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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Fiction: Morning After the Snow Moon (580 words)

“It’s kind of like waking up after an awful bout of the flu.” Liam’s voice was soft and delicate.  Beatrice was momentarily concerned that talking was only going to make him weaker, but she was too curious to stop him. “Your head feels stuffy and dizzy.  All of your joints ache.  You feel like you are going to be sick, and more often than not, before the day is up, you are sick.  Depending on what you actually got into the night before, you’re usually cut or bruised, but those injuries always tend to heal much faster than expected.  For the next couple of days, you feel the moon rise and set.  Your bones pull towards it and everything is stiff and uncomfortable.”  Liam coughed and Beatrice reached up to sweep his hair out of his eyes, casually trying to feel his forehead for a fever at the same time.  “Don’t you know some of this?  From your sister and your step-dad?”

“We don’t talk about it,”  Beatrice answered shortly. “Mom won’t let us. It’s almost like, to her, if we don’t mention it, or think about it, then it doesn’t actually happen.”

“My mom is the same way.  She tells me, ‘Most of the month you are my normal little boy.’  I know she’s just trying to be comforting, but most of the time I want to grab her by the shoulders, shake her and say, ‘No, I’m not. I will never be normal again.’  I wish she would stop denying it.”  Liam coughed again and settled deeper into his pillows.  “Who’s taking care of your dad and Margie this morning?  I hate to think I’m keeping you away from them.”

“My mom is taking care of them.  They’ll be fine. Who normally takes care of you?”

Liam looked timidly up at Beatrice. “I don’t want you to think less of them.  They just don’t know how to handle it.”

‘I’m sorry?”

“Usually, I take care of myself.  I’ve gotten very good at doing my own bandages and suffering in silence.  My parents can’t handle me in the mornings after.  My father can’t handle me very well on the best of days, and it just breaks my mother’s heart to see me.  I’d prefer she stay away then have that pathetic look on her face every time she looks at me.”

Beatrice, almost subconsciously, tucked the blankets tighter around Liam’s legs. She smiled as best she could and said, “That settles it then.”

“Settles what then?”

“Margie’s old enough that Mom can take care of her and Stephen without breaking a sweat.  I’m redundant over there.  From now on, I will be coming over here to take care of you on the morning after.”

“That really isn’t necessary.”

“I know it isn’t necessary, but I’ll be here anyway.  No one should have to take care of themselves while recovering from a bad bout of the flu. Now, close your eyes, and try to get some rest.”

She could see that Liam was ready to argue again, but his fatigue seemed to win out. “Thank you.”  He said simply. He reached up, as if to touch Beatrice’s cheek, and then seemed to think better of it and let his hand drop back to his side, before shutting his eyes again.  Beatrice watched as he drifted to sleep, and once she was sure he was out for the count, she leaned in and very carefully kissed him on the forehead.

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: The Family Way (Part 5) (616 words)

The night of the winter formal was a good night.   Marta stayed out all night.  Bradley stayed until about four in the morning, before slipping out the window, across the roof, along the tree, and into his own bedroom.  Marta and I slept through a majority of the remaining weekend, to the point where our mother insisted that she take our temperatures to make sure that we hadn’t caught some deadly virus at the dance.

But we were just bracing ourselves.  Because starting the Monday after Winter Formal was the exam weeks, the last two and a half weeks of the semester, when everything was due, and every free minute was filled with studying. Bradley didn’t see each other much more than the rides to and from school.  Marta and I didn’t see each other much beyond collapsing into bed each night.

The second to last day of exams, I woke up to the sound of Marta retching in the bathroom.  I got up and let myself into the bathroom, helping to hold her hair away from her face and neck, all with my eyes mostly shut still, hoping I’d be able to fall asleep again when this was all done.  “It’s okay.” Marta reassured me weakly, “Just over stressed.”

“Mmhmm.” I muttered in response, “Just don’t let Momma hear you.  I don’t really want to go into the city today.”  Our mother was constantly convinced we were dying.  If one of us had so much as a cold, we were both dragged into the doctor’s office for a day full of tests.  Just in case it was actually some strange international flu that was going to kill us dead in less than a day. Today that would mean rescheduling exams into the winter break, which meant extra days of stress, and even less sleep.  Besides, I’d never been a fan of needles.

Marta made some sort of grunt that was probably supposed to be a reassurance but then leaned over the toilet again.  I sat on the edge of the bathtub and leaned my head against the wall, gently rubbing Marta’s back, hoping she’d feel better soon.

The next morning and throughout exams at school, Marta seemed fine.  You never would have guessed that we spent half the night in the bathroom.  A couple of people commented on how exhausted I looked, but Marta was practically an image of health, all smiles, and giddiness.

I wanted to believe that it was just stress, or perhaps just something that she ate. I wanted to believe that everything was going to be fine.  But the next day, and the next, and the next, I was awoken sometime in between one and two in the morning to comfort my sister as she was sick for a couple of hours or so. Even as school ended, and we made our way into the relatively stress-free two weeks that were the Christmas and New Year break, including our eighteenth birthday. Morning five, I was starting to get concerned.

“Maybe I should get Momma.  You’re starting to worry me.”  I offered that morning as I clipped her hair up.

“No. No, I don’t want to go to the doctors.  It’s just a little stomach bug.  Natalie says she thinks she had something similar right before the formal.  It’ll pass.  Just, give me a couple more days, alright?”

I considered saying no. I considered running out of the room in case I’d get sick too. I considered saying fine, then telling Momma anyway. But I owed Marta more than that, so I just sighed.  “Two more days.  If you’re still sick, then I’m telling Momma.”

“Fair enough.”  Marta sat up a little straighter, “Come on. Let’s go back to bed.”

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Superstition (99 words)

I know a lot of superstitions.  Most of them I don’t really believe in, but I follow them anyway. Some are just good fun, and I use them to my advantage.  Like, “It bad luck to wake someone up on the day of their birth.” So, no alarm clocks on my birthday.  Others are fun to believe because others believe in them.  I will always flip tails-up pennies heads side up, just to try to make it someone else’s lucky day. Because it costs me nothing, and someone else might love to find it. What’s wrong with that?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Play Place (748 words)

Beth had to roll her eyes.  This was a Samuel plan if she had ever seen one.  He might try to pass it off as a James idea, or even a Richard idea in a pinch, but it just had Samuel written all over it.  Nate, being the older of the two toddlers, seemed to have taken charge.  He was standing up in the “crow’s nest” of the little play area, calling out orders in that strange little language of his that none of the adults seemed to understand.  Obviously Drew could though, because he was running around the grounds shouting back at Nate, pulling on different spots on the play ground structure.

“What in the world is going on here?” she asked with half a note of exasperation in her voice.   The three grown men watching the two boys play, turned to face her, all with well practiced and almost identical looks of sheepishness.

“It was James’ idea.”  Samuel immediately spat out. James slapped Samuel upside the back of the head with a quick, well practiced, motion, not even faltering in his sheepish ‘I’m sorry I got caught’ look that he was still sending Beth’s direction.

“Beth, Angel, I thought you were going to the bookstore.  I thought you’d be home later.” Richard started damage control mode.

“They were having one of those really annoying book club meetings where no one shuts up long enough to have a proper discussion, and certainly isn’t very conducive to writing,  so I thought I’d come home.  Even if I was going to be home later, how in the world were you going to keep me distracted from the new wooden play ground that had been constructed in our back yard?”

“I–”  Richard paused, before finishing lamely, “would have thought of something.”

“Or at the very least he would have gone out and bought you some chocolate as a peace offering,”  James assured her, probably hitting closer to the truth than Richard really felt comfortable with.

“Welp. I am tired. I think it’s getting late.  It’s–” Samuel stopped to check his watch, “Almost two in the afternoon! Wow, about time for me to hit the hay. Goodbye, all.”

“Wait!”  James’ voice was just on the side of desperate, “I’m coming too!”  James scooped Drew up, who laughed at the impromptu ride and yelled buh-bye to Nate. James followed at Samuel’s heels, eager not to be around if Beth was going to explode.  Nate was completely undeterred by his loss of a first mate, and kept yelling out orders, pointing at imaginary people around his “ship.”

Richard stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans, his face shifting from the teenage troublemaker’s look of sheepishness to a husband’s apologetic smile. “So, are you really mad? Do you hate it?”

“How much is this going to cost us?” Beth asked.

“Not a thing.  It’s Samuel’s gift.”  Richard reassured her quickly.

“Then I love it.”  She smiled.  Richard let out a sigh of relief.  “It’ll be good for the boys to have some place to run around and play, I think.  It’ll keep them from completely destroying my living room over and over again.”  Richard smiled sheepishly again, knowing that more than once it had been under his watch that Drew and Nate had destroyed her living room.  But then he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed her on the top of the head.

“Pillow forts are fun.” He offered as a way of an explanation.

“I don’t remember ever ripping pillows apart to build my forts as a kid.”  Beth countered

“Well, then I guess it’s very clear that you didn’t have too many awesome pillow forts as a kid.” Richard laughed.

“I beg your pardon.  My pillow forts were completely awesome, Richard Micrada, way cooler than yours could have ever been, and don’t you forget it.”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t dream of it.”  Richard kissed the top of Beth’s head again, and Beth smiled in spite of herself. “What do you say to bringing our little ship’s captain inside and getting plans started for dinner?”

“Sounds like a plan to me. But you’re the one who has to drag him inside kicking and screaming.  Good luck.”  Beth turned and headed inside, while her husband gaped at her with his mouth open.  How was he going to get their two-year old inside without him screaming like he was being tortured? Beth wasn’t sure, but she was eager to find out.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Falling in Love (429 words)

It’s not like the movies show you.  Not at all.  It certainly doesn’t happen instantly, at first sight.  In fact, it happens so subtly that you don’t even notice it.  It only seems instant, like a quick fall, when you suddenly realize that you are in love.  Now, this doesn’t happen during a grand heroic moment, when He does something so brave and noble that you must confess your undying love.  Oh no, it happens on a perfectly normal evening, when you’re driving to some place to meet up with friends, and the music is blasting and you’re both singing loudly and off-key, when all of a sudden the words choke in your throat and you realize that when you weren’t looking, everything changed.  A guy who was originally filed away in your brain as “That kid down the street” or “that nice guy at from three jobs ago who offered to show me around on my first day” somehow switched over to “Can’t Live Without,” and for the longest moment of your life, all you can think about is kissing him.  But he’s driving, and that wouldn’t be safe.  In fact, even as you sit there, you know that you will never be able to tell him, because in his brain you will always be “Best Friend’s Sister” or “That friend I used to work with” and if you tell him, then you will mess up what little you’ve got going, and you are acutely aware of how important that time with him actually is to you.  So you decide you won’t say a thing. And you convince yourself that you are okay with that.

You’re pulled out of your own thoughts by a joke. (Did you seriously just forget the words to a Beatles song?  Your family will disown you for that, you know.)  You laugh and sing over his talking, just to prove a point.    And to the outside observer, life continues on like it’s completely normal.  Inside your head, every priority has changed.  No one notices the switch, or if they do, they realize you are trying to hide it, and they don’t say a thing.  Every now and then you think you catch a look of questioning or sympathy from your friends, but you can’t decide if that’s real or if that’s just inside your head.  You are in love with a man who doesn’t know it, and you just hope that one day you will be in a position to be able to tell him. That’s what falling in love actually feels like.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Family Way (Part 4) (595 words)

“Ladies,” Bradley said politely, offering a hand to both Marta and me as we got out of the car.  We thanked him and he offered both of us an arm, and we walked into the dance three abreast.

“We’re a force to be reckoned with,” Marta smiled, “Those Andersson Twins and their man slave.”

“Hey!” Bradley protested.

“You’re not a man slave, sweetie.” I patted Bradley’s arm absentmindedly while I took in the gym and its decorations, “Man, Marta, this place looks amazing.”

“Thanks.  I mean, it was mostly Natalie’s design and she was in charge. I just did a bit of grunt work.”

“Still.  Impressive.” Bradley agreed with an accent.

Marta narrowed her eyes at him. “I always think that it takes away from the compliment when you do it in that voice.”   Bradley just smiled, and Marta rolled her eyes, “Alright, I see some of the girls, I’ll meet up with you guys later.”  Marta wandered off to join the soccer team.  Or was it the softball team? I could never remember what season was what.

“Mean,” I said for the sake of at least pretending sibling solidarity.

“Oh, you know she loves the attention.” Bradley returned to his normal accent, and leading me out on to the dance floor, “and since we know that Marta has an undying love for me, but I chose you, I think I should give her some attention every now and then. You know, just so she doesn’t feel the loss of me so entirely.”

I tried not to laugh out right.  The idea of Bradley and Marta together was hilarious.  They wouldn’t make it through Marta’s two week trial period.  They’d kill each other somewhere around date two. The song changed, and Bradley pulled me in close, and I stopped thinking about Marta.

The dance went really well. The DJ had a great mix, the snacks and drinks were pretty impressive, Bradley stopped drinking after the punch was spiked, but since it was spiked with something truly lovely, I got a nice little buzz, and even though I was dressed in one of her dresses, I only got three “Hey Marta we need–not Marta, sorry Avery” which was a low number for these kinds of events.

“I’ve never understood how people can confuse you two.” Bradley shook his head after the last one, as the dance was starting to wind down.

“You’ve lived next door to us since we were five. You’ve got a head start on everyone else.”

“Okay. Maybe. But people know about us, right? So, if they see an Andersson twin dancing with me—you’d think they’d assume.”

“Bradley, I think you’re overestimating the intelligence of our general student body.” I teased, and Bradley slumped his shoulders.

“Tragic.”

Just about then, Marta showed up again, a little pink in the cheeks and with a giggle which meant she’d also been enjoying the punch before the teachers traded it out for the clean stuff again. “I’ve got a ride to Natalie’s, and I called Dad and told him she invited me to stay the night ‘after the party ended’ so don’t expect me home.  You guys have fun, don’t you dare behave, and stay off my bed.”

“Ew,” Bradley said simply, but I leaned in and kissed my sister on the check.

“Have a fun night.”

Marta smiled and jerked a thumb over her shoulder where a suit was waiting for her. “Oh, don’t worry. I will.”  She skipped off with another giggle.

I stepped back and let Bradley slip an arm around my waist.  “Let’s head home.”

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Getting In Trouble (99 words)

“What is wrong with you?” He asked as he ran after her, occasionally checking behind them to see if they were still being followed.

“Do you want the list alphabetically or chronologically?” she laughed, with that same little tone that got him to agree to being her look out on nights like this. How she wasn’t winded, he’d never understand.

“What did you do to piss them off?”

“Many things.  Keep running.” She took a sharp left, and he skidded around the corner, almost falling over.

“Good lord.” He muttered.

“Oh come on,” she laughed again, “This is fun.”

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Stories

 

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