Friday, October 21, 2011

Trapped

The assignment this week is to express or elicit fear in 160 characters or less:

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

I'm stuck at the light. It's still red. Why isn't it turning green? Why? Oh no. He's coming back.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tattoo

Because I really like these writing memes but so frequently forget to write them the night before, I've started playing a new game with myself. By the time I have a chance to think about it on the day it's "due", I check the linky. If there are fewer than 50 links added, then I have to run and write something fast. If there are more than 50, I'm off the hook.

It's been kind of a fun exercise and I've written a few things that surprised me. It's usually not edited (much) and not particularly well thought out, but it's getting words down and thinking in a new way. And I love it.

This week's topic is tattoos. Why is it important? What does it mean?  The word limit is 300 and this one is 264.

Con crit is always welcome!


Amber walked past the shop three or four times before sucking in a deep breath and the courage to step inside.

A bell jingled on the door overhead and she stood in a tiny waiting room. A fluorescent light flickered, casting an eerie glow on the walls and making her feel dizzy. Or maybe that was nerves.

“Hello?” she called. The only sound was a faint buzzing from down the hall, which stopped at her voice.

A man appeared, younger than she expected, and cleaner. His hair was short and he had recently shaved, and his clothes were neat, almost professional. When he asked, “Can I help you?” there was a lilt to his voice and she thought he was probably a decent tenor.

She breathed easier now and pulled a folded page from her pocket. “I’m here for a tattoo. Can you do this?”

He answered yes and then studied the design. “I’m finishing up with someone now. You wanna come back in about 30 minutes?”

“I’ll wait,” she said and sat on the lone plastic chair beside a table covered in design books.

Amber had never considered herself the type to get a tattoo. Had tried to talk Trista out of both of hers, and the next one she was planning. But Trista was gone now. Lost in a night of stupidity and alcohol. When Amber found the design among some of Trista’s things, a swirly pattern of shapes and letters, she kept it. And now she was here, honoring her best friend in the only way she knew how.

“Ready?” The man reappeared.

Amber nodded. “I am now.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hawthorne Hall

This is a little taste from the novel I'm currently working on. This week's Red Writing Hood prompt is all about setting, and this is a scene I just wrote. I kinda like it.


A walkway led between two old, white buildings into a wide courtyard where a large fountain gurgled and most students passed by without seeing the beautiful sculpted figures at the center. They were unrecognizable to me, but there was something in the way they rounded and glowed in the daylight that spoke peace. I’d bring Twila here later and ask her about them.

There were numbers on the buildings and Hawthorne Hall was off in a secluded corner of the quad, shaded by jacaranda trees that stubbornly clung to the last of their purple flowers. The front door opened automatically as I approached, and the rubber soles of my shoes squealed loudly on the tiled hallway as I looked for the stairs.

The second floor was carpeted, an ugly, stained, gray Berber that was probably next on a long list of renovations and updates. The offices ran along one side of the corridor, doors in need of repainting, windows covered in flyers and announcements and years old tape that had never been scraped off.

There was something in the way years of school history layered upon themselves that made me feel at home.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trade

Today's Write on Edge prompt is memoir. And the assignment is to conjure an image, a person, a season. Or a moment.

Here's my attempt. In *approximately* 100 words. Constructive criticism is always appreciated.


The tremor was worse. It had given way to shaking. Terrifying, unnatural shaking. At the traffic light, I halted, waiting for the green. The light changed, but I held my breath, not exhaling until I was through the intersection. The car lurched. "Please," I begged. "Just a little more." With another shudder, we crested the hill, rolled into a turn at the next street, and steered into a parking lot. She waited for me. Pale blue and sparkling in the morning light. An hour later, I took her with me. My heart was heavy as I drove away from 100,000 miles of memories. And it was full of anticipation for a new adventure.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Uptight Lawyer Seeks Free Spirit

I haven't done one of these in ages. I don't know why. Every week, I really want to. But then time gets away from me and I just don't make it a priority.

I saw this week's prompt, though, and it was too much fun!

The prompt this week is to write a personal ad for a character. This is for a FICTIONAL CHARACTER. This is NOT about ME.


Whenever people ask me about myself, I never know quite what to say. How do I tell you who I am in just a few paragraphs on a site where you're browsing through profiles, looking for someone who's pretty enough and interesting enough and funny enough to convince you to say a simple hello? I can walk into a court room and tell a judge and a jury why they shouldn't send my client to prison for the next thirty years, but telling you why you should give me thirty minutes over coffee? It's not quite as easy.

But I'll give it a shot.

I've run marathons on five continents and I'm on the waiting list to run in Antarctica in 2014. I first ran a 5K a few years ago to support a friend's foundation, but quickly learned how much I love it. Running relaxes me. It helps me unwind after long days in the office.

I combine my love of running with my love of travel. Like I said, I've run marathons on five continents, but I've traveled to more than 60 countries and every state. I'm working my way through Canada next. Some people collect shot glasses or post cards. I collect stamps in my passport.

I'm looking for someone who isn't threatened by a self-sufficient career woman that works long hours and loves every minute. Someone with a carefree spirit to balance my structure and routine. Someone spontaneous and with a sense of adventure who loves life and doesn't take things too seriously. And, preferably, someone who can cook.

I can't wait to hear from you!



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Pledge Allegiance...

You really want to know my most embarrassing moment?

Well, too bad. I'm not sharing that one. But here's one I don't mind telling you about:


The first time I went through customs, I traveled alone. I was twenty years old and far less confident than I pretended to be, but I managed to navigate the labyrinth that is the Toronto International Airport and locate my Canadian hosts on the other side of the International Arrivals gate. 

The American had arrived.

I was there on Official Business. 

Official business as the California representative to Ontario, Canada for an international youth organization.

This was an important trip and a lot of people were excited to meet the blond girl from California. 

So excited were they that a big meeting was scheduled to invite all the local chapters and all of their members to attend. 

It was a whirlwind of meeting new people, mostly teenage girls, and I was unused to being the center of attention. Though I won't pretend I didn't love every minute of it.

The meeting began and I put on my best Serious Face. I was, after all, expected to be a good example to the fine young ladies in attendance and to represent California with pride and dignity.

The Canadian flag was presented and I joined in a rousing chorus of O Canada, an anthem I am proud to know by heart.

And then, out of respect for their visiting foreign dignitary, the American flag was presented and those Canadians rang out an impressive rendition of the Star Spangled Banner

Followed by my own national anthem, the young lady conducting the meeting followed our custom and invited me to Pledge Allegiance to my flag. I stood there in that room full of Canadians. The only American. I smiled wide with my hand firmly over my heart and began.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

I stopped. 

What's the next line? How does it go? Oh my gosh I'm butchering the pledge in front of a whole bunch of foreigners! I'm embarrassing my country! I'm a national disgrace! What comes next?? I can't believe I don't remember!

A woman near me whispered, "And to the republic..."

I gasped.

"And to the Republic forwhichitstands, 
one nation under God, 
indivisible, withlibertyandjusticeforall."

My cheeks burned with humiliation. I'd forgotten the very pledge I'd been reciting since the age of 5. I'd had to be prompted. And, even worse, I'd had to be prompted by a Canadian.

It doesn't get much more embarrassing than that.

Well, except for this one time. At the beach...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beautiful

It's time again to play with the girls from the Red Dress Club!

This week's prompt is about physical beauty and how it can open (or close) doors.

I honestly didn't take my time with this one. I just threw something together because I want to get back into the habit of participating. So it's really not edited and I'm sure I could make it infinitely better with a bit more attention, but, as always, I'm open to feedback.


April reached for her glass of water, sipping carefully through the straw. She didn't want to smudge her lipstick, after all.

He was talking about something. His job? His relationship with his mother? 

She didn't know. She'd lost track, her mind instead focusing on the blond curls that played at his ears, drawing attention to impossibly high cheek bones and a perfect jawline. His eyes were a shade of blue she'd never seen before. They were the color of the sky on a particularly vivid and cloudless day. 

He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

She raked her fingers through her brown hair. Every trace of curl had vanished before she'd even reached the restaurant. And she was certain the pimple that had been threatening to appear on her chin had finally reared its ugly head. She laughed at something he said, using the moment as an excuse to cover her mouth, hiding the teeth that desperately needed braces. She tried to laugh with her mouth closed, but knew that just made her face look weird.

What had she been thinking? She'd seen the pictures on his profile. She knew he was far more attractive when she accepted this date. And yet she'd agreed to meet him. 

He was nice. Polite. Friendly. If he was arrogant, he was doing a fine job of hiding it.

But it was obvious to April in those initial few minutes. This was never going to work.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Day Long Awaited

I'm back!

For short periods of time, anyway.

I broke my arm two months ago and have been trying to keep it sort of easy just maintaining my regular blog. Anyway, I'm back today with my entry for The Red Dress Club's memoir topic: Graduation. Here goes.



It was time.

I hadn't been nervous until now. Even thinking about all the things that could go wrong...

falling down the stairs
tripping across the stage
the cap falling off
getting my gown caught

None of that made me nervous. If any of those things had happened, I would have shrugged it off, laughed about it, and remembered it was graduation and no one would be around to think of that girl who face planted at the feet of the Dean. 

I marched the recessional in step behind a stranger. My cheeks burned as I moved ever closer to the door. To them.

I didn't know the last time my parents had been in a room together. Years.

The divorce had been friendly enough. As friendly as divorces can go, anyway. But somewhere along the way, that all changed. Maybe it was when Dad remarried. Or when Mom let us change religions without asking him about it first. Over the years, the friendliness turned ugly until they finally stopped speaking altogether.

And now they were reunited for my college graduation, which came about five years later than it should have. 

My parents are both reasonable adults, civil and diplomatic when the situation calls for it. I learned that from both of them. It's a trait that has served me well in many occasions. Mom even said it would be good to get it out of the way before my brother's wedding a few months later.

Still, I was nervous. 

At the door I said good bye to a few of the classmates who had become friends over the past two years. We hugged and promised to email and were quickly swamped by a sea of crying mothers and proud grandparents and kids that whined about being hungry.

I scanned the crowd as best I could from my 5 feet and 4 inches, but my family was nowhere to be found. My cheeks burned as I imagined my parents going off in opposite directions, refusing to speak or to be seen together. 

Would that really happen?

I stopped and took a deep breath and there was a tap on my shoulder.

It was my mother.

"Congratulations!" she practically screamed, pride radiating from her pores as she threw her arms around me. 

My dad hung back just a bit with my step-mom, my brother and his fiancĂ©e, letting us have our moment. When I let go of my mom, Dad stepped forward and offered his own congratulations. 

I watched them. Looking for signs of something. Of bitterness or friendliness. Anything that would reveal how the rest of the weekend would go.

Things seemed a little awkward. Or was that just me?

"We were talking about dinner," my mom said, shifting a meaningful look in my father's direction. "But we realized we don't know what's around here. Suggestions?"

I laughed. And threw out of couple of ideas. And then I went to dinner with my parents.



Monday, April 18, 2011

An Update

Hi, everyone.

If you also follow my regular blog, then you already know I broke my arm a couple of weeks ago. As a result, keeping up two blogs has just been too much.

I will be back to writing here as soon as I have better use of my right hand. I just wanted to assure you all that I haven't abandoned this space. It's just on hold for a little while.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thinking

This week's Red Dress Club prompt is to write about the picture below.

I decided to try writing a stream of consciousness type post for my character. This is still fiction, but who knows what may come out...

As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.






I'm not taking one.

I don't care that she brought them in "just for me." I'm not doing it.

Really? Pink? 

She did it on purpose. She knows I can't resist the pink frosting. 

Usually. 

I will today. 

I've been so good this month. Down ten pounds. Fourteen more to goal. I'm not ruining that over pink frosting and those stupid heart sprinkles.

Hearts are stupid.

What are they? Left over from Valentine's Day? That was like a month ago. 

Valentine's Day. That's stupid too. Why does anyone care about it so much? I mean, he "forgot" about it and did I freak out? No. It's not like I wanted to go out. And I don't need any more necklaces. It's just as well he didn't remember.

But seriously? He forgot? Did he set foot in a store this winter? With the red and the pink and the hearts everywhere? Who could forget? 

I want that donut.

It's begging me to eat it.

But she'll just love that, won't she? She's been trying to sabotage me ever since I fit back into these jeans. 

I love these jeans.

More than I'll love that donut.

I'll just eat half. Someone else will finish it. Just a little taste. 

Ah, hell. What's one donut gonna do?



Friday, March 18, 2011

The Favor

Today's theme for the Red Dress Club is "Detour."

I'm sharing a scene with the characters from my current novel. This scene appeared in the very first draft, but was cut when I later decided that it just didn't fit. I now look at it as more of a character development exercise.

You can give some constructive criticism if you'd like, but be aware that this is a very rough draft and I'm aware there are quite a few flaws. Just wanted to share it for fun.


The cell phone screamed while the traffic refused to move on the 101. I jammed the blue tooth in my ear and punched a button.

“Jason?”

My heart skipped. It was Holly. I tried to play it cool. “How’s Oklahoma?”

I could hear her eyes rolling. “If one more person shoves a plate of fried anything in front of me, I’m going to scream. Promise when I get back that we'll go to that sushi place.”

“Of course.”

“Hey, listen, I only have a minute because I have a meeting, but can you do me a favor?”

“Anything,” I said, and meant it.

“Can you run over to my place and pick up a file? I forgot to pack it and the girls in the LA office are useless. I need it faxed if you can.”

“No problem. When do you need it?”

“Yesterday.”

As I inched along the freeway, I eyed the southbound side where vehicles were actually moving. “Within the hour work for you?”

“You are the best, Jason! I could just kiss you right now.” If only. “I’ll text you the number. Thank you so much. You’re saving my life.”

I squeezed across two lanes crowded lanes to jumped off at the next exit and head the other way, which normally would have come to a screeching halt just because I was in a hurry. This morning, though, the fates smiled on me. It didn't even matter that I would be incredibly late to work. I was on a mission for Holly.

I let myself into the condo with a spare key. The place was quiet, and I remembered the roommate wasn't an early riser. Holly's bedroom was meticulous. The queen-sized bed boasted hospital corners, the duvet falling perfectly at the edges. The DVDs and books were organized neatly on shelves, alphabetized and categorized. I think she might have opted to be a librarian if she had not had such a keen interest in spending as much time as possible outside.

The file sat at the edge of the desk and I snatched it without lingering, then clicked through my phone for the nearest copy center and hoping they would have a fax.

The cross town freeway was too far away, so I inched through street traffic. The school zones were crowded as the schools welcomed a plethora of last minute stragglers.

It took thirty minutes to get to the copy center and I cursed the clock the entire way, hoping the boss hadn't yet noticed I wasn't at my desk.

I pulled into the Kinko's lot, dashed inside and ran to the counter, slamming the file down. The tattooed, pierced college student behind the counter stared at the pages for a second. “We charge four bucks per page, man.”

“Fine,” I said with a glance at the clock on the wall. This should have been done 30 minutes ago.

"It’s $12.80.”

“Twelve eighty? Where’d the eighty come from?”

“Plus tax.”

“Whatever. Fine.” I threw a twenty down on the counter and drummed my fingers. The kid counted change back slowly before turning his attention to the pages and the fax machine. Could he dial the number any slower?

He shoved a page into the feeder. Then the next. Then he slammed against the side and swore loudly. “Jammed,” was his only explanation.

Great. Just great. Holly hadn't called back yet. I hoped that was a sign her meeting had been delayed. I checked my phone again, just to be sure while the kid at the counter beat the fax machine without mercy.

“Oh, there it goes,” he said. “It was dialing.”

It felt like another twenty minutes before I blinked back into the sun and jabbed a number on the phone. Holly answered midway through the second ring and sounded surprised.

“Hey, I’m just getting out of a meeting. What’s up?” She sounded chipper, and I relaxed a bit, after bracing to be told off for the delay.

“Just wanted you to know that fax was sent. Did you get it yet?”

There was a pause.

“Oh yeah, someone is just handing it to me right now. Thanks. You didn’t have to do that. One of the girls in the office came through after all. I hope this wasn’t too much trouble.”

I squeezed the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white. "No," I said. "No problem."

When I arrived at work two hours later, no one noticed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

I'm back!

I know. I haven't written anything here on this blog in, like, two weeks. But I have a good excuse, really.

You see, I've FINALLY gotten back on track with finishing my novel. Finally. And I'm going to finish this draft by March 31st if it means going a week without sleep.

But anyway, that's not why you're here. You came by for this:


The vinyl kitchen chair stuck to the backs of my legs in the sticky summer heat. I gulped Kool-Aid, staining my upper lip a brilliant shade of fuschia and continued the search through a pile of cardboard pieces, finally locating the last corner of the puzzle that started to take shape on the table.

"Here, try this." Grandpa held a bowl to my level. It was filled with white chunks of something I had never seen before. Not in that form, anyway.

"What is it?" I sniffed at the contents.

"Just try it."

My younger brother Marc left his seat with a loud snap as vinyl peeled away from his skin. He grabbed a piece from the bowl without waiting to find out what it was. With a full mouth he pronounced it "delithuth."

Still, I hesitated. The kid ate Play-doh, after all. His palate wasn't exactly picky.

"You'll like it, I promise. And if you don't, there's a whole box of fudge-sicles in the freezer."

The promise of fudge-sicles was enough to convince me to do just about anything. I reached out and found the smallest bit, turning it over in my fingers, inspecting it carefully before committing my suspicious taste buds. Marc was reaching for his third by now and I shoved the piece in my mouth before I could talk myself out of it.

A strange combination of crispy and creamy mingled with sweet. I smiled. "What is it?"

"Fresh coconut," Grandpa said, as if the answer should have been obvious.

I was puzzled. Coconut came in shapes besides shredded? And shredded coconut had never tasted as delicious as this treat. I snagged another before Grandpa could take the bowl away.

Three weeks later, my third grade teacher began a unit about Hawaii. She pulled out a bowl filled with chunks of something white. "Who can tell me what this is?"

I raised my hand with pride and hope of another taste.

Friday, February 25, 2011

For Sale

It's time for another writing prompt from The Red Dress Club. This week's assignment is to write an eBay/Craig's List ad selling/giving away something from an ex. Mine is fiction. And an attempt at the male point of view.

Constructive Criticism is always appreciated. And craved, really. Because how can I improve otherwise?


FOR SALE OR TRADE

One dog. Breed? Don't know, don't care. It's small and it barks. Just like she did. All the time with the barking. Perfect for home with too much self-confidence that needs to be taken down a notch, or for someone who needs their entire schedule dictated by the tiny bladder of the most demanding bitch on the planet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Day

It's time for another writing prompt from The Red Dress Club. Only this one isn't fiction. Tuesday is all about memoir. Which means, this is a true story.


The sun was bright in that deceptive way that makes it look much warmer outside than it really is.

A yellow scarf was wound carefully around my neck. I tugged at it with a mittened hand, unaccustomed to such trappings. The matching wool cap made my forehead itch, but pulling it off made my unprotected ears too cold. I kept it on.

We left the truck parked beside the road and hiked up a small hill, my six-year-old feet sinking into the several inches of fresh snow that had fallen the night before. Dad proclaimed it the perfect place and gently lobbed a snowball in my direction. It landed on my shoulder and I giggled as I tried to match his ability in the craft and toss of a perfect snowball.

My mother and little brother were supposed to be there, but they were home with the flu. So it was just me and my dad. All day in the mountains, playing and laughing and freezing.

I had to go to the bathroom. Immediately. We found a restaurant that had a bathroom out back. There was a sign on the Women's Room door and though I could read "Out of Order" I didn't know what that meant. Dad told me I'd have to use the boys' bathroom and I panicked.

"That's not allowed!" I said. "Won't I go to jail?"

He grinned at my childish fear and assured me that I would not, in fact, go to jail if I used the boys' bathroom. He also cautioned me not to make a habit of it. It was an unnecessary warning. I've never used the men's room again.

There was lunch and sledding and a lot of stumbling, but mostly laughter.

Over the years, my relationship with my father grew distant. Strained. There was less laughter and more fighting. And every time I started to believe that he'd never really loved me, I thought back to that day in the snow. A day when it was just me and him. A perfect day when I was the only one that mattered.

Things between us are better now. I've grown up and so has he. It isn't perfect, but there are moments now when I remember what it felt like to be that giggling little girl.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Picture

It's time for another Red Dress Club writing prompt. This week's assignment is to write about finding something in a closet or a drawer and what it means to the character. I think the item was supposed to be an article of clothing, but, well, I tweaked it. Because I can.


Charlie Simmons didn't have any friends. They didn't much suit him. His carefully constructed life was free from the obligations required by social interaction. He preferred, instead, the warm company of Tchaikovsky and Pinot during the unproductive hours of a quiet evening.

One night, Charlie couldn't sleep. After several fitful hours, he rose from the bed and wandered downstairs. The house was silent.

In the kitchen, he glared with disgust at a carton of milk. There was nothing wrong with the milk, other than the fact that it was milk.The housekeeper purchased some each week when she went for the groceries, insisting that it was healthy and he might like it if only he would try. For months this standoff had led to nothing more than a lot of wasted cartons. Still, he stood there staring at it. Until, without thinking, he poured himself a glass.

A light was on in the office. He couldn't remember leaving a light on, but the glow illuminated the carpet around the door. He pushed open the door, half expecting to see someone at the desk. The room was empty and he shook his head at his own foolishness, crossing the Persian rug to snap off the lamp.

He stopped.

The closet door was open. Just a few inches. The housekeeper had probably missed it earlier when she was  cleaning. Charlie tried to push it closed, but it was stuck on something. He tried again. Still nothing. He pulled the handle and the door swung out, revealing the obstruction. A half-open box lay on its side, the fall from a shelf causing its contents to spill at his feet.

A t-shirt. A ball. Several books and a few baseball cards. Trinkets from a long-forgotten childhood sentenced  to an eternity on the top shelf of a rarely used closet.

He scooped the mementos back into the box, brushing his finger against the sharp corner of a picture frame.  There were four boys in the picture. All around age twelve. Frozen in time beside a glittering lake, surrounded by mountains and pine trees and miles of brilliant sky. The colors in the photo had faded some with time, but the sudden discovery of the image caused Charlie's knees to buckle and he sank to the floor.

It was summer camp, some forty years ago. Painfully shy, the 12-year-old Charlie spent most of his time alone. And then, one warm June afternoon, his parents left him at the front doors of Camp Neyati. His mother would come alone to collect him at the end of the summer, after the divorce proceedings were well underway.

He'd barely had time to pick up his suitcase before being descended upon by three boys his own age. John, Tim, and Billy.

Charlie touched the photograph, brushing each of their faces as he remembered the details about them. Where they were from. Who their families were. All the pranks they managed to dream up. Flashes of memory became a flood as he thought of archery contests and unauthorized canoe races across the lake. There would never be another summer like the one he spent at Camp Neyati.

They got together as often as they could. But Billy got sick the next year. He never went to camp again. A few years later, John survived most of the war, only to be killed in a plane crash on his way home. Charlie and Tim eventually parted ways. They had their reasons. Both agreed it was for the best.

But as he sat on the floor of the quiet office in his empty house, Charlie found himself wishing to talk to his old friend.

With a sigh, he got to his feet and picked up the box. He had no use for those souvenirs. He would tell the housekeeper to get rid of them in the morning.

The picture, though. That, he kept.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Riot

My creativity has been on hiatus the last week or two and it's made the Red Dress Club prompts a lot trickier than they should be.

This week, we've been given the first and last line and have to fill in the rest. I don't know. I guess we'll see how it goes...




I could never have imagined finding myself in the middle of a riot, but there I was. 

At first, it seemed like nothing more than a large crowd of rude shoving concert-goers. It wasn't until a wayward elbow connected with my head that it occurred to me something was very wrong.

"This way!" Amy grabbed my hand and began tunneling through the crowd. We ducked to avoid the beer bottles that now flew freely and abundantly through the air.

Chancing a glance over my shoulder, I gasped. People jumped on top of one another, a sea of fists and kicking feet and then someone brandished what looked like a small knife. It was a guy who'd been standing next to me just a moment before.

Amy's hand released mine and panic overwhelmed me. There were people everywhere. Angry, scary, weapon-wielding people that seemed to have no other agenda than creating commotion. The band fled the stage. I'd almost forgotten they were even there.

I pushed on, weaving and ducking and dodging and desperately searching for signs of my friend. But she had vanished.

I burst into the open, gulping fresh air and heaving a sudden surge of sobs as I collapsed to my knees in a wave of relief and lingering fear and a sudden realization that I had no idea where I was.

"Amy?" I whispered desperately. Hundreds of screaming, angry people drowned out my pitiful plea. I could barely hear my own voice.

"There you are!" She found me then, relief and beer across her face.

"I don't know what happened," I said. "You were gone."

"I thought the worst when I lost you so I tried to go back, but there were just too many people." 

The shouts grew louder. We needed to get out of there.

"Okay," Amy said, "which way to the subway station?"

We looked up and down the square, searching for signs of something familiar. Which is when it occurred to both of us that we'd arrived from the other way.

The subway station was on the other side of the tumult which was still growing and inching closer to us.

Then the whole world shifted.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stuck

The Red Dress Club prompt this week is all about being stuck in a blizzard. I took this from a short story I started writing a few years ago. I changed it a little, because that story was actually set in August, and had a lot more to it. I decided to simplify a bit. I hope it works.


It was barely noon, but the storm's increasing strength had sent the entire town into hiding.

The Sheriff's office was the last building that boasted any sign of life, and even they were on a skeleton crew. A skeleton crew that consisted of Sheriff Taylor, who was currently out in the big truck, searching for stranded motorists, and Kelly Douglas, who dutifully manned the switchboard.

There hadn't been a single call in more than three hours. The town was locked down.

The Sheriff radioed to say that the storm was getting worse and that she should head home before it was too late. She was in her coat and headed for the door before the radio static faded. The switchboard calls would be forwarded so that if someone needed help, they could still reach someone, though when she looked out the glass front doors, she wondered how help could get to them anyway in weather like this.

Keys in hand, she pushed the door open, but it stopped, stuck against something.

She peered through the fogged glass. The drift was at least 8 inches high already, and she pressed harder against the door, trying to force it to open against the slushy weight. It moved a little, but not enough to squeeze through.

She bent down and reached a gloved hand through the opening in the door, trying to push back enough snow to let herself out. Her hand connected with something solid and closer inspection revealed a dark shape, splayed across the sidewalk.

"Hello?" she whispered.

The mass didn't move, so she shook it.

She sat with her back against the door, pressing her feet into the floor and pushing as hard as she could. The door moved wider now, enough that she could squeeze herself out into cold.

A figure lay face down across the sidewalk. Bundled legs were partially blocking the door. He--at least, Kelly was pretty sure it was a 'he'--didn't move.

"Hey," she said, shaking the figure. "Can you hear me?"

There was no response.

She looked up and down the sidewalk. He needed to get to a hospital, but she would never be able to get him into her car by herself.

Kelly sighed, pulled his heavy legs away from the door and opened it all the way. Dragging him by the arms took several minutes, but she managed to get him inside, out of the storm, leaving him in the entry while she reached for a light switch. Nothing happened. The power was out.

She looked down at the unconscious man, shook her head, and disappeared into a back room to find emergency supplies, wondering how long this storm could possibly last.