You were the perfect shade of indigo, and I knew I had to have you.

We’ve been through so much together. I wore you the first time I hung out with Josh Barnes, the school heart-throb and quarter back of the football team. You and I were together the day they announced over the intercom that I had made the Royalty Court and we jumped around like fools in the library.

Dearest wide leg flares, you were there for me during my first experience of heartache. I denied myself nothing, and despite the copious amounts of pasta and Metropolitan Steakhouse Philly sandwiches, you stood by me, fitting like a glove, in the best way.

I’m twenty-eight now. No longer the stick legged eighteen year old with the choice of any pair of jeans in the room. You’ve been so faithful, loyal and dependable all these years and two babies later. I really don’t know what I’m going to do without you. What other jeans will make by butt look so good even though I’ve neglected the gym for far too long? What other jeans will make me feel like the giddy high school senior or college junior with her whole life ahead of her? You mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. I will never know another like you.

Interview with a Villain

Prompt provided by Writer’s DigestYour old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

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“Come in,” I call towards the door as I shuffle my manuscript notes into a neat pile and set them to the side. The large solid oak door leading into my office creaks open and a tall slender woman with pale yellow hair curled into a low tight bun steps inside.

“Ms. Knowles,” she says warmly with a slight nod of her head. Her long black linen dress covers her from wrist to boot, her starched apron stiff and brighter than my freshly painted white walls.

“Agatha,” I smile in return. “Punctual as promised. Please, sit down.” She nods again, this time with a slight smile, and sits rigidly in the squashy leather chair across from me.

“So, tell me about yourself,” I say to her. She has maintained eye contact with me without so much as a blink. Her silvery blue eyes look like they belong to a shark, not this pretty, genteel sort of woman in her neatly ironed clothes.

“I’ve worked as a nurse at Holloswaithe’s Asylum for Lunatics since my sixteenth birthday,” Agatha says brightly. “Sixteen is the youngest one can be hired. I waited my whole life to work there, for Dr. Benek.”

“That’s not exactly a profession many little girls dream about,” I say to her, probing.

“Most little girls aren’t raised in asylums,” Agatha replies simply. “I was. My mother was a nurse there and I was brought up within the halls of Holloswaithe, learning from Dr. Benek. I know everything about Holloswaithe. I know its secrets.” She still doesn’t blink, her eyes fixed unflinchingly on mine, smiling slightly all the while. I begin to rub my right thumbnail, a nervous tick I’ve had since I was nine.

“What secrets?” I ask intrigued despite the light tingling along my spine.

“I know why the walls moan in the middle of the night,” Agatha says flatly, but there is a cruel sparkle in her eyes. “I know why empty rooms whisper. I know why women with sound minds whimper with fear. I know why graves appear in the Asylum cemetery before there’s a body to go inside.”

She keeps her cool lethal eyes on me, studying me. I wish she’d stop smiling. It adds to the danger of her countenance somehow.

“Does Dr. Benek know about these secrets? The villain I’m searching for needs to be untraceable, their closest friend wouldn’t suspect them of a harsh word, let alone murder,” I ask her as I learn forward, reminding myself that I’m the one in charge, it’s my story. Her smile disappears. The once cool silvery blue of her eyes darkens until they seem to go black.

“Dr. Benek is the reason for the secrets. I keep him safe, pure, without sin,” she says calmly. She reaches up to her neck, twirling a silver cross pendant hanging from a necklace between her thin alabaster fingers. “‘Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.’ That’s what God says, does He not, Ms. Knowles? I’m the best kept secret of Holloswaithe.”