Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sparkling Gold - Flash Fiction Challenge 2015 Story 2

Genre: Fairy Tale
Location: Funeral Home
Object: Spaghetti with Meatballs
Sparkling Gold
Rapunzel died on Monday.  Angela hadn't had someone this noteworthy in a long time.  It had been over a year since she prepared Sleeping Beauty.  But, because of their track record and tendency to only seem to die, various tests needed to be administered to any royalty, celebrity, magical creature or historically significant person before they were deemed “officially deceased.”  That was Angela’s job.  She was the resident Death Tester and mortician for the kings and queens and godmothers and just once, a beloved squirrel.


Rapunzel’s hair had not been touched by time.  It had stayed as golden as the straw she spun until the day she died at 104.  Only her face and hunched back showed her age.  She had deep lines around her mouth and crows feet branching out from her eyes.  But her hair still held the luster of youth, the golden trusses hanging low over the cold metal table.


Now Friday, Rapunzel had passed most of the tests.  Her body had been cleared for poison and sleeping elixirs.  Frogs and toads were pressed to her stiff lips.  Magic harps played on a loop.  Enchanted birds were brought in to whistle her favorite tune.  Spinning-wheel needles were confiscated from witches’ homes and screened for spells.  Prince Rupert had just left, the fourth and youngest prince of the current royal family.  It was his job to kiss each dead lady to rule out any bewitchment that might require a prince to awaken them.  He kissed Rapunzel quickly.  Needless to say, this “duty,” wasn't his favorite. 


After all the tests were complete, and the dead remained dead, Angela would prepare them for their glass coffin.  They were celebrities even in death.  Their stories remaining real as long as their bodies could be seen.


Now that Rapunzel had been officially declared dead, the world could begin grieving and await their chance to stand before the glass coffin, and say their farewells to the woman who inspired a century of blonde hair color and floor-sweeping lengths. 


But a year before, almost to the day, Rapunzel had come to Angela and asked her to do the unthinkable. 


“I want you to cut it all off.  And then I want you to burn it.”   The wrinkled woman had to look up at Angela during their meeting at the funeral home, her head weighted down, her neck no longer strong enough to support the weight of the hair. “Please, you must promise.”


Angela didn't want to do it.  She had been told her story as a little girl and she loved picturing the prince climbing up her strong braid to rescue her.  Angela fought within herself, holding onto the magic of Rapunzel and her hair, but also felt pity for the old woman and what had become of her.  She could hear the desperation in her voice and the fear that her hair would keep growing, turning her into even more of a spectacle than she had been when she was alive.


"I swear."


After receiving Rapunzel’s body, she spent five days combing it, running her fingers through the never-tangling locks.  It was cold, the telling chill of dead hair.  She thought while administering the potions and spells to safeguard against burying one of the famous too soon, that the temperature of the hair was the only test they ever really needed.  Living hair retains heat, stretching down to the very tips. But once a person dies, the hair will forever be cold, lifeless and still. 


She thought of their meeting a year before, and remembered her promise to do as the old woman had asked.   She waited until the end of the night, the harps and singing birds quiet under their covering sheets and cages.  She pulled out a pair of scissors, the same ones she often used to trim and style hair and beards and the curling mustaches of the villains.  She held up a handful of gold, allowing it to slip through her fingers like cool water.  Then she put the blade around the thin ropes that raised a man to his love, strong enough to support his quest and magical enough to inspire a story to be told again and again, imprinting a picture of true love on every girl’s heart.


“What are you doing?” Griffin asked while clutching a stained Tupperware of reheated spaghetti he brought in for his lunch every day, a half-chewed meatball in his mouth.


“Nothing!” she said, startled and dropping the scissors.


“Don't do anything stupid.” he said, eyeing her suspiciously.  Griffin was her assistant and a distant cousin to Sleepy, one of Snow White’s infamous seven.  “Whatever you're doing, you won’t get away with it.  You can’t sell it, you'd lose your job.”


“I was just trimming it.”


"Ya, whatever." He turned and left to finish his meal in the front parlor.


She knew she would never get away with what she was about to do, and she wasn't exactly sure what would happen to her.  But despite her hesitation to destroy something so famous, so integral to a story known by thousands, she felt compelled to lift the burden from the old woman trapped beneath the unbearable weight of her golden hair.


So she began to cut slowly, worried Griffin would come back.  But with each lock that fell to the floor, she felt more confident about what she was doing.  Soon, there was nothing more than a rough inch of hair sticking straight up on the crown of Rapunzel’s head.  And for a moment, she thought she saw Rapunzel smile.  But before she could worry she had been declared dead too soon, the old woman started to disappear and fade into nothing.  Only the pile of hair remained.  Angela stood quiet, and then slowly started gathering it up.  She walked to the furnace, careful to not miss a strand, and dumped it all in.  It burst and crackled like straw and sparked like gold. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Nowhere to Hide

I read an article moments ago entitled "Why the Fuck Are You Writing?" and it made some really hard-hitting points.  It did away with the good-feel-y statements that most writers make about their motivations for writing and tapped into their true reasons.

And I related.

In the deepest of places and the basest of reasons, reasons that I don't often (or never have) told people:

I want to write to be validated.
I want people to know how smart I am.
I want people to know how much I have suffered and pity me.
I want to make money doing this and not ever have to work in a restaurant again.
I want my college years and DEBT to mean something.
I want to write something that I would like to read.
I want followers.
I want recognition.
I want.
I want.
I want.

The article's point was we should stop writing like the selfish and conceited assholes we really are and actually try and put something out in the world that helps people.

And after reading this article, and realizing I am a selfish and conceited asshole writer, what could I write today that would help other people?  What could I do that would be more than just my whiny anecdotes about just how hard I had/have/will always have it?  Still not totally sure but let's see how this goes:

Sometimes I have to remind myself of the most important lessons I have ever learned: you are your own barometer for happiness and the reason for my arrow tattoo, if you feel like you are being pushed or pulled or held back, sometimes it means you are about to be launched into something better, greater, bigger, and more wonderful than where you are now.

And I've been feeling pushed, pulled and held back recently.

I have never been very good at hiding my emotions.  If I am upset, angry, sad, tired, joyful, annoyed, excited, or bored, it shows up on my face like a bright flashing sign.  I walk into a room and I might as well scream "Hey!  I'm fucking pissed!" or: "I am so incredibly excited for x to occur that I can't even stand it!" or most often: "Am I the only one that's working right now?"

And it's a problem.  I wish that I were a better poker player or I didn't let things upset me so much.

But what I am going to attempt to do today and tomorrow and for the rest of the week and month and year is realize that we are exactly where we are meant to be.  I am learning something, whether I realize it or not, from where I am living and working.  I will live in the moment and stop wishing away the here and now because the then and future will be so much better.  There are good things about this moment right now - even if I can't see or feel them.  And the better and greater and bigger and more wonderful "something" that I hope to be launched into will arrive in its own time.  Why waste this moment being miserable?  Things are never really that bad.  So here's to my attempt at turning my frown upside down.  And here's to trying to contribute something.  (Even though I still feel this post was nothing more than a selfish rant and inward pep talk.)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge #1 "Bollywood Bond"

On set, everything was scripted and controlled.  On location, Jasapal basked in the fact that his agents and producers and directors would not let anything happen to him, their golden child, their champion of Indian cinema, and their man who would put Indian film on the global map.  Jasapal had become a true star, routinely cast as the hero, the heart throb, and the champion.
But he was no hero.  And yet there he was, in a tuxedo and a black clip-on tie reciting his lines, standing on the edge of the bridge over Dudhsagar Falls performing the part of Jaikar Bond.  The train was not supposed to come that day.  The production company had been sending in requests and permits for months to be able to shoot a scene for the Bollywood Goldeneye.  Finally, they had been approved the week before and only from three until seven.  They were almost done with the second take of the standoff between Jasapal and the villain when they felt a trembling beneath their feet and a roar behind the turn of the bridge.  The train had come anyway, right on its normal schedule at four forty-five.  Jasapal, Saanvi, his love interest, and Jhumpa, the actor cast as Agent 006, had jumped.  Jasapal was a hundred feet away and had landed on a ledge jutting out from one of the bridge’s support pillars.  Saanvi and Jhumpa were both dangling from their safety harnesses (a precaution dictated by their insurance providers) about fifty feet below the bridge.  It had been their only choice, jump or be hit.  Millions of gallons of water churned beneath them, swollen from the recent monsoons.  Saanvi was screaming in her gown, torn and revealing her almond skin-colored thighs.  Jhumpa was unconscious, slumped and hanging like an unmanned marionette.  The film crew had also jumped, without safety harnesses, weighing the falls beneath to be better than the train coming on ahead.  Jasapal couldn’t let himself think about what he knew had happened to them.  He could only try to figure out how to get himself back up to the top.    
Saanvi started screaming his name.
“Help, Jasapal!  Help us please!”
There was a good amount of rebar sticking out of the side of the bridge pillar.  It was a slow process, some of the pieces of metal too loose to support his weight, some too far from the next place he might try.  Eventually, he made it up and over the guard rail.  Saanvi was crying uncontrollably now.  She was gripping onto her harness like a girl would grip her blanket after a bad dream.
Jasapal took only a minute to catch his breath once he reached the top before he began running towards Saanvi and Jhumpa.  Large pieces of equipment that hadn’t been scattered down into the falls, lay broken and smashed in the wake of the train.  He wondered why no one had returned yet, why the conductor had not stopped or sent help. 
The safety harnesses were nothing more than thin metal wires, invisible to the viewer’s eye and attached to a loop on a guard rail.  It appeared to have been damaged when the train burst its way through the crew, equipment, and dollies.  It didn’t look as if it could hold the weight of two people much longer.  Jasapal dropped to his stomach and looked down.  He could see Saanvi’s breasts, they were exposed as well after her dress had been torn during the fall.  He thought about how much he had been attracted to her during filming and his attempts to seduce her – in spite of her happy marriage to an American actor.
Jasapal could barely hear her.  It was easier when they were across from each other but once he was above them, all he could hear and see was the water, stirring and whipping up into a mist that sprayed his face.
“Is he alive?!” he screamed down to her, Jhumpa still not awake or moving.
“I don’t know! He hit his head when we jumped!” She wouldn’t reach over to touch him, afraid of letting go of the wires, digging deep red cuts into her upper arms and hands.
He went to try and pull them up but the wires were too thin and too sharp, slicing into his palms.  Even when he tied his jacket around them and tried to lift, they slid right through, the weight of them too much for him to pull over the edge.
He looked around, trying to find some sort of leverage or even another person who survived the crash.  No one and nothing was left that wasn’t smashed to pieces and strewn at his feet.  He heard a sharp snap and looked back to the loop where his costars were connected.  The guard rail was beginning to creak and bend and lean closer over the edge.  He knew what he had to do.
He grabbed a shard of glass that lay at his feet and ran back to the edge.  Saanvi’s eyes were clenched tight now and she was hyperventilating.  Jasapal’s eyes followed her wire up and over the rail to where it was connected.  The base of it was a simple mesh cloth, stretched taut.  He thought about what a silly design that was, metal attached to metal by a cloth band.  It only took one touch of the glass to the mesh of Jhumpa’s wire to release.  He lurched over expecting to see Saanvi dangling there alone.  But she wasn’t there.  Only Jhumpa.  Jasapal couldn’t believe what he had done, but had little time to think about it, the guard rail still shrieking from his weight as if alive.  Jasapal was now able to lift Jhumpa, a slight man, and once he had him over the edge, he was not able to find a pulse. 

Jasapal was no hero.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hello again

Just popping in to say hello.  I haven't written in a while and I don't think I'll be sharing this one on Facebook.  I'd much rather just have my voice here.  I leave for work in a little less than an hour - a new restaurant that has been keeping me very busy and wearing heels.  I am less financially strapped than I was in my last post, less desperate.  And I feel happier.  I don't know if its because of the new job or the season changing, or a new relationship.  But whatever it is, I am here to report more happiness, more contentment, a clearer outlook on what I want to achieve over the next few months.  I would list my goals here but sometimes I feel a little funny about committing to something on paper.  Not that I think it holds me too accountable or responsible to "you" but that these goals are for me.  Suffice it to say they are the normal.  Healthier lifestyle, more writing, more saving.  But for now, I just wanted to say hello again.  Break the silence with something more hopeful and not as depressing.
Time to go to work.  Time to put on heels and a smile.  Time to be present and appreciate the moments we are given and not seek after ones we wish we could be living.  Those too will come in time.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Loan Baby

It was romantic – all of that newness and independence and change.  College wooed me like a new lover.  It took me away from home, let me believe I was all grown up and ready for the world.  It promised it would change me, take me in, shelter me from the cold and teach me things I could not learn anywhere else.  I could stay with him, College, sleep over and eat every meal and stretch my legs on long walks between classes all the while holding his hand.  College gave me a place, gave me a purpose, gave me an identity.  College was my whole world for nine years.  Shhh, shhh, he would whisper, don’t worry about the cost, I’m taking care of it for you (I didn’t hear him add at the end: for now). You just focus on your classes, your experiences, your growing, your changing, your hopes and your dreams.  I listened.  I believed.  I figured that College wouldn’t lie to me – not smart and giving and loving and encouraging and good College.  He wouldn’t disappoint me.  He would take care of me. 

I was wrong.

College spent one more great day with me, a great big rainy day.  He and I wandered together through campus, remembering all of our good times there together, all of those things I learned with him, from him, through him.  As the afternoon wore on, I left the familiar paths between buildings and classrooms and he stayed behind, repeating the same promise that he would see me later, he would be there for me that afternoon and for my future.  

Back in my room, I put on my gown and I prepared for my new life with College by my side and the world waiting for me.  I stood with all of the others, their own love affairs now changing and evolving into something else.  I waited for College to greet me on the other side of the stage, behind his groomsmen-professors and bridesmaid-teachers, their faces plastered with pride and hope and knowing.  They handed me my contract, my signed letter of completion, just like he said they would.  But as I passed from one side of the stage to the other, moved the tassel so it hung on the side of completion, I searched the crowd, and I stretched onto the tips of my toes hoping to catch a glimpse of my companion.  But he wasn’t there.  I spun around to see if I had passed him, forgotten him, left him behind.  But I had not.  He had abandoned me.  I waited for him to appear, trying to convince myself there had been some terrible mistake.   My groom, my promise to take care of me for the rest of my life, cemented his feet behind me.  He was not coming with me.  He would no longer hold my hand.  Wasn’t that what was promised to me when I accepted the invitation to be one of his?  Wasn’t I signing up for a life that College would influence for the better?  Didn’t he promise he would be there for me, to open doors, ensure financial security, and stand beside me with all of those lessons learned and experience gleaned?  Wasn’t he my partner and my all-access pass to the world once I made it through all of those classes?   College had left me on the other side alone.  But not unburdened. 

The final nail in the coffin of our relationship and my future arrived three months after my graduation and our separation.  It was a shock at first, that letter, that bill, that closure between us – College and I.  It was too cold, too unreal for College to treat me so formally, with such distance and business-like demeanor.  Had I meant nothing to him?  Was he not going to honor any of those promises of the world lying down at my feet once I stepped off of the podium degree-in-hand?  The breakup would not have felt quite so harsh had College not left his mark on me in such a lasting way.  I probably could have gotten over College with enough time and distance and chocolate.  But no.  College was crueler than I could have imagined.

I am pregnant now with the debt and the payment due upon receipt of my earned diploma.  He has left me with the daily reminder of my choice to be with him, College, and without any assistance to help shoulder this weight, this charge, this offspring of my education.  I am bloated with resentment towards him and his duping other young persons into his charm of a changed life after spending a few years with him.  My feet are swollen from running around, trying to catch up, trying to work as much as I can to support this newly acquired debt, this money-child who will be mine for the next twenty years. 

I often sit, here with my debt-child, and think about all of the things I cannot do because of it.  It costs me close to six hundred dollars a month.  A Lexus payment.  Rent in a not-so-small apartment.  Six weeks’ worth of the really good groceries – vegetables and soy milk and the natural peanut butter, not the off-brand Peter Pan kind with oil collecting at the top.  Two pairs of Manholo Blahnik’s.  Half of a plane ticket to Europe.  A few fun hours at a blackjack table in Vegas.  Fuck, a whole trip to Vegas. 
This loan-baby is with me all the time, it never leaves my mind.  It causes bags to creep beneath my eyes, tired from working two jobs to pay for its monthly hunger.  It parches my throat as I plead yet again to the other debts in my life to understand, to be patient, to understand how hard it is, to be a single-parent of this needy and expensive money-child who is always hungry and does nothing to help me.  You see, no doors have been opened once College had had his way with me.  My energy was used up from the beginning trying to care for the hundred-thousand-dollar-infant that he inserted into my life and walked away.  I have no time to do anything other than attend to it in the fastest way I know how.  I cannot leave this debt-child alone to attempt to intern somewhere without the income to support it.  Because even though in the long run, it might end up paying me more than I make now, I cannot escape its cries.  I cannot abandon it or feel secure that it will take care of itself for a while as I try to make a better life for myself.  It does not care about my quality of life.  It simply needs to be fed. 

For the next twenty years. 

And at the end of this dependency, at the end of the obligation I have to this loan’s life and send it on its merry way into the world in which I cannot see nor understand where the money has gone or was going, I wonder about the quality of my life.  I wonder if I’ll be able to sit comfortably in my now-empty nest of financial debt.  I worry I will not know how to talk to other grownups who do not have these worries, who were not unfortunate enough to find themselves saddled to a life like mine.  I wonder if I will even know what it will be like to not have that expense.  I will be nearly fifty-years-old, the age of my mother.  A life quite possibly two thirds over depending upon the havoc the stress of caring for such a burden for so long has left on my body.  It doesn’t seem real to think I will be able to sustain this type of living, this type of prison, this kind of hell for the next twenty years.  My life is not my own.  It belongs to the child, the demon-seed of College who will never do anything for me except learn how to live on not enough.  

What will I have missed out on because I couldn’t afford to do it with this cash-guzzling child around, suckling at every ounce of joy and dime earned?  What greater life could I have had if I had aborted the idea of going to be with him, College, and instead tried something else?  Nine years of my life, filled with happiness and experience cost twenty years of struggle.  There is no hope in this situation, no procedure or pill to get rid of it; simply resignation and regret.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Attack on Satire

Writing is big.

Writing is important.

People died today because they were writers.

I remember learning what satire was during my sophomore year in college.  We were assigned "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope, a poem that I still love and think about to this day.  In it, he talks about the artificial "beautifications" the aristocratic women applied every day.  He talked about how their wigs hid mice and other vermin.  He talked about the yellow stains of their undergarments.  He talked about the powders and the oils and the corsets and the odors - oh did he talk about the odors.  It is a lengthy poem and one that is full of many gems and garish detail and many mocking allusions to the upper classes of the society in which he was living and working.  I sometimes think to myself that I am perpetuating that same understanding of "putting on one's face" before I leave the house.  I've been told that I don't wear any makeup - or they notice when I have put on a little bit more eye shadow than normal.  In truth, it takes about twenty minutes to apply the undereye concealer masking the circles I have been cursed with since the tender age of twelve, the evening powder that hides any imperfections and smooths out sun damages, scars, etc.  We put on deodorant, hairspray, mascara, hair extensions, lipstick, lip gloss, whiten teeth, bronze forehead and cheekbones and collar bones and dab perfume.  All a mask - all a costume - all an elaborate rouse for the day.  I think about Mr. Pope even now and again as I go through my own "soft Transition," so that "we repair" all of the damages done the night before.

For those of you that might not know, the ol' Oxford English Dictionary defines "satire" as:

"The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues."

Today, in France, twelve people died at the hands of Islamic extremists who had taken offense at the satirical drawings and articles about Muhammad and their religion.  Ten of them were staff at Charlie Hebo, a French newspaper that had suffered many other threats and attacks for their work previously.
Seeing this breaking story on the televisions hung above the cardio equipment at my gym as Spotify blared a random playlist titled "HIIT Workout" I was shocked and dumbfounded.  Even now, I cannot bring to mind any other violent attacks such as these in the past other than perhaps John Lennon.  I cannot understand or comprehend the desire to kill another human being based upon a cartoon drawing in a magazine with less than 200,000 subscribers.  I had not even heard of Charlie Hebo before this morning and I doubt many others around the world had not either.  But I guarantee that they will know the name now.  They may not remember it, another flashy story or tragedy or injustice will take its place in a month or a week or perhaps even tomorrow.  But this story struck me personally.

They were writers.

They were working on something that they believed in and doing it for very little money and a great deal of danger and risk.  Here in America and there in France, we no longer have the very real threat of censored reading, writing, living, believing.  We can pretty much do and say and think whatever we want as long as it isn't hurting anyone.  There is no Gestapo around the corner waiting for us after we have said what we think about Obama or Miley Cyrus (did I even spell her name right?  I don't care.)  However, today's massacre stands as a reminder that words have meaning.  Work and words and writing has value.  We are not here for long, there is no guarantee, but believe in what you do.  Stand up for it.  Leave your mark and waste no time.  There will always be those that are offended or enraged or become violent because of what you say and think and do.  But that shouldn't stop you - because it might offer some liberation and bravery to others that had not thought to speak up before they heard your voice.

Here's to speaking up.

Here's to those who fell this morning in a board room, probably joking around, drinking stale coffee and brainstorming on new ways to be clever and meaningful and informative.

Here's to the one's who were not afraid.

"Je n'ai pas de gosses, pas de femme, pas de voiture, pas de credit. C'est peut-etre un peu pompeux ce que je vais dire, mais je prefere mourir debout que vivre a genoux."

"I don't have children, nor a wife, nor a car, nor credit. This may be a bit pompous, what I'm about to say, but I'd rather die standing that to live on my knees."

-Stephane Charbonnier

This is a Poem about Distraction

It is 11:20 and I just woke up.

I wasn't even up that late.

I take the dog for a walk.

Boil some water
slice a lemon.

I go to the gym have breakfast read three chapters of Hemingway walk in walk out of Lush without buying anything head home sit at my computer and scroll through Facebook for an hour.

It is 3:58pm.

I take the dog for another walk.

I decide to shower, it'll make me feel better and maybe I'll go out and get a cup of coffee maybe that will help me write maybe that will inspire me.

Start a load of laundry.

Balance checkbook.

Feed the dog.

I get comfortable in front of laptop.

I get up again and get bottle of water.  I'm way behind.  Need to drink another 64 ounces.

Why did I sleep so late?

Look up favorite website on short fiction.  Hope it inspires.  Wonder if I should go to that coffee shop.


Too much traffic.

Too much time wasted getting there getting comfortable figuring out the wifi password ordering a latte finding the right music settling on something to write about.

No.  I'll stay


Check text sent from friend.  Wonder if I'll go see friend at work and get a glass of wine later tonight?
That would be nice.

I'd have to do hair and makeup.




Open three different working documents.

Nothing feels interesting enough to work on.

It is 5:25pm.

Monday, January 5, 2015

This is a Poem about Frustration

This is a poem about Frustration

it begins and ends


a resolution.

I just want



I wish there were


people everywhere I go.

THEY took away my bag at the bookstore.

THEY said it fights theft.

I take out my notebook and wallet and laptop and resignation and hand them my empty bag.

"Does this really cut down on theft?"

She tells me statistics that I don't care about.  I can't figure out

Her                               or                                         myself.

I was the one that


if the bag was



It's all my own fault.

I chose this

p       l                a                 c               e.

I thought it would give me enough




But it did the

e t i s o p p o

My jaw hurts.

I bet its from the clenching.

Or from my wisdom teeth that are not wise and are needing




This poem is about Frustration.