Archive for October, 2013

Simpler Days

Inspired by this week’s picture prompt

I never felt so alive as when I was with her. Maybe it was the way the sunlight always streamed in, turning everything it touched into gold. Maybe it was just me, since I was such a young thing, and quite impressionable. The first time I saw her, I was sitting, as I always was, in the gazebo at the end of Clover Park. It was always so desolate that time of day, and that’s why I took such notice of her. I noticed her radiant, raven hair, her contagious chuckle. She started to come at the same time of day, always after dinner time but before dark, almost every week night. Some days she’d talk, and I’d just listen, fascinated. “I really enjoy this time with you,” she’d say. I could’ve sworn I blushed. “It’s funny how things work,” she told me one day, her smile sparkling. “When I met you, I didn’t know how wonderful you are. I never thought this would happen.” I never thought so, either. You see, I’m not composed of flesh and bones, like most are. I’m cast iron and wood, and I’ve always let that define me. Until I met her. With her, things were different.

One evening, she stood up, and I thought she was about to leave. I longed to tell her to stay – stay forever. Then she told me something more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. Her voice started soft, and then gained volume as she gained confidence. “I’m telling the world that I’ve found the one.” She grinned from ear to ear. “I’ve found you, and that’s all that matters.”

I thought nothing could ruin our moment. Something did. I saw him, walking towards the gazebo, towards us. She threw her arms around him – not me, but him.

“So you’ll marry me?” He asked.

“Yes,” she cried, “A thousand times yes.”

How could she desert me like that? As she embraced him, I that she grasped something in her hand. A rectangular object. Now that I thought of it, she’d been holding that object to her ear during all or our talks together. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe she’d been talking to it all along. Maybe she didn’t mean any of the things I thought she said to me.

Well, in the ensuing months, I suppose I went through the five stages of grief. It’s rough – unrequited love. I went through a nostalgia phase. Why couldn’t she just come back, so I could hear all her beautiful words again? I longed for simpler days. Then I went through a phase of self-doubt. I was just a cast-iron bench. I sat in the gazebo at the far west end of Clover park, and she never stopped by to see me anymore. No one stopped to see me anymore. Why? It was because I was different. I was not made of flesh and bones, as they are. It’s hard to be discriminated against, especially when I couldn’t change who I was. Then I came to a realization, that just because I was different from them, it didn’t mean I wasn’t important. I had a purpose. Without the gazebo, without me, would the two of them have gotten together the way they did?

It’s been two years. I’ve quite reconciled myself with what happened. Last week, she started coming back – well, it was him, her, and a tiny, sleeping baby. I don’t mind the differences between us. She still has radiating hair, but now her smile radiates too, and with joy.

No, I am not flesh and bones, but I made someone happy. I realize now that bringing joy is the most noble of any accomplishment.

Picture Prompt – The Bench


Where is this bench? Why is it empty now? Was the bench placed in such a place in memorial of anyone or anything?

Stay tuned for this week’s prompt stories, and share your creation in the comments!

Why We Should Write

By: Rebecca Taylor

 

The writing world is often scary. Like the globe, it stretches far and wide and there are many paths and avenues we can follow. For example, should we make writing our careers or should we choose a career that is a bit more certain. I opted for the latter option, based on sound advice years ago. This doesn’t mean, I don’t still write as you can see because you’re reading this. Despite the fact that it is scary and exhilarating, often all at the same time, why should we write?

 

1. I think it’s in our blood. If we’re meant to do something we will, for me, writing is one of those things, it is therapeutic, it is good entertainment – I can spend lots of time doing it without spending much money.

 

2. We have something to say, and we need to say it. Writing can help you get it out there.

 

3. Writing is a discipline and it requires editing. This is a good thing because sometimes when we have something to say, it requires proper thought formulation in order to make it convincing and not a rant. Editing can help us filter the writing so we only keep the necessary points.

 

4. To challenge ourselves. Yes, we’re going to be rejected but we have to understand that that doesn’t mean we didn’t have valid points in our articles, that our poems weren’t humorous or poignant, that our short stories and novels didn’t have great characters that were relatable. It just means that at the time that our work was read by a panel, or one or more editors, that their publication didn’t have the need for what we wrote or it didn’t strike the same emotions in them that it did in you. We all like different things, we all feel different ways when we read different pieces. It all comes down to interpretation. So we pick ourselves up, ponder the letter if it has constructive personalized comments in it and pick up our pen or head back to the keyboard and get to work again.

 

5. Whatever, the reason you write, you must keep at it, because as we write we grow. We learn new skills, develop new ideas and sometimes we get a yes on our writing. Getting a letter or e‑mail that says I want your work, is an amazing feeling and we want more of it, so we continue our craft.

Writing Buddies

On why it’s important to have a writing buddy:

1. You can bounce story ideas off each other and figure out the focus for a story.

2. You can each write a story with various parameters (i.e. same title, character with certain personality traits, same setting) and they will turn out vastly different.

3. After reading each others stories, you can give great critiques!

4. You can analyze your stories and try to identify what personal experiences affected your story which helps you learn more about yourself.

5. Writing buddies understand you on a deep level. You can geek out with them!

 

 

21 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

Because we all need a kick in the pants sometimes.

  1. Bribe yourself. Example: If I write for two hours, I will go buy that hat for myself.
  2. Put on inspirational music while you write. Examples: movie soundtracks, classical piano, instrumental versions of your favorite songs
  3. Set a timer.
  4. Eat a meal before you write. You’ll have energy, and then the distraction of “I’m hungry” will have no place in your writing session.
  5. Have an accountability partner waiting for a word count of how much you wrote.
  6. Have a reward waiting for yourself after your writing session. Examples: chocolate, pie, a movie
  7. Set a realistic word count goal. Example: I will stop writing once I have added 900 words.
  8. Set a scene goal. Example: I will finish the scene in which Renée meets her grandma for the first time.
  9. Find a word war Facebook group, and actually word war with other writers. (A word war a timed race in which writers race to motivate each other. It’s invigorating and wonderful.)
  10. Set a water bottle by your desk. Every time you find yourself griping about writing, take a drink. Pretty soon you’ll be so sick of water, you’ll be begging yourself to stop drinking, stop complaining, and just write.
  11. Turn off your Wi-Fi signal or unplug your internet cable. Twitter and Facebook? Let them be a reward after you write.
  12. Write somewhere new. Examples: coffee shops, parks, your front steps, libraries, restaurants, your attic.
  13. Invite a writer friend over and have a writing session together.
  14. Drink several cups of coffee before you write. This can make for interesting scenes.
  15. If you don’t a have a deadline for your current writing project, give yourself one.
  16. Think of why you began writing in the first place. Use your reasons to motivation yourself.
  17. Think of your characters. Until you write their next actions, they are frozen in time, trapped forever in nothingness. Stop being cruel and write them back to life.
  18. Writers write. Don’t be a hypocrite.
  19. Realize that you have potential as a writer and then write. Smart people have potential and use it. Stupid smart people have potential but choose not to acknowledge what they could do. Don’t be a stupid smart person.
  20. Use reverse psychology. Remember any time when someone told you that writing was a silly or delusional or the like. Use that to empower you and prove them wrong.
  21. After you read this list, do not Google more ways to motivate yourself to write. Just rip off the Band-Aid and write. You’ll feel better once you do.

Froid Snowflake’s Journal

by: Rebecca Taylor

(this was a contest entry to a Perspectives Magazine challenge a few years ago).

*************

Dear Reader,

 

            What a day this has been, a true test of my fate, you can read my journal entry to find out more.

 

March 19th, xxxx

 

Dear Journal,

 

            Here we are the day before spring, what a day it has been. This morning I awoke as my alarm clock started playing Anne Murray’s “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” the sunshine was gleaming on the snow outside my window in Winterland. When I first woke up, I could not believe that I had spent the night having a terrifying yet fulfilling experience. I spent the night dreaming about a couple that needed my assistance in getting back together, so with a group of snowflake friends, we knocked out electric and telephone wires and brought them back together. It was very romantic. I was just sitting up in bed this morning, when out of nowhere the Spirit of Spring appeared, a frightening experience, his dark eyes were like sketch pads and his heart was aflame with powerful emotions. He was dressed all in grass green and on his head was a straw hat that was topped with a bird’s nest figurine. He was opaque yet you could see the flames in his heart, the sight of him made me shudder. I had a difficult time identifying his odor; it was a mixture of flowers, rain and mud. He stood there at the foot of my bed for several minutes before speaking.

            “I am the Spirit of Spring; I am here because you need to learn the real meaning of appreciation.”

            “But I already know about appreciation,” I answered, “I just had a dream about it. It has made everything a lot clearer.”

            “You may understand some of your life better now, because of what you did in that dream, but dreams don’t take away fears, only make you face them if you’re strong enough to try.”

            “The dream must prove what is going to happen on hopefully my last trip to Earth.”

            “It only proves what you want to happen. Do you have enough courage to go to Earth and face the crowds and the cold and the unknown?”

            “Why are you here? This has nothing to do with Spring; it’s Dr. Frost who gave me the assignment.”

            “There are many different reasons why a Spirit like me could come to you. Let me tell you why I’m here, you’re feeling guilty because you don’t really care about what happens to Craig and Jolene Freshman, you just want to be able to retire. Your job is to make them proud to be touched by a snowflake, but if you’re selfish you can’t do it.”

            “Maybe so, but still why are you here, it’s still winter and I’m a snowflake, so why didn’t the Spirit of Winter come to me, not you.”

            “It’s the last day of Winter; I was wide awake and raring to go, Spirit of Winter is very busy working with the Seasonal Council on deciding how his season should leave. I have a meeting with them later to go over the forecast. Weathermen, hog wash, only the Seasonal Council with the Spirits of the Seasons can control the weather. The trouble is that sometimes our signals get messed up and there are devastating effects. Anyway, that’s a different story than what we’re talking about, if you’re going to make a real difference before you retire, you need to really care, because otherwise you may be sent to the Freezing Rain Squad, and you know what that means with your temperature issue, instead of returning to Winterland to retire. Role models are needed, can you be one?”

            “Yes, I can, really I can, I’ll do better. I promise.”

            “The Ruler of Snowflakes will hold you to that, remember either you do a good job or else you’re going to be ice, literally,” replied the Spirit of Spring, and then he was gone as quickly as he had entered my bedroom and as strangely.

Spring time is a time for new beginnings which often mean changes, and I wondered what this meant for me, would I succeed on my earthly mission or would I end up desolate in the Freezing Rain Squad, a dismal ending for a snowflake, if your destiny is to be freezing rain, that’s one thing but I was born a snowflake and that is how I would like to stay. Could I embrace my fears and then return to Winterland where I wanted to spend the rest of my life or was I going to be shipped off to stand a different fate. It was the not knowing that made my snowy fingers tremble. Well, Journal, I guess there isn’t much more to say but that I have to get going and see where my life is heading,

 

Until I write again,

 

Froid.

 

            I closed my journal and heard the clasp go snap. I headed to my closet and picked up my suitcase and headed for the door, for a brief moment I contemplated turning around and repacking, I was thinking about running away instead of taking on the mission that Dr. Frost had given me but I knew I couldn’t because then maybe I would end up as freezing rain and I could not let that happen to me. With suitcase in hand I reflected on the items inside, a stress ball to calm my nerves when I became encircled in crowds, a book of poetry because I thought maybe somehow I could use it on the unhappy earth couple, a package of sparkles and a paint brush, which I did not know how I might use them but when I was shopping had been drawn to them. And just before I plummeted softly to earth with the gentle guidance of the wind, I faced the public, which I could not see but knew were there, and said, “Remember you can try to run from your fear but you’ll only be hurting yourself because the one thing you cannot run from is yourself.”

Maybe…

“Maybe we could just leave,” I told my friend Kathy as we watched the people walk by the bench we were sitting on.

“Go to the airport?” Kathy suggested.

“Buy a ticked for Nowhere, Anywhere. Hop on that plane and see as the world becomes as round as we’ll ever see it,” I replied, thinking of the yummy pretzels they sometimes hand out on planes.

“Let’s make it international.”

“Yes! Then we can have the TV’s with good movies during the flight,” I said with a wishful smile.

“There might even be a yummy flight attendant,” she stated casually and then looked over and smiled at me. “Or maybe there would be two.”

“Yes please. I just want to leave, get away from the dullness here,” I said as we watched a weird, ugly red car drive by.

We both digested for a moment.

She sighed. “I know, I know. But there isn’t a way for that to happen with a good outcome.”

Her reply reminded me of what we had. She could read what I was thinking and know how I felt about it without me explaining it. We hadn’t known each other for too long, but we knew a lot about each other and interacted quite well nonetheless.

An old man walked by us and stared about ten seconds longer than anyone wants to be stared at by an old man.

“We could have left with him, he seemed very keen on taking us home,” I pointed out, giving Kathy an I-know-you-want-to look.

“I was picturing more of a paradise. Either Maui or Madrid, something nice,” she responded, a look of sadness crossing her face.

I knew I had gone too far.

Those were the times I couldn’t believe she would be my friend, the times when I brought her down with my negativity to my critically realistic look of life.

I forced a smile. It looked real. I knew because faking a smile was something I did more often than I let myself think back in those days. “Oh, I bet he’s got a winter vacation house in Maui.”

She smiled back, because she was someone who I could train to smile when I wanted them to smile. Someone who I knew I had that sort of charismatic authority with, who I could make feel better even if I was lying about how I felt or who I thought I was.

“Well, here comes the bus, so we are leaving. Just not quite the direction you were hoping,” she told me, laughter in her eyes. And I felt a little bit better.

Or maybe I was faking it.

Behind the Curtain

I’ve always wanted my own art studio.

I am a painter, straight out of art school. I’ve sold a few pieces, but only to a couple family friends. I have a job flipping burgers, but not a job in my field. Yes, art is a field, and it’s the only field I’ve ever loved. I will always have naysayers, but I will always believe in my passion.

My passion doesn’t cover all imperfects of the craft. The naysayers are always loud enough to be heard. That’s why I want my own art studio – I want to drown them out.

I first felt the disapproval of my art from my family. I started painting as a kid, albeit, painting very poorly, but it was a start nonetheless. My brother told me I should spend my play time playing with dolls. “Why do we even have paint?” My ten year old brother would ask. “You’ll never use it when you’re grown up.”

I said I wanted to become a painter when I was eight, when I sat at the kitchen table with my water color set. I can still hear my mother telling me she raised me to be successful business woman like herself, not a “starving artist.” I didn’t know what that was, but I know now. For that’s what I am – I am exactly what my mother didn’t want me to be. I’ve never been much of a rebel, but that changed the day I enrolled in art school. All through my life, I was a fairly ordinary rule follower. My art was where I drew the line – I would break any rules for it.

The most recent of the naysayers was my boyfriend. That’s why he’s not my boyfriend anymore. He’s still here, whispering lies over my shoulder. I mean this quite literally.

I sit in the kitchen table of my studio apartment. I suppose, if you take the word studio there in a different way, I do have my own art studio. It just doubles as my bedroom. I look at my array of paintbrushes, pick one, and stare back at the white canvas.

“I just want you to see how unrealistic you’re being.” Travis acts so concerned. He tries hard to act like a gentleman, but after spending almost a year by his side, I know differently. I say nothing, because I’m thinking about what I want to create next. “Why not come out of this place?”

I frown. “What’s wrong with my apartment?”

“Hon, it’s terrible here. There are mouse traps by the door.”

I shrug. “I saw a problem and I fixed it. I love it here.”

“Your mother says you can live at home again,” he continues.  The sound of his voice is so antagonizing I want to vomit. “She knows the CEO of Renderson Enterprises – you heard of them? She says she can get you in, if you choose to do this internship with them. You know, so you can get your foot in the door and move on up the ladder.”

“I don’t want to be a CEO.”

My mother stood behind me in my kitchen, waiting for her time to jump in. My brother sat at the table, his head in his hands. Yes, that’s right. My family and my ex-boyfriend staged an intervention to help me out of my ‘lifestyle.’ No more art for me, they say. That’s when I pull the curtain across my mind. I imagine that the curtain is three feet thick and soundproof. The people in my apartment are no more. It is only there, with just my mind and the canvas, that I can paint.

Hours roll by. I sit on my stool and paint. The curtain is intact. I say nothing else, but they create their own conversation.  My mother paces the kitchen, telling me how I should pursue “higher things.” My brother squirms in his seat, intermittently proclaiming that I was naïve to even pursue art as far as I have. Travis whispers false flattery in my ear. He still thinks I was a fool to let him go.

I hear some of their words, but I don’t let it permeate my mind. I only paint. I’m starting to think that I don’t need a real studio after all, since the curtain is working so well.

Finally, there is something on the canvas that I am at least a bit proud of.

My mother, brother, and Travis at last get up to leave.

My brother peers at my easel. “What is it?” He whispers to my mother.

She shrugs. “It’s abstract. How should I know?”

Travis squints. “It looks kind of like a curtain.” Then he turns away and follows them out the door. “Call me soon, baby,” he says before he vanishes.

The door closes. I grin and stare at the wet paint. They say it’s abstract. I say the meaning is explicit.

Facing the Demons Within

by: Rebecca Taylor

The minute his hand came across her face, Dan Shore took a step back, shocked at what he had just done.
“Kirsten, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”
“We’ll talk about this later,” said his wife quietly, her hand still against her cheek where moments ago his hand had been. “You’d better have some coffee,” and she turned and left the kitchen heading upstairs. Dan heard a door close, and knew that it wasn’t the one to their bedroom, but to the spare room.
Why did I have to start drinking again? I knew that, that wasn’t the answer to my problems, why didn’t I say no to that first drink when the guys from the factory were going out after work, to try and have a good time, to try and forget that most of us could be out of a job within a few months. Not being able to stay in the same room, where he had struck the women he loved the most in the world, and knowing that she did not want to see him just now, Dan got himself a cup of coffee and carried it outside.
A few hours later, her face tear stained and still feeling shaking from the events of the earlier part of the afternoon, Kirsten walked downstairs wanting to talk to Dan. His actions scared her, she had never felt threatened by him before and now….She saw that he was not in the house, and seeing the late hour, and the fact that his coat was still there, she put her own on, and picked up his and went out to find him, hoping that he hadn’t done anything rash. Before his hand struck her, she wouldn’t have worried about his emotional state, but everything had changed in a second. Kirsten found Dan in his favourite place, sitting on a rock overlooking the lake.
“Hi, mind if I sit?”
“No, here,” he said moving over to give her more room.
“I brought your jacket, I thought you might be getting cold,” she said handing it to him.
“Thank you. Are you okay?”
“I will be, I hope, after we talk.”
“I love you, Kirsten, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what I did.”
“What made you do it, Dan? I know that you’re worried about work, but starting to drink again, just when things are so good between us, when we were thinking of starting a family, and now this.”
“If I lose my job, it means that I won’t be able to support a baby. A bunch of us just went to the bar, I didn’t mean to drink but it started as one and then it led to more. I got a ride home and then you asked me about it, and ….”
“I asked you if you’d been drinking because I love you, because I don’t want to lose you to the alcohol that takes over the man that I love like some demon. You know what it does to you.”
“I know, and I promise you, I’ll go back to AA again. I’ll start again, seven years sober and then one time I screw up and I hit my wife. I hate myself for what I did to you, for the look you have in your eyes right now, the fact that there is a space between us, when we used to be able to sit touching watching the sun set.”
“I thought we had something together, but to think that we could bring a baby into the world, it’s impossible, what if you had hit our child?”
“But I’d never,” replied Dan, the hurt showing through in his voice.
“Before this afternoon, I would have said you could never hurt anyone, but I was wrong. How could I know that leaving our baby alone with you would be safe? How do I know you wouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself and take a drink? Now that you’ve had a drink, your body has the taste again, you’re going to crave alcohol again and if you couldn’t be strong enough to say no to it this afternoon, how do I know that you can do it now.”
“I’m going to get the help that I need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“But you’d had the help, you’d had seven years of being sober and bingo, one minute destroys that. I did a lot of thinking this afternoon. A long time again, when I was in high school in social studies class, my teacher taught us about domestic violence. I promised myself that no man would ever hit me and get away with it, that I wouldn’t put up with the excuses that so many women do, the I’m sorry, the it’ll never happen again, that if my life ever came to that, I’d pack my bag and leave. I wanted to do that this afternoon, but I found out that making that choice isn’t as easy as I thought it would be when I was sixteen. You were turning your life around when we met, you were in AA, and when I married you, I accepted that I was marrying an ex-alcoholic. In the five years that I’ve worn your ring on my left hand, I’ve never had a reason to doubt you. Today is one of the worst days I have ever had.”
An apology was on the tip of Dan’s tongue, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want what he said to sound generic. He watched the tears streaming down his wife’s cheeks. He wanted to brush them away, but was afraid that his hand near her face would frighten her. He knew that no matter what happened that what he had done would always be there. Kirsten had turned her face away not wanting him to see her tears, but what he did see was the bruise starting to form.
I am a monster, I’ve become any alcoholic’s worst fear, to hurt the ones we love. How do I make this right? I’m going to prove to her that I’m worthy again, that I’m the man she married, the one she loves. The possibility of losing my job is nothing compared to the possibility of losing my wife. Slowly, he reached out his hand and set it on hers. Kirsten turned, her green eyes looking into his brown ones, the pain he felt obvious. She took his hand, and felt his wedding ring and rubbed the silver band with the tips of her fingers.
“Let’s go home,” she said after a while. They stood and walked back up the gravel path, hand in hand.
Dan started out the night in the guest bedroom and Kirsten in the master, but neither of them could get much sleep. It was two a.m., when Kirsten knocked on the door of the guest room. She knew that Dan was awake; she had heard him moving around.
“I don’t want it to be like this,” said Kirsten when Dan opened the door. “We aren’t going to fix this if we avoid each other, and I can’t sleep without you beside me. I know that you’re sorry about hitting me. I know you didn’t know what you were doing when you lifted your hand to me, and I will stand by you while you get help, but if it happens again, I won’t have a choice but to leave because I’m not going to live in fear of you.”
Together they made their way back to the master bedroom, where they spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms, each of them trying to let go of the hurt they felt.
In the days that followed, Dan and Kirsten began to count Dan’s days sober, as he attended AA meetings and tried to make things right with his wife. Another battle had begun; Dan would have to start his fight against alcohol again, and to regain his trust with Kirsten. It was going to be a long road to travel, but they were determined to travel it together.

No More Missing Them (Rebel Poem)

I am not technically supposed to write a poem this week but I’m feeling emotions cursing about me so a poem it is. Also, poems take less time to write and I’m short on time.

Presently, I am Here

I see them

Standing there, sitting there

Talking and laughing

I remember them

When I stood and sat there

With them

But I am here

With this group

Somehow

I do not mind

How things have changed

The ways that I am different

Experiences, thoughts, actions

Changed me

So this is possibly the place

For me

The place I’ve been getting to

Just as fast as I can

I am here now

Here in the present

And I forget

That they were sitting there

In the first place

 

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