SaD – Description

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Today’s prompt was to focus on the description in a story. Given that I was ‘trapped’ in a too-long meeting in a big room, what follows is a small snippet (or snip) created with what brain cells remain:

Scribe

Ashley Emery wandered about the large house to escape his parents and better still, escape the crowd.

One of the large oak doors was ajar.

Stepping inside, drawing journal clenched to his chest, he stood in awe. Before him were shelves upon shelves of books, from floor to ceiling. The beautiful mosaic of spines, tall and short, thick and thin, brought a smile to his face. Paperbacks, hardback, and some that appeared to be handcrafted…

Glancing over his shoulder, relieved to see no one behind him, he carefully closed the door, only a click of the latch to possibly give him away.

He started with the books by the large window. Even in the so-called chaos of knickknacks cluttering the corner, there was a certain order to the titles. The last time he saw “The Stars” was on his grandfather’s glass-doored bookcase in the attic, beside the telescope.

Fingers lingering along the lettering, he was tempted to take it from its place.

SaD – Character Action

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Ah ha! Part two of the challenge from yesterday: Write a story about the characters all grown up.

I could have waited until morning, however, coffee was invented for a reason…

Action

Chris leaned against the tree as she stared out across the river. She knew Ashley was watching her from where he sat on the ground.

She yanked an apple from the branch, turning it over in her hand a few times, tempted… “You do something stupid like that again and I’ll…”

“You’ll what? Kill me? I expected that from Evan that day.”

She laughed. That’s when it hit her – this place, this time of day bringing her back to another lifetime. “’I’d throw you in the pool and teach you to swim the hard way.’ That’s what he told me after he pulled me to shore.”

“I might have preferred that. He threatened to anchor me in place.”

Chris turned and looked at him. “Why not? You’re always running, and where has that gotten you?”

Ashley stood up, looked her in the eye. “Better than trying to pick a fight with everyone, friend and enemy alike!”

This time, she did throw the apple at him; he caught it.

He narrowed his eyes. “That first day… when I tried to outrun them, but I fell instead…  You were the one who hit me in the head all those years ago! You and that damn apple!”

Chris shrugged. “Saved you, then. I’d have helped, but Evan was already there. I already knew what he was going to say to me, so, the absence was the better choice then.”

“No! I couldn’t get away with that excuse then and I’m not letting you get away with it now. Do you want to know why I run? Because I tried to return to what I lost, what I knew – a family that loved me! I couldn’t find my way, nor could I get out from under them!” He pointed in the general direction of his family’s house. “Absence, the best choice? Evan called me on it then; I’m calling you on it now.”

She laughed again. “I was so sick and tired of detention for every fight I got into. For the record, I only threw the first punch half of the time. I got so sick and tired of Boris and Bonehead bullying the others. I still hate bullies. But I can’t hit them all. I’d love to – I’d really love to. I can’t. I can’t hit them all. I can’t accept what she’s… I can’t risk you being gone, leaving me when I could have done something.”

“She didn’t go through with it! What-. No. You think you get to know the full story; you’ll have to ask her directly. It isn’t my place to tell it. For the first time, however – I have another reason to run. It’s more than just a scholarship that got me out of here. There are so many causes I can run for. The racing heart from fear? It’s exhilaration and joy in raising funds that help make a difference. There’s a finish line that means a new beginning for someone, somewhere, somehow.”

Chris crossed her arms. “In other words, you’re still running.”

“It’s… You want to fight me, fine. I can take it. I’ve taken worse.”

She only recently learned some of the darker details from Ashley’s past, in an unorthodox manner. She hated herself for not being able to see it then, to do more then … “I can’t hit them all.”

“Maybe you’ve chosen the wrong weapon for the fight.” He gave her a quiet smile she had enjoyed since they were in middle school.

To hear that repeated from different people this quarter alone… she hated to admit that they might be right. “Guess I should do something about that, then.”

“Permission to cook you dinner while you talk it out?” He held a hand out to her.

“So long as it doesn’t end in some sappy rom-com setup, sure.” She took his hand, remembering the few times they had danced in school. “I’m glad you’re back.”

 

 

SaD – Childhood Damage

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Today’s challenge focused on childhood damage. Since more of Ashley’s story unfolds later, thought I’d focus on his two best friends.

 

Damaged

Evan pulled the kid to her feet. “You do something stupid like that again, I might-.”

She put up her fists. “You might what?”

He doubted she weighed more than 100 pounds even while dripping wet. She may have been as small as his littlest brother, but her temper was that of his oldest sister (whenever he got caught raiding her bookshelf). “I might have to find a pool to throw you in and teach you to swim the hard way.” He threw his towel at her. “Chrissy, right?”

“Christine!” Her voice was muffled as she started to dry herself. “How do you know-?”

He tried not to laugh. “I hear your mom holler for you every night. The daylight doesn’t hurt your eyes, so why do you-?”

“Do you know how many things get lost in the dark? No one bothers you when you try to find them because they can’t see you.”

Evan knew exactly whom she was referring to – the Bully Biker Brothers. “So, you’re like the stealthy sleuth. Why not get a sidekick to help you search for the stolen stuff during the day? It would be easier, safer and-.”

“I can do it by myself!”

“I know you can. I’ve seen some of the other kids around here smile because of all the things you’ve returned to them. You’re good. I’m just saying, a sidekick, daytime – show the Bully Biker Brothers they’d better run.”

Christine held out the towel. “Mean it?”

He nodded. “I’ve seen them do some bad stuff, too. Except, I didn’t do anything, because I was small.” He held back the ‘like you,’ so as not to scare her off. “They tried to drown a kid in the river and I couldn’t swim. My mom – she raced out there like Wonder Woman and not only saved the kid, but she put them boys in their place.”

Christine’s eyes widened. “She sounds amazing! What happened next?”

“She taught me to swim. Every day at the pool and at the lake. My older brothers and sisters taught me to fight. What about you?”

“My brothers won’t teach me how and my sister ignores me. ‘Pristine Christine’ is what they call me all the time. I hate it!”

“Better than prissy or sissy Chrissy.”

She laughed. “You can call me Chris.”

He took the towel back at last. “Let’s try ‘Lil’ Sis,’ instead,” Evan replied. With that, he walked her home.

SaD – Conflict

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Today’s challenge – Conflict. I was torn on this one – cathartic writing anticipating a dreadful obligation or a simple argument between characters… Decided on this one.

 

Conflicted

 

Christine knew better than to wait until the last minute. Death was the second worst fate next to failing. She had a near-perfect score that would soon be at risk.

Yet the curriculum, the class, the teacher, bored her to tears.

The report could have, would have ruined a musical she had enjoyed for years, a musical she and her brothers and sister played every summer without fail. Yet leave it to Instructor Incompetent to give the most asinine assignment ever: What was the initial problem between the two main characters?

Christine didn’t have time to put the details and supporting evidence into a project given on a whim and due by the end of the week (aka, Friday, the day after it was assigned, as in two minutes before dismissal bell). Christine found a more enlightening collection of questions and topics to apply to the classic. Of course, they were logical ideas, hence never once considered by the instructor.

The clock chimed midnight and Christine was still engaged in the book she was reading, one that Evan’s oldest sister lent her. To finish one more chapter or complete the stupid paper…how was that even a choice?

The moment another chapter was finished, Christine decided ‘just one more; that’s what coffee was for.’ Soon, it was two.

Aware that at least a nap would be essential to focus on the math quiz, Christine resigned herself to the stupid paper at last, writing twenty words down, twenty-one counting the title.

  • The problem? Different pages. Harold Hill, the music man, needed to take note that Marian, the Librarian’s life was booked.

SaD – Flash Fiction

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Today’s challenge was flash fiction.

Flash

Even in shades of gray, the red bled through. A fairy tale scene – a truth of youth – that had to be a game, something impossible to name. So began the lie that flittered about like a dragonfly.

###

Ashley and Christine ran down the road, determined to catch up to Evan. The older teen reached the porch with ease. “That does it,” he said, breath fairly steady, “I get to pick the film, turtles.”

Panting, Christine said, “Not a stupid romance.”

“Or a scary one,” Ashley added. “I’ll have nightmares for weeks.”

“Me, too, if it’s a sappy rom-com,” Christine said.

Evan gave a rye smile as they made their way to the living room. “It’ll have to be a mystery, then.”

The Hitchcock film-built suspense on-screen and in-house had the desired effect. Evan knew every bit and still, like his friends, jumped like a mouse.  Shortly after dinner’s end, the youngest of the trio fled.

Evan kept Christine in her place, letting her know he’ll see him tomorrow, face-to-face.

###

“What happened,” he asked, pulling him off the path.

“Had to get home; you know my dad’s wrath.”

Evan wasn’t about to let this one go, knew something was painful, yet had to unearth it slow. How much time, that was the crime, did the dark secret, like vines, climb? What he could offer was a glimmer of hope, a shoulder, a lifeline, as strong as a rope.

“You know how to find me, where I’ll be at. Never a bad hour if you want to chat.” It was then, at that moment Evan thought it cruel – to be so close, yet soon off to school.

###

After photography class, going through pics didn’t bode well. An image of home plunged Ashley to hell. The trouble with Marnie, what it had triggered, hinted a terrible secret, forced him to dig deeper.

What he had passed off as a horrible dream, came to full color, full reel, forcing him to swallow a scream.

A dragon of a devil flew by, carrying a body on the ground to lie. The game was the name, yet not the same. The scene before him was far from serene.  The red bled through, covering the green.

SaD – 100 Words

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Today’s prompt – 100 words.

The result:

Century

It feels like forever. If I were to compare it to anything, it would be sleeping for decades like Rip Van Winkle, but seriously be awake.

How can you tell me that everything will be fine when you were in prison for something you didn’t do? How do you expect me to be alright when I still haven’t found the key to let myself out of my own prison?

You say forgiveness is easy, resentment is the noose to snap your soul but… Why should I believe you?

He hugs me, whispering, “It isn’t your fault. You’re free.”

I cry.

SaD – Two Characters

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All right, so today’s challenge was a story involving two characters and writing outside of your comfort zone – ie change your style. Well, one out of two ain’t bad…

Dual

She didn’t have time for this. Her routine was simple – classes, library, work, sleep. The only change was where family day was going to be held and with whom. It was her Uncle Chico who called dibs on brunch. It was her uncle who defended her from her parents when the question of dating came up.

It was her uncle who asked her for this small favor. And that was why she was stuck, at the city park, looking for a member in the unofficial chess club.

“Hey, Evan. I have something you,” Marcia said, sliding the brown paper bag towards the teen she recognized from the photos. He furrowed his brow.

“Chico, the chess czar? He’s my uncle.”

He stood up, and like a gentleman, pulled a chair out for her. She could see why her uncle liked him. “You’re Marcia, the one going for a PhD, aren’t you? What school are you at?”

Marcia laughed. “My PhD. consists of Peck, Hepburn and Dietrich.”

The svelte man pulled out the first item in the bag. “12 Angry Men?”

“A good way for you to start your Masters.” She took out her notebook as he set up the chess board on the table between them. “You get the full program of Marshall, Andrews, Stewart, Thomas, Eastwood, Rogers and Shaw.”

Evan had seven video cassette tapes stacked beside him. “Why?”

“You’ll have to ask him at your next chess game.” As she moved the pawn two spaces forward, she already knew the first reason. She had fallen prey to Chico’s move before.

“Any particular order to watch these in?”

Marcia shook her head. “Whatever strikes your mood. Could be chronological, thematical, random. Just watch them, enjoy them. See what you think of them.”

Evan had her in check. “He isn’t expecting a report for each one, is he?”

She escaped it with ease. “I don’t think so, but it could be handy to have some way of jotting down your ideas.” Marcia wrote her name on the inside cover of the notebook then gave it to him. “Here. In case you have any questions.”

They continued with their game.

“You’ve got Peck, Hepburn and Dietrich,” he asked as he moved one of his remaining key pieces. She nodded. “I know of at least two films we can compare notes on with the overlap.”

Looking at the board as she processed his remark, she discovered the second purpose of the setup. “Checkmate,” she said softly.

SaD – Point of View

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Well, day three of the challenge and it was change your point of view.

I hate writing first person (only a handful of good authors pull it off, so I can comfortably read it – ie Dick Francis). Well, here goes nothing:

 

Change!

I know what I saw.

His mama made him shut up using only her fingernails. I know fingernails diggin’ into someone’s skin because the colors disappeared bit by bit and that’s what I saw. How come no one ever listens to me?

Maybe Evan will listen to me. He doesn’t treat me like a baby! I’m the quote artist partner and he lets me draw around whatever quotes he found and typed up. Yesterday, he found a quote to match a picture I gave him.

I know what I saw and I know it hurt, even if he smiled, trying to pretend nothin’ hurt. I know he knows I saw because he put a finger to his lips and mouthed ‘shh’ like the library lady does if we’re crammed in the book mobile.

I know what I saw and I know he doesn’t want me to tell. He thinks he’s by himself, alone, even if he doesn’t have brothers and sisters like I do.

I know what I saw and I’m gonna change that, because I can be like a super hero – a small secret super hero – and make someone, like my big brother, hear me and change it.

SaD – More Words

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So today’s task/topic was to write for 40 minutes, with a little bit of prep time. So of course, my mind treated this just like a word war opportunity…

 

Time!

Ashley tossed his bag in the locker before scrambling to put his shoes on. He was late. Again. If he had been a freshman in high school or starting out in middle school, he might have gotten away with it.

But in this day and time at his age, trying to start anew in college…

He loved Professor Gates, adored her. She challenged him during lectures, and he could answer without fear. Whether he was right or wrong, he found his voice and used it.

In this setting, however, because of a lost bet with Chanel in chemistry lab, here he was, tripping over his two left feet.

Struggling to catch his breath, he made it to the auditorium, expecting to play catch up somehow. It took him a moment to realize the only footsteps he heard were his own.

“Mr. Emery, it isn’t like you to be this late. Especially on your fourth day.”

Professor Gates stood with her back to the mirrors in a classical at-rest position, just like a ballerina, poised, polished porcelain yet relaxed.

Once upon a time, Ashley held the same pose, scare steel determined not to flinch at the slightest threat. It was all he could do not to revert to that well-learned behavior of youth.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll understand, third strike and all-.”

Gates smiled. “Relax. Breathe. I’m not that cruel. Besides, there’s a particular challenge I have for you that works best one-on-one.”

She pressed ‘play’ on the CD player beside her. As the melody rose and their stretching exercises began, she asked, “What colors do you hear?”

Ashley was confused.

“Don’t think, just answer. What colors do you hear?”

“I’ve already failed a test,” he muttered under his breath.

After the first set of exercises were finished, Gates turned the music off. “Let’s reverse that. Follow me.”

She showed him a landscape painting with a myriad of autumn colors. “What notes do you see?”

Ashley opened and closed his mouth a few times. Rather than answer about the painting before him, he stepped towards the corner to a different landscape, this one depicting a river. “Around C,” he said, after a while. “Small voice in volume, short in length, like a bubbling brook. Eighth notes that grow longer eventually.”

“And,” Gates asked.

“This is just the start of a journey, so the tempo’s bound to change. The shift in chords, the…the ebb and crescendo. I can see it, I just can’t say it.”

Gates nodded as she led the way back to the auditorium. “Take your shoes off,” she told him as she sought a different CD from her bag. “We’ll ignore the tap.”

The moment the first notes played, Ashley felt awash in safety, in a time and place where love was plentiful and conversations, questions encouraged.

“Do you know the name,” she asked.

His smile grew as it dawned on him why he was drawn to the painting. “The Moldau, by Smetana.”

She smiled back. “Now can you tell me the colors that you hear?”

He did; he could, comfortably, eagerly.”

As the music ended, she pressed on. “What’s happened to you since then? What has broken and bruised you so – emotionally and physically – that you are hoping to fail out of this dance, this life?”

His heart raced as the images of a winding river morphed into a soon-to-be crushing waterfall.