Fiction Friday: Lost

The cup of coffee crashed to the ground with a shatter and a splash. She had done it again.  She looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, forgetting that the only other soul in the tiny apartment was her cat. She stared at the broken ceramic pieces that spanned from one end of the galley kitchen to the other, spraying out onto the living room carpet. She held her left hand close to her body, caressing it with her right, as if it would help.

Tears glided gently down her cheeks like the dew on an autumn leaf as she took in this morning’s damage. The last bit of coffee in her barren cabinets was now forming small brown puddles on her kitchen floor. Ben’s favorite coffee mug broken into a thousand tiny pieces, crumbs of colorful ceramic. Her left palm swollen and red from the burn, her fingertips blistering, as her right hand moved to clutch her wrist, isolating the pain from the rest of her body.

As if it would help.

In slow motion she reached into the fridge for a half bag of open corn from the freezer, hoping to cool the burning sensation in her palm. Her heart started racing. He mind dulled. She wanted the pain to disappear. She shuffled out of the kitchen, ignoring the debris on the floor, and sat down on her couch, corn spilling out into the cushion to her right. She looked at her hand. What had she been thinking?

Ben used to make her coffee in the morning.  They had one of those 12 cup pots that made mass quantities of liquid caffeine for the two of them. In any given day, they’d brew at least 2 pots. These days, Karen was lucky to heat one cup of instant coffee in the microwave. And now she was also out of coffee. She knew that there was a crack in the ceramic. But she couldn’t get rid of his mug.

The phone rang and Karen glared at it like an enemy crossing into her territory. In her mind, she kept willing it to hush itself, and in the end, she won. Her mother. Probably. Or her sister. The two of them tried to keep tabs on Karen. But it wasn’t easy. She never answered the phone, and avoided unlocking the door to her apartment on most days.

She wasn’t always like this, though.

Karen used to be bright and shiny. She used to smile. She would drop a scalding hot cup of coffee and clean it up immediately. Her cabinets were full of tasty treats and snacks for surprise guests. Her fridge stocked fresh fruits and vegetables. She did things. She did something. But over the course of time, things drooped. It didn’t happen over night. It was a gradual thing. A gray sky here, a few tears there. No big deal. Until it was a big deal. 

And she didn’t even know it was happening. 

Ben used to try to help. He offered a shoulder to cry on. He made her coffee. He brought her food, even when she wasn’t hungry. He hovered. And she didn’t mind. Because she knew he cared.

Karen looked down at her hand again. The blisters were red and raw. Only a few kernels of corn remained in the bag. Her hand was throbbing, though she wasn’t sure whether it was from the cold of the corn of the sting of the blisters. She dragged herself up and off the couch, walking blindly to the bathroom. She turned on the dimmed light and saw a lipstick note in big red script.

“Depression Lies. Depression Lies. Depression Lies.”

Karen closed her eyes. She squeezed them as tight as she could. And when she reopened them, she screamed as loud as she could, “THEN WHY DO I BELIEVE?!”

Why do I believe that nothing will get better? Why do I believe that I’m alone? Forever? Why do I believe that there’s nothing left? Why do I feel so lost?

And then she cried again.

This post is a part of Fiction Friday Friends and if you’re looking for more fiction, go visit these talented writers!

Fiction Friday June

 

Blog friends, have you ever struggled with depression?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fiction Friday: The Power of a Child

This is the next in a series of short fiction pieces that all mesh together. Feel free to catch up with the previous installments or start here.

  1. Broken
  2. The Failure
  3. The Letters
  4. The Rock
  5. Wandering Thoughts
  6. Just Coffee

The Power of a Child

“I…have…to…I have to go, Jack. I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry.” Those words cut like a knife to his heart. She was leaving. She was just. Fucking. Leaving. She climbed into the car and drove away. Jack didn’t know if he’d ever see Mel again. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to call her. To tell her that his heart was breaking. To tell her how his best friend just…vanished.

He had planned to kiss her. He was going to ask her to prom. And he knew he would say yes. They were like two peas in a pod. He was going to tell her he loved her. That he had always loved her. That he wanted to be with her. She was the one.

But she was gone.

He stood there. For a minute? An hour? A day? He couldn’t be sure. At some point he stumbled home, and crashed onto his bed, alone with his thoughts. I’m all alone. Alone in the world. No friends. No Mel. No one. I’m worthless. I’ll never find anyone else. Fuck this shit.

A bleak future paraded itself through Jack’s mind for days? hours? weeks? The thoughts proceeded to get darker and deeper, until those same worries, doubts, and fears became dangerous. Terrifying. A vision of a kitchen knife flashed in his eyes. The gun in his father’s safe. He could see it so clearly. An option. A way out. The idea laid itself out in his mind, so perfectly, that he could feel its potential release.

Jack opened his eyes, and for the first time, noticed his six-year-old sister, Leah, standing over him, gazing nervously.

“Jackie?”

He looked at her.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t look okay. You look sad. Do you want to watch Tangled? That makes me happy.”

He looked at Leah, with a half grimace, pulled her into his chest and hugged her. Jack took in the scent of his baby sister. Felt her warmth. Soaked up her love for him. Without question. Without knowing. Just. Love.

Love.

“Jackie, are you crying?” The sound of the little girl, her concern so blatant, brought him back to reality. He pulled away from her. Looked down at the little raggedy doll in her tiny hand. Gazed into her big blue eyes. Jack saw the fear. The worry. He knew that he needed this little girl more than ever before.

“Leah, can you get mom? Now?” She looked at him, as if she were trying to see what he was thinking, but not quite sure what to do with what she saw.

“OK.” The girl hopped off the bed and ran out of the room, shouting, “Mooooooom!!!!! Jackie needs you!”

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

“Good morning, Jack. This is our fifteenth session. Can you tell me why you’re here?”

“Because I have had thoughts of taking my own life.”

“Good. And can you tell me the last time you had suicidal thoughts.”

“Two weeks ago.”

“Was that in our session?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember what we talked about?”

“Melanie.”

“And did we talk about her the whole time?”

“No. We also talked about Leah. And my family. And how I was not alone in this.”

“That’s right, Jack. And is Melanie the reason for your thoughts?”

“No. She was a catalyst.”

“Her actions were a catalyst, Jack. Her actions.”

“Right. Her actions.”

“How are you feeling today?”

“I’m okay. Leah is in a school play today. I’m going to see it with my parents. They’re doing some musical play about a tiny Christmas tree. Then I’m going to meet my cousin Steve for lunch. I’ve got a full plate, and I’m looking forward to the day.”

“That’s great, Jack. Tell me again about the decision to ask for help.”

“Leah. I didn’t want her to lose her brother. She just kept looking at me with those big eyes. Like I mattered. She cares so much. She’s so young. And innocent. Melanie used to be like that when I met her. Sweet. Caring. I don’t know what happened to her. She makes me so fucking angry. Whenever I start thinking about her. I know I’m not alone, but she makes me want to scream. I can’t stop thinking about how pissed off I am. She left, like a fucking bitch. A scared little brat, who didn’t have the nerve to tell me what the hell was going on.”

“Jack. We were talking about Leah.”

“Oh. Right. Leah.”

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

Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales

The Fiction Prompt

The Ides of March — Your character is betrayed, hardcore, by a friend. The relationship is forever altered, “killing” a little piece inside, of our protagonist, yet empowering her/him despite the damage.Imagery, dialogue, movement…800-1500 words.

Go read some of my friends, the Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales and their blogging/writing/fiction/awesomeness.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fiction Friday: Just Coffee

Greetings Blog Friends! I’ve got a lot to tell you about meeting The Bloggess…but you’ll have to wait until next week, because today is Fiction Friday! Enjoy!

Oh right…if you’re new…you can catch up here:

  1. Broken
  2. The Failure
  3. The Letters
  4. The Rock
  5. Wandering Thoughts

Just Coffee

Coffee. It’s just coffee. Jack kept repeating this to himself, as he nervously stepped into the coffee shop. Coffee. 20 minutes. You don’t have to be here. You’re in control. It’s just coffee.

Jack peered around the cafe, looking for her. Scanning the whole of the place, he finally spotted her sipping a cup of something in the corner. Her hair was shorter now, her facial features more defined. Melanie Jane McDaniels. All grown up. Her feet tucked under her body, she shifted uneasily in the chair as she recognized him. She stood, and he could see the swell of her unborn child. Jack shuffled his way to her, his heart racing, palms sweating, head pounding…anxiety. Coffee. It’s just coffee.

They stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Coffee, dumbass. Go get coffee. Wait. Say hi first.

“Hi.” Dammit. She beat me to it.

“Hi.” He leaned into her…not sure whether hugging her was appropriate. She stepped awkwardly toward him, into the hug. They both wrapped their arms upward, knocking into each other, before settling into a strangely comfortable hug. And just like that, the tension disappeared. The hug became more natural. Melanie melted into Jack. He closed his eyes and remembered, breathing in her scent.

“I missed you, Jack.”

“I’m…going to go grab coffee. I’ll be right back.” He pulled away from her. Get it under control. Coffee. I need coffee.

He returned to the nook she was sitting in, two couches perpendicular to each other. He sat down on the empty couch. She was curled into the corner facing him

“Jack, I’m so sorry. For everything. I know that I can’t go back and change things…but I truly missed you. For so long. It’s been…crazy.”

“I’m married.” He blurted out. Like she didn’t already know.

“I know. I’m so happy for you. Tell me about her.” Melanie was shaking. He could see it when she held the cup to her lips. It was wavering uncontrollably.

“She’s amazing, Mel. She’s a breath of fresh air. She’s everything. Her name is Claire. She… She’s beautiful. A doctor. A pediatrician, actually. She’s so smart, Mel. I could listen to her talk about new technologies and science for days.”

Melanie smiled, “She sounds wonderful. I’d love to meet her.”

“You should.”

“So you’re a doctor, too?”

“A nurse, actually. When Mom got sick, her nurses interacted with her so much more than the doctors. I admired them. Their patience. Their kindness. They knew the whole family, and made sure that we knew what was going. There was this one nurse, the only male nurse in the bunch, and he always made me laugh. It was like it was his job or something to make me smile.

One day, I asked him why he became a nurse and not a doctor. He told me that it was the path he was meant to take. And I knew that it was the path I was meant to take, too. If that makes sense.”

“Perfectly.”

“What about you? I mean, I’ve been rambling about my life…I haven’t really heard anything about your life.”

“I got into restaurant management. I love it. I love my staff and the food. Oh, God, Jack the food is amazing. My chef is a culinary genius. You should come visit sometime. With Claire. The city is beautiful in the fall…I’d really like that, actually.”

“That would be…nice.”

The conversation seemed easier than he thought it would be…but the elephant in the room was staring right at them. Should I mention it? How would I bring it up? Should I…? No.

It’s just coffee.

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

Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales

That’s all for this week! If you’re jonesin’ for more fiction, check out my companions in the Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales. Some have written fiction today, and others have not, but they are all excellent writers, so check them out!

The Fiction Prompt

Our metaphorical spring is coming ever closer although things / conditions are still mostly dormant. The theme this week is: Recovery. The “ice” has thawed a bit, revealing your character’s recovery of a memory; or s/he has recovered (this is not sought, it just appears, like a plant poking through the hard, cold earth) something that was once lost; or experiences an old habit in a new way? Better? Good? You decide. Oh: mostly dialogue.
 

Today’s Blog Post is Dedicated to…

Molly Field of Grass Oil

Lily digitally introduced me to Molly and soon after, I joined her crew of Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales. Not only is Molly an incredibly talented blogger, writer, and creative, she’s a wonderfully inspiring human being. She gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent (don’t worry, I informed her that Sundays don’t count in Lent, so she can check in for Fiction Friday updates on Sundays.) She’s documenting the journey on her blog, and she’s just overall awesome. So go visit Molly.

Tell me Blog Friends, What do you want to see happening with Jack and Mel?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fiction Friday: Wandering Thoughts

I apologize profusely for skipping out on Fiction last week. Things were a little on the crazy side, so I thought something fun and lighthearted would be appreciated in the spirit of creative writing.

In case you don’t remember, I’ve been writing fiction since January, with the Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales, and each week, we’re given a prompt. The last two pieces I wrote were for Project Fairy Tale, and so they were two parts of my own Rumpelstiltskin story. Prior to that, I had been weaving a web of drama with Jack and Mel and Claire. These are short blurbs of fiction, so if you’d like to catch up, I’ve listed the pieces below.

  1. Broken
  2. The Failure
  3. The Letters
  4. The Rock

Wandering Thoughts

Giddy. That was the only way that she could describe her feelings when she was around him.  At first. Ben was a breath of fresh air after a long hot drought. He was smart, funny, and incredibly gorgeous. Mel could barely remember how it started. She just knew that she was glad it had. Their relationship had progressed rapidly. After a series of non-dates, they became inseparable. She knew that this was it. He was the guy.

They weren’t living together, but he spent 5-6 nights a week in her apartment on Lake Avenue. He had certainly marked his territory. She looked around the bedroom, noting some of his clothes hanging in her closet, his toothbrush peeking on the sink peeking out the bathroom door, his guitar on the chaise by the window, and finally landed her gaze on him, asleep in her bed. Yep, he’s definitely made his mark. She leaned down and kissed his sleeping forehead. I think he loves me.

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

Mel sat in her living room, waiting for Ben. He had said he was closing his restaurant, but he would stop by to see her after. At midnight, she started to get that panicky feeling. Why hasn’t he called? The restaurant closed at 10. He should be here by now. She glared at the clock as the minutes ticked by. The background noise of the TV could not distract her from the wandering thoughts.

He used to bring me flowers. He used to compliment me and tell me I was beautiful. We used to go out… He used to call me when he would be just a few minutes late. Now he’s…

She started to think about it and scolded herself internally, You’re beyond that part of a relationship, MEL. This is what happens. It’s not as magical. It’s life. Life’s not a fucking fairy tale. He’ll bring you flowers for special occasions, just not to “woo” you. He’s already got you. You’re his.

Right. Right. She tried to agree with herself, but she just kept wondering, what if he wants to leave me? What if he’s cheating on me? What if something happens?

MELANIE JANE MCDANIELS. She screamed at the thoughts deep in her mind. Relax. You always over-analyze EVERYTHING. It’s because you love him. You’re afraid that if you love him, he’ll leave you. RE-fucking-LAX. Do you want to live alone for the rest of your life? No friends. No love. Completely alone? Maybe a few cats? Just go with it.

Mel texted him, asking what his ETA was. 20 minutes later, he responded, “I’m on my way, Cupcake.” Her heart lifted. She knew it was silly, but she loved that he called her, Cupcake. The way it rolled off his tongue made her melt, and even though it was a text, Mel could hear the sound of it in her mind. She stared at the phone, then at the clock, then the door. He’ll be here. He loves me too. It’ll be great.

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

I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to start over. I love him. I love Ben. I do. And he loves me. Mel’s thoughts were starting to sound less and less convincing, even to herself. He loves me. I’ll never find someone else who loves me like Ben does.

The internal argument began again, But does he really love you? You work a few blocks away from each other. You live in the same city. And yet, you only see him a couple nights a week?

We’re both busy. We have restaurants to run. He texts me. He calls me. We talk.

Yeah, for like 5 minutes.

“Stop it!” She found herself yelling out loud, her assistant manager staring at her blankly. Suddenly, she was back at work, cell phone in hand, staring at it.

“You okay, boss?”

“I’m fine, Jessica. Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you. I just mean…um…stop…um…”

Jessica looked at her strangely. “Maybe you should go splash some cool water on your face. You look like you’re about to cry.” Jess was the closest thing she had to a friend here, other than Ben. But she was her employee…so Mel had trouble confiding in her.

“Thanks, I think I will.” Mel made her way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Black splotches under her reddened eyes. She barely recognized herself. She turned the faucet on and pushed the cool water into her face. Draining. Ben is draining me. Maybe I should…

No. Stop. He loves you. You love him. You do. Remember what dating was like? You’re never going to find someone like Ben. You understand him. He loves that about you. He’s handsome and smart. The other day, remember? Oh! What did he do? It was so funny. He makes you laugh. He makes you happy.

Yeah, when he’s around. If only he would just…call me. I just need to see him. That’s it. It’ll all be okay if I just see him. Maybe he’ll come over tonight. Jess is closing the restaurant, so I can go home…shower…get ready…maybe I’ll surprise him.

Keep telling yourself that. See where it gets you. Maybe you should go buy the first cat now. After drying her face, she looked at herself once more in the mirror. She put on a big fake smile, and walked out the bathroom door.

When she returned to the hostess stand, her phone vibrated. She pulled it out of her pocket and looked at the incoming text. “Sneak away with me for dinner, Cupcake?” A smile spread across her face. See, self, he still loves me.

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

Fearless Fiction Femmes FatalesNow go on and check out my partners in crime, the Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales. Some are writing fiction this week. Some are taking a break. But all are worth your time. Go visit their blogs! And PLEASE take a moment to visit DeBie Hive, because she’s posting about cutting her hair off for cancer. And as we all know, cancer sucks.

The Fiction Writing Prompt

Stuck in a Rut
March is green, but winter still comprises 2/3 of the month. Spring is not until the tail end. So this prompt ensures our character is stuck in a (metaphorical or literal, you decide) muddy rut: frozen in a place that despite all his/her inner urgings, s/he can’t move forward or look backward.
Why?

 

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Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fiction Friday: The Letters

I’m really having a lot of fun writing fiction, but I’m also super insecure about it, because it is quite new to me. Other than some creative writing classes almost a decade ago (in which I mostly wrote non-fiction stories from my life or silly sonnets about Chiclets and poems about my hatred for Snood and such), my experience in fiction is minimal. So if you read this…and like this…PLEASE tell me! 🙂 If you don’t like this…you can tell me that too. Just, you know…be nice about it. No one likes a Debbie Downer.

 The Letters

She waited patiently at the airport gate. Home. I’m going home. She hadn’t been home in years. She worked so hard to get here. The person she was as a teenager was long gone. The girl she was before Sam…Who? I don’t even remember her. He will. He’ll want me to be her. He’s married. Admitting them for the first time, even in her head, the words hit her like a ton of bricks.

She heard over the loud speakers, Boarding flight 1-9-2-5. Last call for boarding flight 1-9-2-5. Mel stood and walked toward the gate. Home.

She had written two letters last week. Two carefully penned letters. Two very different
letters to Jack.

Jack,

It’s been so long, I hardly know where to begin. I know that I left abruptly. I’m so sorry. I fucked up. I got into some trouble and I didn’t want you to know. I spent a year in a juvenile detention center for the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.

I graduated with honors, though, and went on to a community college. I worked so
hard, Jack. Just like you. Just like you always thought I would. You would have been so proud of me, I know it. After I got my associate’s degree, I found a really great job. I was working for a generous and patient guy, who taught me everything there is to know about restaurant management.

And then I fucked up again, Jack. My boss, Michael, was something of a player. He only hit on me once, and I told him that a better use of his time was to teach me the how to run a restaurant or seven. I thought of how proud you would be. He admired my aspirations and drive, so he never tried anything again. But he had a little brother…who learned from the master of players.

When Michael lost the manager of one of his restaurants, he gave me the position. I
trained officially with his brother, Ben. I think I fell in love, Jack. But Ben was bad news. I just…I didn’t know it then.

I’m sorry; I’ve gotten away with my thoughts. I’m coming home. I really want to see you, Jack. I miss you.

Mel

There was so much more that she could say. Jack, I’m trying so hard to make you proud of me. I didn’t want to come home until I was worthy of your pedestal. I’m pregnant with an asshole’s child. A lying, cheating asshole who wanted to pay me off to “get rid of it?” The same guy who got me fired from the only job I was ever really good at? I have nothing and no one, so now I need you? Help me. Jack, I want to be amazing, but the only thing I’m great at is fucking up?

But she did not. She could not. She would never even send the first letter. Let alone add more to it. How do I tell my best friend that I’m not even close to the girl that he thinks I am? I always wanted to be that girl. But I couldn’t. I’m not. That’s why I left. Maybe I shouldn’t go home. There’s nothing there but an empty house and a broken heart. NO. I have to go. I WANT to go. Maybe he’ll still be there. For me. I need a friend. Desperately. 

So she wrote a shorter letter. She wrote the words that she needed to write. She told him. That’s all she needed to say.

For now.

Jack,

There is so much that I want to tell you. I know that I’ve been gone for a long time, but I’m coming home.

I really want to see you, Jack. I miss you.

Mel

************************************************************************
The second is the letter that found its way to Jack. Three sentences. Three dangerous
sentences. Three.

She is coming home. Home. Jack paused for a minute before he could breathe again. Why now? He tried so hard to keep her out of his thoughts. But sometimes, he just couldn’t. She was there. And she would be home soon.

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

The story continues with The Rock.

I hope you’re enjoying the story so far. Now, go visit my fiction writing friends, The Fearless Fiction Femmes:

The Fiction Writing Prompt

Invent a / your character (who) has two personality traits that are completely incompatible, that don’t fit together at all. For example: this character is incredibly messy and is also a total perfectionist. Or: this character is a pacifist and also has a really explosive temper. Or: this character believes in strict, traditional family values but is promiscuous by nature. You decide. Then think of a situation in which these two sides of your character would be in direct conflict with each other. Write the story.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!