Surprising Slips

Philippa Sylvia (Farina) Russell

Philippa Sylvia (Farina) Russell

Well, I’ll be darned. When I wrote an earlier snippet based on various prompts, I claimed that Sylvia didn’t strike me as a major character, the last thing I expected was to discover her as one of the principal ones after all! (Well, actually, Sylvia was already a part of Philippa – a powerful character I thought I knew thoroughly.)

She is the one who loves Vincent unconditionally, giving marriage a second try (versus Vincent’s first). Strong-minded, she sees much of herself in Dorinda, yet respects her husband’s quiet reserve regarding certain matters (ie, Dorinda’s birth mother).

I didn’t expect Philippa to wish to dismiss her first name in favor of her middle name (something that will unwittingly help Dorinda in her pursuit of a truth best left alone) because of the history of fights she used to get into during her school days. (Even her sons have a hard time imagining their mother as one who stood with a fist.)

Today’s meager word count was courtesy of a dare by a cabin-mate (thank you, Skywriter7!) – what can you write in 10 minutes?

Well, below’s the result, which led to the above discovery.

Gathering Winds

Sylvia returned the yearbooks to the bottom shelf of the bookcase, putting them in the proper order so as not to raise suspicion. She couldn’t believe she was doing this – helping her daughter seek out the one that no one spoke about in the house. Not that she was curious or jealous, but Sylvia felt safer knowing certain skeletons remained buried.

It irritated her that her oldest son volunteered to help, if only in the hopes of looking good in a particular politician’s eyes. Why the smartest one was star struck by stupidity was beyond her. That, she’d credit to her ex-husband.

“Hey, Mom,” Edmond said.

Sylvia caught the glass trinket before it hit the floor. “I hate it when you do that.”

“I knocked; no one answered. Dad at work?”

She nodded. “Want to help me keep your siblings out of trouble?”

He laughed, sounding like his father. “That’s a full-time job. Besides, knowing my luck, I’d be caught, framed, then sentenced for life just for meddling in Garrett’s dealings. Why?”

“Dorinda’s up to something.” Sylvia expected the usual brotherly defense, not silence. “What have you been up to?”

Edmond grabbed the softball from the shelf above, tossing it in the air lazily. “Nothing.”

“Your father could hear that lie a mile away.”

“Which one?” He glanced at the yearbooks, then at her before vanishing into the library upstairs. Sylvia was right behind him.

“So help me, I’ll let your father know what you’ve been up to-.”

“Why? Garrett’s already done that – tried to get him involved, I mean. Not too happy about it, either, and it has nothing to do with brown-nosing Lovett.” He grabbed a copy of one of the Lincoln biographies from the nightstand. “Have you tried just asking Vincent?”

“I don’t need to know.”

It was his turn to scoff. “Even he could hear that lie. Keep it up and you’ll be just as obnoxious as the grandparents.”

The back door slammed shut, Donald Russell’s voice rising in volume with every stomp up the stairs. Edmond was already down the stairs, out to the car to help Dorothy Russell into the house.

Pop Goes the Weaving

Fireworks by sjk

Fireworks by sjk

A snippet from “Sights on the Storm” inspired in part by the recent holiday.

“The wonderful thing about fireworks,” Dorinda began, “goes beyond the flares flowering above, the wide eyes and open mouths below. The freedom to define, to describe the world around you without a sound – that is the gift.

“Exploding in your mouth like popping rock candy, fireworks can have the flavor of orange, cherry or grape. Of course, childhood flavors give way to baby sweet peas, cherry tomatoes or certain kernels of corn. Blueberries and huckleberries, too, if fortune liked you.

“To feel the taste of a firecracker could, if the tongue could handle it, morph into that of salmon roe on a sushi roll or caviar. Maturity is required.

“To feel the burning sensation, place a hand over a saucepan with nothing more than sizzling oil, awaiting popcorn kernels that would dare dance without a lid. Let some of those droplets fall to the burner for a different scent of the now-unseen seasonal scene.

“Then again, if the holiday’s passed, watch the fireflies flitter about the field, a milder version of the shooting star syndrome of the skies.”

Dorinda sat down, refusing to make eye contact with her instructor, glad that she wasn’t the last one, hating that she was the first. Adele gave her a reassuring nod before taking her turn at the podium. It eased the pain a little, having revealed the memory of long ago.

Vincent waved a hand in front of her face. “Going through your high school yearbook never makes you smile,” he told her. Then again, the same could be said of her collegiate accomplishments, too, he thought sadly.

“Yeah? Where’s yours so I can see your reaction, Dad?” She closed her eyes. Vincent wondered if he would hear a confession now, later or be set up with a half-truth again. “Mr. E. claimed there was always more than one approach to a mystery,” she said.

Vincent refilled the coffee cup before her. “An ‘I told you so’ moment or something else?”

“Remember when you challenged me to explain the explosions of fireworks in terms of taste?”

“I told you to look in the pantry,” he said. “That was after your nana lectured us both about the candy you brought home.”

Dorinda smiled. “You stashed it in your desk drawer in your bedroom, under your journal, with my personal flashlight against the edge of the drawer. Our little secret for the storms.”

Vincent took out a cookbook, turning it towards the desserts section where he pulled out a worn paper. “Want to know another secret? Mr. Eikenberry already knew why you wrote the way you did. That essay you dodged, complaining about ‘exposure from an emotionally expository approach,’ I think you said?” He gave her the transcript, watched as his daughter mouthed a curse. “You’re so used to it that you don’t realize you do it, even now. So, what mystery requires the same attention?”

Dorinda shook her head. “It’s nothing, Dad. Nothing to worry about.”

The response hurt him. He slid the book her way. “Why don’t we make some blueberry buckle,” he asked, aware that the chances of the time, the results, the memories of more ‘talkative days’ revealing his daughter’s worries were slim.

Yet he held on to the spark of hope.

Here We Go Again

Kat's in the Bag

Kat’s in the Bag

Forget being in the ‘dog house’ as far as June’s challenge went. I feel like Kat, cornered in the creases of the bag. (Granted, she came out of the bag at the sight of a crumpled library receipt, but that’s another story)

I failed SoCNoC miserably! In fact the word count this June was so low, I don’t think it would have been a worthy word-war total against any of the fellow NaNo-RhiNo’s in the SnoValley Writes! group!

The last time I saw a total count this low was during my first Script Frenzy, where a supposed script morphed into a novella-turned-trilogy, but I digress.

I have great cabin-mates for this month’s CampNaNo! Five fellow writers flying high on their first day/night totals – I’m motivated to try and catch up. While I didn’t have a definitive plan last month (a quasi-one turned quirky that later got stuck in the quagmire), this time, I’ve a general gist of a guide.

Yes, this month’s story is the same as last month’s (Sights on the Storm). Yes, the target word count is the same (50K, oy vey!). This time, however, I have a list of song titles – storm and weather related – to guide me through, along with various verses, poems and classics. Whether or not I can keep on a linear path remains the question – again.

Today’s start, 500 words.

Vincent Russell

Vincent Russell

“I can see clearly now…”
Dorinda Russell grabbed the windbreakers and camera case with one hand while tucking a pack of cigarettes into her backpack with the other. “The rain is gone, Dad.” She suspected he had to be close enough to see her, or hoped so. There was no way she was putting everything down to repeat what she said, let alone get caught smoking again.

The floorboards didn’t creak behind her. Mumbling a curse, she moved her hands, sneaking in a few choice words without thinking. “The rain-.”

“-is gone,” Vincent signed before grabbing the camera case from her. “Watch your language; I’m not blind yet.”

Dorinda threw her head back, aware of her neck popping, her shoulders aching and a new leak in the ceiling. Her father waved his hand over her eyes. “No home repairs,” he told her. “Your brothers’ job.”

“You can hire professionals,” she told him. “Less headache; no trip to the emergency room.”

He smirked, “Your mother’s decision.”

Dorinda snorted. “Who came home drunk?”

“Besides you? Let’s go. I saw a rainbow.” He stepped out the door, tripod in hand before she could offer a proper comeback.

Vincent adjusted the controls of his Kodak Retina before setting the sightlines on his daughter, who still struggled with her digital camera. He snuck a few shots in before aiming the lens towards the sunset.

He could have been nice, handing the empty disc tucked inside the book of matches – the small item dropped onto the kitchen floor just in front of the coffee maker. It wasn’t like Dorinda to be forgetful – about the empty pot, the unlocked door, the open burner glowing red.

It would only be a matter of time for whatever it was that he couldn’t see to come into focus. It was times such as these that he lamented her moving out of the house.

It wasn’t too bad – with Adele and her husband across the street, the boys across town, granted opposite sides of each other, and Dorinda closer to work. The vacated room became the upstairs library, the downstairs room returned to Vincent’s parents. The only question that remained was whether it was worth it to change the locks, keeping Heloise out.

Vincent sighed, worried about the path his only daughter was on; one that drove her back to drinking and smoking – his sister’s vices; Dorinda’s pet peeves. Unwilling to see her suffer in frustration any longer, he held up the book of matches, aware of the colorful metaphors escaping her lips.

“Don’t tell me you already finished a roll of film,” she said, shoving the matches in her pocket. He held up two fingers. “Well, mine will be developed faster.”

He shook his head. Was it worth admitting to her now that the last time she turned the printer on, the ink light came on? Add to that, the fact that his father had used the last of the premium photo paper she splurged on?

Vincent decided no.

Pill or Proper Meal

Big Ol' Country Breakfast from Ellie's

Big Ol’ Country Breakfast from Ellie’s

Today’s short snippet is inspired by today’s Daily PromptIf you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

“Why do you always pop a few extra pills whenever Aunt Heloise cooks, Grandpa,” Dorinda asked as she grabbed her jacket and wallet.

The elder Russell looked her in the eye, his brown eyes are sharp as ever. “It’s because she thinks she cooks I pop ’em,” he said. With a wink, he added, “A shot or two doesn’t hurt, either, but don’t tell your nana that.”

Dorinda shook her head. True, the smell of burnt toast and sound of sizzling eggs-turned-over-done was better than the smell of blood and the sound of breaking glass, to name the ‘calmer alternatives’ they’d seen. She and Adele always imagined Heloise as the skinnier, funnier Julia Child when they were little. It wasn’t until home ec that they really discovered the depths of Vincent’s passion for the culinary arts.

“You could always tell her you don’t need her to fix you guys anything. Just because she sobers up from the night before-.”

“You’ve lived in this house for how long? Go, grab your father and make a clean escape. Get a hearty country breakfast with an extra order of bacon and sausage for me, huh?”

The young woman laughed, aware that she’d probably have to swim double the laps or attend thrice the number of workouts just to burn off the calories; while her father wouldn’t even gain a pound.

Some things just weren’t fair.

(SoCNoC total today: 450)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | Basically Beyond Basic
  2. Free Your Stomach, and the Rest Will Follow | Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please
  3. What’s for dinner – Red pill or Blue Pill | Nanuschka’s Blog
  4. So sad! | Vivir, que no es poco
  5. Things That Pill Could Never Supply You With | Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | likereadingontrains
  6. dining with you, a haiku | charlottesville winter
  7. Pills | Cat’s Chinwag
  8. I’d swallow it. Especially if it just shut my selves up. | thoughtsofrkh
  9. Popping Pills | Hope* the happy hugger
  10. Time to eat! | Penne 4 Your Thoughts
  11. The Pill | Matthew Vett’s Development Blog
  12. Try Nutri-pill! (a commercial script) | The Jittery Goat
  13. Daily Prompt: Popping A Pill Instead Of Eating? | My Daily Prompt Blog
  14. A Pill is no Cannoli | The Mercenary Researcher
  15. With drawn buttah, right? | Relax…
  16. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | Authentic Indian Thali «
  17. dining with you, a haiku | charlottesville winter | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!
  18. “Let’s Get Physical” | Donbury Pond
  19. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill « Mama Bear Musings
  20. Flavour or nutrition?? | amateurxpress
  21. Sorta-Ginger | Your Results May Vary
  22. Daily Prompt; Red Pill, Blue Pill | terry1954
  23. Nourishment for my soul 🙂 | MindBlur
  24. Blueberries and Redcurrant | Spunky Wayfarer
  25. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | The Educated Illiterates
  26. Pop The Pill? Daily Prompt | heysugarsugar
  27. Daily Prompt: Red Pill,Blue Pill (Nourishment) | 365 Day 130 | AmiLoo’s Photography
  28. Daily Post: If Proteins Were Red, Carbohydrates Were Blue, What Would You Do? | Iam Who Iam
  29. Random Signs of Their Faith | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  30. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill – It’s Not Just Nutrition | SERENDIPITY
  31. There’s a pill for that! | Code For Confession
  32. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | Amanda’s Blog™
  33. June Daily Prompt: Just If It Doesn’t Cost Much | Portofolio Prita
  34. Daily Prompt: Savory | One Starving Activist
  35. Daily Prompt : Red Pill Blue Pill | writinglikeastoner
  36. Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Endless Horizon

The Holiday

The Holiday

Inspired in part by today’s Daily PromptWhat’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

“Seriously, Dad, what are you going to do, swim the entire time?”

Vincent smiled as he watched Dorinda continue talking, imagining the ‘argument’ he had seen from her several times before, the average length being a minute for every year of her age. Yes, she protested the beach, but it always ended the same way, with him coaxing her to come into the hotel room long after the sun had set.

The beauty of the waves required no words, even as they played their ‘listen to the seashell’ games. He loved how her eyes twinkled, tiny fingers telling him what he was supposed to hear. From airplanes and boa constrictors to violins and xylophones, Dora’s imagination was endless. She could create as many stories as there were shells or sands on the shore, skipping barefoot along the way, dashing waves yet daring to wade.

He had his fears of Dora being swept away by the waves – a more concrete fear that replaced ones of a certain thief in the night trying to claim a child that was never theirs.  However, Vincent knew she’d keep far from the water, even now.

Those were the times he remembered as he saw her back reflected in the window. Every vacation began with a protest, accompanied by a waiting game that he always won, and ending with an itinerary she planned; the proposed ‘sand bucket list’ getting longer and more daring each time.

“I know, I know,” Dorinda muttered, grabbing the tattered travel bible from the bookcase, “the awesomeness of God’s creation, limitless as the horizon where water and sky meet, where the Son never sets.”

Vincent bit the inside of his cheek, lest he were caught laughing at her. The voice may have changed along with the height of the child, but the imagined tone remained the same. It was one of the small blessings he enjoyed, these long weekend escapes to the beach with her, just the two of them. He could never, would never grow tired of them.

(Today’s SoCNoC count: 733)

Snippet – Friday Firings

Dorinda Russell

Dorinda Russell

“Off to the firing range, Dora?”

Dorinda Russell’s shoulders fell, the handle of the gym bag now in her hand. There were times she swore her father’s father was out to get her. Her only saving grace was the fact that her own father-.

“It’s Friday, dear.” Nana said.”Firing range, again”

Dorinda gave a silent prayer, hoping her father didn’t read any of this. It was bad enough that he worried about her boxing. “Nana, you make it sound like I’m having an affair.”

“Forget I said anything, dear. Sweetheart, we’re going to be late for bingo.” The elder Russell couple left by the side door where their bridge friends waited in the car; their games routine delving towards squared numbers and colored ink dots for the evening.

She turned and saw her father leaning against the door frame, hands in his pockets. Dorinda didn’t want to have this conversation now. The fact he took a ‘silent stance’ of his own could be reassuring.

“It’s nothing to worry about, Dad,” she told him. “I’ve been going for a few weeks now and-.” She wanted him to respond, wanted to fight to justify her latest habit.

Instead, he sat down in the armchair, folded his hands over his knee and waited.

“Look, I traded in the boxing lessons for martial arts, so you can’t get mad at me,” she continued. True, his logic in why she should expand her disciplines didn’t amuse her at first, but he made valid points. “How I work out is my business.”

Vincent still remained silent.

“Swimming and running, those work for you. They bore me. Besides, only one comes in handy during a confrontation and-.”

“And one’s supposed to feel safer with a gun; a gun that can be turned and used against you,” he asked. “Given everything you share with the people you work with, why reach for a crass weapon now? Are you in trouble?”

Dorinda scoffed. The latter question was more fitting for Aunt Heloise. “Do you recommend me using a rock and sling?”

He shrugged. “Archery.”

“What’s the point?”

“The arrow.”

Dorinda stopped to think about it then laughed. “Dad, we both know what side of the fence you fall on, in terms of ‘fight or flight.’ I won’t join you.”

His brown eyes showed neither disapproval nor anger, even as her remark hit a sore subject she didn’t want known. He  left the room. Before she could get out the door, he signed, “Be careful, Ahab.”


(Today’s SoCNoC word count, 1,425)

June Jump

Kiwi Writers

Kiwi Writers

The new madness for this month: Kiwi Writers‘ “SocNoc!” Or, Southern Cross Novel Challenge. It’s the ‘south of the equator version of NaNoWriMo and has been going strong for over five years now.

So what will this month’s 50,000 word challenge focus on? The mysteries surrounding Dorinda and Vincent Russell – daughter and father who say a lot more in silence than the cacophony around them. Some ficlet/fragments have already been shared on the site, Tommia’s Tablet. Now to weave in the proper telling with the story, “Sights on the Storm.”

Today’s word count was a paltry (750 words). Nothing fitting for a decent segment yet, but here’s an introduction to the cast of characters:

Dorinda Russell

Dorinda Russell

Unlike her father, very outspoken, impulsively active and ready to throw the first punch without apologies. She knows the existence of her being, but refuses to forgive and forget, despite her grandparents’ best efforts.

Vincent Russell

Vincent Russell

“Voiceless Vince” during most of his years in school, Vincent is reflective, patient and willing to tip certain stereotypes on their side. Understanding the reasons for his daughter’s chosen career, he won’t stand in her way; however when someone threatens his only child’s safety, he’ll make himself heard.

They live in the suburbs of a college town, in the same house Vincent was raised in, whilst keeping a sane distance from his sister, Heloise and providing shelter for  his niece, Adele.

Heloise Russell

Heloise Russell

The older sibling who torments her younger brother as only a sister could. She has her demons to drown and a past that is forever present in the house she ran away from in the pursuit of a carefree future.

Adele Russell

Adele Russell

Practically Dorinda’s sister, Adele, like her cousin, was raised primarily by their grandparents stern hand. Having nothing in common with her mother and knowing nothing of her father, Adele does what she can to get by in the crazy world around her.