Thursday, November 28, 2013

With Wings -- Prologue

 The blizzard had come earlier than predicted. Carol and Sean Bell lay on the old pleather sofa beneath the plaid green throw, Carol against Sean's shoulder, watching the scrolling bar at the bottom of the local car ads, as each school listed its closing. Carol's eyes grew heavy. They watched out of curiosity, really, to know where the snow was bad and to know how their tax dollars were spent. The roar of passing snow plows muffled the dim chatter. Wafts of baked bread still lingered from the quiet dinner, the first dinner they'd had together that week, the first dinner that Carol wasn't working overtime at the hospital and Sean wasn't stuck in the garage in town.

The ads became more mundane and blended with each other. Carol's eyes lowered. It was strange. When did they decide to watch for school closings? They read the paper for the weather reports. She was going to have to go to work no matter what the weather was like. The blizzards brought more patients if anything. Yet when she read Centerville High School is closed it still brought her a gentle relief that swelled inside her heart. She sighed and flipped the channel to the end of some movie, with a man covered in ash and blood holding an equally filthy woman, both smiling before the fast music came to a slow finale.

“It's quiet,” she said into Sean's grey undershirt. He looked down with his deep green eyes, equally tired, but still young. “Don't you think it's quiet?”

He smiled and rubbed his palm over her sandy blonde hair. “It's nice. It's the first night you can get some decent sleep,” he said.

She sighed and rested her cheek on his ribs. The moment felt perfect. A husband and wife, cuddled on the couch, sheltered from the storm, half-asleep with full bellies and not a worry in the world just for the night. She ran her finger over his shoulder and felt him catch her wrist to kiss it. Carol had loved this man since the sixth grade. She remembered that they'd fought in their marriage, sometimes until Sean would drive out in the night, drunk and angry, and all of her anger would wash away with a river of worry for him. Why had they fought so bitterly? In the kindness of time, she had forgotten. She wished they'd never fight like that again.

“What are you thinking about?” he said sleepily.

“Nothing,” she mumbled.

“You are too smart to be thinking about nothing, Dr. Bell,” he laughed. Sean pulled a hair from her ear and wrapped it around his finger, brushing it with his thumb. “You shouldn't worry about things. We're too old to be worried about things.”

“We're not old,” she said less sweetly.

His eyes caught hers, alert. “Fine. We're not old. What's on your mind?”

“When we were young, we wanted to have babies, didn't we?” she said, searching his face. “Why didn't we have babies? It was a dream of ours.”

His eyebrows knit together, and his tired eyes suddenly focused like lasers into the space far above the ceiling. He was searching, too, for words that escaped her. “We tried,” he said softly. “I remembered we tried – like bunnies, all the time.” He caught her eyes and smiled wide. “Remember?”

She laughed, and he cupped her cheek. “I remember very well, Sean Bell. We got in a lot of trouble, too.”
He clicked the TV off, and the quaint living room was blackened. The green light from the cable box lit the glass coffee table and the cluttered photos on the fake cherry wood entertainment center. The blinking yellow light from the answering machine lit the computer, still lightly humming, in brief seconds. Outside, the trees clashed against each other as the winds pelted everything in their path. Sean leaned and kissed Carol's dry lips.

“It's not too late,” Carol whispered. “We're not that old.”

He smiled. “Of course not. Whatever makes you happy, my love.”

She cupped his ear and kissed the nape of his neck to work her way to his lips. He growled and grabbed the bottom of her shirt, and the familiar passion flared between them.

Then the hum and buzz of the house came to a deafening silence. The green light was gone. The computer was still. The phone light was no more. The shadows were complete. The light of the moon through the windows, the motor of the refrigerator, the hiss of the heating vents – all the of reminders of safety and function were gone. The wind gusted against the house and shook the windows, rattling the shutters, and scaring Carol beyond her passion.

“Just a power outage,” Sean whispered. “We're okay. Come here.”

A chill flew up her spine, and a reflex, something in her gut, told her to protect something. Something upstairs. She pushed aside the covers and took one of the pumpkin-scented candles from the table for a light. She found a lighter in the clutter pile on the desk and lit it. Sean stayed in his nest of throw blanket and remotes, smiling to her, inviting her to his den of lust. The twisting of her insides tugged her upstairs. Carol smiled to him and walked quickly up the narrow flight.

She stopped at their bedroom and pressed the door open. The bed was made, a sight not seen since before she'd taken the job at the hospital, and the clutter had been thrown into boxes in the closet to present a perfect magazine image of a bedroom. The crimson curtains – now as indistinguishable as any other shadow – were pulled shut against the drafts, but the room was cold.

The power had gone out, but the heat should not have. Carol lifted the phone and listened, but there was no noise. She plucked the charger out of Sean's phone and touched the power button, but the phone did not come on. It had been charging for over thirty minutes. Her wrist was frozen as she set it back down on the glass night stand.

Her legs were stiff, but she walked to the guest bedroom and pushed the door open until it banged against the pink wallpaper, punching a hole in the wall behind the doorknob. Sean called from downstairs. She threw open the closet, filled with her sister's old childhood clothes. Her sister had never liked these clothes, had said they were not her clothes but were Carol's best friend's clothes in a mislabeled box perhaps. Carol bent down and opened a trunk and found pictures of the beach, of a playground with children in strange poses. A swing in mid-air and a photo of just a slide. Sean had had strange artistic habits of taking strange photos of shadows and objects in motion.

“What happened?” Sean said, stepping inside. “Carol, what's going on?”

“I don't know,” she whispered. “I just feel so strange.” She felt a surge of hot pain wash over her neck and head. “Sean. Sean, do you feel that?” The next surge blinded her with its tendrils of deep burning ache. It felt like a thousand wild animals clawing into her face, through her scalp, running their claws down her shoulder and neck. Carol wailed. “Sean, what is this! Sean!”

She wiped at the imaginary animals and grasped her flesh. Was it a hallucination? Was she leaning against a live wire? Carol screamed and threw open her eyes, but when she looked, Sean was on his knees, his mouth open but with no sound coming forth, his face turning red and purple. She reached her hand to help him, but the pain made her rigid.

The room lit with brilliant fluorescent sun. In place of shadow that made everything black and formless, the light made all white and blinding to see. Carol looked over her shoulder and saw the light, framed only by the hints of a window, before it made all into a star. She closed her eyes and focused on ridding herself of the pain.

“Carol and Sean Bell,” said an angry baritone voice. It came from the light, clear and accented with an almost Italian origin. “I am Lester, an angel of Heaven. I am looking for someone of great importance. I need you to tell me where she is.”

Sean made a noise but could not speak. The light dimmed until the shapes of the room were visible, and in place of the sun, there was a man – a man with wings. He had golden flesh and armor, and his hair came down to his ribs. His eyes still glowed like stars, but they could feel his angry gaze as his aquiline nose moved with his rigid jawline. He levitated through the window and spread his pearly wings, so huge they took the entirety of the room. In his golden presence, he pain stopped, but the dull after-shock of the pain echoed through Carol's very core.

“Tell me where she is,” the angel commanded again. “I am out of time. I need to know now.”

“We don't know who you're talking about,” Sean said. He crawled to Carol and grasped her hand. “Whatever you want, we don't have it.”

The angel's nose pointed at Carol. “You remember through the spell in Our Presence. I can hear your thoughts. Her spell has weakened. Tell me where she is, woman.”

Sean looked to Carol, and for the first time, she saw terror in her husband. It was the terror her patients wore after the very worst car accidents, the terror of having escaped the maws of death, the terror after an explosion and running. This thing, this “angel” had done this to the man she loved. She knew she must look just as scared of whatever this being was.

“Sean,” she whispered, “why didn't we have babies?”

His chin quivered, but he shook his head. The pain came slowly through her neck, but in bursts like an electric whip. With each whip, she could see an image, each more vivid than the one before it. A girl, as blonde as gold, sitting atop a slide. A girl on Sean's lap with a book held before both of their faces. Report cards with A's and B's and a B- in math. A young lady in short track shorts and big green eyes running nearly last in the track team but smiling. She looked like Sean with her persistent smile and gentle hands. She looked like Carol in the hair, the wide hips, the short stature but long legs. The girl wanted an iguana. She wanted a dog. The boy band t-shirts didn't fit the girl anymore but she didn't want to get rid of them in case the bands were popular again. She was an emotional child. She was a good girl.

“Where is she?” the angel demanded.

“Go to hell!” Carol screamed.

Sean wrapped his arms around her and pulled her deep into the closet. The light was interrupted in the angel's eyes as shadow intercepted it. Deep in the pits of Carol's stomach, she felt the deepest dread she'd ever felt. It filled her with nausea. The stench of sulfur was overwhelming, and bile rose to her throat. The angel turned his eyes from her to the wall as it lit in blue fire in fine black lines. Between frolicking kittens and Pepé Le Pew, a pentagram of fire appeared, and from the flame, the scent of smoldering flesh and sulfur overwhelmed the air. The fires were hot and licked at Carol's back and hair, but she would not move. She heard the pattern of fire and guessed that the wallpaper and curtains were on fire, but she could not be certain without looking.

Carol grasped Sean's face and pressed it to her bosom as she turned her back to the fire and light behind her. She did not look at whatever would come forth from the fire or at the angel that threatened them. The light cast a shadow in the closet, a silhouette of the evil behind her. She saw a great pair of wings unfurl in the shadow. The angel cursed in its language, shrieking, and Carol squeezed her palms to her ears. Sean curled into a tight ball as he tried to mute the screaming of the angel. The screaming and cursing became wails of pain, lost to the air, and then they were silent. The light faded and was gone, but the fires from the room still flared, and the shadow of the black wings remained, as did the deep dread, the nausea, and the sulfur.

“Kill us,” Carol hissed, “or torment us, or whatever you do. You will never get her.”

The demon lingered a while longer, its shadow silhouetted in the closet with its hellfire. Carol dared not look at it. Sean made no noise, a silent, trembling toy in the corner. The shadow narrowed as its wings furled, and in an otherworldly sigh, the flames spent. The room was black and silent. Sulfur lingered in the air with its powerful dread.

A gust of wind threw itself into the windows again, freezing the room. She was trembling. Her knees shook so hard that she could not crouch a moment longer. She reached and touched Sean's cheek, and he opened his eyes, crying. She was crying too. Together, they nodded and looked into the room – their daughter's room – and saw the remains. White feathers lay across the charred pink carpet. The wall was black with wide gaps gone – new windows to the outside storm. Carol touched a ceramic fairy on the window sill. Its face had been melted in the fire.

A voice came from the hall. Carol shook so hard, her very bones ached. Every inch of her existence came to life in the impulse to kill, the impulse of an animal backed into a closet with no choice but to kill any angel or demon that had come back to fight. She saw only Sean, clenched tight within himself by the door, hugging his arms. His phone glowed in his hand with the familiar black box and number pad of a phone call displaced in the light. The voice came again. 9-1-1, what is your emergency?

“Send help!” Carol screamed. “Please! Help us!”

Beneath the snow of a blizzard, among the smoldering ash of hellfire with angel feathers beneath her feet, Carol Bell screamed. She screamed for her shattered husband who would need a lifetime of therapy from this night. She screamed for the pain still quaking in her body. She screamed for her daughter, her little girl that had been torn from her very soul by forces she could never understand. She screamed for many things that night, but to whom she screamed, she was not sure.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Sorry Woman

She intrudes and is sorry
But this memories escape
Like steam from the pot
She cannot pull the wisps back
Into this unfamiliar form.

She speaks and is sorry
But this memory’s taking shape
And this is her only shot
To find redemption here
To quell her inner storm

She tells me how very sorry she is
For snapping at her silly kids
The wisps of memory are vivid now
Louder, more vivid than her knitted brow
I hear the snapping from long ago
Before me, memory’s actors perform.

“Put that animal back in its cage!”
And the hurt shame in children’s faces
This is the poison in her soul
And she is sorry, so very sorry

Please tell my kids I’m sorry.

Last night I was visited by a strange woman. It was pretty strange. She was a shorter woman in her mid-thirties, blonde-haired, average weight if a little round, with dark eyes and an aqualine nose. She came to me as I was falling asleep and begged me a favor that I have no idea how to perform, but it filled me with emotion, and I was inspired to write for her.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The first battle is done and fought
I know who I am now
They tremble and weaken
Seeking a cause to believe in
How can I-?
How will I-?
They find strength in their weakness
And I can nary life my head.

The war is done and its soldiers dead
I know who I am now
Others bled and died side by side
Seeking to change the battle's tide
How did I-?
How will I-?
The living weep with grief and strife
And they find peace in death.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


            The roses leaned in the summer breeze, carrying pink and red petals over the fountains and flagstone paths. She reached forward and snatched one soft red flake from the wind and held it against her cheek. When she turned, she heard her mother’s gentle chuckle and saw her wide smile. Her father stood at her mother’s back. The tall king and the beaming queen, both so handsome and so full of pregnant smiles.
            “Make a wish,” her mother whispered. “Blow it back into the breeze, and your wish will come true the moment it hits the water.”
            She looked to her father, and he nodded. She sucked in a warm breath and blew her wish beneath the wings of the petal. Its soft veins rolled among each other as they whisked into the breeze, and the petal floated as though the air had become water. The girl smiled and clasped her hands, and her parents took her shoulders with their soft, loving hands.
            The petal rose higher and higher, far above the others in their gentle stream. The girl felt her stomach rise as she, too, became lifted in the air. She looked to her smiling parents, but their smiles became grins, and they looked upon her with such sadness. She turned again to the petal, but it was beyond the stone gates beyond the rose garden then. It twirled above the ponds and the white geese.
“Momma,” she whimpered, but the air in her belly was too light for words.
The aroma of roses grew stronger as the girl felt more airy. Her feet could barely feel the grass beneath her slippers, and her hair lifted in the gusts. She turned to grasp her father’s hand, but it was naught but powder when she touched it. The sun blew up in the sky and swallowed the world in its brilliance. All that remained was the aroma in the wind.

            She felt deadening cold shivers in her spine, her hips, her shoulders, and her cheeks. The sun was still a blinding white explosion behind her eyelids, but fear muted its strength. She breathed, but the air was wet and hurt her lungs. Her legs and arms were numb.
            When her eyes focused, she first saw the azure sky. Then she looked at her bed around and saw that it was of wilted roses. Untamed bushes of teacup buds, all white and pink, poked up around her. The girl – nay, a woman in this strange world – lifted herself onto an arm and looked upon the wooded world around her.
            A young man lay in the roses beside her. She looked upon his aquiline nose and his smooth jaw, all twisted and torn with rose thorns. His velvet tunic and cape were ripped and muddied. The woman reached to touch him, but her body was still numb. To her other side were shards of glass strewn about the roses and an epitaph: Lady Snow, the Fairest Maiden. The words were strange and ate at her tired head.
            Is that my name? she wondered.
            The words brought warmth to her fist, her knees, her neck, all the way to her breath. She pushed herself from the bed of roses and held the young man in her arms. His chest was still and his eyes marble. He had found his sleep a long time ago. The woman touched his lips, but there was no breath. She kissed him and combed the wilted petals from his soft hair.
            There were others, she remembered. The woman felt her heart pound hard against her chest as she remembered that there were others – twelve of them – and she needed to find them. She ached to stay with this strange man, but there was nothing she could do for him. She lifted his knees and his magnificent shoulders and carried him to her bed of death. The glass was gone, but he would be safe her in his eternal peace. With one last touch of his pale cheek, she ran toward from the brilliant sun into the quiet woods. In her waking mind, she knew the way.
            Squirrels and chipmunks dashed from her path as birds fussed in the oaks and maple branches. She slipped on a bed of shattered walnut shells and leaves but caught her step. The long funeral dress wavered at her feet and caught in the brush until it was naught but a tattered web of gossamer. The slippers squished with mud and rainwater, but she would not stumble again, for beyond the hill and under the elm was the home of men that had risked their lives to shelter her.
            She crested the hill, but the cottage was naught but ash. Her eyes caught the cindered bodies in her periphery, but she clenched them shut. The birds had already come to clean up the destruction with beaks filled with food and golden trinkets. The woman ran and waved her arms against the birds, and once they were gone, she fell to her knees between two of the petite men. They held rakes and pick axes even in death with firm grips, and as she gazed upon their fat knuckles, she remembered how soft they’d felt against a young woman’s tears of terror.
            Who would do this? She shook her head, for as soon as she thought the question, she’d remembered. It was that jealous, power-hungry tyrant. The queen of the realm who’d seduced and murdered her way into the throne and could drill her way through a broken heart a thousand times without a wince or a pity. Her step-mother, the witch from the dark forest, had been here with her army of bewitched soldiers. Their butchery was as clear as day.
            One by one, she dragged the corpses to the funeral garden. She dug twelve graves and wove ivy vines and oak branches for markers. Each was buried with his weapon, a rose, and a kiss to his cheek. When she’d finished, the moon had risen high into the air, and Lady Snow was black with grave dirt. The forest was quiet save a distant howl from a lone wolf, but when the leaves were still and the wolf was quiet, all was silent save her angry, beating heart.
            She unwrapped the young man’s belt from his stiff waist and tied it around her own. His sword in its leather sheath was light, and the cloth wallet was still heavy. If she traveled by the goat path and river bank, she could reach the outskirts by noon. There she could meet with the rebels and the Good King’s spies to finally defeat the wicked tyrant – the woman who’d taken everything from her. And if a fool highwayman or bandit ambush her on the way, heaven help his soul.
            Snow tore a weak white blossom from the bush and left it on the young man’s hands. Its white stem soaked with the blood by his heart until it was brown. “When this flower blooms, this will be a new world,” she promised quietly. “I can never thank you enough for what you’ve done. Goodbye.”

            With her promise and her spite, she started east.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Wedding

(The other side of the "Your/My Wedding piece will follow. I am just linking to my Pinterest board of wedding ideas for now.

I'll note that this is a venting piece based on some years-long-seething that broke loose. I don't like vent poetry very much.)

Your Wedding

I always imagined your wedding
Somewhere on a sunny beach or shore
You were always the kind of girl,
Well, the kind of girl who’d wear
A short plain dress, hardly white
With an open bar by the city light
Her colored hair in a silly whirl.

Don’t spend so much money
If it’s only for a single day!
Save the cash for a house,
A jobless loser spouse,
And lots and lots of babies.

No need for the caterer!
We’ll barbecue something up.
No need for a florist when
We’ve got dandelions and buttercups.
No need for a photographer -
Not with cellphones and Instagram.
No need for a table for gifts or cards
When the family’s too poor to give a damn.
No need for a fancy cake
When Betty Crockers will do
No need for a salon appointment
When we can paint your nails, too.
No need for new shoes or purse
Your flip flops will be fine!
No one would see them anyway
While you sit in pain and whine.
No need for a new wedding dress
I saved this one just for you.
And no need for a foolish veil
That the crowd could not see through.

Have a small ceremony
Save the little cash you have
But make sure you invite
Us, of course
His siblings,
His cousins, first and second
All the insane dates
The exes too lest they call
And set fire to the house
His childhood friend he doesn’t talk to
The aunt that hates you
The drunk uncles
The grandparents
The ministers he hasn’t seen since he stopped going
The neighbor you owe a favor to
The ten Facebook friends that overheard and asked
His old coworkers
His new co“work”ers
All the blessed children and their toys

And maybe you should invite some people too.

Your Bridal Shower

Now what on the earth is a bridal shower?
And why do you need one?

Your Proposal

Propose without words
But with tears instead
Or do it casually
                                                            At the foot of the bed.

Propose like your friend
Just like in their tale!
The story about the movies
Never will go stale

Propose on your feet
Knees are overrated
No need to dress up
Chivalry is outdated.

Any ring at all will do
Love should conquer all
Better yet, get no ring

And text her “Marry me? Lol”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Knight

Ride, ride, errant knight
with sword and steed
and belly full
of bread and mead.

Ride, ride noble knight
with sword and steed
to spread the word
and noble creed.

Ride, ride errant knight
Strike out vile and greed
Travel still farther
Vanquish evil deeds.

Ride, ride noble knight
with sword and steed,
gallop full speed
to defeat the seed
of earthbane and fiend.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Love

Last week, some of my friend broke my heart in individual confidences of loneliness and hopelessness. They opened their ribs and showed me their atrophied or mutilated hearts, and I wasn't sure how to treat such a severe wound to the human being. When the ache of the hurting heart hammers between the ears, one becomes temporarily deaf to the muffled words of caring friends.

I was glad to know they'd come to me, though. I have not known such pain in years, but my friends ask me. I think my best friends ask me because they knew I was "that girl" in elementary, middle, and most of high school -- the one that people said "Ew, only Barbara would ever date you" or leave love notes in my locker with some poor soul's number on it knowing I'd desperately call it, hoping, maybe, that my own shriveled heart could know peace. My, though, how the ugly duckling blossoms!

I spent a lot of my youth with older folks. I didn't care for the bullies that swarmed the schools and playgrounds. I liked to talk to the special education teachers during recess in elementary school, and I played chess with the college kids and teachers in middle school. I went to every English Festival with Mrs. Kovach and drove her nuts with every spare second she had. When we moved to New York, I did more of the same, because I knew I was still the underdog. I volunteered at the hospital and made some friends. Mostly, I just wanted to enjoy sidewalks and flowers.

A sagely woman at the hospital told me the most important thing I've ever heard about love. Our acquaintance at the emergency room reception desk was recently, disastrously divorced. He was tired of the usual coaxes and was failing every blind date his friends had set him on. The sagely woman told him:

"Love is like a car accident, Dave. You can never see it coming."

I could feel the words sinking, but our friend and I were incredulous. This woman had been married for thirty years to a man that was sitting at home, building a library and fixing up the house for his wife and him to enjoy. Then again, anecdotal evidence is the weakest of all cases. I shrugged and helped more folks find room numbers and friends.

See, though, love is like a car accident. If you're trying to do everything you can to keep yourself out of an accident, you're going to be okay. You check both ways three times at the stop sign. You wait just a second at the green light to make sure that cheetah coming at you stops at the red. You keep distractions at an absolute minimum and you check your tires. Nothing is going to catch you by surprise today, old sport. You're going to get to your destination without a trouble.

It's when you have a plan, a thought, an obsession that preoccupies you, a single idea that won't let your mind keep your guard up, that you don't take that extra second at the light. That's the moment that some mad idiot comes slamming into your life and paralyzes it, and you can't seem to stand up right. Your life is changed forever. You didn't see it coming. You certainly didn't ask for this mess. But it's here, and it's not going away.

I have yet to find a more appropriate metaphor for love. Car accidents are scary. I've been in enough of them to know I never want that to happen again. I've yet to find a better metaphor, though, for the suddenness, the vulnerability of those involved, the casualness of the events leading up to such an event. It's these big and little things that make this singular idea so immortal in our entertainment and desires. Love is so 10,000 years ago and yet strange beyond belief even as we explore distant planets and decode the human genome.

I believe in love at first sight. I'm a fantasy writer -- of course you know I believe in it. But I didn't believe in it until I was caught suddenly and powerfully by surprise one October day after a horrid breakup. I thought I'd prepared myself against all surprises, and I was wrong, and here I am. Everything has changed, but that's okay. Change is okay.

One day I'm going to write about the day Alex and I fell in love at second sight. That will be after some short stories finally get posted up here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Soul

The soul is a feathered thing
residing in a golden cage
the body.

It must be fed with gentle hands
and watered with aqua vitae

Sometimes it dips its warm head
into its water dish
and dances about
shaking the droplets from
its soft feathers.

Rarely does it jump about
eager to leave its cage
and we must coo and whisper
and we must nourish and play
until it is calm again.

When the cage door opens
the feathered thing hesitates
only for a second
before it learns
how to fly again.

And it flies and flies
until it is wounded and tired
and must find another golden cage
to rest in.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Summer's coming, and that means I'll finally have some time to write. Yay! This semester has been pretty rough, but nothing will compare to last semester (domestic animal biology AND organic chemistry?!) Please be patient.

I am in the process of submitting to some writing contests. One is a competition for crime-writing, which I've always wanted to give a try. Some are creative nonfiction. Some are literary fiction. A couple are fantasy short story. I'm expanding my horizons. Mostly I'm trying to get publishing credits so literary agents will feel more comfortable trusting me and maybe (hopefully) ask for a full manuscript (soon).

Oh, and I submitted Crimson Promises to a very few agents. Of course, it wasn't until the manuscript was on its way to New York that I learned that I had to print it on the most expensive paper I could find. Gr. Not that the paper I used was cheap (it was the good stuff the grocery store had!) but it wasn't the 100-bright Hammermill 30-lb/500sheets stuff I NOW have. Quite heartbreaking.

Hopefully the agents will see past this error and fall in love with Justin anyway. The more I have to practice these query letters, the more I love Justin, and I didn't think I could love him any more. I think that's the most important thing I learned in this year's ENGL 2810 -- that a foolish character is the most sympathetic one. My mentor told me she loved Justin because he was stupid at times but noble, and that he was sympathetic because he was so lively. Hopefully the agents will love this lovesick, loyal young man and want to see how his tale pans out.

Anyway! I am not going to post these short stories I'm cooking until at least late Fall when the contests are over. I have thought them over and drafted them, and I would like some reviews. In the meantime, I have thought of a new story that I will probably start posting here. It's my style -- adventure, love, magic, fantasy world. It kind of fits into the Promises world, but not really.

If I have no luck with Crimson Promises (and I worry, of course) I am going to finish Anatha's Light and Inner Secrets. People loved Inner Secrets. Maybe I should work on it next. I don't know.

Oh, and poetry will go here, but you all know I'm not a big poet. I mostly use it to stretch those creative muscles. I'm a long-distance writer. These sprints kill me.

Why haven't I been posting my writing circle pieces? 1) because they are a little bit personal and I'm not ready to post them... quite yet 2) because the one I do want to post isn't finished yet. And that will be the first thing I post here when I run like an ostrich in the Savannah off of this campus in 13 days, 7 hours. That, and Seth the Mage. I really like Seth and I'd like to finish his tale soon.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fortune Cookies

Lately I've been looking at really big works and haven't posted much in the way of little bits. Crimson Promises is through its second draft and will soon be on its way to an agent. I do have a short story I plan to post once I finish it (the ending eludes me) but in the meantime,I will post this little spark for creativity -- fortunes from Ty Ling fortune cookies

  • They are never alone who are accompanied by noble thought
  • The weekend ahead predicts enjoyment
  • Things don't just happen; they happen just.
  • When the moment comes, take the one from the right.
  • There are no ordinary moments
  • You form passionate relationships without compromising your independence
  • Those grapes you cannot taste are always sour
  • Th real test in life is not in keeping out of the rough, but in getting out after you are in
  • You cannot manage men in battle. You manage things; you lead people.
  • The kind of advice we do not like to take often turns out to be the best
  • The love of your life will carry you through any circumstances.
  • The one you love is closer than you think
  • Wherever you go, whenever you can, try to leave a gift.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I used to fear it, Eternity
One place
One thing
that never ends
can never end
and is filled with I-don't-know
A place I could never leave

Fables of heaven and hell
Elysium and Vallhalla
Golden palaces and green fields
Brimstone pits and cemetaries
Halls of ale long tasteless and dry
Haunted me.

Now I know
that not a second less
will sate this hunger
to consume him
This infinite thing,
This love.

Monday, April 8, 2013

An Idea for a Short Story Format

I think it would be cool if someone laid out a short story in the form of a scientific paper. It could be very Nabokovian -- maybe written by a mad narrator who is distracted or even crazed by the very thing he's working on. The Introduction could be the prologue of sorts or just seem very sane. The abstract can be what the paper was supposed to be or even the "jacket" of the story. Instead of chapters, there would be sections. I think it would be pretty cool. I'll work on one when I'm done with this big competition I'm in.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Idea for a fantasy short story:

A boy who's lost all wanders into the woods. A hunter helps the boy but in doing so is bitten by a werewolf. The boy is devastated and searches for the entire month for the cure with the hunter. They become best of friends. The boy realizes he has not lost all, for he can still make wonderful friends. They fail to find the cure. The hunter chases the sun on the final day to avoid the moon, fails, and takes his life to save the boy. The boy goes on with this important tale in mind.

When night falls to reign, the moon begins to shine. Forest voices constantly yell, Do not listen, Infernal Lady!" Though these spells in trance leave, nothing will become. Lycanthia is your name, its sound a howl. Planted horror passes. Sol, give peace! Blood on the moon shines. Sol, give peace, eager to devour your open eyes. Free her from evil. . . Sad Lycanthia walks to the Sun faster. Their soul light, it shed wanting blood beings without more. Luna falls, the beast coming out, ready to die. Lycanthia plunges a dagger into his own heart, breaking the curse. Sol, give peace, leading to this sad end. Sun, look at her, his eyes closed in eternity. Freed from evil . . .

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Five Kinds of Authors

I mentioned that I'm taking a creative writing class. The wonderful thing about writing classes is that with the right kind of instructor (which Laurel Lathrop is) everyone benefits - the newbies and the more prolific bunch. Laurel drops little helpful tidbits too that make me think of writing in a whole new way. One that she dropped at the beginning of our fiction center was the idea of the five kinds of stories:
  • Scenery-driven
  • Plot-driven
  • Character-driven
  • Symbol-driven
  • No one remembers the fifth one.
Scenery-driven is more poetic and is carried by weather and perhaps harsher conditions. Symbol-driven is similar. Both and whatever the fifth one is have fallen by the wayside, it seems. Nowadays people know of the plot-driven and character-driven tales.

In my experience, most stories seem to be character-driven. Even The Hobbit focuses more on the development and friendships of the characters than the story arc. These are stories where characters transform through a course of events or stay true to themselves, but in a profound way.

Plot-driven stories are those "high concept" stories, as a movie expert would call them, where focus is less on the characters and more on what's going on. Disaster stories are more plot-driven.

I've always liked having an incredible amount of action in a story. It doesn't have to be exciting, of course. Maybe it's the same teeny-tiny bit of misanthropy I carry around that pushes me toward veterinary medicine and not medical school, or maybe it's because I've lived a lonely, action-packed life in general. I really just prefer everything that isn't relationships, drama, and character in a novel. I'd rather try to see how a person died in a good mystery than have to read about his weeping widow who misses him oh-so-much. Please!

I prefer a novel that starts with action. One of the best romance novels I've ever read was The Rogue and the Hellion by Connie Mason. Mason throws the reader right in the midst of some heated action with a good old-fashioned carriage-heist. The disguised heroine robs the hero of his money, as she has come to desperate times. They meet several times later. In starting the story with action, the rest of the novel has a bit of turbulence that keeps it exciting. It enhances the character-driven elements, too -- will he recognize her? Why is she robbing this guy? What will he do when he finds out about her double life? The same goes for Kristin Cashore's Graceling hit. She sets us right in the middle of the big rescue on which much of the novel pivots on. She used excellent crafting to time our entry into her world perfectly. This huge first step into a novel is my favorite kind of entry. I think many people agree.

I feel punished, too, if I have to wait to get to the initial conflict in a story. If I have to read 100 pages before I even get a hint of danger, antagonism, or surprise, I'm probably not going to pick up the sequel. I read another fantasy novel that spanned several hundred pages without a single drop of excitement until the very last page. The rest was mundane scenery and very, very weak character development.

Action is integral to a story to me. Something has to be going on. Even if it's subtle or symbolic, the plot is always a key element. Characters are important, but if I wanted to ready thirty pages of idle chatter, I would go have a sit in the dining hall.

Crimson Promises Update

I am certainly still alive and hiding my little treasure piece. It's still undergoing some edits before I let it go to the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency (my dream agent). No one has read it through yet, but I am submitting the first twelve pages for my creative writing class workshop.

Edits I'm working on include

  • cutting down on dialogue. My characters have always been chatty.
  • cutting down on background. A lot of it isn't relevant enough to warrant the space it takes.
  • cutting down words. Never use two words when one will do, as they say. Also, I really want the action to come in earlier. I hate a book that doesn't get exciting until page 100, so why would I write one?
Wish me luck. I might post a little excerpt up here and see if I can bait anyone. The trouble is that fantasy is hard. Not that many people read fantasy, and fewer people buy it. The fantasy that does get published has to be nothing short of amazing in order to survive the market. If I had my way, I would write a book so amazing that people would fall in love with the fantasy genre as a whole. That might be too much to ask though.

Book Title List

Spark: Inspired by a book store whose description reads “you will not find the book you are looking for; you will find the book you did not know you were looking for” Zee offered this spark: write a book list, synopsis, jacket tex, report or first chapter to a book you would find in such a bookstore. This store featured the arcane and the absurd.

A list of books found in a bookstore featuring the arcane and absurd:
  • Vampire Hunting by Jacques Van Gould
  • A Relief for Fungi Allergies for Fairies by Celeste Pixie
  • The Things I Put in the Drinks: A Guide by Max Prist
  • Rules for Eating Cakes by Meadow Rose
    • Excerpt: Eating cake at your birthday is essential. It may be cupcakes. All calories from birthday cake go to party guests as the First Rule of Birthday Cake. If birthday boy or girl does not have friends/guests, calories go to the cow that submitted milk and butter for cake batter. Rule Two: All cakes must be made with real ingredients or real sentiments will wilt. Eating cake off another person’s plate brings no calories to thief as calories stick to original owners.
  • A Better Guide to Vampire Hunting by Gunter Hellsing
  • Love Potions that Probably Work by Tristan Brooks
  • Love Portions to Stay Away From by Iseult Books
  • Dating Tips from Life’s Great Kings, a collection by John Keenan
    • Excerpt 1: Make sure she isn’t your mother (Oedipus)
    • Excerpt 2: Ask yourself: Would I start a massive war and lose my best men to reclaim her should things not work out (Meneleus of Sparta)
    • Excerpt 3: If your first born is not a boy, it’s probably best to cut off her head and avoid mucky divorce drama. Divorce makes finding a new queen awkward (Henry VIII)
    • Excerpt 4: Tell your wife that blood on her hands is best cleaned with vinegar and a clean, cotton towel. Ease her mind. (Macbeth)
  • Bedtime Stories that Will Keep Your Kids Up Tonight: The Gory & Horrific Edition
  • Bedtime Stories that Will Keep Your Kids Up Tonight II: The But Why Edition
  • Bedtime Stories that Will Keep Your Kids Up Tonight: New Ideas for Siblings to Fight About
  • The Best Vampire Hunting Guide: Keeping Your Skin Intact by Jacques Van Gould
  • Monsters in the Closet: Could It Be a . . .? by Father Michael de Brozzo
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Spat Them Up: A Boy’s Tale of Horrible Cohabitation by Timmy Thompson
  • Starving for Brains in a Swagger-YOLO Suburb by Droopy Yard
  • How to Cook Liver: A Cookbook for Zombies by multiple authors
  • Deceptive Vampire Authors by Gunter Hellsing
  • How to Make a Monster of Legend
  • Love at First Bite by Serin Van Gould
  • How to Hunt Vampires for People Who Value Their Lives by Jacques Van Gould
  • Great Haunts by Mildred Founder
  • The Shy Cub by Sam Wolffe
  • Vampire Hunting Tips by a Vampire Hunter: Don’t Go There Edition by Gunter Hellsing
  • A Guide to Ill-Humored Humans by Celeste Pixie
    • Excerpt 1: Humans hate puking. They really do. The Tribucan Stomosis Spell is best saved for zombies and werewolves.
    • Excerpt 2: For creatures that strive to fly in planes and admire birds, humans hate sudden levitation. Expect urination and screaming from most.
    • Excerpt 3: Humans are already extremely worried about their figures and portions. Avoid spells that inflate skulls and feet.
  • The Fairy Godmother from Hell
  • Crimson Promises (a very real story, but never a book, by me)
    • Who ordered the kidnapping of an orphaned girl? Assassins descend upon Rubenville in the night. Young hero Justin DeBlazz and his allies must fight the last great decimator Astarte to save his estranged cousin. He not only has a trinity of assassins in his way – he must submerge himself in a war rife with murderers, demons, death goddesses, and dragons.

 I most certainly would have written a first chapter, but I am emotionally spent today. Next Saturday will be very productive. I might even write some original content that I've written on my own.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crimson Promises

Crimson Promises is complete at 107,000 words. I am going to do some quick revisions and tighten up some languages. Then the draft is going to some trusted friends for a second edit before I send this bad boy out.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Today, as I was thinking about my blessed friends, I thought about the improbability of so much love I see everyday. A short prose dedicated to love (intimate and not) that comes to us:

Two sisters are separated by fate to opposite sides of the world. One is born on the East Coast of the United States. The other is born in China. They have forgotten the other exists during birth. Both are brilliant, have excellent memory, love at first sight, are hard-working bums, and trust their closest friends whole-heartedly. The Chinese sister goes to an American University, and the two meet at dinner. They are instantly best friends and sisters again.

David has drifted from bars to nightclubs and even to Zumba dancing trying to find the right girl. He is rumored to be a serial dater, though he just can't find his click. As the rumors spread, the "wrong kind" of people vie for his heart. He has a great job and a big house, so all those fish in the sea seem to be full of sunnies. His great job sends him to Tanzania and Kenya for research, where he falls instantly in love with a villager. She does not have internet or phone and has no idea what kind of house he owns. These lovers, thousands of miles apart, are together again.

Jarrod's lover is not nearly as far as China or Kenya. In fact, Ryan lives in his county. Jarrod is a loner and a quiet man, though, preferring online chatrooms to venturing out finding his soul mate. Unfortunately, this lifestyle draws the attention of police as they try to hunt down a credit card thief. Jarrod's suspicious online activities land him in jail for three days until the police find the actual suspect. Ryan is in jail for drug possession. He and Jarrod meet, and they stay in touch. Fate is met again.

Cynthia has been having trouble conceiving. This makes her irritable, and she has grown distant from her wealthy family. People avoid her until she is no longer invited to the more minor family gatherings, though she watches the social networks once in a while to see what she's missing. She notices her 14-year old is pregnant and scared. Cynthia's sister is furious. Cynthia takes her niece in and takes the child as her own. They relocate to a nice, quiet suburbia, and her niece can goes on to nursing school while Cynthia raises her own little boy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Progress so far

I think if I keep track of my progress, I will be inspired to get everything done faster and finish this draft. The sooner I finish that, the sooner I get to editing and then submitting.

- I am currently at page 190
- There are eleven chapters so far with about nineteen pages to a chapter
-So far, twenty bandits, one elf, sixteen fish, one hare, one horse, and eight orcs are dead.
- Our adventurers have traveled through two Towns and one city since leaving home
- They have taken three detours on the road. Dominick protested all three.

After a dragon fight, a showdown with a grand witch, the final battle, and epilogue, I will be needing some honest critics. Or I can just let this book sit around my hard drive with all the others. Whatevs

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Updates

I am terribly sorry that things run so slowly. I don't write a lot of poetry in general, and I have a collection of short stories that I have tried working on, get to the last bit, and move on. I tend to finish those stories, but much later!

I am writing, but I am writing a novel that I hope to publish someday. A group of my friends recommended I keep it off of the Internet, so most of my writing is barred from this blog. When I have shorter works, I will post them here, but this project is demanding all of my attention.

I am a Cornell student, too, and taking organic chemistry. My time for writing is quite limited, especially as preliminary exams approach. During the long breaks, I have more time (in between Post-Test Stress Disorder nightmares) and will post more often.

In the meantime, I apologize for the sporadic writing! I am working on something!

For those curious as to what this behemoth is, I will provide the premise. It's not at all formal or well-written for an agent, but just in case you ARE curious:

A twelve-year war rages in the west over an empty throne. Justin DeBlazz, son of a legendary war hero and an adventurer at heart, enjoys the little peace in the grand city of Rubenville - that is, until his orphaned cousin Tara arrives. Within months, a band of elite mercenaries come to take the girl in the night. He must travel into the cursed land of Deeagor and find out who sent the mercenaries and what their intentions are.

Essentially, Justin is a champion swordsman and a beloved personality in the  Catsnian court. His best friend Mark is always at his side to make trouble with him. One morning, Justin finds his cousin Tara in his home, newly orphaned and lost. They take her in, but mercenaries follow to take her as well. Justin and Mark defeat the first two, but the third is the legendary killer, Astarte. Without killing a single guard, Astarte steals Tara away, and Justin, Mark, and Dominick set out to save the girl. A great journey ensues that holds the fate of the war in its balance.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


If I were in the abyss
Far beneath the roaring waves
and looked up at the moon
How would it change my world?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013


The footsteps in the fresh snow speak loudly to me. Some are long and tell "Watch out! It's slippery here!" Others are short with brown tufts between heels - promises of safety. Some are in the grass beside others and say "I am a rebel and a friend!" Others still are nearly buried, alone. The footsteps walk me safely home in the storm.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Soul Sisters

[inspired by true events. names have been changed to prevent perilous cat fights. perhaps in vain.]

               Before I tell the tale of Clara’s wedding, I must reveal three deep secrets I have kept from her – three secrets cut into stone, deeper than sea. The first is that Clara’s soul is forever knotted to mine by silver thread through hundreds of years of friendship and love. In each life, we find each other. Perhaps it is because souls are wont to fall into habit, or perhaps it is because lost shadows in the eldritch plane are drawn like the moon to the twirling earth. I have held her hair as she has vomited from a late Friday night and flu for hundreds of years, though I’m sure that in the Celtic days, it was probably morning sickness and whatever bugs our dirtier selves attracted. We practiced magic together, I know, for when we first opened her novice spell tome together, it felt like we were picking up where we’d left off. We even skipped the first few pages, somehow knowing the techniques and failed results. Our friendship is ancient and eternal.
               The second secret is that I have ruined her love life. I did it intentionally. How couldn’t I? She had fallen in love with a thug and an imbecile. The face she doted over had bruises and permanent bone damage from frequent street brawls, always started by him, and from the cops that had to drag him to jail each time. When she talked of marrying him, I became ill. I had to intervene, and I did. While Clara became more proficient with witchcraft over this current life, mine has turned to a whole new power – the Internet. I hacked and I dug and did everything I could to separate them. When another woman showed up in the street thug’s life without Clara’s knowing, I knew everything from her residence, their dates, their expenditures, and finally, this woman’s unclean STD record. Then I held Clara’s head as she puked and cried. The relationship was over before she could pick up a nasty case of Chlamydia, but Clara was hurt, and I was sorry. I didn’t say a word.
Round Two occurred when a stout, creepy nerd chased Clara about her town. I knew he was bad news when he started texting her – before she gave him her number. Clara, a real sucker and lovesick puppy, thought it was romantic that this stranger doted on her so. Her wounded heart filled right up. I didn’t have a chance to work my newfound magic, though, as Street Thug found Creep and beat the tar out of him in a public park for touching “his girl” as he said. Creep was put off, and when Clara had doubts about the progression of their relationship, I told her she should move on.
Round Three was probably just as disastrous. A Mafia underboss’s nephew who was about as mature as the runts on the playground has somehow won my best friend over. I groaned inside. I was far away by now, living two states away, but he made her happy. He wasn’t in and out of jail, and he wasn’t working on stalking charges. I figured she was content with her love life. I knew she wouldn’t marry him, for this one didn’t understand the meaning of savings or fiscal responsibilities.
Years passed, and I didn’t see much of Clara. Soul sisters don’t need to see each other to know the other is well. We can sense when something is wrong. At least, I always manage to time my phone calls perfectly with some great tragedy. We were going to school and getting lost in progress.
The third secret is that I made this wedding possible. When Clara was a little inebriated and exhausted by another slave-wage-slave-hour day, she broke off her relationship with the single man I could ever approve of her loving, Mister Thomas Fair. He opened doors for her, paid for their dates, loved kids, loved family, shook hands – everything. He was a charmer and a gentleman. All the men she’d dated and cared about combined could not make a better boyfriend than Thomas, and the night devastated him, Clara, and me. She cried for days when he would not take her back. He was thoroughly wounded, and he had every right to be. I asked her over and over why it happened, and each time it was a new reason – fatigue, distance between them, too much irresponsibility. The fact of the matter was that she was not happy, he was not happy, and she was too shy and ashamed to beg him to come back.
I was not. I begged and bribed him. I found his number and I called him. And it worked, and they worked, and they were together again. I didn’t tell her how hard I tried to make them work. I wanted her to feel like it was fate just restitching an old pattern in the quilting threads of fate. Years passed, and I was in the midst of my residencies and training when Clara called with the news – she was getting married in August, and she wanted me to be the maid of honor. I feigned happiness. After all, most couples that are in love, work well together, and intend to marry usually get to the proposal stage, right? We talked briefly of budgets and what she really wanted, and already I knew of some venues that she would love – parks we’d always dreamed of marrying in just a mile or two away from her childhood home. I opened the old wedding book and made some inquiries, told the owners of the date in her mind, and jotted it down.
Between medical rotations, it was hard to keep in touch with the bride-to-be. Her slave hours and wages were of no benefit, either. Then one night as I scrolled through spam emails and important-not-important emails, I found an online conversation that I’d been invited to but only caught the tail end of. The names were of women Clara talked to all of the time on Facebook. They would “like” some statuses and leave emoticon faces on some. Clara had tagged a few when they went out on weekends. Some were listed as sisters and best friends in the relationship section – a section I never made it to – and left her cute messages all the time. To the unknowing wanderer, these women were Clara’s best friends for life. I knew better. I could feel it.
One woman commented that it was a good thing “she” was getting “the boot” because “she” always made inappropriate insertions of Skrillex lyrics into conversation. Another laughed that someone could even insert the rare discernable words of a dubstep moron into normal day chatter. Others wondered which horrible nightmare of a “song” would be selected for the wedding so that everyone could stand around awkwardly and not know what to do. The first woman said she looked better in the wedding colors and accented Clara’s wedding dress better anyway, and that Clara’s beautiful brown curls should be accented by her even darker curls. I realized, as I scrolled up, that I had made these remarks that they were picking at on Clara’s social sites. I was the subject of the taunts.
I chuckled and closed my laptop lid, setting my head on my arm. I was being replaced as maid-of-honor by the first woman, this Sarah. How cute, Sarah and Clara. Sarah who was there every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for bowling and girls’ night out and shoe-shopping. Sarah from work. Sarah in every internet status. Sarah who thought her Clara’s best friend. It seemed Clara thought Sarah to be her best friend and that it would be easier to accommodate a more local maid-of-honor. I moaned. Sarah was fake. I had never met her, but despite what every person has ever said to me, text screams personality and sarcasm. I can feel it. I am an Internet Witch, and I know this woman well enough to know that she is not right for the job.
I said nothing of the news and continued through rotations. When my next mentor ended up in Rochester, I spent hours in the local wedding boutique. Clara had never told me the theme or the colors she decided on, if she decided on one at all, but I had already known for years exactly what she wanted. I could not explain it, even to the young sales lady in the store, but when I saw the perfect shoes, the earrings, the veil, the rings, I knew Clara wanted them – needed them. Clara was a princess, had always been a princess, and would always be a princess. She wanted a wedding fitting a princess even if she said she wanted a modern or financially responsible wedding. Twice a week I visited the shop and made little purchases – the dangling teardrop earrings here, the tall tiara there, always a glittering candle. I spent money straight out of my own wedding savings because I knew John and I would be a while yet with school still dragging between us, and because I loved Clara. I wanted her to have a princess wedding.
When May rolled around and medical school graduation with it, I saw Clara. She had come out in the midst of wedding drama and crazy work hours and everything to see her best friend walk around blinding by the sun in her white coat. I hugged her and told her how much I missed her. That night, she cried into my shoulder. All of her friends had abandoned her. Some secret or another had been spilled, a boy was involved on Sarah’s end, drinks were thrown. I tried to feign surprise, but I wasn’t. Clara and I had fought like lion and hyena in school and tore at each other’s throats, but we’d walked away stronger than ever. A secret couldn’t even dent our relationship – not even my hatred for her ex-boyfriends. She begged my forgiveness and asked me to be her maid-of-honor despite her bridezilla complex. I told her I always anticipated it, and that night, John, Thomas, Clara and I spent the hot night in the hotel pool playing kids’ games like old times.
Clara had relinquished to me her wedding plans as her slave owners cracked the whip. John worked under the same lord and could not help much either. They had only established a venue and a photographer, and the photographer was Sarah’s friend from a bar. I fired him and asked a friend from Los Angeles, a professional friend-of-a-friend, to come up. He owed me a favor from community college and even had connections with the local restaurant chain. I sweetened up a flower vendor that had owed my mother a favor from her insurance days, and when that didn’t work out, I discovered and ex-crush from middle school had actually been crushing on me and tried to sweeten me up with a deal on flowers. I took the deal and denied his date offer. This bridesmaid was spoken for. The flowers, the photographer, the venue, and the food were taken care of, and there was money left to spend. I had already shipped and stored the boxes of candles, silver ribbon, guest book, card box, china, wine glasses, and even the cake ornament – a princess and her prince – to the town. All was ready.
Sarah reconciled later with Clara and threw a bachelorette party. I was not invited. I did not care. I had an internship with the greatest pediatric hospital in the country. Petty squabbles with bored brats couldn’t bother me. I sent Clara a card with a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant and a coupon for a dress refitting if she need it (she did, she lost weight). Come time for the wedding, I was more than available. John and I drove everyone nuts with rehearsals and arrangements, but the show went on.
When Clara finally walked the candle-lit aisle, she was as beautiful and happy as she was supposed to be. She made her vows and kissed her new husband, and everyone rejoiced. He carried her down the aisle to my Cobra – 2012 California special edition in bold red, convertible, lava red seats – and drove her to the reception at the finest restaurant outside of town in an old family winery. Food from the Italian restaurant was already set next to the breads, cheeses, and wines. Everything was set in silvers and blues, mirrors and tiaras. It was a feast fit for a new king and queen, and Clara was happy.
Spirited and happy, everyone waltzed to old tunes and held each other close. John and I gossiped about old town folks that Clara and I disagreed about in high school. Sarah showed up and glared at me before leaving. Then Clara and I danced while John and Thomas laughed. She cried for how happy she was to be marrying her true love. I cried because she cried. Then the DJ threw on the dubstep track I’d asked and provided, and she laughed. Everyone danced like robots as they laughed and shouted, and in the end, everyone had a good time.
If there was one thing everyone learned, it was the power of friendship. Friends don’t need the internet or even phones. We feel each other through time and space, drifting along through the river of time. It is eternal and beautiful. Clara learned to trust me, and when it comes my time to take the bridezilla crown, I know she will be there too.

Monday, January 7, 2013


All the tools were ready, from the bone saw to the pliers. He lit frankincense in the corners of the hall to diffuse the pungent aroma of death that gripped the dark hall. Rats wove in and out of the ruined benches in search of his spoiled supper and found poisoned morsels in tattered rags. The robbed man sneered at the pitiful creatures and set a candle on his work bench for the client.

Four loud raps interrupted the man. He cackled as he scuttled to the bolted wooden door and peeked through the musty keyhole. On the other side stood a man in muddy robes with a wooden leg and long hands that better resembled talons than human appendages. The robbed man released the latches and bolts and yielded the passage to the ville creature at his door.

"Welcome, Sebastian," said the robed man.

"Mordecai," the bird man greeted. His voice was raspy with age and chronic sickness. "Have you prepared everything as I have asked?"

"But of course," was Mordecai's reply.

The creature, Sebastian, hovered to the bench and let loose a hoarse laugh to himself. Then he wandered top the collection of corpses deeper in the room laid beneath fresh candles by the robed man. Most were soldiers from the battle at the nearby river, but there were some boys and maidens among the fallen.

"What will you be creating tonight my lord?" asked Mordecai. "May I offer any suggestions?"

"A battle mage," replied Sebastian.

Mordecai let out a croaking "ah" and knotted his hands together. "Let us work right away, then."

Sebastian walked past the first few bodies and paused at a white pair of feet. Without touching any other part, he plucked at the toes and rubbed them. Slowly, his hands moved up the ankles. The body was a drummer boy who'd fallen by an archer's arrow. "This one has good feet," he said aloud. Then he examined the legs beside him. "No, never mind. I want a woman's feet. They've more muscle to them."

"Yes, you are right," Mordecai agreed. "Always right, sir."

He stopped at an older captain's corpse. His steel armor was at his side, and his sword on the table beside him. "I like his arms," he said. "Truly strong - not massive, but dense like diamonds. But his hands are awkward. Cut them just below the elbow."

"Yes, sir!" Mordecai said and started with his bone saw on the soldier's body. As Sebastian looked over the other bodies, the sound of flesh and bone slicing apart echoed in a quick rhythm.

The ugly creature stopped at an older boy's side. Blood still colored his cheeks; his lips looked as though he were smiling in the midst of a dream. Without a word, the creature opened the boy's shirt and chest, plucking his heart from the hole. "A perfect heart for my creation," he muttered. "And good lungs. This one was a bard."

Mordecai paused to look. "Yes, my lord. I will set it aside for you!"

The creature stopped at a young woman's side. "Perfect hands, this one. Tired but not destroyed. Was she a musician or a tailor?"

"An adulterous housewife, murdered by her husband in her sleep," Mordecai said.

The creature snarled. "I've no need for a traitor." He paused, snarled again, and moved to the next soldier. From him, he took the ribs and stomach. "Such a waste of good material, these wretches!"

The next body had only one arm and a pegleg. Sebastian was furious. "Where is his other hand!" he demanded.

"Lost many years ago in battle, sir," Mordecai replied from the altar table.

"Foolish boy!" Sebastian removed his hand with his knife and set it on the table. "I need another hand. One that can withstand fire."

"May I suggest the soldier at the end, sir? He has worked with the hot tars and catapults for many battles."

Sebastian looked over the soldier at the end. The face of this body was very tired. Though it was shaved, the deep greys suggested that even eternal sleep was not deep enough for this exhausted soldier. His hand was dexterous and calloused. Yes, it matched the boy's hand well! The would work well together! He removed the soldier's hand and took his ears as well.

"What face will you choose, sir?" Mordecai asked.

Sebastian ignored him and found a young woman with strong, tanned legs. He severed them gently, careful not to ruin them in a geiser of blood, and set them on the table. The feet were of average size though the toes were painted. The creature did not understand why women painted their toes when no one ever saw them.

Three witches were among the dead. Sebastian took the curling brown locks from one and the blue eyes of another. He contemplated the third witch's lips. "What was their death?" he asked.

"They stood trial, sir, and admitted their guilt when accused of cursing Lord Grey's father," said Mordecai.

Sebastian snarled. "I've no need for foolish truth-speakers," he hissed and moved on.

The creature seemed troubled. Though there were so many bodies, he could not choose from them a set of lips or a face. Mordecai suggested a handsome man's strong-set face, but Sebastian growled. "I want a woman," he said alas.

"A woman, sir?" Mordecai said. At the creature's waving arms, he shuddered. "Of course, sir. A woman, sir."

"The soldiers will hesitate before they kill a woman," he said.

"Yes, sir. You are brilliant, sir." Mordecai quickly moved over the bodies. "The priestess here, she is a virgin and a beauty. The soldiers loved her."

"Good. Give me all of her beauty."

Sebastian walked slowly among the bodies groaning. He paced over and over among them. "An old man knows many things," he grumbled, "but his mind is made up." His decrepit fingers fell over a boy with soft hands and delicate skin. "The scholar is a fool too. He thinks he knows everything. Which would you choose?"

Mordecai paused in his preparations. "I don't rightly know, sir," he said.

Sebastian grumbled and worked to extract the young man's brain from his skull. He was careful removing it, for he did not want to damage the delicate mass.

Next the creature took a long glass tube and poked it into the bellies of several men. When his tube produced dark red fluid, he moved to the next corpse. At the bard's heart-less corpse, he stopped and removed his liver from the same emptiness. Pausing, Sebastian removed all of the bard's guts.

"Sir, his guts are weak," Mordecai warned.

"Nay, they are so strong that they appear weak," Sebastian rasped. "I need a battlemage that can stomach his own atrocities and a liver that will not make him blind with anger."

Mordecai let out a low moan and set the guts with the other organs. "Sir, shall I add this man's blood net to your things? He watched his son die in his arms."

"Yes, do that. No man's blood courses so true as a man watching his kin die," Sebastian said merrily. "Give me his tongue as well. My battle mage will want to taste death."

"Is there anything else I can give you, sir?" Mordecai asked.

The two robed men stood beside the table and looked over the forming body. Sebastian set the bones, the flesh, the many organs in place carefully, pausing to clean the cuts. Mordecai offered him more tools and rags to clean the blood, and the creature took them. Within the hour the body was a messy pile. All the organs were in place and ready.

Sebastian spoke a profane chant and set the pieces together, starting with the priestess's face to the witch's eyes, the scholar's brain to the head, the soldier's ears to the beautiful face, the sister's lock's to the lovely head, and the priestess's delicate neck and shoulders to the bard's lungs and heart. The heartbroken father's blood net set in the organs all the while and prepared to pump the bard heart's blood, and the guts fell into a complicated line down past the virgin priestess's womb and nether areas. The strong legs fastened to the wide woman's hips and to the delicate waist. Sebastian let out an otherworldly moan and took Mordecai's chalk to his hand, and with it he painted the flesh the color of hazelnuts to give it one solid form. With a word, the body breathed, lowering and raising its breasts and belly as it did so. The body let out a harrowing scream as it opened its eyes.

"It is successful!" Mordecai said.  "Congratulations, sir!"

Sebastian said nothing to the other robed man. He shook a jeweled bottle at his side and poured it into the screaming body's lips, hissing, "You will know my arcane magic, underling, and do as I say. Speak, and tell me you know what I expect from you!"

In that moment, the body opened its eyes and ceased its screaming. It parted its lips to form words. Sebastian let out a frustrated moan, and then he fell to the ground. Mordecai shrieked and turned to the body and then the abomination, speaking: "You've killed him! You've killed your master!"

The body spoke more words, slowly and tiredly, and the second man joined him. At the sight of their deaths, it curled its knees to its shoulders. It stayed on the table for hours, shivering, trembling, breathing the stench of death from the chamber. When alas its body ached too much to sit, it stepped onto the stone floor and walked.

"Who am I?" it asked the corpses. Seeing the desecrated bodies around it, the body froze. "What am I?"

The scholar's brain ticked inside and brought the creature logic. It was a woman, born from pieces of many people. The father's tongue hungered for revenge against the dead men that had done this to all of the dead. The bard's heart ached to make it all right. The priestess felt the filth of desecration and death. The creatures magic surged through the father's veins, but she did not know what to do with it. The soldiers were tired of war and death, and all ached for eternal sleep that now eluded them.

"I will right our deaths," she said. "I promise."

The woman took a grey robe from beside the doorway and stepped into the gold-splattered temple. A new day was just beginning, and there was much to be done.

Uncredited image

Pinned Image

Does anyone know of the artist(s) who made this? I am so tired of images floating around the internet without credit.