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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Fiction: Childhood Sweethearts Perks (338 words)

He looked younger when he got tired.  He was trying to listen to her, she could see that, but he was blinking slowly and nodding his head even slower, and she remember that ten year old boy sitting at the desk opposite of hers, desperate to stay awake through math class when he gleefully told her that he’d ‘stayed up all night playing Pokémon by the light of a flashlight cradled between my shoulder and ear because I had to be the elite four but I did and it was awesome, woohoo go Christopher conqueror of all leagues’ as soon as they got to the bus stop and he was still giddy high on the sleeplessness.

But, they were adults now, and as fascinating as she found her weekend away for work–he wasn’t going to have a test in it on Friday.  “Go to bed, you idiot.”

Chris gave a little start, sitting up just a bit straighter and Lizzy could almost hear But Miss Andrews I didn’t have my hand up. “No, I’m listening. Kristen had done something, right?”

Lizzy laughed, pulling him up by his upper arm and pushing him in the direction of their bed room. “Yes, but Kristen has done a lot of things and will still have done them tomorrow. Sleep.”

“Okay,” Chris sighed in his shuffle towards the bedroom, “I’m sorry I’m so tired.  You weren’t here, so I stayed up late playing videogames and there was one part I just couldn’t beat and I was too stubborn to go to sleep before I beat it because that was too much like admitting defeat.”

“And did you win?” Lizzy asked, stopping at the bedroom door, because she knew if she went in there she’d end up sleeping her whole evening away too.

“Of course I did. Go Christopher, Space Marine Supreme,” he answered with a minimal effort victory fist in the air before crawling under the blankets and practically snoring before Lizzy could even turn off the lights.

“Some things never change.”

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Old and New Family (171 words)

“All right, Amy, you have to promise me that you are going to behave, then you can come with me to the airport.”

“I have to behave? Sally, I’m your big sister.  Isn’t that my line? How come I’m the one being told to behave?”

“Because,” Sally spoke slowly, like she was talking to a particularly dim-witted child, “These are the members of my fiancé’s family. You have been known to make a fool of yourself in public settings, especially when meeting new people and I’d rather not have Richard’s brothers thinking you’ve had an awful fun day off from being in the local insane asylum.  So—please, please, can you promise me you’ll behave?”

Amy opened her mouth to argue—but decided against it.  Sally had a point—an exaggerated one, but a point nonetheless.  “I promise.” Amy made a cross over her heart.

Sally regarded her sister for a moment longer and then sighed in resignation, “I guess they’ll have to meet you sometime,” before grabbing the keys and heading for the door.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Ixi Agency Part 31 (522 words)

–Joey–

For a second, Frankie didn’t look like himself. He looked more intense than anyone had ever seen him before.  Before anyone could realize what he was doing, he rushed at Joey and pushed him up against the wall, the element of surprise helping him more than anything else.  He push the blade of his arm up against Joey’s throat.

“You have to be fucking kidding me right now, Joey.  I care about her.  I care about her in a way that is more than professional is probably even more than friendly.  You should be able to recognize it because you love her.  None of us are stupid enough to not notice that.  Here’s the difference between you and me, Joey.  I was just trying to go to find out exact what happened to her, to weed out the real person who did it.  You are watching me, accusing me when you know full well I didn’t do it.  Darryl and I have had far too many conversations about the whole ordeal for me to have been able to hide any guilt had it.  The mole may be in my department, but it is not me. I can only assume that you’re keeping suspicion on me to try to eliminate the competition so that you can have Willow to yourself.  Well, good luck, asshole, but if we don’t find her, she’ll never choose you. She’ll be dead.”

Frankie released Joey, and he gasped and reached for his neck, and almost immediately started to cough.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and find out who sold us out to the bad guys, I am going to double-check on the program that is looking for the Marbles to make sure it will be effective, and I am going to find out exactly what I need to do to get Willow back here safe and sound.”  And then Frankie was gone.

Joey continued to rub at his throat as he turned to look at the others in the room.  Brian was steadfastly looking down at the table.  Natalie was glaring at Joey like he’d killed her puppy. Darryl sighed and looked at Joey sternly.

“Well,” Darryl said simply, “Frankie wasn’t lying.”

“What I said wasn’t wrong.”  Joey defended weakly. “The Mole is in his department.  Anything that he gets involved with could leak back to the mole.”

“Yes, the mole is in his department, but Frankie himself was one of the first people we cleared, bar none.  To accuse him of allowing Willow to be captured was just out of line, and a gross abuse of the situation.”  Darryl said simply and Joey realized he had no friends in this room at the moment.

“You know what. Fine.  I know that he’s not the actual mole, but I also don’t want him involved with the rescue mission.  I’m in charge of this mission, and what I say goes.  Can we get back to work please?”

And whether the others had more to say or not, Joey didn’t care. He got back to work, and ignored the rest of the group.

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Ixi Agency

 

Fiction: Rash Promises (486 words)

I was so afraid she was going to pull away.  I know it’s a selfish thought, but I couldn’t help it.  River didn’t deal with great tragedy well, and losing Jackson—well, I think that was the greatest tragedy that either of us had ever faced. I knew she was heartbroken that he was gone—furious with Christopher and his group for leading to his death, and just lost as to why the Gods would have put her in this situation in the first place.

I was feeling all those things too—but (as she had always been) River was my stabilizing agent.  River was the reason I still had to fight—and she always would be, no matter what she decided to do—but I’ll admit I was happier when she was close to me then when she tried to distance herself.  Could anyone blame me?

I guess, I shouldn’t have worried—River and I became so much more since our last—her last—tragedy.  She came to my room last night, timid in the way she only is when she thinks she might be waking me from sleep.  “Can we talk, David?”

“Of course—“ I tried to stay calm in spite of the fact that my brain was screaming This is it, she’s come to say you shouldn’t be together anymore. “Come in.”

“I know I’ve been quiet recently, and I figured you could use your space as well—y’know—with everything.  But I thought we should talk before it got too far down the road.”  River came and sat next to me on the bed, carefully holding my hands in hers.

I tried to remember that I wanted to respect her wishes, and that turning into a blubbering idiot wouldn’t raise her opinion of me—as I nodded carefully and gave her hand a little squeeze.

“I don’t want to lose you, David.  I know it’s easy to try to pull away from everything that reminds you of your loss and when I look at you I do feel sad for the loss of Jack, but you’re so much more than that to me, and I’ll respect your wishes if you want to go, but I just think it would be so hard to lose you both.  So-I don’t want to lose you, David, but please—let me know if I’m losing you.”

I pulled her in and held her so tightly that my own injuries started to protest.  I might have aggravated hers as well, but she made no sound of discomfort or move to get out of my grasp so I just continued to hold her.  “River—you’ll never lose me.  If you want me—I’ll be there.  Hell, I’ll even promise right now to outlive you. I am not going anywhere—do you understand me? I am not going anywhere.”  River shook with a sob, and I tried my best to comfort her without letting go.  “You’ve always got me. I promise, I’m always here.”

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in River's Story

 

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Fiction: In Through the Window (481 words)

I heard the window open, but I didn’t react.  In the smallest motion I could manage, I tightened my grip around the little knife hidden under my pillow.  If whoever it was made a single move I didn’t like, I would make sure they would come to regret it.

“Me, Mara.”  It was Colin’s voice.  I relaxed my grip on the knife but still didn’t turn to look at him.  There was still a fair amount of bracing myself required to have an interaction with Colin these days.  It was terrible that it had come to that, but what else could be done?

I let out one more slow breath before rolling over.  Colin hadn’t forgotten his manners, facing the wall so that I could get myself ready if I wasn’t decent.  I wonder if he crawled in backwards too.  I wrapped my bathrobe around me and sat back down on the edge of my bed. “Okay.”

Colin turned around—and for the first moment there was that knee jerk reaction that I’d had since I was seven.  My heart skipped a beat and my head filled with that fog that always showed up when Colin was around.  I wanted to jump up and throw my arms around him.  I wanted to hold him tight and promise him everything would be okay.  I wanted that we can take on the world together feeling back. For half a second I was that girl who formed a secret team with her twin brother again.  But—

“Andy will be coming by tomorrow,” Colin said carefully, and the fog cleared. I remembered who we were now.  “He’s going to present a compelling argument. Don’t accept We don’t need you on this one, in spite of what he says. Don’t let him guilt you into coming back if you don’t want to.”

“Colin, would you tell me if the team did need me? Would you be honest about it if you really needed a fifth man to complete the job, or my expertise to get something done?”

There was silence.  Colin shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he thought.  I counted slowly in my head, and at eighty-six he said, “Yes. Mara, I wouldn’t lie to you, even if I wanted to.  If we need you back, I’ll tell you.”

“Okay. Then I won’t let him guilt me.”  Colin nodded and turned to leave, but I said his name. He froze, hand on the window sill, but he didn’t turn around.  I wanted to ask him to stay—to ask how he was doing—to ask if he thought I could be that girl in sundresses and wedges again, if I’d ever be able to forget—but as usual all I could manage was “Stay safe out there.”

His shoulders slumped just slightly as I heard “I always try to,” and he disappeared out the window.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: The Family Way Part 31 (492 Words)

“What do you think we should do?”  Marta looked up at me wide-eyed.  Bradley had Arthur, sitting in the corner of the room in a big armchair, silently staring at him like he’d never see enough.  Marta sat at the edge of her bed, her feet hanging off the side, and I stood nearby, too full of nervous energy to sit.  I’d just explained the whole Dad situation, and was waiting for her input.  Apparently, she’d rather have mine.

“Honestly.  I miss him. I know this sounds harsh, but Dad was never the problem, was he?”

“We rebelled against them as a unit because they were the parents—but…” Marta trailed off.

“Dad wasn’t the problem.” I repeated.  Marta nodded slightly, and gave me a sad look, too similar to the one I’d just seen in the waiting room, before the mischievous grin and the Avery story kicked in.  And then it hit me like a sack of bricks.  “Dad knew.”

“What?”

“Dad knew what we were doing. He had to. He knew that the parties we went to weren’t the wholesome things we claimed they were. .  He knew I wasn’t alone in my room when you went to friend’s house for the night or to the after parties for school events.  He was always the one to come ‘check’ on me but never actually came into the room. He’s the one that kept us out of that awful private school and made sure we were allowed to date.  He ran interference for us. He protected us from Momma.”

Marta processed that for a moment and then sat up stick straight. “He must have unlocked the window.”

My turn to be confused. “What?”

“I know I locked our window before we went down to our party.  You shouldn’t have been able to get in through the tree.   I thought you would have to shimmy the lock or something, but you never said anything about it and I kind of forgot—“

“The window wasn’t locked.  In fact, the window was open.”

“Momma would have been too afraid of bugs, illness, or robbers to have left that window open.  It had to be Dad.” Marta took a deep breath and folded her hands in her lap. “He knew.”

“He Knew.”   In the silence as we processed that, I could hear Bradley humming something to Arthur, and I made the mental promise to not do to him what my mother had been doing to my dad over the last several months.  “This is going to get complicated,”  I turned back to Marta, “Dad and Momma and Arthur and Bradley—It’s going to get really complicated.”

Marta gave a little laugh.  “I’m a teenage mother whose child is going to be adopted by her identical twin.  I don’t think any of this was going to be uncomplicated.”

“You make an excellent point.”

“So,” Marta sighed, standing up, “Are you going to go get him, or should I?”

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Good Morning (488 words)

The little battery-powered alarm clock starts beeping at 6:15 in the morning.  He groans as he hit it, and rolls over to stare at the blue fabric making up the roof of his little tent.  He stays perfectly still for a moment, watching the shadows against the fabric, before sighing and sitting up to stretch.  Crawling awkwardly in the small space, he reaches for the bag at the foot of his sleeping bag, pulling out his supplies.  In the red mug, he puts one tea bag and two sugars.  In the blue mug, two tea bags and one sugar.  He pulls a sweatshirt over his gray tank top and checks that the tie on his green pajama pants is tied tightly.  Carefully balancing the mugs in his hand, he maneuvers out of the tent flat, re-zips it shut, and heads towards the little bath house with the hot water spigot, made for this kind of thing.  He lets the water run until steam rose off the water, before filling the mugs. Walking a bit slower, He crosses through the tent site to a small set of cabins further in the woods. He counts boards on the back wall of one of the cabins, and knocks three times, softly, but deliberately.  When he hears two taps echo back to him, he grins, and walked back to the clearing at the front of the cabins.

After a few moments, She emerges from the cabin in her own sweatshirt and sports themed pajama pants.  He hands her the red mug and leans down to kiss her on the temple at the same time. She clutches the mug in both hands, holding it up near her face to smell the tea and feel the warmth but not yet taking a drink. She leads the way down a path through the woods, one that eventually became parallel to the edge of the lake.   They walk in silence while she holds both hands to the mug, but then she starts to drink, her shoulders relax, and eventually she drops one hand, holding the mug more casually.

Then they talk.  They talk about stupid things. Dreams they had the night before, whether or not one of the rocks they pass looks like mutual friend, where they think their favorite TV shows are going to go when they come back for the fall season, anything that came to mind. They walk until both of their mugs are empty, then turn around and trace their steps back to the campsite. Where the path splits, one way to the tents, one way to the cabins, she hands him back the red mug and goes up on her toes to give him a proper kiss. When she pulls away, there is a goofy grin on his face, and she calls him a dork.  They go their separate ways to get ready for the day, promising to see each other later.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Stories

 

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