Posts filed under fiction

manuscript monday - come alive (pt.2)

So, I'm working on some side projects right now and instead of leaving this space forgotten, I thought I'd share a little from Come Alive. I won't always have pieces up on Mondays, but for the next few weeks, I will. Hope you enjoy. His name is Kevin Matouse. At six feet, he’s easily a head above the rest in our class. But he’s so cute and every time he gets close to me my knees start to wobble and my hands start dripping with sweat and I start to stutter. A shaky girl with leaky hands and a speech impediment doesn’t help the whole, “I’m trying to impress you” vibe I attempt to give off, but it’s whatever. We’ve been together for about a month, and I always promise myself I will stop acting like a complete schoolgirl when I am around him, but it never happens. He looks at me and my heart starts beating against my ribcage and the butterflies shake violently in the pit of my stomach. I just can’t help it. Chalk it up to my teenage hormones.

We met at a coffee shop I frequent. I’d seen him before, but never imagined he’d stop to talk to me. That first conversation always brings a rush of blood to my cheeks - it was as if he knew me. We talked for hours, forgetting about homework and families and those around us. We sat there until closing - when the baristas had to quietly clear their throats to get our attention. I blushed then, and I blush now just thinking about it. Never before have I encountered someone who can completely make the world disappear.

We’re not the most likely of pairs. I’m the weird quiet girl who carries around a Moleskine to capture ideas and phrases and quotes to escape from the blindingly boring lectures my teachers feel the need to share on a daily basis. Kevin? He’s a football player. And he plays guitar and his family loves each other and well...he’s basically my opposite. Except not - and that’s the thing. He’s not my opposite. Whenever we’re together it seems as though our brains are connected. We get each other. Our backgrounds couldn’t be any different, but when he looks at me, I know I’m the only one he wants to be around - and that’s nice.

I’ve heard he’s not the best guy, and he’s not good for me, but these people don’t know him like I do - they don’t even know me that well. Despite the rumors, despite the whispers when we walk down the hall, there’s just something about him. Perhaps it’s those baby blues; a girl can get lost in some baby blues, especially when they’re paired with shining white teeth and a body with muscles I didn’t even know existed. Crap. I think to myself. I’ve gone and drooled on my homework again. 

I’m at home now, and all I can hear is my mom and dad arguing. An exasperated breath falls off my lips and I sigh. I think for a second about packing up my books and walking to the coffee shop - from the sound of the words flying across our living room, there won’t be any quiet here for some time. I roll my eyes and place my hands over my ears, turning my music up just a little bit - just enough to drown out the biting remarks right outside my door. For as long as I can remember, they’ve spoken through anger instead of love. My mom isn’t brave enough to leave him and my dad can’t imagine life without someone to push around. It’s their own vicious cycle mixed with infidelity. A nightmare, if you ask me. You would think that after twenty years of marriage, they would have figured out how to get along. I think about Kevin again and smile. We get along. We get along just fine.

Forgetting my homework and the lengthening fight outside my room, I close my eyes and dream about being Mrs. Kevin Matouse with knees that don’t shake and hands that don’t sweat and words that don’t skip.

I’m startled out of my reverie by a loud knock on the door. Obscenities fill the open silence as my dad attempts to twist the handle. I roll my eyes and lean over to switch the lock right as he bursts into the room. The stench of alcohol sweeps over me and I try my hardest not to gag. Last time I gagged it bought me thirty minutes of face slapping and a lecture about respect. I stumble out of my chair and walk toward the corner of my room knowing this probably won’t end well. I search his face, looking for signs of what the fight could be about - what could have upset him to the point of explosion.

His eyes are bloodshot. His hands purple from the strain of withholding his anger. This all happens so quickly, in the span of a few minutes. He struggles to keep focus on me - his head having a hard time keeping up with the rest of his body. I know this body language well. Someone will pay for a mistake. The mental checklist roars through my mind: progress report came in today - I made straight A’s. When I got home, I spent two hours cleaning the house - just like he always expected. And then the realization.

Oh.

This time, it wasn’t me.

Right behind him is my mom. My mom with some other man. I can’t even compute what this means I’m so confused...I’m confused and terrified because I see him moving toward me.

Dad, what are you....”

Apparently it was me because my dad starts throwing punches as soon as he’s close enough I can see his drunken eyes.

I feel a fist collapse against my cheek and I gasp.

I can’t process my mom standing with some guy because the blows keep coming. The blows keep coming and he keeps yelling and my mom keeps crying. That guy just stands there.

I ask myself: What kind of person just stands there?

Want to keep reading? Check out Come Alive on Amazon - available on kindle as well! 

Posted on November 4, 2012 and filed under fiction.

manuscript monday - come alive

So, I'm working on some side projects right now and instead of leaving this space forgotten, I thought I'd share a little from Come Alive. I won't always have pieces up on Mondays, but for the next few weeks, I will. Hope you enjoy. Sunrises make me come alive. I’m usually up far before the sun makes an appearance anyway, so when the first light of the day creeps its way across the sky I can’t help but smile. Sunsets are relaxing - the colors slowly collapsing into a starlit night. But sunrises? Sunrises take my breath away. I think it’s the colors. The fluorescent oranges and purples and reds screaming the start of a new day - reminds me to take a breath, embrace a fresh beginning.

It was three months ago, in the middle of a gorgeous sunrise filled with glowing iridescent clouds and trees that looked on fire, I met her. We both arrived at school early, before the janitors came and lights in the classrooms made a dance of electricity. We sat next to each other, completely silent. I fingered my Moleskine, watching the sunrise and waiting for a whisper of a beginning so I could start writing. Writing has always been my escape. Building new worlds and peaceful settings is my way of combating my own surroundings - harsh, violent, selfish - ripping every part of who I was to pieces. But I wouldn’t be ruined. I made myself a promise - I would make it out alive. I glanced down at my journal and brushed my finger across the cover. So many thoughts, so many hopes and dreams just waiting to be realized. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and focused again on the colors in the sky forming a symphony of beauty.

When the reds found their way across the sky, I smiled. This was my favorite part - the splashing of color across the night sky.

And then I heard it. She was crying. I remember distinctly the feeling of dread; the sniffs to keep her tears at bay interrupted her coughs to cover her muffled sobs; I was stuck. I wrinkled my eyebrows in exasperation - I hated coming into contact with people who cried, especially those who made a habit of it.  I always felt obligated to do something - and there was nothing more awkward than feeling the need to comfort a stranger. I struggled with comforting myself, how could I find the words to make it better for someone else? Perhaps it was selfish, but I chose to ignore the tears. I tucked my brown hair behind my ear and focused on the light blue taking over the deep violet of the sky.

“I never should have gone home yesterday.”

My insides sank. Was this girl seriously trying to make conversation? My eyebrows bent in frustration as if suddenly my nail beds were absolutely fascinating…I hoped her monologue would end there. I didn’t need any more drama in my life. I wrinkled my nose at the discovered dirt underneath my fingernails and made a mental note to clean them when I got home.

“I never should have believed him when he said he’d change.” Her words were stilted, interrupted by hiccuped sobs.

Obviously she wasn’t going to stop talking. I hesitated and glanced at my forgotten journal - the empty pages aching to be filled with thoughts and questions and descriptions...there wasn’t anything I could do but listen, so I did. I turned my face halfway towards hers and raised an eyebrow.

Apparently, that’s all she needed. I never even had to say a word.

“I mean, it’s not like he’s my dad or anything, but he’s sleeping in the same bed as my mom. You’d think I’d get some kind of perk besides him trying to crawl in the same bed as me.”

She had my attention then. Was she…was she serious? Somewhere in the recesses of my social understanding I found my voice as I tried to ignore the funny feeling creeping inside my stomach.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?”

She didn’t pay any mind to my question. “I had to wait a little longer than normal to get out of the house this time,” she shuddered, “He, uh…he fell asleep…” She couldn’t finish - the tears continued, streaming down her face.

“Listen, you don’t have to tell me this.”

She turned and looked at me with mascara inked around her eyes like a wet raccoon. “Do you ever look at the sunrise and feel hope? It’s a new day. What’s left behind in yesterday has passed and there is nothing you can do to bring it back. It’s reliable. The promise of a morning sky supersedes anything I’ve ever known. It’s beautiful. All of the colors, mixing together to create a new shade…” Her voice dropped to just above a whisper. “Without the sunrise I wouldn’t feel alive. The sunrise reminds me there’s always another day coming…”

I was speechless. Who was this girl? I looked closely but didn’t recognize her despite the oversized hoodie, sock sleeves and greasy hair.

Somewhere in the distance, birds began to sing, a three note song of hope and promise; glancing at the sky I gasped, the light blue began to mix with the red to create a rainbow of radiating light standing in stark contrast to the few stars remaining stubbornly behind.

I turned to hear more of her story; despite my best intentions, I was held captive by the intricate connection I felt in such a short amount of time. Forgotten were the feelings of disdain at the beginning of our meeting; I wanted to know more. I wanted a chance to ask questions. I needed to know I really wasn’t alone. I remember being keenly disappointed when I realized she was gone.

Her words echoed in my brain. How had she known my story? How could someone be going through the exact same thing, but different? I looked around one more time, to make sure I hadn’t missed her hiding in a corner or shrinking back undetected, but she was no where to be found. I slumped in defeat. Gathering my bags, I made my way to the front door - glancing the entire time at the faces around me. Where did she go? I wondered, How could she have just...disappeared? My thoughts were soon interrupted by the first bell, signaling the custodians to unlock the doors so we wouldn’t have to wait in the cold anymore. The crowd forming outside quickly disappeared as students rushed in doors to get away from the brisk morning air. I sat there for awhile, dumbfounded. Should I wait? Should I let someone know? I glanced around one more time before settling on the mystery. Turning around, I walked through the doors of my school, my thoughts on everything but the homework I still had to complete for my first period class.

That was when I met her, though. That was when I met the girl who changed my life through a single conversation. I never saw her again, even though I constantly look for her in the crowded hallways of the school. Every once in awhile, I remember the conversation with stunning clarity. This stranger, in one simple phrase, threw my world incredibly off-kilter. And regardless of whether I ever see her again or whether she was a figment of my often times active imagination, I don’t care. Her words give me a reason to believe. Her words remind me of one simple thing: hope. 

Want to keep reading? Check out Come Alive on Amazon - available on kindle as well! 
Posted on October 28, 2012 and filed under fiction.

a peek into what i'm writing

Every once in awhile, I’ll post something from my manuscript. Last time it was some nonfiction. Today, I decided to share with you some of the rough draft I'm working on right now. I don't know when I'll finish it, and I don't even know if it will publish. But it's fun to write and I wanted to give you a peek. 

stephanie

Call me Emerson.

At least, that’s what my parents named me. Friends call me Emmy, those closest call me Em. I don’t know if I like any of those options, considering my dad insisted on naming me after some dead, white, male poet.

I am neither a child or a poet. At least, not anymore. I think I used to have a piece of that poetry inside. Now it just seems a little broken. I am neither brooding or isolated. Emotions, in their overwhelming need, make me feel uncomfortable. But, in the same breath, I need my people.

Let me be honest here: I don’t really know who I am - at least, not in the philosophical sense. In so many ways I’m your typical teenage girl and in so many ways - so many ways - I’m nothing like you’d expect. When I was younger, my father would tell me I didn’t live in reality. He told me a girl who loses herself in her thoughts will eventually lose herself to what’s around her - and I guess, in a sense, he’s right.

I’m just now coming up for air.

For the first time, I’m realize what it means to be free. Free from obligation, free from worry, free from guilt or shame. Most importantly, free to really figure out what it is I’m made of in this flesh and bone.

There are moments where I feel I may have captured who it is I truly am - the part of me I hide from everyone, even myself. Moments like this possess an element of rightness, where I feel true and alive. Moments like now, sitting on the beach and watching the storm roll through the waves. I remember a poem from my literature class, before my parents withdrew me to homeschool. It referenced the constancy of waves. The going, the pulling, the bringing back. Like memories and time, it all comes back. Everything changes and moves and disappears or ages, but not waves. Waves are constant. A moving piece of time.

The breeze turns into a gust of wind and whips my dirty blonde hair into tangles. Frustrated, I angle my neck and grab the unruly piece in my hands and contemplate wrapping it into a ponytail before deciding against it. Right now, the chaos of wind in my hair seems nice. I breathe deep and feel the wind against my skin, the sand brushing up underneath my feet.

Yeah. Here is where I feel most me.

I stare at the waves some more, watching them crest and crash over each other, building velocity as the storm grows out in the gulf. The weather men warned against this storm, but I know the ocean. It’s here I feel most centered, almost as if there’s this invisible anchor settling deep in my chest, silencing the doubts and fears pestering my otherwise feeble existence. Closing my eyes, I feel the air around me pulse with energy.

This storm would be strong, but not as strong as they anticipated. It may not even reach the shore.

The tide comes close, lapping at my ankles and creating sink holes of sand around me. I don’t move. I need it this way. Need to remember sink holes are just a fact of nature and not something I cause. Lately, it seems destruction follows me - lapping at my ankles like the tide and leaving sink holes in my wake.

Of course, I know this isn’t true, but I’ve also realized old feelings die hard and well, I have years of monstrous feelings aching to be released.

My thoughts wander to earlier in the day - my parents arguing again. I just couldn’t handle it - couldn’t deal with the anger - so I just left. Maneuvered myself out of the living room without them even noticing. Don’t really know why it surprises me. I run my hands through the wet sand, letting it stick in between my fingers and under my nails. Leaning back against the towel, I drift to the rhythm of the crashing waves. I’m use to being invisible.

Posted on October 15, 2012 and filed under fiction.

Indiscretion.

Claire took another glance at her watch and worried her upper lip, fighting the nausea threatening to overtake her breakfast. He was late. He was late and he was never late. She pushed back the thoughts begging for attention, the ones where David lay in a ditch somewhere or where that petite blonde pressed herself up against him and got lipstick all over his collar. What was her name? She worked in his office...oh yeah. Kelly. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. He's coming, she told herself. Just relax. Taking deep breaths, she reached for logic. He may be late, but only a few minutes. A few minutes wasn't enough for panic, right?

She wasn't known for her logic.

She folded and unfolded the corner of the book she was reading. Only half paying attention, she found herself glancing up every time the front door opened. She was nervous. Finally she gave up on reading and shoved the book in her bag, forgetting to snap the cover shut.

Movement caught her eye and she looked up to find David rushing in the front door, his eyes only on her. His broad steps are what caught her attention in the first place. Walking in the coffee shop where she worked, she noticed the way he looked ahead while walking, daring others to look him in the eyes. That morning, she couldn't help herself. So used to other people looking at their phone or avoiding eye-contact, she found his eyes and couldn't look away. She took the dare and ever since then she's been lost in his amber eyes and purposeful gait.

Her friends told her she'd been hypnotized by love. She'd roll her eyes when they said this, responding with something like, well, if  it's true, I never want to wake up from this dream.

They'd really get her then, calling her too romantic for her own good and in for trouble. She never listened to them. At least, until recently. Lately, she was beginning to wonder...

"Hey" his baritone echoed inside her and she barely had time to smile back before he kissed her cheek, sat down across from her, glanced at his own watch and found her gaze again. "I'm sorry I'm late - traffic was horrible."

Claire felt her heart slow down again to a normal rhythm. It was just traffic. Pictures of him in a ditch or pressed up against Kelly disappeared and she reached for his hand.

"No worries, babe. I was just reading."

"Reading? What book?" His eyes scanned the table and automatically fell to her bag laying half-opened underneath her chair.

She felt her hands tighten imperceptibly and closed her eyes against the impending fall. She knew what was coming. She forgot to close her bag and the book was hanging out of the fabric, cover exposed.

David froze and glanced back at Claire, his face stoic.

"Claire?" he whispered.

She followed his eyes, What to Expect When You're Expecting peaking out just visible from her bag.

"Yes?" she hesitated. She'd stall all afternoon if she had to, scared of his reaction. This wasn't how she wanted to break the news but it all was happening so fast and she couldn't stop it - she felt like she was on a speeding train, David running along the track beneath her.

"Are you..."

"pregnant? Yeah. I am. Found out this morning," she cleared her throat and went deep to find whatever strength she could, "I'm uh...two months."

David let out a whoop and jumped from his seat. Claire blinked away her shock, unsure of this David before her - uncool in his response. She was expecting a nod maybe - perhaps even a smile. But whooping and hollering? Pumping his fist like he won a prize? She looked around to see if anyone noticed.

She didn't get very far. David grabbed her hands and pulled her from the seat, drawing her close against him. She could smell his aftershave, feel the slight dampness of the humidity underneath his shirt. He was whispering in her ear - things of the future and how happy she made him and how she would be a great mother. She couldn't focus on any of this, though. She couldn't hear what he had to say. The spell had been broken.

Right there, underneath her nose, was an imperceptible mark on his collar. Bright red. Leaning closer, she could smell the afterglow of flowers and citrus.

She leaned back sharply, finding his eyes. Pushing away she reached for a napkin and helped clean his collar, revealing to him the mark of indiscretion now left behind on throwaway cloth. She slapped him, then. Slapped him hard and fast without even thinking, leaving behind a mark of her own. Reaching for her bag, she walked out of the shop and never looked back.

She didn't even bother to let David know the baby wasn't his.

 

Wanna join us in remembering art for art's sake? Head on over to the Facebook page and leave the link to your post or picture! 

also, joining with emily today. write with us?

Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under fiction, remembering art.

in search for Allah

Afsana stared in the mirror as she rearranged her head covering. She stood in the corner of the bathroom, in the area designated for purses and bags.  She wanted out of the way. Her phone buzzed in her purse and she glanced down. It was Nassar, her husband. He’d been absent-minded all day, distant. She knew he would open up eventually but she feared what he would say when he did. His thoughts had been strange lately. Subversive, even. “We will be late for prayer. Hurry,” the text read.

She straightened her long hair underneath the patterned cloth and took one last glance in the mirror, her brown eyes catching a pair of blue set against pale skin. Afsana smiled, a token of humanity in the middle of an otherwise awkward situation. The other woman looked away, shaking her head. Afsana expected no less. She often found woman staring in the bathroom as she fixed her covering – they never engaged in conversation, though. They always muttered assumptions under their breath and sneered. One woman even asked her to use a different bathroom, saying “her kind” needn’t bother. “Don’t you have a hole somewhere you can use?” she asked. Sighing inwardly, she walked past the women’s glares and found her husband outside waiting.

He took her hand and she glanced at the callous on his forehead – a spot worn from thirty years of prayer. She knew he was ridiculed for this at work. A successful business man, he took the call to prayer seriously. Five times a day he’d stop and pray – regardless of where he was at the time. Even in the office. Taliban is what the guys at work called him. Slapped him on the arm and chuckled as if it were a joke. As if Nassar should laugh and agree. He wouldn’t laugh, but he did take it in stride – “all for Allah” he would say. She still remembered the story of a guy cornering him in the room and asking if he knew Jesus. Not a violent man, her husband came home shaken, “I thought he was going to beat me for saying we serve the same God,” he said.

finish reading at Deeper Story...

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under fiction.