Category Archives: Writing Ideas

The Kiss of Distraction

His body was molded to hers as he held her wrists, one above her head and one at her side, so she couldn’t draw her knives. His hair was sweaty from their wrestling – her to get her knives, him to prevent it – and it spiraled his hair into bronze clumps that he tried to get out of his eyes by angrily shaking his head. His face was close enough for her to feel his breath puff against her skin. He had her up against a wall, quite literally, and her options for getting out were dwindling, so she did the only thing he wouldn’t see coming.

She kissed him. Continue reading The Kiss of Distraction

Kaytali

I ran.

The stretch and pull of my muscles reminds me that I am alive. My feet make soft thuds on the ground, crunching leaves without snapping twigs. Faster. Further. Run. Driven by the need to find her wherever she may be, my mind replays the last moment I saw her…

running, slashing, running, falling

…running from the field filled with green and grey and red. So much red.

Red covers my toes as they fly over the ground. Jump, my mind screams. Up and over a fallen body, crumpled in the red and green, lying still, so still, not getting up…

I turn my mind off, tune out the what if and the maybe and speed towards her body, now entering the trees, sword still in her hand, which relieves me.

A crack and I fall, my legs stumbling, falling, trying to keep myself upright. Red splatters me now, my back leg refusing to stretch and pull, stretch and pull, so I curl it up close to my body.

I reel on.

From the Vault: Candle Flames

Hello, my name is Tia, and I sell candles.

Now, you might ask, how did you end up in such an unfortunate situation?  Well, it all started when I turned sixteen…

“Happy Birthday, Tia!” Mom shouted.

I cracked open one eye and aimed it at the clock: 5:49 am.  “Mom, it’s too early.”  I pulled my pillow back over my head and closed my eye again.  And I was having such a nice dream, too.

“Tia!  Wake up!”  Suddenly, I was cold.  I reached for my blanket, only to find it was nowhere to be felt.  Reluctantly, I opened my eyes, sat up, and found Mom smiling at me.  “There!  Now, like I said, Happy Birthday!”  I sat up and took the envelope from her, blinking as she turned on the light.

“Thanks for the card…wait, this isn’t a card.”  Inside the envelope was an invitation:

You are invited to a CANDLE PARTY for Tia’s 16th Birthday!

“You’re throwing me a candle party?”  I pulled the blanket back up over my legs from where Mom had tossed it aside, and looked at the clock again: 6:02.  I must be dreaming.  I looked up at my mom, standing there watching my reaction.  I smiled.

What else was there to do?

In case you haven’t guessed, Mom sells candles.  She’s been doing this as long as I can remember.  Not to say that it’s a bad career: our house always smells and looks good.  And it has left her able to stay home with me when I was little and be there when I get home from school now.  Planning her own schedule let her work around my football games, mall trips, and movie nights.

But a candle party?

“Thanks, Mom.  When’s the party?”  I smiled again.  She’s crazy.

“It’s tonight!” she giggled.  “After school, we’re going to have everyone come over.  It’s your starter party!”  She plopped on the bed, bouncing a little.  “I’m SO excited!  You’re first candle party!  Now, you know what this means, don’t you?”

It means I got a job for my birthday.

All day at school, I tried to figure out how to get out of it.  I mean, candles may be good enough for Mom, but I wanted more.  My friends worked at respectable places, well at least the ones that had jobs.  Emma was a waitress at Olive Garden; Steve worked at the movie rental place down the block; James delivered papers, not because he wanted a job but because his parents insisted on him doing something.

And I get to be a door-to-door salesman.  Hosting Tupperwear parties, only with wax.

As the bell rang for the end of the day, I resigned myself to the fact: I was having my first candle party.  A great career starter, for sure.  Not that there wasn’t money to be made.  Mom and I weren’t that bad off, and she set her sights on making her own region, which of course would increase her income.  It boiled down to one thing: could I sell candles?

“Don’t sweat it,” Emma said on the bus ride home.  “Go to the party, get your free candles, n’ be done with it if ya don’t wanna sell ‘em.”

“Are you coming over tonight?” I asked, half dreading, half hoping my best friend would be there to share this monumental night with me.

Emma giggled.  “Of course I am.”

As the bus pulled up to my road, I gathered my backpack and my thoughts, mentally trying to prepare myself for the upcoming night.  Emma smiled.  “It’ll be ok.”  I held my jacket closer against the wind.

I wasn’t prepared to walk into my own house.

The lights were off, and with the early sunset the only light to be had was coming from the living room.  I set my stuff down, gesturing for Emma to do the same, and walked towards the eerie flicker of candles and the chatter of small talk and the smell of cinnamon.  Mom had decorated the living room with her displays: a miniature snow village now graced our hearth, tiny pumpkins glowed from the end table, and elegant pillars sat upon our coffee table.

I have to say, it looked brilliant.

“There she is!” Mom squeaked as I walked into the room.  I smiled at the familiar and unfamiliar faces sitting in the assorted chairs provided.  Whispers of “Happy Birthday” reached my ears.  “Well, now that Tia’s here, let’s get this party started!”

That night I realized that, no matter how goofy my mother looked up there, in her nice clothes, Hawaiian lay, and oversized sunglasses, she was good at what she did.  She had everyone in the room laughing with her and cheering at simple candle party games.  Her sales pitch, of course, was the free trip to Hawaii for consultants, which also brought applauds.  “Now, who’s going to Hawaii with me!” she’d ask, and surprisingly some people raised their hands.

I was one of them.

“You’re mom’s great,” Emma said quietly after the party.  Mom was helping her partygoers finish their order forms.  I smiled at her, and she giggled.

“Ya, she is.”

So you see, I sell candles.  Ya, it’s not the best job in the world, but hey, it was my birthday present.  Like mother like daughter, they say.

Did I mention I get free candles?

Pondering

“Ever feel like the life you are living isn’t your own?”

I looked up, startled out of my own ponderings.  The look on her face was so earnest, I felt the need to answer – but how? My life has been much more complicated than the princess would ever know. Between wars, betrayal, fights, deceit, my life hadn’t been of my own choosing in a long time.

“I believe you are asking, are we in control of our own lives, as opposed to letting someone else dictate them for us, Highness?”

Miranda scoffed. “Please, call me Miri when it’s just us.” She sighed. “I feel the need to get away and just be Miri sometimes. With you, I feel that I can let everything else go – the kingdom, the war – and just be myself.” She smiled, a shy, small curving of her lips. “Whoever that is.”

What to tell her? Not that I could tell her anything, really, for fear of losing place – my life – whether due to our innocent chattings or to my mission.  But there she was, staring back at me with her grey eyes full of…hope. Need. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Staring into the fire, I began my story.

Countryside

As the sun set, the land changed. The green trees turned dark, bulbous ghosts flying in the darkening sky ready to grab on to anyone passing too close.  The rolling hills created a sea-wave effect as the carriage bounced passed, up-down up-down. The clip-clop of the horses hooves as they struck down invaded the silence and interrupted the cricket’s song until  the only noises were from the horses themselves.  Even the carriage inhabitants seemed to realize it was not the time for talking, each turning their thoughts inwards.

The house that came into view was more of a castle. The thick stone walls encompassed the building and yard, engulfing everything within its reach.  The iron gate barred their path, ornately but firmly refusing passage to unwanted visitors.  The single tower emitted a light – the only one besides the setting sun that was visible.

A small sigh escaped from within the carriage. The horses snorted and huffed as they slowed before the approaching gate. The last of the sun drifted behind one of the rolling hills.

“Ho, who goes there?” The guard on duty came out from his post, adding his light to the darkness as if trying to repel a thick cloud with only a handkerchief. The carriage driver hopped down and conferred with the guard softly, then resumed his post to guide the horses through the gate the guard was opening.

“Welcome to McKinney Manor.”

From the Vault: Oh, Fudge

“I can’t believe you got us lost.”

All for a piece of fudge, Misty thought.  She looked over at Sarah, who was huddling close to James, her blond hair in a high ponytail curling onto her shoulder.  James said something quietly that made Sarah giggle.  I can’t believe I ran off with these two, thinking I could be one of the ‘cool’ kids.  Misty pushed her glasses back up, shifted her backpack, and tried once again to read the Spanish road signs.  “Aren’t you guys worried?” she asked.

“Naw,” James said, “don’t worry so much, Missy.”

“It’s Misty.”

James looked up, his shaggy brown hair falling into his eyes.  Brushing it aside, he grinned at her.  “Ok, Misty.  What would you have us do?  I rather think this was much more fun than seeing those fountains.”  He bent his head back over his laptop, which was emitting some squeaking, beeping noise.  Sarah laughed at the screen, her dimple only making her look cuter.  James looked up at Sarah, smiling.

“I think we should get back.  The bus will be leaving for the hotel soon, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stay out here for the night.”  Thunder cracked overhead as the storm rolled towards them.  Misty shifted her backpack and started walking towards what she hoped was a bus stop.  Lightning flashed, tinting the city streets with a ghostly light.

“Hey, Misty, wait up!”  Sarah called, now sounding a bit frightened.  She probably just doesn’t want to get wet, Misty thought.  Looking over her shoulder to James, who was putting away his laptop, Sarah trotted up to where Misty was waiting for her.  “Thanks,” she said, giving Misty a weak smile.  Rain began pelting down from the blackened sky, pasting Misty’s hair to her scalp and fogging her glasses.

“Look, we’re fine,” James called from behind her.  The wind flung his wet hair around, and he pulled his jacket tighter.  “We can’t be that far from the bus stop.”  Almost under his breathe, Misty heard, “Can we?”  In the darkened light, the buildings loomed close, creeping over their heads and casting shadows that wavered across their sight.  “Here, that sign says ‘Bus Station this way.’  We just have to head that direction,” James said, pointing down what looked to be an alley.

“It says, ‘No buses this way’.”

“Oh,” James said, running his hand through his hair and looking at the ground, “I knew that.”  He shifted his feet, kicking a rock into the alley.  “Stupid signs.”

“Stupid signs!  Well, I think it was rather stupid to go traipsing off for chocolate in the middle of the field trip!”  Misty spun towards him, her checks flushed.  “Now, we’re lost in a foreign city!”  Trying to get her temper under control, Misty spun away from them and continued walking.

It’s ok, Misty thought, taking a deep breath.  You’ll find your way back.  You won’t be wandering the streets here forever.  She heard footsteps behind her, and, glancing over her shoulder, she saw both Sarah and James walking behind her solemnly.  I don’t care if he does like her.

Up ahead, the street turned to the left.  Following it, Misty walked out into the plaza they were at two hours ago.  On her left, the statue of a fat woman lounged on her marble slat, her rolling curves covered with flecks of pigeon dung.  Misty smiled, relieved to see a familiar sight.  “Ok, from here we need to go…that way!”  Ignoring the rain, she walked boldly towards the intersection, turning to her right towards a building with an overhang.  Behind her, Sarah and James followed her, their footsteps splashing in the puddles now gathering on the sidewalk.

Next time, Misty thought as she entered the bus station, no fudge.

The Hunted, Mission

I smoothed my hands over the fine silk, feeling uneasy in this costume.  The dark blue material complimented my eyes, the greys made my dark hair look even darker.  My hand slid across my knife belt hidden on my right thigh. Its presence was comforting, even under the layers of material.  I’d had to sneak it in place when Mari wasn’t looking.  She wouldn’t have approved.

They had stripped me of all my other weapons, stuffed me in a dress,  and demanded I parade around smiling – I was keeping the knife.

I looked around the room.  The other women in their fancy dresses gathered in small groups, looking around at the other people and whispering.  Most of them found her eyes as she swept the room, and went back to furious whispering.  Other couples graced the dance floor, spinning and twirling in intricate patterns with smiles lighting up their faces.

How I once wished that was me out there.  The love shining from the eyes of the man holding me, gazing at me with such tender care as I smiled back under lowered lashes.  How we would spend the night dancing and drinking and laughing, then retire, grateful for the time together yet anxious to be with our family again.  How the children would laugh as we told stories of our night away.

No.  I shook my head, clearing away the fantasies lurking in the dark corners of my mind.  No, there will be no gayety tonight, only forced laughter and smiles while I lured my target away from the crowds with the hinted promises of more intimate times together.

Tonight, I had a mission.

Splintered Wood

This is a story I wrote in college.  I’m sure it could be expanded into a novel-sized story, one of these days.

“How could you do this to your mother?” my father said.  His face had turned the color of a rotten tomato as he listened to my news.

I can’t say I blame him.

My mother sat in the fine oak chair she had as her designated perch.  Instead of resting her arms on the carved armrests, her fingers were trying to dam the floods.

“Now what are you going to do?” Father said.  “You got yourself into this.  You expect us to help get you out?  I don’t think so.  You’re ‘independent’ now.”

 I cringed at the term used against me in such a way.  Being independent and having a supporting, loving family may be two different things, but they can co-exist.

“I want you out of here.  My house, my rules; you broke the rules, you’re out!” Continue reading Splintered Wood