|10 February, 2012||Posted by BobbiJaye under Fiction, Write On Edge, Writing|
My numbers were – 7,8,1,2
An elderly woman, at the lake, in the winter, with a secret to be told.
Thirty-three years, eight months, and sixteen days. It had been more than three decades since Margaret last followed the trail that wound through the woods from her house to the lake, but she still knew the way.
Her steps, perhaps, came slower, but everything came slower at sixty-seven.
How long? She asked.
Six months. Maybe.
Maggie pulled a thick scarf tighter around her neck and shoved her hands into her coat. Last night’s snow lay on the ground, still untouched, now that her children were grown. Cold air burned her lungs and, not for the first time since leaving, she wondered what she was doing.
She could see the lake. Solid ice gleamed, teased by the rays of light streaming through tree branches. They licked the smooth surface and threatening crack through to the darkness below.
Maggie stood, trapped for a moment in a memory, until footfalls sounded behind her, snapping twigs and crunching buried leaves. She turned to see her youngest daughter approaching.
“Mom! What are you doing here? You’ll freeze to death.” Lucy’s words came fast and breathless.
Maggie understood that the girl had run from the house, probably following tracks in the snow, and felt the unmistakable tingle of a life come full circle. How many years ago had she been the one searching?
Lucy stopped beside her mother and stared.
“Jesus. It’s cold.”
“It’s winter.” Maggie returned her daughter’s gaze, but said no more.
“Why are you here?”
Maggie withdrew a hand from her pocket. Her fingers uncurled, aching from arthritis, to reveal a yellowed piece of newspaper.
Without a word, she took Lucy’s hand and folded the paper into it.
“What is this?” Lucy asked.
Maggie looked away.
“I loved my husband.” She said. “He was a good man.”
“Silly, the things we think when we’re young. I thought I wanted something different, but I couldn’t do it. I loved your father too much.” Years had taught Maggie stoicism, but these words threatened to break her.
“I said no, but he threatened to tell John. We had…”
Here, on the ground, he held her wrists and pulled up her dress. She turned her head and stared out at the sparkling lake, trying not to see him as he pushed into her.
Maggie took her daughter by the shoulders. “Once I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t say anything.” She met Lucy’s gaze. “I already loved you more.”
The kitchen knife. The bright red stain of his blood on her apron. His shocked eyes, frozen open.
Maggie placed a hand on her daughter’s cheek.
“I did it for you.”
As her mother turned and started back to the house, Lucy read the headline of the paper in her hand.
“Local Businessman Still Missing, Police Say No Leads.”
“Mom?” Lucy called after her mother.
Maggie stopped, but didn’t turn around.
“The lake will thaw in April.”
The instructions are below. Come back and link up on Friday’s post. Word limit is 500.
Pick four numbers, each between 1 and 10.Write them down so you remember.
The first number will be for your character, the second your setting, the third the time and the fourth will be the situation. Then take the four elements and combine them into a short story. All four you picked MUST be your main elements, but you can add in other characters, settings, times and situations.
Thanks for reading! Concrit is WELCOME and APPRECIATED!
|1 July, 2011||Posted by BobbiJaye under Fiction, The Red Dress Club, Writing|
I sat on the living room floor, surrounded by empty boxes and bubble wrap. In the seven hours since Ryan left for work, I had nearly finished the unpacking. Forks, spoons, and knives in the kitchen drawers. Neatly folded towels in the linen closet. The gravy boat I didn’t remember registering for in the back of a cabinet, where I was sure it would remain untouched, for the next twenty years or so. A place for everything.
Now I eyed the box in front of me. I’d moved it around all day, tucking it into corners and under tables, hoping it would just disappear. I knew what was in it. Just last week, I’d packed the things away and scrawled “Jenna’s Stuff” across the side in black Sharpie. Sighing, I pulled it forward and slit the tape with my box cutter.
These were my things, and maybe that was the problem. Artifacts from a different era — B.R. Before Ryan. I pulled the objects and took inventory.
Photo album, 4 B.R. Freshman year at NYU. Containing at least three embarrassing pictures of me wearing a toga.
Red Hot Chili Peppers poster, 6 B.R. From the concert that got me grounded for a month after I snuck out to see it.
Four track medals, 7 B.R. Second place at nationals in the 400 meter relay.
I looked around the living room. I didn’t know what to do with this stuff. There was no room here for the remnants of a life that didn’t exist anymore. Before Ryan there was me. In After Ryan, there was only we and us.
I reached into the box again, not bothering to look. My hand found the smooth, hard surface of a book. I pulled it out and laughed when I saw what it was.
One pink Hello Kitty Diary circa second grade.
I settled back against the couch, prepared to read. The diary opened to a spot in the middle, but there was nothing written there— just a dogeared piece of torn notebook paper, folded twice in half and tucked between the lined pages. My chunky second-grade handwriting stared up at me. Four sloppy letters spelled out “Sara.”
Embarrassment flooded my cheeks. I knew what this was. I remembered writing it, sitting in the back of Mrs. Wexler’s room. It smelled like crayons and the potting soil. I wrote the note during math, when I should have been doing multiplication, and passed it to the girl sitting next to me.
Now, I gently unfolded the paper and read what I’d written to Sara.
I like your blue dress. I will push you on the swing at recess if you want. Your hair is really pretty too.
Do you like me? Check yes or no.
Then I’d drawn two boxes. There was an x marking the box under yes.
That day, I pushed her on the swings and she gave me one of the cookies at lunch. Then she told me that she thought Jason Farmer was cute and I knew she hadn’t understood my note.
I hated Jason Farmer until he transferred schools in sixth grade.
Just as much as I thought I loved Sara.
I folded the note back into the diary and tossed it in the box again, along with the photo album and the poster and the track medals.
Things I outgrew.
Thoughts I wasn’t allowed to have anymore.
I picked the box up and carried it to the bedroom, where I shoved it in the back of the closet.
Ryan would be home soon.
I wanted to write an entirely different story with a different character, but Jenna demanded that I pay her some more attention. This is a much earlier part of her story, well before the happy ending I gave her a few weeks ago. Sneaky, sneaky character… I had no idea she’d been married.
Thanks for reading! Concrit WELCOME and Appreciated
|24 June, 2011||Posted by BobbiJaye under Fiction, The Red Dress Club, Writing|
300 words? Evil. So. Evil.
Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.
Life or Death
She knelt in the soapy water, knees aching in her wet jeans. She stared down at the white kitchen floor.
It had been an hour, but it wasn’t clean.
She started again, methodically scrubbing the tile in front of her.
Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.
It had to be right.
It had to be clean.
She pushed the rag hard against the floor, scraping her knuckles in the grout and gritting her teeth against the sting of soap on her raw skin. She rocked back onto her feet and fought through the ache spreading through her back. Darkness creeping in.
There was still a spot. She abandoned the rag and scraped with her fingernail. Imperfections would not be tolerated. She would have to start again.
Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.
If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t right.
And it had to be right.
A bead of sweat ran from the base of her neck to her waist.
Harder. She had to scrub harder.
In her mind, she saw the crash. The metal crumpled like paper, erupting into flames. Cars twisted. Faces cut by shattered glass.
People lying bloody and broken.
Flashing ambulance lights.
No. She wouldn’t let it happen. She had to make it right.
It wasn’t rational. There was no car. There were no people. But what if there were?
The breath caught in the back of her throat.
What if she was wrong?
What if she missed a spot?
She knew it was the OCD. But she scrubbed, because she couldn’t be sure that spotless tiles weren’t a matter of life or death.
This is fiction based on reality.
It isn’t the OCD you see in Monk. Television shows you the cleanliness, but never the thought process. This is called flashing. For someone with OCD, it can feel very real. The magical thinking that you know is completely irrational, but you still feel compelled to do the ritual anyway, because if you don’t, the pictures in your head might come true.
My best friend still teases me about her all-powerful broom. I rarely sweep to prevent car crashes anymore. Though I did clean my door jambs before my niece was born. Just in case.
Thanks for reading! Concrit WELCOME and Appreciated!