Category Archives: Writing Ideas

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

How It Could Be

“Do you ever wonder if you made the right choice?” Sarah asked.  Her grey eyes were downcast, intent on another scoop out of the ice cream carton.  Her dark curls fell in her face and tumbled down her back.  Her hand trembled slightly, though I couldn’t tell if it was from the question or the hard ice cream.

“What do you mean?” I asked, evading the question.  I looked passed her to the wedding photos on the wall.  She looked beautiful, as I always knew she would, dressed in her gown with her hair pinned up and veil failing to cover the bright smile she wore.  A smile that, once upon a time, was a shadow of the one she would give to me.

“Nothing.  Forget it.”  She gave a soft smirk and scooped another bite.

I shifted closer on the couch, close enough that my leg touched hers.  I hesitated, then reached my hand around her shoulders and pulled her in close to my side.  Her tiny frame started to shake and the ice cream container slipped from her fingers.  I caught it, moved it to the other side me, and wrapped my other arm around her.

“Hey.  Hey, sugar, it’s ok.  Let it out.  Cry if you need to.  I’m here.”  Even as I said them, I knew the words were inadequate.  I felt ashamed.  I had seen the signs, had voiced quiet concerns, yet never had I pressed the issue and now I was kicking myself for not.  “Is it…is it worse?”

Sarah sniffed again, hiding her face in my side, arms flung around my waist, grabbing at my shirt.  I felt her nod, the slight movement almost unrecognizable from her quiet shudders.  “I just…I’m not myself anymore.  I can’t be what he…I’m not…I just wonder…,” she took a deep breath, “I wonder if we would have been so bad.  What could have been.  Should it have been?”

I had no answer, so I pulled her close, my eyes falling upon my own wedding ring.

Pumpkin Pickin’

“Look over there!” Ella said.  Not waiting for the others, she took off towards the mounds of pumpkins piled high, already climbing towards the top as Sue joined her.  Laughing, the two girls crawled over and up, Dad snapping photos as they went.  Ella smiled, reached for the next pumpkin handhold, Sue close on her heels now.  As Sue stepped on the pumpkin next to Ella, the precarious pile shifted.

The laughter died away as Ella’s scream pierced the air. Ella took a breath and looked down.  Under several pumpkins, her ankle throbbed, twisted at an odd angle.  Time slowed.  She saw her Dad drop his camera and close the gap between them in three bounds.  She saw Sue’s face turn from laughing to crying.  She felt the other kids look over at her and back away, causing more of the pumpkins to shift.

She sensed something in her snap, a wave of light shiver through her body.  Her arms stretched out, her body seemed to float up, pulled from the pile and the pressure on her ankle.  The warm feeling spread, pushing down towards the pain in her ankle and causing her to scream again.

Then warm hands grabbed her and pulled her close.  Dad.  Tentatively, she moved her damaged ankle.  Surprised, she looked down.  Even though blood seeped out of her sock, her ankle moved without any pain.

She closed her eyes, blacking out.

Christmas Story (intro)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The snowflake lazily floating down, the clouds grey and swollen. Storefronts hasten to decorate, putting up mini pine trees with tiny colored lights.  The tinsel hanging from every available surface and then some.

The lights, the glitter, the music wafting out of everywhere, homes and businesses alike.  The toys, the cries of children as they make their lists and check them twice.  People calling hellos as they shovel their walks, thick jackets and thoughts of fresh coffee to keep them warm.

The lights, inside and out, spiraling up towards the tip-top of the tallest and smallest trees, blinking secret codes or steadily glowing in the night.  Candles and fireplaces blaze, lighting the way home and sheltering from the cold.  Headlights bursting from the darkness, guiding the way like an albino Rudolph.  The warmth and cheer of people around a table, laughing, smiling.

It’s the happiest season of all.

So why is it I’m so sad?

Knifepoint

A tear trailed down her cheek, trembled at her chin, and fell.  “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  I wasn’t supposed to love you.”

She felt Lucas stiffen, his hold on the knife faltering, but he stayed silent.  Her body trembled, her breathing ragged, she fought for control.  I deserve this, she thought, and closed her eyes.

Lucas slowly lowered the knife, not trusting his hand to be still any longer, and tucked it away in his belt.  He watched Ari’s face.  Normally so expressive, now it gave nothing away except her tears, which continued down her flushed cheeks.  He had expected a lot of things when he’d thought about this, but not love.  Not her loving him, at least.  His heart fluttered and before he could steel himself, he reached up to cup her cheek and wiped her tears away with his hands.

Arabelle’s eyes snapped open, searching Lucas’s face for a hint of his thoughts.  His body loosened, the tension visibly leaving his shoulders and face, and a hesitant smile appeared.  Still looking in her eyes, he leaned in to brush her lips with his.

“I had to know for sure.”