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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: 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 backward 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, or 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 flap, 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 a 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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Fictions: Secrets (236 words)

“He doesn’t get to know your secrets, does he?” Stephen whispered in the dark.  “I mean, I can’t imagine that he does. A sweet tender heart like that? No, if he knew your secrets—well, they’d crack him, wouldn’t they?  He’d shatter into a thousand different little pieces and be lost like dust on the wind.  And while he’s in love with only an image of you—you’re in love with all of him, so you can’t bring yourself to crack him.  But what are you going to do, Nat? Either you tell him or you abandon him.  And he’s so in love with the image you’ve created that when you abandon him, well—that’ll break him too.  So what are you going to do? Can something like us repent enough to make up for breaking such a tender soul?”

Natalie was silent.  She hid her face in her hands, and Stephen gave a cruel almost wicked laugh.  “That’s what I thought, little sister.  You play act at being so much better than us, but in moments like this—you’re the worst of us.”   Stephen spat at her feet, and she didn’t even bother to move. “Give me a call when you’re done pretending to have a soul.  You’re always welcome at home.  After all, we already know all your little secrets.”

And he left his sister there, sobbing into her hands, knowing that everything her brother had to say was true.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Staying (150 Words)

He refused to leave.

The last thing she asked was “Will you still be here when I wake up?”  And he had said yes, so he wasn’t going anywhere.  He didn’t even move to a different spot in the room.  He stayed kneeling at the side of her bed, holding her hand loosely in his, just where she’d left him when she faded to sleep.   He did let someone get him a pillow to kneel on and a sandwich to eat with his free hand, but he wasn’t going anywhere.  Just in case she woke up.   He couldn’t live with himself if she woke up and he wasn’t right there for her.

Everything that had gone wrong, all the bad that was bound to come—he couldn’t fix any of it or stop any of it from coming.  But he could be there when she woke up.  So he would.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Just a Visit (253 words)

“I know its temporary and what not—but it’s good to have you back.” Mara smiled up at me with a knowing smile.  “I mean—I know why you left better than anyone.  I saw why you left but it is good to have you back in the HQ again.”

“Thanks, Ava,” and I could tell that Mara really meant that.  “Don’t read into this or get your hopes up too high—but I miss you too.  All of you.”

I smiled back at her—it was good to hear that.  I knew I was the low-end on her totem pole, Andy was her brother and Colin was—well, whatever he was—so it was easy to see where she might overlook me. Good to know she hadn’t.  “Well, I’m going to go back to your brother and make sure he’s doing okay. The sooner he’s up on his feet, the sooner we can figure out what’s going on with everything else, yeah?”

I stood to leave, but Mara put a hand around my wrist lightly.  “Thank you, Ava. For everything.”

“Not a problem, Mar.”

She dropped my arm, and turned back to her book for a second, before straightening up and turning to look at me again. “Oh, one more quick favor?”

“Sure, Mara.  What do you need?”

“Could you tell Diane I don’t hate her? No matter how I come across?”

I had to laugh. Old Mara would have her perception down.  New Mara wasn’t very good at getting her point across.  “Sure.  I’ll let her know.”

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Stories

 

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