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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

Shameless Plug: Please go and vote for the Bloggies (fancy People’s Choice Style Blog Awards)! I’m a finalist (Along with my blog friends, Katie from Words for Worms, Joules from Pocketful of Joules, and April from First Time Mom and Dad).

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

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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.

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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!

Fiction Friday: The Failure

My second attempt at fiction. If you’d like to catch up first, you can read last week’s Fiction Friday: Broken. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

The Failure

Her parents had done a fantastic job of covering up the details. Her name wasn’t published in any newspapers.  The actual event wasn’t really even noticed. Everything happened so quickly, that she didn’t even know what was happening until it was all over.

Juvenile Detention Center.

She didn’t understand. So many other girls her age did much worse, and they barely got a slap on the wrist. But their parents aren’t like mine.

It was stupid. It was just a dare. When her parents first found out, they were furious. They had been called down to the police station at noon on a Tuesday afternoon. She had ditched school, but that wasn’t why she was stuck sitting at a desk across from Officer O’Connell.

She just wanted to impress Sam. He was a senior. He was gorgeous. Tall, with dark hair and eyes to match. She would have followed him anywhere. He dared her. She couldn’t say no. She walked up to him and wrapped her arms around him. As she kissed him on the cheek, she reached into his jeans and pulled out his pocket knife.
Before she could second guess her actions, she walked toward the ATM machine, where a young man was withdrawing money. He was small, in his early twenties. She knew that she could take him down if he put up a fight.
She stood behind him and reached for his free arm. “Don’t say a word,” She whispered. From far away, it looked as if she was hugging an old friend, but the man felt a searing pain through his arm, and the sharp tip of a weapon in his back. “You’re going to withdraw $50 from your account. Then you’re going to hand it to me. Not once are you going to turn around. When I’ve got the money, you’ll count to 50 and then you can go on doing whatever it is that you’re doing. Got it?”

$50 dollars. Fifty. Fucking. Dollars.

But it’s armed robbery. Because of the knife.

That stupid little piece of shit knife. I could blame Sam. But it wasn’t his idea to use a knife. He just dared me to go get $50 from that guy.

When she got back to the guys that afternoon, Sam was staring at her in awe. At first, she couldn’t tell if he was impressed or scared. They all ran to a nearby forest preserve, where they usually hung out on ditch days.
She handed Sam the knife, and he leaned down to kiss her. Not just a peck on the cheek, a real kiss.

Her first. She always thought Jack would be her first kiss. He was crazy about her. She knew it. She loved him, but she didn’t want to kiss him the way she wanted to kiss Sam. The way Sam kissed her that day by the ATM.

I won’t be kissing anyone for a while. Not Sam. Not Jack. Jack. Crap! How am I going to tell him? Whenever I ditched school, he brought me chicken soup. He thought I was sick. He’ll never understand. What will he think? No. He won’t know. I can’t tell him.

So she sat there, waiting for her parents. When they came, they were mortified.

“Melanie. Jane. McDaniels. What in God’s name were you fucking thinking? Are you crazy? ARMED FUCKING ROBBERY?!” Her mother had arrived.

“I…I don’t…I don’t know.” She started crying. Get your shit together, Mel. You need to be stronger than this. She stopped. “I’m sorry.”

“What the fuck, Melanie? What are we supposed to do? You know we can’t get you out of this. We can’t help you with this. You’re on your own.” Her mom didn’t mean it completely. She did everything she could to keep the press out of it. And she was good. But she didn’t try to push for community service like the other kids got. She sent me away. She let me go.

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Jack showed up at her house right before she left for River County.

“How did you know I’d be here?”

“Your mother called me. She told me that you were leaving. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I couldn’t tell you, Jack. Look, I’ve got to go.” As she pushed past him, she could tell that he was about to cry. She didn’t want to see him cry. She might break down and tell him the truth. She used to tell him everything. But then they grew up. She found Sam and the guys.

“Where are you going? Tell me something, please. I’m so worried. First, you’re sick all the time. Then you stop hanging out with me. Now, you’re just leaving. Are you parents going? What’s going on, Mel?”

“I’m going to stay with a family friend. I need to get away from here for a while.”

“What about school? What about our plans? College? Mel, please don’t go. Was it me? Did I do something wrong?” Her heart was breaking for him. I don’t love you the way you love me. She wanted to tell him. But she didn’t want to hurt him.

“I…have…to…I have to go, Jack. I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry.”

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

God, I was so stupid.

The memories flooded her brain as she began to write the letter. This is harder than I thought it would be. What do I even say?

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Find out what Mel was writing in the next piece, The Letters.

Now that you’ve read my fiction piece, you can find some truly amazing writers by checking out the rest of the Fearless Fiction Femmes:

The Fiction Writing Prompt

“Your character commits a crime. (What is the motive?) Your character’s husband/wife/SO, discovers your character changing, dealing with the evidence, and wants to know what’s going on. Write the conversation. What happens next?”
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: Broken

This was one of the hardest things I’ve done for my blog. After reading some of the beautifully created fiction pieces by some of my blogging buddies, I was inspired…and invited to join them in their Fiction Friday Challenge.

I’ve never been a good fiction writer. Real life? No problem. Make stuff up? WAY harder. I admire the people who can create whole worlds away from our own (Yes, even Stephanie Meyer has a place in my heart for taking vamps to their very own new level of her creation…)

So how does Fiction Friday work? Molly Field, the brainchild behind Fiction Friday, provided us with the same prompt on Wednesday night. Using the prompt, each of us has come up with our own interpretation and transformed it into fiction. I’ll post the prompt at the end of the post and link to my fellow fiction writers.

That being said, this is my first public work of fiction, so don’t be too harsh. (Also I had some formatting issues that I’m working on, but if the type is a little jacked, I promise I’m working on it!) Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Broken

He walked out of the room with purpose. The letter fluttered to the ground. Confusion, agony, hope, and memories flooded him like a tidal wave. Why now?

Mel had left him standing there. 15 years had gone by. Fifteen slow, long years. He wished that he could say he had forgotten her. But he hadn’t. Of course, he had moved on. He had to. He met Claire. He loved Claire. Claire was his wife. His love. His best friend. She was his everything. But before her was Mel. Melanie Jane McDaniels. His once best friend. The girl he thought he would love forever. The girl that ran away.

Down the stairs, out the door, and into the car, he calmly navigated himself through his daily motions. It was days like these that he wished he didn’t work the overnights. The long and painful shifts that seemed to drag for hours longer than they should have. The world was quiet at night. He needed sound. He needed energy. He needed to not be alone.

He got to work, his thoughts racing, and he went about his nightly routine. Where did she go all those years ago? Not a word. Not a letter. Not a phone call. Nothing. She just. Disappeared. Her image kept popping into his mind. The way her long brown hair fell past her shoulders in a tangled mess. Her blue-grey eyes gazing at him as they talked about life and their futures.  I loved her. She was my first love. For years, no woman could compare to Melanie. But then I met Claire. Claire. No one could ever understand me better than Claire. She loves me unconditionally. Her patience. Her kindness. Her determination. She’s strong. So much stronger than me.

Melanie was never strong. That’s why we were so great together. We understood each other. We braved the world together. But she couldn’t stay. She just. Left.

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The muffled tone had made its way into his dreams.  He awoke to the sound of his phone ringing. What time is it? 2? 4? What’s that noise? Oh. Right. Phone. He looked at the number… 542-611-3754.542-611-3754. 542-611-3754. I know that number. How do I know that number? 542-611-3754.

As he stared at the number he recognized from the days of landlines and memorized phone numbers, the ringing stopped suddenly. It’s her. Well, it was her, anyways . Immediately, he knew that he had to call her back. He looked at the clock. It was 11 AM. Can I handle this on 3 hours of sleep? As if on autopilot, his hands were already pushing the call back button.

“Hello?” a quiet feminine voice pushed through the speaker.

“Mel.”

“I need…help,” she whispered softly.

“Really? With what?” Out of nowhere, anger sparked in him. Anger from the lonely little boy she left in the dust. Anger from having to do it all alone. Without her. Having to finish high school. Having to go on to college. To get a job and start a life…All without her by his side.

“I’m going through something right now, and it would be nice to have someone to talk to. I miss you.” The words she spoke were the last that he expected from her.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“I just need a friend, Jack.”

“You disappeared. You left. You never said where you were going. You never called. You DIS-A-FUCKING-PEARED! And now you want help? You want a friend?” His voice echoed through the house he shared with Claire.

“Yes.”

“Is that it? Is that all you have to say? 15 years and you can’t even start with some semblance of a greeting. Just a request for help…you can’t even tell me what’s wrong?”

“You sound so angry. ”

“Yes. I’m angry. ”

“You never used to get angry. You were always such a sweetheart.” She sounded wistful, as if she was longing for the days past to return.

“Well, I get angry now. It’s been 15 years. Things have changed. I have changed. But you wouldn’t know that, because you weren’t there. You left, Mel.  You left. You. Not me.”

Jack heard Mel’s stifled tears through the phone. He knew that he had made her cry…and he was…glad. He felt. Better.

“Look, Mel. If you want to talk to me, you need to understand that you broke me. You changed me. I am the person that I am partially because of you. I’m not the same guy you left standing in your front yard. I’m not the same, dammit. I’m just…not. So, if I’m not rolling out the welcome mat, you’ve got to understand why. You hurt me all those years ago. That doesn’t just go away.”

“Jack…I’m…Just listen…I…” Melanie broke off into heavy sobs. “I’m so sorry Jack. I’m…so…sorry.”

“Melanie, why don’t you breath for a minute and just tell me your fucking problem.”

“I’m all alone, Jack.” she cried into the phone. “I’m all alone and I’m pregnant.”

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The Story Continues Here.

Now that you’ve read my fiction piece, you can find some truly amazing writers by checking out the rest of the Fiction Friday Challengers:

Oh! I promised you the prompt: Years later, the character’s first love shows up on his or her doorstep again. Both your character and his/her first love are surprised at how the other person has changed (How?) This encounter causes a disruption in your character’s life (How? What does your character do about it?) 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!