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?


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


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.