Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 7: December Writing Prompt Challenge

I couldn’t see any other way out of this mess. Sara was fading fast and I had to make a decision. Now.

With one last look through the lacy living room curtains to check the street, I turned and walked back through the house to the basement door. My hand grasped the door handle but I hesitated, not wanting to go down there again. I’d only been all the way down the stairs once since it all began. What I’d seen still played in my mind while I slept. And sometimes while I was awake.

I used to be able to open the door and call out to Sara and she would come upstairs on her own. Now she was too weak, she’d need help navigating the steep steps.

But god, I didn’t want to go back down there.

I took a deep breath and braced myself, then opened the door and forced myself forward, downward. The stench was so overpowering that I had to cover my mouth and nose with one hand, the other gripping tightly to the banister.

Take one step at a time Janey, I told myself, don’t stop to think about anything. Left-right-left-right, down into the blackness. Too late I realized that in my determination to get down the steps I’d forgotten to flip on the light switch at the top of the stairs. I knew if I turned and went back up I’d never convince myself to come down again.

My feet took the last step and I was on the concrete basement floor.

“Sara?” My voice cracked on my sister’s name. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Sara? Kiddo it’s time to go.” I couldn’t hide the tremor in my voice.

A sound to my left made me whip my head in that direction. The sound of slow, laborious movement. A sliding, scuffling sound, like someone dragging an object behind them.

I prayed the object wasn’t one of our dead parents.

A form slowly emerged from around the corner of the stairwell It was short, hunched over, and moving with enormous effort. The light from the upstairs hallway dimly illuminated the figure; long matted hair, a too-thin body, and something being pulled along the floor behind it.

“Sara honey, it’s time to go,” I repeated. The shuffling figure stopped. Paused in silence for a moment. Looked up at me.

I repressed a shudder of disgust. Two weeks ago my little sister had been an adorable 5-year-old with golden hair, sky-blue yes, and a smile that lit up her sweet face.

The creature standing before me now was a twisted shadow of Sara, a grotesque doppleganger.

And yet there was still awareness in those muddied eyes. Enough of her humanity remained that I hadn’t been able to abandon her.

Initially she hadn’t seemed sick. When our parents died she’d been emotionally wrecked but appeared okay physically. We couldn’t leave mom and dad in the house to rot, but we couldn’t risk going outside to bury them. So we’d taken them down to the basement. It was a gruesome task but we’d hoped that down there the creatures outside wouldn’t be able to smell their decaying bodies.

I hadn’t thought about keeping their bodies safe from the creature inside.

Sara continued to look at me, waiting for a clear instruction. She hadn’t been able to think for herself for the past several days, beyond wanting to eat.

At that thought my eyes flicked down to the object she had dragged behind her. I saw enough to know that if I looked too long I’d recognize the object, so I brought my gaze back to my sister’s face. “You need to put that down and come upstairs,” I said, slowly and clearly.

She looked at me blankly and I was afraid that she was too far gone to understand me now, but then she blinked and let go of… she let it go and turned to the steps. Sara tried to lift a foot to place it on the bottom step but her dexterity and strength were gone; her leg only moved a few centimeters.

I was going to have to carry her.

Pushing down my revulsion I bent and held my arms out to her. To my surprise she immediately turned and reached out to me with her little arms, ready to be picked up, just like she’d done hundreds of times before. It reassured me in a way. A small proof that Sara was still inside that wasted body.

I balanced her on my hip like I always did when carrying her and awkwardly climbed the stairs. I hadn’t had her so close to me in over a week and despite the feeling of reassurance a second before I realized that I was feeling frightened. She was so close, her little face right up by mine. It would be the work of a breath for her to turn and bite me.

I swallowed a frightened whine that threatened to shoot up my throat and got us upstairs. I set Sara down so fast I practically dropped her. Two weeks ago she would have cried and been upset that I was being too rough.

Today she didn’t react at all. Just stood there, staring into the hallway.

“Come with me Sara,” I said, and started to walk down the hallway to the back door of the house. She shuffled around and followed without looking up at me or speaking. She hadn’t said a word in over a week.

Once at the back door I grabbed the backpack that I’d left on the kitchen counter and slipped it on. I’d considered packing one for Sara, but I doubted that she would be able to keep it on herself.

Then I pulled aside the red checked curtain and looked out of the small window at the top of the door. Our backyard was getting dark, the sun was setting on the other side of the house and no direct light reached the side now. Darkness was good for keeping others from seeing us, but wouldn’t be so good for letting us see where we were going.

Not that I thought Sara could have done that well in full daylight. She was going to have to hold my hand. No way was I carrying her again.

Being as quiet as possible I slowly cracked open the door, just wide enough for us to slip out. “Let’s go kiddo,” I whispered, and stepped outside.

I took a couple of steps and then extended my arm behind me, hand held out for my sister. When she didn’t take it right away I looked back.

Sara was staring at me with dead eyes.

I closed my eyes for a second and took a deep breath. It was the dim light, that was all. She’d been okay a second ago.

I opened my eyes and looked at her again. Her feet hadn’t moved an inch, but her whole body was leaning toward me. Her eyes were fixed on my outstretched hand.  Her mouth was open in a grotesque smile.

Her eyes raised to meet mine. No longer dead.

But no longer Sara’s.

I don’t know why I didn’t hesitate. I still wonder about that, if my fast reaction marked me as a terrible sister. As a bad person.

I saved myself, yes. And I know that creature staring hungrily at me was no longer my baby sister.

But you’d think I’d have hesitated, that if I’d really loved her I’d have given her the benefit of the doubt, at least for a moment.

I drew the gun out of my coat pocket almost robotically. I honestly don’t remember making the decision to shoot her. One second we were standing there. The next second only one sister was standing.

One sister who had seen enough creatures take multiple shots without falling that she didn’t hesitate to unload the entire gun into this one.

I don’t know how I can live with it. The other survivors that I travel with tell me it wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could have done. That what I did was merciful.

I can still hear the sound of the gunshots.

The sound of her little body hitting the kitchen floor.

The sound of her little voice, breathless and pleading.

And human.



Day 6 First Line Prompt: I couldn’t see any other way out of this mess.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day 6: December Writing Prompt Challenge

The tired antique dealer sat on the rocking chair in the foggy block at sunrise to create a diversion.

She wasn’t thrilled with the assignment. Filgurta loathed the daytime, and it had taken an enormous amount of convincing (and bribery) to talk her into being there.

As a general rule, goblins go out and about during the night and sleep during the day. It wasn’t a deal breaker sort of thing,  where if she were to be caught outside in the sunlight she’d turn to stone or dust or whatever those ridiculous fairy tales said would happen. It was more a “this is how it’s always been done and we’ve no good reason for it but we’re sure as hell not gonna change it now” type of situation.

Filgurta still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced that she was doing the right thing by changing her schedule now, but she’d already taken the bribe (two gold coins and a can of sardines) and was already established in the rocking chair (wishing she were snug in her house eating sardines instead) and so she might as well stay where she was.

Another general rule about goblins is that they don’t like to move around a great deal. Once a goblin is where they need to be, they tend to stay there for hours. If their location also happens to be conveniently out of the sunlight, they can stay there for days. One of the most famous goblin tales tells of a goblin lad who, having traveled to his in-laws home in another city, stayed rooted to the spot in their living room for fifteen years. The legend says it was an enormously comfortable chair, and as his mate didn’t care for her parents all that much, she mostly let him alone.

Filgurta wasn’t sure WHY she had to provide a distraction, exactly. This street was all warehouses, some of which she knew to be owned by the goblin Consortium, though she didn’t know what was inside of those. She rented a space in one of the buildings herself, to store the more unique antiquities she procured for select buyers; very different pieces from the other items she sold in her shop a few blocks over.

Which brings up another goblin general rule: never sell magical items out in the open where humans could see them. Most humans never even noticed them, true, but the few who did were rarely quiet about it. It had taken enough struggle for goblins to be ‘out of the cave’, so to speak, without having humans want to slaughter the lot of them. Showing the dumb creatures magic wasn’t something they were ready for.

So why the Consortium representative had told her to sit in this particular rocking chair was an extremely unusual demand. Of course it would appear to any human to be an ordinary rocking chair; old, well-used, a little scuffed and scratched. Perfectly normal.

Even if a human were to sit in the chair, they’d never suspect that it was magical. They could rock back and forth to their heart’s content and nothing unusual would happen.

Unless they knew the magic word.

Then there’d be a problem. A big one.

But the Consortium rep had assured Filgurta that no human alive knew that word. How could they? It was completely safe to have outside.

The rep did, however, double check that Filgurta knew the magic word. He was very intent on that. Once he was satisfied on that count he left Filgurta alone on the road, in the fog, rocking in the chair.

That was hours ago. And although a comfortable goblin was apt to stay put for as long as possible, an uncomfortable one could quickly become a seething mass of impatience.

Filgurta squinted into the fog, trying to pick out any movement in the street ahead. She stopped rocking and looked over her shoulder to examine the street behind her. Looked on both sides, along the sidewalks and front of warehouses. Nothing but the fog, which seemed to be getting thicker as the day dawned.

It was eerily quiet. Even with her excellent hearing, Filgurta couldn’t hear so much as a leaf rustle.

Then there was an enormous explosion which she felt shudder through the ground, and then the deafening boom hit her ears. She looked anxiously into the nearly impenetrable fog, searching for the source of the blast. The another explosion. And another.

Filgurta was no coward. She was a goblin, after all. But even a nearly-fearless goblin has a sense of self preservation. And not even a bribe of gold and sardines was worth getting blown up for.

She leaned forward and made to rise from the rocking chair, but yet another great blast shook the chair and she fell back. The shockwave continued and the chair began to rock violently back and forth.

From out of the fog came a shape, indistinct at first, then growing into the panicked form of the goblin Consortium representative.

“The word!” he screamed at Filgurta. “Say the word!”

The word? Filgurta, clinging to the chair arms for dear life, didn’t understand at first. What word?

The rep ran toward her, staggering from side to side as though he were intoxicated, trying to keep his feet under him as the ground continued to shake.

“Say the magic word!” he bellowed, nearly close enough to touch her.

But she couldn’t. Her jaw was clenched shut with the effort of keeping herself on the out-of-control chair.

The rep growled in frustration and dove. He hit the chair with all his considerable goblin weight (male goblins are nearly pure muscle), causing the chair, Filgurta, and himself to tip backward.

“Nwod edispu!” he shouted when they were inches from the pavement.

Filgurta waited for the inevitable crash… but it never came. Instead, the chair continued falling, back and back and back.

And then they were upright again. Barely rocking. Right-side up.

And not on a street full of warehouses.

“So it’s true,” Filgurta said in a hushed voice. “The chair rocks through time.”

The Consortium rep awkwardly climbed off the chair (and off of Filgurta) and brushed off his suit. “Not exactly, no. It would be more accurate to say that the chair rocks through possibilities.” He extended his arm and gestured around at the unfamiliar landscape. “Welcome to one of the infinite possible universes."

Filgurta grunted. Definitely not worth a can of sardines.


Day 6 Prompt - Story Starter: The tired antique dealer sat on the rocking chair in the foggy block at sunrise to create a diversion.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day 5: December Writing Prompt Challenge

Once upon a time, there was a diamond ring.

It wasn’t a beautiful diamond ring, which may surprise you. You’re thinking that diamond rings, as a rule, are beautiful. Perhaps you believe that being beautiful is indeed one of the indelible characteristics of a diamond ring.

You would be wrong.

Because this particular diamond ring was not beautiful. It was not pretty, or lovely, or sweet. It could not even be generously described as interesting.

What it was, was ugly.

The band was silver, but so tarnished that it appeared as so much molded dirt, rolled into a circular shape.

The diamond was am embarrassment to diamond everywhere. It didn’t sparkle, or shine, or glimmer, or any of the things a proper diamond should do. No, it just sat there, inexpertly set on the top of the tarnished band, an unattractive chunk of dull, lifeless rock.

As I said, it was ugly.

Sadly, it knew that it was ugly. And it hated it.

The ring knew that any diamond ring worth showing it’s facets in public was expected to be beautiful. You just couldn’t call yourself a diamond ring and look the way it did.

It hated itself. If it could have done so, it would have ended things.

But the worst part about being a sentient ring was that, well, you weren’t ambulatory. The only way a sentient ring could go anywhere was to be worn or carried by someone.

The second worst thing about being a sentient ring was that as soon as someone put you on and you began talking to them in their head, they thought they’d gone crazy. Sooner or later they would either become a solitary nutcase alone in the house, or they would make the connection between the voice in their head and you, their ring, and throw you away. In either scenario, you weren’t out there seeing the world, were you?

Oh sure, sometimes a wizard would find you, recognize what you were, and give you a loving home. At least for the wizard’s lifetime. That was the pinnacle of sentient ring ambition.

Unfortunately it was pretty damn hard to come by.

So anyway, back to the story. Once upon a time there was an ugly diamond ring. It had been sinking down into soft mud for the last decade or so. Its last owner had been a fairly odious businessman who thought the ring could be melted down and made into something of value.

Needless to say the ring didn’t think much of this plan and cranked up the head-talk with the gentlemen to the maximum level. The guy cracked within 24 hours, went screaming, naked, into the forest, and lost the ring while digging insanely in the mud at the side of a pond.

And that is where the goblin found it.

Goblins spend the vast majority of their time looking for things. Things to eat, things to hoard, things to sell. Goblins are the world’s best packrats.

They are also god-awful ugly.

Goblins are generally short, squat, with mushed-in faces, and enormous hair feet, and lopsided crusty ears and bulbous, leaky noses. They’re a yellowish shade of green that appeals to exactly no one.

This particular goblin was called Gort. Gort was not short, not squat, and not a yellowish shade of green that appealed to exactly no one. Gort was tall, lean, and a lovely hue of spring green that universally inspired happiness and peace.

Gort was a handsome dude.

Sadly, Gort knew that he was handsome. And he hated it.

The worst part about being a goblin was that you were expected to be ugly things. Ugliness was at the core of goblin culture. It was the standard by which you were measured. It was how you got ahead. Without a cringe-worthy mug, you were nothing.

Without a cringe-worthy mug, attracting a mate just wasn’t happening.

So anyway, back to the story. There was Gort, the devilishly handsome goblin, digging in the mud for things. He might have been a looker, but he was keen to be the best goblin he could be in all other ways.

Gort’s driving motivation on that day was Furg. Furg was a female goblin that Gort had fallen hard for that year. She was way out of his league, of course. She had matted fur that was also greasy and flea-ridden. She had bulging eyes that looked in different directions. Her aroma was so strong she could threaten the other goblin clans from a mile away.

She was perfect.

Gort was determined to impress her. He would find something so fantastic that Furp would be utterly swept away with love for him.

So he dug. And dug. And dug. Until at last, paydirt. He found the ring.

It was awful, Gort thought. It was misshapen. It was filthy. It smelled horrible. It was uglier than Gort was handsome.

It. Was. Perfect!

And so, dear reader, Gort presented the ring to Furp, and it is said that she swooned at the sight of it.

As goblins are not only repulsive, but also quite mad, the voice in her head didn’t concern Furp at all. She figured that perhaps it was the collective sound of the fleas in her fur, and quite enjoyed the company.

Everyone has a place in the world.

Even ugly diamond rings.


Day 5 Prompt: A forest is the location, hatred is the theme. A diamond ring is an object that plays a part in the story.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Day 4 - December Writing Prompt Challenge

Hidden away in the back of a drawer was something that she hadn’t looked at in decades. She hadn’t looked, but she had never forgotten. Sometimes she would open the drawer and begin to move aside the papers within. But something always stopped her hand, and she would hastily shove everything back into place, slam the drawer closed, and vow never to open it again.

She would keep her word for months, years. But always the temptation came back.

Always the drawer called to her.

At first the pull would seem to be gone completely. The first several days after an aborted attempt would be quiet, a relief of such magnitude that she could nearly breathe fully, could nearly think clearly.

Sometimes she would even open the curtains in the main room, just a sliver, and then sit on the floor and watch the dust motes dance in the slim stream of sunlight which crept in through the narrow opening. Sit close enough that she could have put her hand in the light, could have felt the warmth on her skin again. Sometimes she would stretch an arm out, fingers reaching for the sunbeam, like flowers bending to the light in search of nourishment.

But her fingers would stop a breath away from the sparkling glow. She’d snatch her hand away and scoot backward across the floor to huddle in the dark corner far from the window.

How close she would come.

How tempted she was.

Within a few days her facade of calm would begin fading away, leaving the pit of yearning in her gut. Just a whisper. But it would grow. Soon it would grow a louder voice, then a shout, then a scream. It would echo through her mind until her mind could no longer contain it, and then it would spill down into her body, poisoning every nook and cranny and she’d feel filthy with the darkness of it. Until her mind and body had become nothing but a shrieking vortex of need.

And then, every time, she would open the drawer again. Put aside the papers, and stand on the razor’s edge of giving in, or walking away.

Every time it became harder to pull her hand out of the drawer. Every time it took more and more effort of will to walk away.

And her will was sliding away, sluicing off of her like water off marble. She was hardening, she knew. Her ability to care, to laugh, to love, it was all seizing up and becoming rigid and brittle.

She knew the slightest blow would shatter her.

And if that were the case, if she were doomed to her fate, why resist?

How bad could it be?

These thoughts would swarm around her, slowly talking her into doing the one thing that she swore she would never, ever do. No matter what. No matter how tempted she was. No matter how loud the voices became.

She told herself it was better this way. It was easier. It was survivable.

And she held. She held.

Until one day, when she didn’t.

It wasn’t an unusual day. Nothing consequential had happened. No amazing or appalling circumstance had arisen. She simply knew that it was time.

Time to open the drawer.

With unsteady legs she walked to the drawer. With shaking hands she grasped the handle and pulled it open. With trembling fingers she shuffled the papers aside.

And there it was.

The box.

It was neither small nor large, neither plain nor ornate. The outer appearance was of no importance.

What was inside was of monumental importance.

She knew this because she had filled it herself.

Her hands shook as she lifted the box from its hiding place. Carried it to the curtain-covered window and sat down on the floor.

She held the box cupped in her hands. Felt the tendrils of fear twist up from her gut and wrap themselves around her throat. Her breathing came in tight gasps. The box lid rattled softly from the tremor in her hands.

With one hand she grasped the lid. Squeezed her eyes shut.

And opened the box.

The flood which spilled forth overwhelmed her. She gasped and dropped the box as the memories and emotions which had been compressed within and were now free cascaded over her, taking her breath away.

They hurt! Oh how they hurt! She hadn’t been prepared for this, she wasn’t ready. It wasn’t time, this was a mistake! She had to stop it!

She grasped the lid and tried with all her might to push it back onto the box. But it wouldn’t go back. The harder she pushed, the more it resisted, until it disintegrated in her hands and spilled through her fingers.

The box was open. Forever, now. She couldn’t close it again.

For a long time she sat, huddled in her dark corner, shaking and weeping under the hurricane of a lifetime of hurts set free from where they had been shoved down, and down, and down. Locked in the darkness of the box and ignored. Untouched. Unseen.

Now they were unleashed and demanded attention. Validation. Resolution.

She rocked back and forth with the pain, arms wrapped around herself, in an attempt to hide in her resistance.

But the tide came on, and on, and on.



She let go. Allowed the waves to crash. Moved with them, not against them. Swam within them.


The tears calmed. The breath returned.


For the first time in a long time, she realized that she was whole.

She found herself at the window, hand on the curtain. Watched herself grasp the fabric, pull it back wide, and felt the sun warm on her face.

For the first time in a long time, she smiled.


Day 4 Prompt: Hidden away in the back of a drawer...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Day 3 December Writing Prompt Challenge

It’s hard to be patient. Waiting for something you want, enduring something you don’t want.

We try all sorts of tactics to get through. Distraction. Complaining. Trying to push circumstances to fit our needs.

Of all the living creatures on Earth, only we humans seem to struggle with patience. I wonder why that is? What is the fundamental difference between humans and every other living thing that makes us so impatient throughout life?

I look at my cat, and he’s such a teacher of patience. But is it even patience? Maybe the entire concept of patience is only applicable to humans. What other species needs to even consider ‘patience’?

Present moment. It’s all about living in the Now, in the Present, in This Time Right Here. And *that* is the fundamental difference between how humans experience our days and how every other species experiences their days. Or at least how I imagine other species experience their days.

Our human awareness is an amazing gift. Our self-awareness, our creativity, our ingenuity. All amazing facets of humanity.

One of the big downsides though is our concept of time, more specifically how we experience time. We look at the past and the future a great deal as humans. Backwards and forwards. What we’ve done and what we hope to do. Who we’ve been and who we hope to be.

Very rarely do we look at right now. What we are doing. Who we are.

More rarely still do we *live* right now. Staying in the present, allowing all of the experiences of this  moment.

When was the last time I really paid attention to right now? Stood in the sun and felt the warmth, and *only* felt the warmth, without thinking about a dozen other things. Ate a bite of cheese and really experienced the taste, and aroma, and texture, savoring each chew. Sat quietly and really listened to all of the sounds, obvious and subtle, familiar and new, that are all around me all the time.

I can say that I have been noticing these things more often than ever before, but the present-moment noticing still only comprises a tiny fraction of my day.

Which is a tragedy. How much of life am I missing? Because if I can’t live right now, then no future moments will be fully lived either. I already know that the vast majority of my past moments were not really experienced.

What do I notice right here, right now? The humming of the traffic on the road close by. The crisp coolness of the breeze wafting through my open sliding glass door. The springy feel of the keys on my laptop, including the ‘s’ that has always been the tinniest bit misaligned and sticks ever so slightly. The pure joyful laugh of my son who is relaxing next to me. The warmth of my toes inside my pink striped socks. The not-unpleasant soreness of my quads from the past three days of working out. The rising and falling of my breath, filling me with life.

Right now is amazing.

Right now is everything.


Day 3 Prompt: Three Nouns - patience, sun, cheese

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day 2: December Writing Prompt Challenge

She had made a poor job of hiding the damage. Duct tape and cargo bay doors did not go together with any degree of finesse.

Olivia stood back and regarded her pathetic repair attempt. The cargo bay door was silver. The duct tape was silver. The tiny amount of paint she had found to blend the two into some kind of homogeneous layer was silver.

The finished look was three similar yet completely unmatched shades of silver.

“That,” said a strident voice behind her, “is the most half-assed, thrown together, eyesore POS fix I have ever seen.”

Olivia sighed and turned to have the argument that she’d known was coming. Her ship’s pilot, Jeanetta, was standing with her arms crossed over her chest and an expression on her face that conveyed utter exasperation.

“Girl, we can’t take the Litnian ambassador to his galactic shin-dig with that god awful mess inside our ship. We’ll be the laughing stock of the entire Diplomatic Corp!” Jeanetta shook her head so sharply that her braids smacked her in the face.

“You mean more of a laughing stock than we already aaaaare,” interjected Ruhan, the ship’s cook, in a sing-song voice.

Olivia gave the cephalopod a glare which he waved away with a tentacle. “It’s just the truth,” Ruhan said, using several other appendages to sort through the meager rations that he had to work with.

Jeanetta snorted. “Now you know, I wasn’t gonna bring up that incident that broke the damn doors in the first place, but… what the hell were you thinkin’? You just gotta get up in everyone’s business, consequences be damned, bein’ your maverick self and savin’ the whole goddamn universe.” She rolled her eyes and huffed. “I don’t know why I work with you girl, makin’ my life all difficult.”

Olivia tried to plead her case. “Nettie, we’re broke. The ‘can’t even afford ramen noodles’ level of broke.” She heard but ignored Ruhan’s heartfelt, “Thank the gods!” and continued on. “We can’t fly with an unsecured cargo bay. We can’t afford to have someone fix it. If we don’t take this job for the ambassador we can kiss both flying and feeding ourselves goodbye.” She paused for a beat and then against her better instincts added, “And if I hadn’t intervened in that bar fight last week that whole place would have been destroyed.”

“Yeah. So instead, our cargo bay doors were destroyed,” Jeanetta pointed out.

“At least we weren’t in there at the ti…” Olivia tried to counter.

“And the peace delegation’s gift to the Galantans of those priceless shiny little marbles was stolen,” Ruhan helpfully added.

Olivia gave him another glare. “It wasn’t all *that* ba…”

Jeanetta continued, “And then dumped, ruined but still identifiable, on the grand staircase leading to the the chamber where the peace talks were taking place.”

Olivia opened her mouth to interject, but Jeanetta bulldozed on. “Arranged to form the letters ‘F’ and ‘U’.”

“Okay,” Olivia grudgingly agreed, “that didn’t go over so well.” At Jeanetta’s snort Olivia conceded, “Fine! It was a dumpster fire!”


***Much like this writing prompt, LOL! I’ve done what I can and I’m waving the white flag for this one.***

Day 2 Prompt: Random first line generator - “She had made a poor job of hiding the damage…”

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 1: December Writing Prompt Challenge

The black plastic contraption sat half buried under what had probably once been a small table but was now nothing more than soaked debris. The object was a sorry sight; parts were melted and warped, a layer of ash and grime had built up thick on its surface and was quickly turning to a mess from the rain. There were a few recognizable letters near the top which hadn’t been worn away or covered in filth: ‘E’ and ‘U’ next to one another, then a gap, and then a very faint ‘G’.

 The woman pulled strands of wet hair out of her eyes and squinted at the letters as she crouched down next to the misshapen hunk of plastic. 

“E, U, G,” she said quietly to herself in a musing way. “Eug? That’s not a word I’ve ever heard before. I wonder what you are?” She examined the tarnished silver piece at the front. It reminded her of a bucket handle turned sideways, in miniature form. But it was too small and too oddly placed to be a handle.

The woman reached out a dirty gloved hand and touched it, then curled her fingers around it, and pulled very slightly.

The top of the contraption moved, just a bit, as though it were on a hinge. She changed the direction of her pull and the top creaked open, revealing a small, almost cylindrical compartment. She leaned forward to peer at the space more closely.

With her face inches away from the object, she caught an aroma, one she hadn’t smelled in years but would always remember, one which nestled deep in her past and triggered memories which rushed in.

A room, small and dim, but warm. Comfortable. Safe.

A fire, crackling and popping. A conversation happening around her but not including her; it’s alright, these are people she loves and trusts. Their voices are comforting.

A low whistle, steam coming out of a shiny kettle, a woman (mother?) lifting it from the hook over the fire. 

The clink of cups, the sound of water being poured. A rich, earthy scent. It was a well-loved aroma, it meant the beginning of the day and toasty hands around the mug and a bitter sweetness that bloomed into contented warmth.

“Ma’am? Are you all right?”

The woman blinked. She was sitting in the mud, the light rain quickly escalating into a downpour and soaking through her layers of old clothing.

She looked up into the concerned face of the man standing next to her. Blinked again.

Something inside of her had changed. A door that she had slammed shut was opening again. A heart that she had hardened was beating again.

A hope that she had felt turn to dust in her hands was blooming again.

Then, for the first time in more years than she could remember, she smiled.

“Yes, I’m all right. For the first time in a long time, I really am.”

The woman stood. She looked down at the melted, twisted lump of black plastic. “Thank you,” she whispered.

She turned again to the man. “I remember what I’m fighting for. What we’re all fighting for. Home and family and comfort and safety. If not for us, for our children, or our children’s children. They WILL have that again, I swear it.”

And then she walked out of the ruined building into the street, where she retraced her steps to return to her people. The man walked beside her. He didn’t know what had happened back there, but he knew from the fire in her eyes and the determination on her face, that their leader had returned.

God damn. They were going to win.


Day 1 Prompt: Write a story in which a broken coffee maker has a huge impact on the world around it.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Whistling Coffee Muffins! (not really)

I have had the most lovely weekend so far. I took time to be with myself, both with meditation and with leaving the house and doing things just for me. I forget sometimes how healing and energizing it is for me to go out and about by myself, time when I'm only responsible for me, time when I'm not trying to coordinate other people or mediate issues others are having or trying to follow an agenda.

Just me. BEing. It's nice. :)

And it probably goes without saying that the weekend has involved copious amounts of French press coffee, the new burning love of my life (sorry Eric). Hot DAYAM but this coffee is good! Haha, I just typoed 'god' instead of 'good' and honestly that fits too.

I was going to blog yesterday after a kick-ass journaling session at the library (part of that 'me time'), because I had a LOT of epiphanies and I wanted to share them. But then I followed my inner voice to do other things and the day was over and I never did write here. And now those moments are past and not as thrilling as they were at the time and so I'm going to write about something else instead. I don't have any idea what it'll be, but here it comes!


(anticipation builds)


(excitement pooling inside of you)




Muffins are delicious.

Sorry, probably a bit of a let-down, but seriously, muffins ARE delicious, you can't argue with me on that one. You can, I suppose, but WHY? I got some adorable silicone baking cups - which are also PINK because PINK - at IKEA and they are the absolute best way in the entire world to make muffins. No need for a muffin tin, the muffins slide right out of the cups, nothing sticks, it's clean as a whistle (are whistles clean? where did that saying come from?). And the muffins are NOM.

You know you want it...

As this blog has been a rather spiritual/awareness tilted enterprise as of late, I'd really love to make a metaphor for higher awareness using muffins. Or whistles. However, I got nothin'. Instead of Insightful Shell this morning you're all getting Mellow and Happy and Filled With Muffins And Coffee Shell. I'm good either way. <3


Thursday, May 4, 2017


I've been busy today and have therefore put off blogging until I "had time" - which everyone knows is code for "I'm a lazy so-and-so and don't wanna" because nobody ever just has time sitting around waiting to be used up by something interesting. Kiddo #1 is finishing up therapy and I'm starving (seriously I think my stomach is trying to eat itself, even though I'm obviously not actually starving, I'm being a whiny hangry person)... anyway, I don't have the time (or the well-fed focus) to write a post but if I don't just DO IT it'll never get done. So I'm writing now.

One of my favorite sayings, which I should really follow more often.

Meditation today happened, and I realized that I was pretty judgy about it. (Blogger is convinced that "judgy" isn't a word, but we all know what I mean, so I'm leaving it.) I realized today that I have this expectation of what meditation looks like, what it "should be" if you're doing it "right." Which is nonsense of course, meditating isn't something that you can get right or wrong, it just IS. What my meditation looked like today was my head coming up with all kinds of stories and dream-like scenarios; almost like daydreaming. I just let it be, but the whole time I was thinking that for some reason it wasn't good enough and when I was done I felt disappointed that it hadn't been the kind of experience I wanted.

And that right there was the moment I had my 'a-ha' moment of knowing that my hour had been truly well spent. It taught me that It's All Good. There's no pass or fail. There's just this moment, containing whatever it contains. It taught me to stop judging everything. That's a lesson I get shown over and over and over and over... I may fully grasp it one of these days!

Acceptance of What Is is the biggest lesson of the day for me. I can't get it wrong. There's no scoreboard for my life. Only this moment and living in that space, loving it and being there. Pretty simple stuff. <3

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I'm Not the Wall (no, not THAT wall)

An interesting thing is happening as I continue my hour-long meditation in the morning. I'm seeing more and more that my thoughts aren't who I am. Neither is my body, nor my beliefs, nor my accomplishments, nor my failures. My plans, my dreams, my time-sucking activities, those aren't me either. I know this because as I meditate, my head fills up with all that STUFF; it chatters away and goes on and on about all the STUFF. But then there's a part of me that is sitting there, watching the chatter go on, watching the watcher who starts judging the chatter. I can see it all.

So I cannot be IT. You know? I can't be the STUFF. If I was, I couldn't watch it unfold like a movie playing on my own personal Netflix. I mean it feels like I'm watching "All Me All the Time!" but I'm not IT.

Okay, I'm not all that stuff. I'm the space it swirls around inside of, the holder of the stuff. Like, I'm not the stuff in my purse, nor am I my purse, I'm the one holding the purse. I'm not sure if that's a good analogy or not. Here's another way to picture it that I (badly) drew this morning. That's me sitting on a cushion, meditating. Little me (ego) is being scared and I'm telling her that I love her. But even that's not me - I'm the big resonating space of Pure Love holding it all.

That's all really cool but now I'm sitting, watching, and wondering what I'm supposed to do next. Because from this vantage point pretty much all of the activities that I've been filling my time with feel boring and not enough. They're not doing anything for me, they're just literally filling my time.

I want to expand, but it feels like there's this big Wall in front of me. Beyond the Wall I know there are amazing ideas and activities and people and places, ones that will resonate with Who I Really Am. I was journaling about this earlier today and my Inner Voice - you know the one, we all have it - said, "Dissolve the Wall, allow it to dissolve." Because the Wall isn't real, it's just all those stories I have about who I thought I was. I'm not the Wall.

It felt amazing to think that at first, and then my little ego (whom I often picture as 5-year-old me) ran out in front of the Wall, like Katniss volunteering as Tribute, arms outstretched, tears streaming down her face, pleading with me not to touch the Wall! "The Wall is Everything!" she wailed. Little me was totally devastated.

5-year-old me (approx.), not feeling devastated. 

So I did what any loving Soul-Who-Is-Only-And-Always-Love would do - I crouched down to her level and wrapped my arms around her and let her bawl out all the fear she'd been carrying around for 45ish years, fear that she believed the Wall was keeping at bay.

I'm still sitting with that. The Wall is still there as of this writing, although it's fuzzy around the edges and turning ever-so-slightly translucent. I still have no idea what I'm doing next. Allowing myself space to see what shows up sounds like a path I can walk today.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Flowing out in Public

I admit, that title sounds really wrong. It's not what it osunds like. Well, it's not what *I* think it probably sounds like; I don't actually know what it sounds like to you. If it sounds gross to you then that's not what I meant. Unless you're into that kind of thing, in which case I don't judge so go on with your bad self, just don't share it with me. Or in the comments. You do you, but maybe subtly, is what I'm saying.

What I *do* mean is that I'm going to be writing this month as an exercise in connecting with my heart space instead of my head space. I'm allowing words and ideas (which in writing is pretty much the same thing I suppose) to flow out from my soul and pour onto the page. Screen. Whatever. And instead of doing it privately - in which case I have zero accountability and would therefore likely stop after day 3 (that's generous, day 2) - I will be doing it here on my writing blog. Which as you can see by previous posts I stopped after day (post) 4.

Accountability isn't my thing, folks.

Here's the trick on this for me - I'm NOT doing this for approval. Really I'm not. If nobody ever reads this that's fine. If you read it and hate it, that's fine. If you disagree with everything I say and hope I go back under my rock, that's fine. If you love me forever and ever and want to have my babies (which would be a neat trick), that's fine. If you don't give a rat's ass either way, that's fine.

The point is, it's all fine. It's a theme for me this month. It's all fine. The good, the bad, the... you want me to say 'ugly' don't you? But I don't like that phrase. I mean, the good and the bad, that's fine, those are opposites that contrast nicely and it's natural to think of them together. But the ugly? Where the hell does that come in? Full Disclaimer: I've never seen that movie. I don't care for that genre. So I'm probably missing the entire point of the title. But the point of this paragraph is that I'm embracing all of life and sinking into the realization and acceptance that it's all good.

Did I mention that this entire project is going to be stream-of-consciousness-straight-from-my-heart-without-any-editing-or-thought-involved? It is. I'm not even going to go back and re-read what I've written before I post it.

Holy shit my stomach just did that THING your stomach does when you make a scary decision that you know is fine but your ego is like WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING YOU HAREBRAINED BUFFOON????

My ego has some issues right now. Always. But really right now. Because I'm meditating for an hour every morning and it HATES HATES HATES that. A whole lot. It screams at me quite frequently during that hour. The best is when it gets all quiet and quiescent (do those mean the same thing?) and (oh wait, no, they don't) it makes me think that it's all feeling safe and healthy and normal. Then it throws a godawful temper tantrum and makes me want to claw my eyes out just to MAKE THE SITTING STILL STOP ALREADY!

Did I mention issues? Got 'em. In spades.

I kinda want to include the cool journal entry I wrote before this where I came to the decision that I was going to do this blog thing, not so much because the back story is interesting but because I made this really witty remark about zucchini which will never be funny again. But I don't care if you think I'm witty (I remind myself). So I'll leave it be.

Gel nail enamel is the shit. And that's the last thought I have to write down. *mwah*

(that's a *mwah* like giving you a kiss, not a *mwah* like the *mwahahaha* evil cackle. to clarify.)