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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fiction: Accidents (184 words)

Lydia couldn’t die.  That was all that Tristan could think about right now.  It had never been so important that something happen, or not happen, in the history of the world. Lydia could not die.

“Come on,” Andre placed an arm around Tristan’s should and tried to steer him away, but Tristian remained stubbornly rooted to the spot. “Come on, man, let’s go sit down.”  Andre tried again, but Tristan still refused to move.

“Lydia cannot die.” Tristan finally managed to say it aloud, and Andre gave a little sigh.

“I know, man, I know.  But standing here is going to nothing but hurt your knees.  Let’s go sit down. They’ll come and get us when we can go see her, okay? I promise they’ll get us the moment we can do anything for her.  Lydia can’t die.”

Slowly and stiffly, like a man in a trance (or perhaps because he was a man in a trance) Tristian allowed Andre to lead him to some chairs, where he slowly sank down into them.  Both men— at that moment–thought the exact same thing.  Lydia could not die.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Lydia's Stories

 

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Fiction: Family Way (Part 18) (480 words)

Marta ran really hot and cold with the idea of Bradley and me adopting her baby.  Flipping back and forth between the opinion that it was the best plan we’d ever come up with and the worst thought to ever have crossed our minds.  I couldn’t get her to sit still and have a proper conversation with me about it either, which I think was in a large part due to the fact that she didn’t really know why she was thinking whatever it was she was thinking on it quite yet.

I told her to think it over.  To plan, to really consider her options, and to reassure her that I did think that it was a good plan.  I told her we’d sit down after her next doctor’s appointment, and we’d come with a solid agreement then.

I’d been going to Marta’s doctors’ appointments with her since the beginning.  I was better with the lists and remembering the details, and I’d always wanted to make sure that there was nothing that Marta had forgotten.  We’d created a very strict stay near the head rule so no one saw anything they didn’t want to see, and we’d gotten along well.  The OB-GYN was a little confused, at first thinking we were lovers that looked eerily similar (that gave Bradley a good laugh) but once it was explained, Dr. Janet was more than friendly to the both of us.   More friendly than the receptionist, at any rate, who didn’t say anything outright, but it as easy to tell that she didn’t approve of how young Marta was.

Still, once we were in the screening room, we were fine. Dr. Janet went through her checklist, and we got back a whole list of “excellent” and “Very goods” which was very reassuring.  At the very least, it didn’t look like we were going to do any damage to this kid before it was born.  But then Dr. Janet peered up at us from behind her ultrasound monitor.  “Well, there we are.  Ladies, do we want to know the gender of our little peanut today?”

Marta looked up at me, chewing on her lower lip.   “Do we, Ave?”

I tried to keep a straight face, but I’m afraid I was grinning like a little kid at a fairground.  “I kinda want to know.  I mean, if you want to.”

Marta matched my grin and turned back to face the doctor, “Yeah.  Tell us.”

Doctor Janet readjusted the ultrasound and turned the screen to show us.  “There you are, ladies.  You’ve got a healthy little boy Andersson in there.”

I covered my mouth and said “Oh, my.”  But then I turned to look at Marta, but she was focused on the screen.   I’d never seen my sister look at anything like that.

I had a sneaking feeling that we’d be keeping the baby.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Recruitment Demonstration (539 words)

Colin was vaguely aware that his mouth was hanging open as he watched them, but he couldn’t help it.  Mara didn’t even flinch as her brother went towards her eyebrow with a needle.  When Andy was done with the stitching, Mara looked at herself in the little hand-held mirror.  “Not bad, Andy. Your stitches are getting neater.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault you never get injured so I can practice,”  Andy countered, cleaning up the supplies and old gauze.  “And—actually, let’s keep it that way.  You can be the surgeon of the family. Never get hurt again.”  Andy headed out with all the trash without waiting for a response.

Mara admired her stitches for a moment longer before smiling up at Colin.  “Come here for a second would you? Hold the mirror for me?”

Almost unaware of what he was doing, Colin slid into the chair opposite Mara and held up the mirror at her eye level.  When she started braiding her hair carefully down the side of her face, he found his voice again.  “What are you doing?”

“I’ve got to come up with a hairstyle that looks cute and somewhat casual but still covers up the stitches.  My homeroom teacher likes to ask a lot of questions when I have visible wounds.” She brushed a few more pieces into place and tied it off with a small ribbon.  “There. What do you think? Does that look cute enough to distract from the wound?”

“Does this happen often? Changing your hairstyle to cover up injuries from your vigilante runs?”

“I wish you wouldn’t call us vigilantes.  Something just sounds so vicious about that.  I don’t like to think of us as vicious.”

“What do you prefer to be called then?”

“Hm.  I don’t know.  I didn’t give too much thought to it—to be honest.  Maybe we’ll ask Andy when he comes back in. But: to answer your question: I’d say ‘a bit’ not ‘often.’  Like, you remember that summer that all the girls thought colorful tights were fun under sundresses—Bruise on my thigh the size of a cantaloupe that took forever to fade away.  Or that fall when Andy decided that fingerless gloves would be worn all the time?  Nine stitches along the back of his left hand.  That was a tricky one because I was so sure he was going to pull the stitches and bleed through the glove. Andy’s not very good at being cautious, you know?”

“Yeah—“  Colin replied distracted, think back to the fashion statements she’d mentioned.  “My Goodness—how long have you two been doing this?” Colin dropped the mirror to the table, “that was like—three summers ago.”

“A while,” Mara answered vaguely.  “Andy’s got the records if you want to read them before signing up.”  Mara turned to look at Colin and raised her unstitched eyebrow.  “You are still thinking about joining up, right?  One little bleeding eyebrow isn’t enough to scare you away.  Because I’d really like to have you one the team.”

Colin gave a breathy laugh.  “I must be insane to even be considering this.”

Mara smiled and patted him gently on the arm as she got up to put the mirror away.  “Join the club.”

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: New Sister (604 words)

“I’ve always wanted a sister,” Joanna spun around to see Samuel leaning against the doorway, a grin on his face, a single red rose in his hand. “I was hoping for a good sister, but I guess you’ll have to do.”

“Oh Sammy!” Joanna ran over and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him down to her level so she could kiss him on the cheek, leaving behind a little pink lip print. “We were so afraid that you weren’t going to make it.”

“Are you kidding me? Kingsley’s getting married.  I’d have to see it with me own eyes or else I’ll never believe it.  In fact, I still don’t think I’ll believe it when I see it.” Samuel returned a gentle kiss on the cheek and then offered her the rose. Joanna tucked it in the ribbon with all the others in the bouquet, a bright red spot surrounded by pinks and yellows.

“Did you bring Charlotte with you?” Joanna asked, returning to the mirror to put the finishing touches on her make up.

“No, she had to stay behind and finish the job so I could come.” Joanna met Samuel’s eyes in the mirror and offered him a look of sympathy, but Samuel perked up after a second, “But Kingsley says you two are sticking around ‘til next weekend for well-wishers, and she’ll probably be here around midweek.  She sends her best love though, and I have very specific instructions to remember every single detail to report back to her when she gets here.  Also, you may or may not have to put your dress back on to show her”

Joanna laughed, “I think I can manage that.   Well, I’m sad that you both couldn’t be here, but I know Kingsley is so grateful that you made it.  I don’t think that today would have meant as much to him if you hadn’t been here too.”  Joanna smiled, and then held out her arms to show off her dress, “So, tell me, Sammy, Does my dress make me pretty enough for Kingsley to want to marry me?”

“Oh, Jo, you could wear a burlap sack and Kingsley would want to marry you,” Samuel answered automatically, watching Joanna turn around.  “But, yes, you look absolutely beautiful.     Oh yeah, Lee wanted me to tell you that superstitions are stupid and when you’re married he never ever wants to have to go twenty-four hours without seeing you for any reason.”

Joanna gave Samuel a playful glare, “That doesn’t sound quite like him.”

Samuel shrugged, “Okay, so their might have been a bit more profanity in there, but that was the general gist.”

“Okay then.”  Joanna pulled Samuel into another hug.  “Oh, it’s so good to see you.  You and Charlotte stay away too long every time you leave.”

“We do. It’s good to be home.”  Samuel squeezed her tightly and lighted her slightly off her feet.  She laughed and gave a little mock childish squeal to be put down.

When he set her on her feet, she gave him a gentle shove towards the door.  “Go on. Ease your brother’s nerves and double check that his bathroom window is locked just in case.”

“Haha.”  Samuel replied sarcastically, “I could try to shove him out the window and he still wouldn’t go.  Goodbye, Joanna.  Next time I see you, we’ll be a proper family.”  Samuel gave her a little bow and dipped out of the room.

Joanna went back to the full-length mirror and readjusted her dress from where Samuel had picked her up.  She laughed to herself for a second.  “I’m getting married.”

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Heartsick (994 words)

Jared started to count slowly in his head as he rang the doorbell.  As he counted he looked around to make sure that his four-year-old son was still standing at his side and hadn’t gone running off to smell some flowers.  As he counted past fifty Mississippi, Jared thought that if he got all the way up to two hundred Mississippi with no response, he was going to let himself into the house just to make sure that Olivia was still breathing.

Around eighty-seven Mississippi, he heard the locks turning and a pajama-clad, puffy-eyed Olivia smiled weakly up at him.  “Dimitri called you.”  It wasn’t a question.

“He’s just worried—and how can you say no to this little face?”  He ruffled Ben’s hair. As Ben squirmed to get out of his father’s reach, Olivia did smile a little more earnestly.

“Hi, Miss Liv,” Ben greeted her with enthusiasm as soon as he was free of his father’s hand.

“Hello, Mister Ben.”   She considered them for a second, but then pushed the screen door open and invited them into the house.

“Have you eaten today?” Jared asked helping Ben take off his shoes just inside the door.

“I’m not hungry,” She replied.

“That’s not what I asked,” Jared countered, “Ben—Why don’t you take Miss Liv to watch TV while I cook us some lunch.”  Ben led the way gleefully into the living room and set to work picking out one of his favorite DVDs from Olivia’s extensive collection.  It showed the kind of technological house he grew up in as he loaded the DVD himself before wiggling up under Olivia’s arm curled into her side on the couch, his favorite spot to watch from.  She leaned over and kissed him softly on the crown on the head.

Jared went to the kitchen and set about making the tomato soup and grilled cheese that he’d brought with him.  He worked on one of the smaller counters because the inconvenience of small space was balanced out by the ability to look up and into the living room to make sure that Ben wasn’t about to make matters worse in the innocent way only children could accidentally find.

Jared froze, knife in the air when he heard Ben say, “Miss Liv, can I ask a question?

“Of course, sweetie,” Olivia answered absentmindedly, her eyes on the TV screen.

“Daddy said we are here to make you happy ‘cause you’re sad.  Why are you sad?”

“Ben, I think—“ Jared had put down the knife and taken the first steps back into the living room when Olivia turned to look at him.

“No-it’s okay.”  Olivia turned her attention to the little boy.  “I’m sad because my mommy got very sick, and we don’t think she’s going to get better, but I’m not allowed to be with her anymore.  I had to say goodbye.”

“Oh.”   Ben was very still for a moment, and Jared offered up a silent prayer to whoever was listening that his son would hold his tongue.  “Miss Liv, I don’t think you’re sad.  I think you’re heartsick.”

“Well—I am sad, but you’re right.  I’m heartsick too.”

Ben nodded, in the slow knowing way that he picked up from his mother.  Then he smacked Olivia on the knee.  “Up, up, Miss Liv.”  Jared came the rest of the way into the living room as Olivia uncurled herself from the couch.  He watched Ben work carefully, rearranging the throw pillows on the couch, stumbling a little when one of the pillows was a bit too big for him.  He pulled the blanket down from the back of the couch and grabbed an extra blanket out of the basket she kept in the corner of the room.    He’d made a messy, makeshift bed.  “Lay down, Miss Liv.”

Olivia glanced back to give Jared a curious look, but he just gave her a shrug.  He didn’t have a clue what his son was doing.  Olivia crawled under the top blanket and laid down.   Jared watched as his son, in an exact imitation of Jared himself, walked forward, tucked the blanket in as best he could around Olivia’s legs, before brushing her bangs to the side and giving her a sloppy toddler kiss on the forehead. “It’s okay to be Heartsick. We’ll be here to help you feel better.” Ben smiled up at his father, “Right Daddy?”

Jared was on the verge of tears himself, but he smiled and nodded.  “Right. Because that’s what friends are for.”

Ben ran over to his dad and gestured for him to come close so he could whisper, but when he spoke it was still at a normal volume, even though he clearly thought otherwise.  “Daddy, I kissed Miss Liv’s forehead so that she wouldn’t have nightmares like you and Mommy do.  Can you kiss her forehead too so no big nightmares get through?”

“I don’t know, buddy.  I don’t think Mommy would like it if I went around kissing strange women,” Jared countered in a stage whisper and was rewarded with a laugh from the couch.

“She’s not a strange woman, She’s Miss Liv!” Ben protested, and then with his best ‘stern face’ he gave a little stomp.  “Miss Liv’s heartsick! Protect her from nightmares.” He pointed at the couch.

Still laughing a little, Jared crossed to the couch, Kissed Olivia on the forehead and said, “I’ll wake you up when Lunch is ready.”

“Thanks, Jare.  Thank you, Mister Ben.”  Olivia closed her eyes and curled into the cushions.

“Shh,” Ben hushed them annoyed, already sucked back into the movie, sitting on the floor in front of the couch.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: The Family Way-Part 17 (798 words)

In the past month and a half, I’d been slapped by my mother, kicked out of my parent’s house, forced to find a way to make a wage to support both Marta and myself, all while still attending school full-time and keeping my grades up so I’d have an acceptable transcript when I decided to go to college.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a decent night’s sleep, between worrying about Marta’s health, having my own mini-mental breakdowns, and spending time with Bradley because I really didn’t want him to feel neglected through this whole thing.

All of that was nothing in comparison to researching adoption agencies.  Marta was doing most of the figurative heavy lifting on that research, but she wanted my input on everything.  “Two twins are better than one”—she teased. But I knew she was anxious—worried that she was making the wrong choices.  She wanted me to be her back up.

The truth was—I didn’t want to give that kid up.  Marta and I had been a unit for so long, even when people forgot we were twins, we still were.  Especially with the absence of the baby’s father, I’d come to start thinking of it as “we’re having a kid” rather than “Marta’s having a kid.” Frankly, I’d started to get excited about the thought of being an aunt, of helping to raise that kid, watching him or her grow older.

I just have to get over it, I thought to myself.  It is Marta’s kid, it is Marta’s decision, and it’s not like this is my only chance to have a family.  Someday, I can have a kid of my very own. I just need to be there for my sister.

“We could raise the baby,” Bradley suggested softly.

I gave a little jump.  I was sitting on the couch, curled into Bradley’s arms watching TV, and I’d still almost forgotten he was there, I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts. So much for making sure he didn’t feel neglected. It slowly sunk in what he had said, and the only response I could come up with was “What?”

Bradley kissed me softly on the temple before continuing.  “It’s breaking your heart to give up that child, I can tell.  And to be honest, I’d be a bit sad to see the kid go. I’ve done some research, and in this state, we can adopt once we turn twenty-one.  We could get married, make a deal with Marta, raise him like he’s ours, and adopt him legally as soon as we’re able. It would take the direct pressure off Marta and put it on our shared shoulders, while still keeping the kid in the family.  It’d be tough, your parents would still hate us, and we’d have to pinch an awful lot of pennies, but we could make it work. I know my parents would help out.  Ma and Dad have already started trying to dote on you two like you’re giving them a grandkid. So—why not?”

I sat up and turned on the couch to look him in the face.  He was serious and steady.  I couldn’t believe my ears. “Brad, you’re eighteen. I couldn’t ask–I won’t ask you to give up your future for a mistake you weren’t even a part of.”

“You’re not asking, I’m offering.  And, maybe this is some stupid mistake, and we’re headed for divorce before we’re even engaged, but it’s absolutely breaking my heart to watch you look through those parent profiles.  I’ve been involved with this pregnancy from the early days, and well, I think it’s a win-win.”  Bradley shrugged and offered me a smile. “I can see those gears turning in your head, Avery Andersson, but I want you to promise me that you will think long and hard before accepting or rejecting my offer.  Do we have a deal?”

In that moment, I was overwhelmed with love for Bradley.  And maybe it was just stupid eighteen-year-old puppy love, maybe it was all a lie, and maybe in two years I’d be single and childless and so glad we dodged a bullet, but in that moment, sitting there on the couch in his arms, boy, did it feel great to me.  “I will think long and hard before rejecting your offer.  I will even talk to Marta about it so she can remind me it was her idea for us to elope to Vegas on our eighteenth birthday.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Bradley broke into a goofy grin, “We were eloping on your eighteenth birthday?”  I nodded and he made a ‘tsk’ noise. “Well, Avery, that’s a story I think I need to hear.”  So I snuggled in close to Bradley’s side again and started the story.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: One Moment (99 words)

They sat across the table from each other.  Since she set down the papers and he picked up the pen, neither of them had moved a muscle.  Everything was changing.  It all hinged on this moment.  What he decided to do—what she decided to say—what they actually meant to each other.  Right now, everything was perfectly balanced, the whole word equally weighted.  The next action, the next word, the next breath would tip the scales one way or the other, and there would be no going back.

No one wanted to make that next move.  Someone had to.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Stories

 

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