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Karma from the Closet Floor

I received a submission from January’s prompts and it is my pleasure to share another piece by my wonderful friend Rona. She was featured first on my 12 Days of Blogmas series with a winter-themed piece you can read here after you’re done reading her latest piece published below. It is a joy to see your friends prosper, but I’ve had the chance to see Rona grow even in a few months with her writing. It is my honor to share her work on my humble spotted page.

The prompt Rona chose from the January selection was: Use these three things in a story: nail polish, a VHS tape, a book of spells.

Karma from the Closet Floor

Lydia looked down at her nails in disgust. Three of them were broken and all of them had chips in the new coats of nail polish. This divorce was now wreaking havoc on her manicure.nails

Sighing, she leaned against her bedroom wall where she had been sitting on the floor. She was surrounded by chaos. There were boxes were strewn in disarray, several large garbage bags sat near the door, and piles of clothes covered her bed. She’d been going at this for a week now, sorting through the rooms of her small house and it seemed like a never-ending task. She had no desire to continue living in the house; its ghosts were a constant, painful reminder of recent events. By putting off the inevitable for so long, she was forcing everything to be done in order to move out. The new owners would be arriving less than three weeks.

Fifteen years of marriage were piled high for her to sort, pack up, or discard. When Jacob left, he merely rolled out with a suitcase. He didn’t want the house, none of the furniture, appliances, dishes they had accumulated together. And, as he so eloquently phrased it, he didn’t want her either. He was leaving it all behind.

Tears threatened to spill from her eyes again. Lydia didn’t think she had enough bodily fluids left to cry anymore, but that didn’t seem to be the case. If she was honest with herself, it wasn’t so much him that she was crying over. While she had truly loved him in the beginning, Jacob had become an insensitive bastard in the last year. The truth was, it didn’t really come as a surprise that he was leaving her for some simpering blonde, a sycophant with whom he had been cheating on her for months. Things had been going downhill for a quite a while, but divorce meant failure to her and so she stuck with him long after she should have let it go. No, it was simply the slap-in-the-face rejection; it was the message a cheater sends to their partner. You’re not enough. You can’t be what I need. You aren’t good enough for me anymore. You’re a loser. Each phrase, an emotional, selfish slap to her self-esteem.

Lifting herself, albeit begrudgingly, to her feet, Lydia went into the bathroom to blow her nose on some toilet paper. She caught a brief glimpse of herself in the mirror and shuddered. All her renewed crying  had turned her face in a puffy, blotchy mess.  She tried to ignore the lump forming in her throat, threatening to cause another waterfall of tears and turned off the bathroom light.

cheesecakeMaking her way into the kitchen, she opened the refrigerator with the hope that some sustenance was what she needed to help revive her spirits. She was greeted by the sight of a few bottles of water and two pieces of cheesecake. Just what she needed! Grabbing the pan of cheesecake and one of the bottles, she made her way into the living room where she sat on her couch. It was one of the only places in the house that still had an open space.

Biting into a forkful of creamy bliss, she made a mental inventory of what still needed done. Most of the house was packed up. She had made multiple trips to Goodwill. So many in fact, that they greeted her by name and she felt she had provided enough items for them to open another store. She had dragged bag after bag of trash to the curb. She dreaded the round of cursing that was sure to ensue when the trash man came tomorrow, but she had at least done the courtesy of calling them and warning of the mountain waiting to be hauled away.

All that remained really was her bedroom. Their bedroom. God, how many nights had he come home to her after being with that nasty little skank and she had been clueless? How does a person do that? Go fuck someone else and then come home to your spouse and lay there as if nothing had happened? How deep a level of selfishness must there be inside to be so callous?

Sniffing and biting into piece number two of cheesecake, Lydia thought of the other day when she came across their wedding album. Flipping through the pages, she had remembered every moment of the day. The sight of Jacob’s smiling face as he held her hand to his lips, her adoring gaze at him, their bodies framed in a heart shaped matte in the final photo, had sent her into a rage. Betraying asshole! She had grabbed a pair of scissors that she had for the packing tape, and proceeded to cut up almost every single picture. She only saved the ones that had her parents in them, both gone now due to a horrific car accident. She cut just Jacob out of those. She did the same to her wedding footage, still on a VHS tape. She pulled out the ribbons of tape and cut them.

Somehow she had to pull herself together. She had always been an independent person. She had married for love, not to be taken care of. Yet here she was, feeling completely helpless and useless.

“What the hell happened to you?” she whispered out loud.

Lydia got up and threw the now empty pan and dirty fork into the sink, and the water bottle into the trash. Taking a deep breath to clear her thoughts, she went back to the bedroom. As she picked up clothes from the closet floor to be boxed up, she uncovered two books that had been buried under one of the piles.

bookShe remembered tossing them there as she went through her stacks of books, debating on whether or not to keep them. One of them was a book of spells, something she had purchased when she had been going through a curious Wiccan phase. She had stopped reading it when her long-dormant, childhood Baptist guilt surfaced and hid it away in a drawer to collect dust and age. The second was an empty journal book. It had been given to her as a white elephant exchange gift, and while she had never written in it, she had kept it anyway for unknown reasons.

Taping up and labeling the last box of clothes, Lydia then turned to the trash bags and began to haul them one by one to the curb. My God, the pile was huge! There were at least 25 bags. She stopped counting at 25 at least. Hopefully she would sleep through the trash man’s tirade in the morning.

Returning to the house and locking the doors, Lydia took a long and well-earned hot shower. The water helped relax her and in doing so she began to form her game plan to get her life back on track. As an independent book editor, she wouldn’t have to face an office full of people during her emotional healing. She could work on herself from the comfort of her home.

Pulling the covers down to crawl into bed, she again noticed the two books. Taking the book of spells, she decided that it wouldn’t hurt to finish it. Maybe she could even find a spell or two to help Karma find Jacob and his blonde sooner rather than later. The thought cheered her and she set it on the night stand.

The journal was another matter. Getting under the covers, she turned it over in her hands wondering what to do with it. She thought for several moments and then reached out to the top of a box near the bed, and grabbed the sharpie she had been using to label everything. Opening the journal to page one, she paused and then carefully wrote:

Each day I will find

Another piece of me

Remaking the person

I used to be.

For the first time in weeks, she smiled.

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Thanks again Rona for sharing your work with us!

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Special Announcement from the World’s Perfect Men

You. Yes, I’m talking to you. You should be writing. No, not your homework. Nay, do transcribe that email. Ne’ermore shall you pen your manuscript due in July.

Instead,2bd2349e705ab50331e6705591b6b2ca I must ask you to wordsmith something bigger, something more important. I must ask you to write something fun like a writing prompt (which is listed below)!

Look here: February Writing Prompt

f4b1a5222eab454665b088d34b490600In this great big world with all of our texts and emails and snail mail and assignments, you should be having fun with your words. I promise the time you spend on a prompt is small in comparison to the struggle to start that research paper or answering some responsibility-enducing emails. Not that I’m suggesting you procrastinate.
I’m suggesting you use this creative outlet to prepare. What better way to find an inventive introduction to a science research paper than to write about how a character gains superpowers during their summer vacation from a chemical spill? No other way to begin in my book.

664d504242f676f28f957bba258ea522Or how about you prepare to pay bills by writing about a garage sale where you can buy unbreakable courage or x-ray vision? Sounds like you’d really remember the importance of money while writing that.
For whatever reason, set aside some time and take a risk. Try something new. Try writing from a prompt. And if nothing else, at least you’ll have done something fun!

Check out the official post again here and if you have questions I’m always available!

Side note: The reason why the three men above were chosen is because I, and many others, have confirmed that they are perfection. Not in a creepy omg you must be mine you are perfect. Perfect in terms of great role models and wondrous beings to watch perform and live. If there was any need to appoint representatives of the human race say in terms of meeting another alien race formally– these men would aptly and flawlessly represent us as a species. All of the below qualities can be applied to each man and highlights the benefit of having them represent us.

Enthusiastic and deeply dedicated to their work and loved ones.

Artistically and passionately superior in their field (acting).

Jawlines-Seriously, you can’t disagree.

Wonderfully goofy and creative on and off camera.

Phenomenal dancers.

Voices of gods-all are equally talented in vocals, which I might add is not their field of choice. Just gifted with that much talent it oozes out of their pores.

Perfectly coiffed/tousled hair.

Grins that make you weak in the knees.

Overall, stunningly generous and kind human beings to their fans and strangers.

Basically….perfection. And each one represents their country of origin. England, Scotland, and US.

So. Yeah. They’re amazing. But so are you.
Happy Reading and writing my darlings!

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Day 9: 12 Days of Blogmas

Another more relaxing post for Blogmas.

stock-vector-santa-zombie-walking-with-hands-in-front-112995805

Blargh Little children brainssss!

AND ZOMBIE SANTA!

This is a post with fiction!! Fiction from my manuscript Dollhouse Daughter!

I know my minions will be excited to get a glimpse at some of my well-revised work that, not to brag too much, has its merits. These two scenes are from the prologue and gasp! were both written via prompts. The fateful semester with Janice had many positives, one of which being that almost every single prompt I was given I used to write new content for my manuscript.

This is unlike what most writers use prompts for as the likelihood that taking almost completely unrelated items such as prompts which can vary from: use these set of words, write; here is a setting and a set of rules, write; here is the beginning five words to a sentence, write; here is a picture, write.

I was writing a YA novel with magical realism (specifying in vodou) and all of my prompts could have been way off base. I could have had: write a story set in a western ghost town, use this picture of a spaceship and write, etc. All of which would make my job, to write and make the writing relevant to my work in progress incredibly difficult.

In truth, I was just lucky. They were aptly detailed (not too much, not too little) and I was able to quickly write scenes I needed rather than nonsense I would never use. These two scenes were the most emotionally satisfying when used with the prompt. Shown below are the prompts that inspired the scene and then the scene. Enjoy my lovelies!

1.Bathrooms. Marion Winik (wonderful author that was a guest for our program) mentioned the fear of writing bathrooms, and now we shall tackle it. Also, read the link to help understand the use of bathrooms for characterization.Part of being a writer means having to ground your reader in the characters, which may require them using the bathroom. Your prompt is to write a character in or using the bathroom.

From the outside Azalee’s weathered one-bedroom apartment looked like a garden shed. Cracked mortar held the faded bricks into place, and the roof lost patches of brown shingles as a man might lose his hair in old age. Azalee stood in the cramped bathroom stark naked as she stared at herself in the mirror. She hated this bathroom, so claustrophobic and meager. There was only enough room to fit a toilet, a porcelain tub, and a smudged mirror with chunks missing from the bottom of the glass. Through the screen of the porthole window, the traffic outside her apartment blared up to the second floor where she dressed for the evening.

The bare light bulb reflected the dingy yellow of the walls onto her skin, which left Azalee feeling dirty even after she turned off the light. She warmed the sweet smelling cocoa butter in her hands before massaging it into every dimple of her trim abdomen and shoulders. She took extra care to rub the stretch marks and the scar protruding down her empty womb. Every time Azalee touched the incision, she could feel the ghost of the child stir inside her as if it was still alive. Her lips trembled as she whispered the unborn child’s name.

“Johanna,” her thick accent slurring the consonants together. “My Johanna.”

She brushed away tears from her cheeks and moved to the porcelain tub filled with more herbs to cleanse her legs and feet. Fresh sprigs of mint floated in a few inches of lukewarm water along with halved limes and sage. She used a small blue mug to pour the fragrant water over her legs, and let out a sigh of contentment from the warmth. Just as she picked up a towel, she heard sharp knocking from downstairs.

She quickly rubbed herself down and dusted herself in a mixture of cornstarch and cocoa before adjusting a backless red blouse and pulled on a pair of slick leather pants. Azalee flew down toward her apartment door as another knock echoed through the front hall. When she opened it, Jean knelt before her on the stoop as a knight would honor his queen. The pedestrians ignored the scene, hurrying home before the chill of the rain seeped through their coats and into their bones. She kissed her dark-skinned lover lightly on the forehead and he followed her silently into a dark alleyway.

2.This prompt was simple. Write using an abstract concept (like eternity/courage/love) or animals. I chose animals.

The chatter of bones pierced the comfortable silence of the quaint Georgian courtyard. Azalee threw the contents of a velvet pouch with force into a decorative wooden pan balanced on the brick walkway. A white robe concealed her street clothes in keeping with the traditional Vodou attire. She had only a few minutes to complete the ritual of reading the bones before the energy from the lunar eclipse would fade.  Azalee peered intently at the odds and ends mingled with the bleached animal bones, clenching her hands into her lap because the loa wouldn’t appreciate such nervousness coming from a priestess. She calculated how each piece had landed next to one another, letting the flow of the reading guide what answer the loa would give her.

Her lover gently grasped her shoulder, giving his reassurance, despite the growing fear in her heart. It was at the will of the loa that she would find purpose again. A reason for her sacrifice. An explanation to why her daughter was taken from her before her first breath. With the reading complete, she returned the bones to the pouch, and cleared her thoughts to meditate. The clucking of their offering, a black hen, also soothed her nerves as it bobbed back and forth along one of the paths. Jean returned to the recess of a nearby alcove, waiting for his part in the ritual—spilling the blood of the chicken as an offering to the gatekeeper, Papa Legba.

A cup of black coffee steamed beside her even in the blistering humidity, and brought a sense of comfort as Jean offered the hen and her blood to the loa. The rich scent of coffee had muddled with the coppery tang of blood and Jean retreated to his drum and began to play behind her. The scents took her mind away from the distractions of modern life. She no longer heard cars honking across the road, the glare of the street lamp, or the taste of her lover’s cigarette smoke still on her tongue. Only the offerings of the ritual and the soft drumming remained, leaving her open to the will of the loa.

“Cassandra,” the wind called once more that day.

She turned to see Jean in the passion of the beat, seemingly unaware of the voice in the wind. With the voice came a vision, although this one was not as clear as what she’s accustomed to seeing. She saw flashes of books, a head of white blonde hair, and the pale, almost translucent skin of a young girl. The face was concealed from her, but the emotions that accompanied brought her out of the vision and caused a heart-wrenching cry to escape her lips. Jean stopped drumming and ran to her, checking her pulse and brushing her braids out of the way. Tears streamed down her face and yet Azalee had reason to smile.

“The loa show me our future, Cheri. There is a girl that we must find. A girl we will deliver from a life of pain and who will deliver us.”

Azalee thanked the spirits again for their guidance, setting the bowl of chicken blood before her as the offering. Jean knelt beside her now, not speaking, simply allowing her prayer to guide them in the right direction. To the girl named Cassandra.

 

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse at my first novel.

Happy Reading/Writing!

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Day 8: 12 Days of Blogmas

Merry Blogmas! First, check out this glorious Christmas photo. Isn’t it amazing?

christmas

Third Rule of Prompts:

Don’t always go stag. Trying taking a friend date to prompt.

This is a good rule for school dances, family events, and when writing a prompt. One of the first goals I had in this 12 Days of Blogmas series was to share the appeal and the justification for my love of prompts and hopefully inspire others to start using them as a tool to improve their writing.

It was once again with Janice that the aha moment reached me about the secret treasures of prompts. It was, I believe, the first or second workshop when we began the prompts. We were given 20 minutes to write as much as possible and then we would volunteer to share with the class.

For me, writing sprints are enjoyable and difficult. I enjoy the pressure and the force of being under the clock, but my brain doesn’t always catch up and I end up getting hung up on a word or phrase, or just completely blank out. However, the prompts help me to get past that. In several of the workshop prompts I managed to get whole pages written and while this was exciting enough for me, I was also thrilled at the idea of seeing the quality and personality of my new peers in the group.

And when it came time to share our newly minted pieces, I was struck by how diverse the ideas were. This is one of the biggest reasons to do prompts with others. You can see and enjoy the magic of the human brain and how each person brings something new and wonderful to the table.

Rion, who I have mentioned in many previous posts, easily brought me the most joy and surprise when doing the prompt sprints. They are so well-read and filled to the brim with creativity that it seems otherworldly to know they can develop 5 to 10 PAGES in that short 20 minute period.

Now this is drastically different, by comparison to my one to two paragraphs (maximum 1 PAGE) that I averaged per sprint. And while I may put a little too much time into each word, Rion’s brain is lightening fast and they are able to deliver magnificent quality work for a first draft. I mean, I couldn’t find anything even remotely bad about it.

But back to the point, it was even more thrilling to see how differently our stories had developed from a similar beginning. By the end of the semester I was convinced that I needed to start a group where my friends/writers could join we’d do a prompt a month and share it with one another. For privacy’s sake we made the group on Goodreads where we could post as much as we wanted and our unedited work wouldn’t be consumed by readers other than ourselves. It was somewhat necessary at the time because we were just getting started.

It ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made social media-wise. I loved the interaction, the togetherness built from the exercises, even though it lasted only three short months.

I challenge you minions to take a prompt from the interwebs (or my last post) and ask a friend to do one together (cowriting a story can be an interesting experiment) or do a small competition with one another to see who can get to a certain word count by a certain time using a prompt.

In other words, prompt together. Write together. Enjoy this festive time to write something new.

Happy Reading and writing!

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Day 6: 12 Days of Blogmas

Today is another special post. Taking a break from rules and tips of prompts to give you a winter-themed piece to chill your bones.

This is extra special post for the Spotted Writer because this piece is written by my best friend, Megan. She is working ruthlessly to finish her first novel, and on the road to completion there is always a time where parts of the unfinished product are shared. Sometimes it’s right after you’ve written a scene and sometimes it’s only when you’ve finished the first draft. I’ve convinced her that now is the time to share some of her glorious wordsmithing with us!

Now I know my minions, as in all things, you will read and be fair when it comes to shy writers or new writers or anything posted on this page.

This is the prologue to Megan’s fantasy work in progress. If magic and wonder and intrigue and drama and life and death and good and evil appeal to you, so will this. Without further pomp and circumstance, here is the prologue to Megan’s work in progress.

Prologue

Zavos stood out on the balcony of the Castle of Veratis, looking out over the crystal blue Glass Bay. The Bay was aptly named due to the treacherous icebergs and the water, so chillingly cold it felt like being cut with tiny shards of glass. The sky above was grey and thick with fog and small black birds could be seen diving in and out of it, occasionally sweeping down and gliding just over the Bay, wetting the bottom of their feathers. Zavos wore a thick blue robe with a grey shawl to keep warm as he gripped the railing, losing himself in the endlessness of the waters below. His salt and pepper hair tumbled down around his shoulders, scraggly and unkempt, locks of hair knotted into his beard.

Even untidy and growing older, you could tell by looking at his hooked nose and icy-grey eyes, he had been handsome once. He often came out to clear his head, he couldn’t help finding the beauty in something so dangerously calm. He twitched his fingers together, nervous about the calm in Azia, wondering if it would last or if it would only progress into a terrible storm of war. These things often occupied his mind, after living for four hundred and thirteen years you tend to see history repeat itself.

Maybe this time will be different, the Beks have been laid to rest, the boggarts have retreated underground but is it enough? Magic always seems to corrupt those not strong enough to wield it.

“Brother! Are you still out here? It’s freezing.” Arivan swept through the patio door out to the balcony with his typical exuberance, in a burgundy robe embroidered with gold swirling designs. He had thick, curly blonde hair, peppered with grey and a shorter beard that mixed red, blonde, and grey. He held a tiny white teacup, which was billowing steam and handed it to Zavos. Zavos accepted the cup graciously and gave thanks. He pushed his beard back and held the cup just below his chin for a moment, letting the steam warm it before raising the cup to his lips to take a careful sip, droplets of tea hugging the ends of his mustache.

“Thank you, brother.” Zavos acknowledged again gratefully.

“You’ve missed dinner…again. Alaya is growing concerned, caring for your Neri has been trying for her, he’s grown rebellious in his teenage years.”

“And you think teaching him magic is the answer? Do you think it’s helping in any way?”

“Oh, Zavos not this again. He has the gift, he is the son of a creator. We are the only two that remain in this world with this powerful of magic. He has to be taught, we will not live forever and he will be left to rule Azia.”

“What if I don’t want that for him?” Zavos snapped.

“Who else? The humans? The gifted ones can barely perform the most simple spells. The elves are too unfocused and self-absorbed. The keepers serve their purpose already, and don’t even get me started on the Octarians, those stubborn high elf bastards have been itching to rise to power since the dawn of Azia.”

“Well, what of Odrin? He holds great magic.”

“Odrin is a shell of what he was. You know Neri is the only option, why do you fight it so? Please tell me it’s not jealousy over his learning from me. I know for a fact he’d be thrilled if you taught him.”

“Jealousy? Don’t be foolish. No, magic corrupts, look what it’s done to you, you’ve become obsessed. You say I’m distracted? Where are you at night? Holed away in your library doing God knows what till all hours of the night and whispering secrets with Neri. I don’t want to watch the world we built burn down to ash and rubble.”

“You worry too much, brother. Magic is beautiful. Without it our world wouldn’t exist. Azia is as quiet as it’s ever been. Be content with that and come inside and see your family, soothe their worry. Magic is never going away, not as long as I have breath.”

Arivan threw his arm around Zavos, causing his tea to dribble down the cup and singe his finger. He led him inside and Zavos joined him reluctantly, glancing back longingly at the icy water.

****

Arivan began the climb up the spiral steps to the keep, that just about reached the clouds. He could just barely make out the lighthouse style tower up at the top. After reaching his third circle around, he reached his black painted wooden staff, with a ruby in the center of enclosed branches, up towards the sky and shut his eyes, envisioning the top of the steps until his body tickled with pricks of electricity. Every pore was on fire and every hair shook as he felt himself enveloped in a shroud of magic.

When he opened his eyes he was at the top of the winding stairs, standing beside a rickety old railing that when he looked over, saw nothing but a blur of green, brown, and blue, swirled together like a watercolor. The height made his belly flip flop a bit so he pulled himself away from the railing and faced the entrance to the keeper’s tower. He looked up at the great cobblestone structure that appeared to be on it’s last legs, arching to the right as if falling. Arivan felt the magic here, weaving into the air and keeping the building sturdy. He felt for the brass knob on the curved circular door and pulled it open.

When he stepped inside he was blown away, as he was on every occasion he had been to the tower, staring at the full shelves of books that lined each wall. The circular room had the tallest walls that seemed to lean slightly, and yet every book was in it’s proper place. Ladders lined every other group of shelves and inside was drafty and smelled of mildew and dust. he saw the keepers, in brown robes huddled around a circular table covered in giant books with a map spread across the center. Zavos was already there and was the first to look up and meet Arivan’s gaze. His eyes looked hollow, he was nothing but a shell of a man hunched over, his hair grayed and fingers trembling over the pages of a book he was holding. Arivan walked in confidently towards his brother, pushing back the curly blond locks from his face.

“Hello brother, you haven’t aged a day, still playing your magic tricks I see.” Zavos said.

Arivan tried to brush off the jab.

“I was quite sorry to hear about Alaya.”

Zavos winced at the mention of her name and Arivan reached out a hand to touch Zavos’ shoulder but he shrugged it away.

“I did notice you weren’t at the funeral.”

“I didn’t think I’d be welcome…I should have listened to you.”

“I don’t want to discuss this brother, let’s get to the matter at hand. We know why we’re here, the magic in Azia has corrupted you and everything here, just as I said it would.”

“Brother, you are grieving, it’s not so bad, sure there are a few violent uprisings, but it’s nothing that can’t be resolved. Magic is what created this place, OUR magic, surely that can’t be bad?”

“I disagree. You taught Neri dark magic against my wishes and now him and my wife are both gone. Everywhere I turn I see corruption and greed, it disgusts me and it’s time something was done.”

Arivan sighed and looked down from his brother’s cold gaze back to the table, taking a closer look at the maps which depicted what looked like a venn diagram. Two circles filled with land markings, mountains, and vast blue waters with an overlap in the middle. Zavos watched as Arivan studied the maps for a few minutes before speaking.

“Are we in agreement?”

“It doesn’t seem that I have much say in the matter, what if I don’t agree to aid in this plan?”

“Then I’ll be forced to strike you down.”

Arivan felt the sting of his brother’s biting remark and sadness swirled up in his stomach, making him nauseated. He tried to process the gravity of the decision before him but his head was clouded with emotion, he dropped his head and almost whispered

“Fine, I don’t want to cause you any more pain.”

Arivan looked across at the keepers with a serious, but numb expression. “Let’s begin”.

Happy Reading/writing!

Be sure to check out the link to Megan’s blog, which has a few tidbits of her non-novel writing: https://foxyintronerd.wordpress.com/

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Writing With Janice Eidus: MFA Prompt Compilation

So, I haven’t had much time to post about my wonderful third residency, but I am proud to post the piece I read at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens tonight with some stellar colleagues in the program.

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Carlow has such amazing writers and events that challenges me at every turn. This pieces uses the characters from my manuscript, and is compiled from two prompts given by my mentor, Janice Eidus, who has shuttled me to knew writing heights. Please let me know comments, criticisms, and what you enjoy about it. Happy reading and writing!

The doorbell echoed down the hall, waking Cassie from her mid-afternoon nap. She brushed her blond hair away, so that she could see the carved elephant clock on the mantle.

 

Mom wasn’t expecting any company while she’s out, and Dad doesn’t get home until 5:00 pm. I am not answering that.

 

Whoever was outside began knocking incessantly until she yelled, “Go away, I have a guard dog and he’s trained to bite sensitive parts.” The knocking continued, forcing Cassie to lose the comfort of the worn wool blanket and go to the door.She pulled a stool to see through the peephole, but found no one waiting on the porch steps. Instead, a clear vase with delicate, periwinkle orchids were placed in front.

 

She raced back into the living room, tearing open the curtains of the bay windows, secretly hoping the mysterious delivery person would be hiding in the bushes. There was no one in sight. Clutching her mother’s enormous red umbrella, she flipped the dead bolt open and cautiously walked outside.

 

Once she confirmed the porch was safe, Cassie made two laps around the house, even checking the locked shed in the back. When she returned to the porch, the umbrella was released from her sweaty palms in favor of the embellished card in the flower arrangement. It read thinking of you on the front.

 

I guess Dad bought these for Mom, but he didn’t tell me that they were coming to the house. Maybe it was a surprise for

 

Her thoughts melted away as she turned to the interior of the card. In neat cursive writing it read:

 

Cassandra, I have been watching you. For weeks, I have watched as you live a beautiful life and I want to be near you. Meet me at the play yard five blocks from Lewisham Library before sunset. I will be waiting.

 
The unsigned card fell from between her fingers, landing close to the dropped umbrella. It didn’t matter where it landed because the horror of its contents was already flooding Cassie’s body with adrenaline.
 

I’ll bury the flowers, so Mom doesn’t find them in the trash. This creep is not getting away with this. I’ll make him know that he can’t follow around 13-yearold girls for fun.

 

Back inside, Cassie dressed for war. Covered in black from head to toe, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her father messaged her, explaining that they would be out late for dinner.

 

They won’t notice I’m gone.

 

By the time she got there, the sun was already dipping beneath the London skyline. At first, she saw a few children playing on the swings, but it wasn’t long before they vanished into the orange twilight. Cassie ventured towards an abandoned brick building that looked new in the decaying area. Sitting by the entrance to the building was an ordinary, wood chair covered in a chipping white paint.There were flakes of paint littering the spot where the chair sat, but the flakes distracted her for only a second as a dark man in a ragged yellow tunic stood to greet her.

 

He smiled at her like a father would watching his children; his pearly teeth gleaming in the remaining light. Cassie’s eyes widened, her palms sweating again, and only one thought screamed inside her head.

 

Run!

 

Turning quickly, she picked up speed and ran, pushing herself further from the danger. The sweat seeping from her pores as she ran from the man she wanted to forget.

 

Why me? I wish I was brave enough to staybut no. I’m a cowardall talkIf only Nathan was here, I need my big brother.

 

Once she passed some recognizable landmarks, her hands unclenched and nail marks peppered the palms of her hands.

 

The only answer I have is to run. I bet Nathan isn’t worrying about me anymoreBackpacking through France with his girl friend, why would hewish I had his uncomplicated lifehe can have the stalkers.

 

The house came into view, and was exactly the way Cassie had left it–dark and inviting. Entering the familiar space, she headed for her brother’s room as she frequently did in recent weeks.

 

It still smells like him.

 
 

 

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