Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fiction: Getting Ready (Part 1 of 2) (886 words)

Lot sat on the edge of her bed, still wrapped in her towel, staring at her painted toenails. She was vaguely aware that she’d been sitting here too long, her hair was starting to dry in untidy curls around her face, and soon people would start showing up to help her do—well, whatever it was she was supposed to be doing today.  She was sure people would forgive her for not being the most perfect host, grief being an excellent excuse and all, but she wasn’t sure they’d like it if she went about her day only wrapped in a towel.

She managed to lift her eyes away from her toes to the outfit hanging on the hook next to her mirror.  The red shirt may have seemed a bit bright, a bit flamboyant for her role as grieving daughter, but that had been her Mom’s favorite shirt on her.  Lot wouldn’t dare wear anything else.  Besides, she could just hear it.  “Oh, don’t wear black, Lotte. Pale skin, dark hair, red lips, you put on all black and you look like a vampire want to be.  You can read Twilight if you must, but I will put my foot down when you start looking at fangs to glue to your teeth.  Honestly, you think we have the skin tone to wear black?  Use your eyes.” Lot almost laughed at the disbelieving tone her mother’s voice took, before remembering it was just a memory—an echo in Lot’s head, and then she felt like crying again.  Either way, it was decided, she wasn’t going to wear black to her mother’s memorial. But now she just had to work up the energy (or was it the courage?) to stand up and actually put her clothes on.

There were three little taps at the door, and then it swung open slightly, revealing a tall beautiful man with his hands half covering his face, peeking through his fingers. “Lot, you decent?  Oh damn, you are.”  He let his hand fall to his sides and offered her a ‘let me know if I’m pushing it’ smile. He wasn’t.  God bless Colt. He seemed to be the only one who knew how to balance the line between treating her like glass and being so normal that it was calloused. She was more and more grateful for him with every passing moment.

Ashleigh appeared behind him, peeking around his shoulder with a ‘tsk.’  “She’s not dressed, Colt.”

“That’s the way I like her best,” Colt teased, dropping on to the bed next to Lot, causing her to bounce a little. He leaned over and kissed her on the top of the head, before looking up at the outfit she had hung as well.  “Oo, I like that outfit too.  Is there a reason that you haven’t gotten around to putting it on? Were you hoping that I’d show up?”

“Colt,” Ashleigh protested weakly.

“It’s fine, Ash.” Lot’s voice sounded rough to her own ears, and she realized it was the first time she’d spoken since she and her uncle had left the crematorium the afternoon before.  They hadn’t wanted to do a big thing for the actual cremation, so now everyone was coming over to the house for a low-budget memorial.  Her mom’s lawyer was coming to, to help them go through her will and figure out exactly what was happening with the estate. Her brothers—men she literally hadn’t seen since she was five—might be coming as well, according to her Uncle Charlie, but Lot was selfishly hoping they wouldn’t, because that was just an added level of stress she didn’t want to deal with.  It all washed over her, and for a moment she felt sick.  She leaned against Colt’s shoulder and looked up at Ash with tears in her eyes.  “I don’t want to do this.”

“Yeah,” Ashleigh said sympathetically, leaning against the door frame, while Colt rubbed small comforting circles on her back. “I don’t really want to do it either.  Miss Bobbi was a good woman, we know that, but we have to go out there and let everyone say she was such a good woman, and that they are sorry for your loss, but Colt is here for you, and I am here for you, and we just have to get through today.”

Colt dropped another kiss on the top of Lot’s head, and she gave him a one-armed hug, making sure to hold her towel in place for Ashleigh’s sake. “Thanks, guys, I appreciate it.”

“Come on,” Ashleigh stepped forward to grab Colt’s arm and pull him away from the bed, “If I leave you two alone in here, I know that you guys will lay down for ‘just a minute’ and then you’ll be asleep and I won’t see either of you again for hours.”

“She knows us too well,” Colt protested as he let Ashleigh lift him up, “Love you, Lot. We’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”  Colt reached out for her, as if they were in a dramatic romance movie, being forcibly separated by armed guards rather than the gentle pushing of a woman a least half a foot shorter than he was, and not nearly as strong.  Lot smiled again, even as Ashleigh rolled her eyes at them both before shutting the door.

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: All for a Kiss (135 words)

The first thing she did after the battle was find Oliver. People wanted to talk to her, ask her questions or find out what they should do, but she ignored them all, pushing through the crowds to where Oliver and Alexa agreed to meet with her. If they were alive, that’s where they’d be.

She saw him and everything else disappeared. She took a second to process the cuts on his face and neck and the burn on his upper arm, but without another word, she wrapped an arm around the side of his neck that wasn’t bleeding and kissed him squarely on the lips.

When she stepped back, he blinked his eyes open slowly, a stupid grin forming on his face.  “Worth it,” he laughed, “Whatever has happened, whatever this fall out—it was worth it.”

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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: Getting to Know the Family (605 words)

“Okay.”  It was about the third time she’d said that, and he could still see the gears turning in her head as she tried to piece it all together. “Okay, I think I’ve got it, but just in case I haven’t a clue, run it by me again.”

“Right. My biological mother got pregnant just before she turned 18, by another high school senior who turned out to be a real dick, so I don’t know who he is because he would just deny me anyways. My mother didn’t like the idea of raising me alone, but my aunt couldn’t face the thought of me going off to live with strangers, so through a series of twisted events I ended up adopted by my mother’s identical twin sister and her then fiancé, now husband. They are the ones I call Mom and Dad and then there is Aunt Marta.  So, biologically speaking Mom is my aunt and my aunt is my mother.”

“Okay,” she repeated once again and Arthur tried not to laugh at the look on her face.  It was strange, he knew that, but she was just so adorable as she figured it all out.  “So—that makes Michelle and Zachary?”

“Legally, my sister and brother. Biologically, my cousins.”

“Okay.”  She said one last time, slumping back against the couch.  “When you said complicated family I thought you mean you had a lot of second and third cousins you were close to or something. I can genuinely say I was not expecting all this.” She reached out and put a hand on his knee, and he tried to act like a choir hadn’t just started singing inside his head.  “When did they tell you all this?  Did they, like, sit you down on your tenth birthday and explain it all or something?”

“Uh, no.  It was never a secret.  I don’t remember them ever telling me—I just always knew what was up. Well,” Arthur tried to nonchalantly lace his fingers between hers, “I guess they didn’t tell me about my biological father until I was old enough to ask about him.  But that always made sense to me, because there was really no reason to mention that he didn’t want me when I was a toddler.  I can’t imagine that would have been too good for my psyche.”

“No—I suppose not.”  She gave his hand a squeeze, and he couldn’t help but grin like an idiot. “So, your Aunt Marta?”  He nodded she was correct before she carried on, “She never got married? Had any other kids.  No cousins who are actually siblings or anything like that?”

“Oh, no,” Arthur laughed, “No, no.  A.M. was never the settling type, or really the raise a child type. She’s been dating Frank a while now—a full thirteen months if I’ve got my timeline right, so that’s kind of cool. She lived with us until I was—oh goodness, Michelle was born when I was nine, so she lived with us ‘til I was seven and a half or so, and then I don’t think she’s lived in the same place for more than a year since.  And she loves every second of it. We see her at all the major holidays, and she hasn’t missed a birthday yet, so more power to her.”

“And what about you, Arthur Wilson? Do you have a wandering soul?”

Arthur tried to believe there wasn’t a double meaning behind that question, but then answered like there was one anyway. “No, not really.  I’m more a settle and nest type.”

She smiled up at him, and his stomach did a somersault.  “That’s very good to know.”

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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Avery and Marta


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Fiction: Home from Battle (625 words)

I moved towards him so fast that I all but crashed into him.  But he hugged me and I melted into him and I let myself admit everything.  “I love you, Thom.  I have since we were about six but I never wanted to say anything because I knew that we didn’t have time for that kind of nonsense, I knew that we’d be spending the rest of our lives fighting for our lives, but for the first time I really almost lost you Thom, and I never want to go through that again, not with laying it all out on the line.  Not without you knowing everything. Please, don’t leave, don’t go, don’t do that again.”  I was sobbing now, but I couldn’t remember starting to cry.  I felt Thomas’s hands and arms move carefully, supporting me, comforting me, half carrying me back to the couch.  Some small silly part of my brain understood that if we were sitting there, Brian had fled.  Not that I could really blame him, I’d gone from fine to insane in about three seconds flat.  I’d flee from me to if that were an option.

But Thomas, for his credit, didn’t seem to be freaking out. He looked at me in a way I don’t remember him ever looking at me before.  He was so calm, so careful, and seemed so–at peace? This was a man who had literally just gotten home from war, where he had been held captive.  Where he had been tortured.  He should have been all kinds of not calm–but he looked at peace.

“Nessie,” he said the nickname that only he could get away with.  “Nessie,” he repeated this time almost like a sigh. “Nessie,” a third time, and suddenly I understood.  I looked him in the eye and I could see what he was trying to say.

“I’m just so glad you’re home,” I told him.

It was his turn to crash into me, pulling me into a hug so tight that I almost couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t dare say anything.  I never wanted him to let me go.  I never wanted to be without him.

But he did let me go.  He carefully released me, slowly, bit by bit, like he could only convince himself to break contact with me centimeter by centimeter. He let his hands slide down my arms though, so that at the end we sat facing each other, holding hands. “Nessie, I can’t right now.” He admitted weakly, “I want to. I want you. And I’ve been dreaming of a day like this my entire life but–”

“Stop.”  I said, perhaps a little sharper than I meant to, “Stop making excuses, stop feeling guilty.  Whatever it is you need to do, do it. I said my piece. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere. We can do, or not do, at your pace.”

Thomas lifted our joined hands up to his lips and kissed my knuckle gently. “I’m going to go, Ness. I need to talk to Brian and Ciara, and the council.  And then I need a healthy dose of sedatives and about three days of dreamless sleep. But, I’ll come and find you, all right?  The very first second that I can, I’ll come and find you. And we’ll figure us, whatever we are, the first moment I can.”

I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I just nodded. Thomas kissed my knuckle again, before letting his hand drop away from mine.  He pushed himself up to his feet and walked out of the room.  I tried very, very hard not to think. About him, about me, about anything.  I laid back against the couch, and let myself fall asleep right then and there.

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: Explain the Plan (195 words)

“I—I just don’t want to be the one who gets left behind.”  Camille confessed, and Harry’s heart broke.  He should have been more specific—more understanding.  Sometimes he just got so wrapped up in his plans that he forgot other people weren’t in his head.  He should have been clearer.

“No, no of course not.  We all get out of here or none of us do.  This isn’t about where we came from anymore.  This is about the fact that we’ve all been mistreated, all been abused here.  And we will get out—come hell or high water.  We will find out what happened to our families, and we will find a way to make sure this will never happen to anyone else again.” Harry pulled Camille into his arms and felt her rest against his chest. “No one is getting left behind. Especially not you.”

“Especially not me?” Camille sighed against him.

“Especially not you,” Harry repeated, “No matter what.”

“It’s really good to hear you say that.” He could practically feel the relief coming off her.  Perhaps they were more alike than he thought.

“You know what, it’s really good to get to say it.”

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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: Phone Call (719 words)

It was a phone call, a small, single phone call, and Henry’s world collapsed around its ears.   He’d gotten a call once that his mother was dead, and that was bad.  He’d gotten another call that his wife had been in a car accident, and the panic and fear in that one drove him near mad for hours until he could get to the hospital until the doctors could properly assess the damage.

But this phone call was three words long, said in a scared boy’s voice.  “Henry. It’s Lot.”  Henry left work without a word to anyone.  He just got into his car and started to drive.  At some point, he called his wife, to let her know where he was going, and he promised to call her again when they had more details.

He went straight to the hospital, because with that tone, with that panic from Colt, they had to already be at the hospital.  He found Colt pacing in the waiting room, who turned and walked towards Henry with a vengeance.  “They won’t let me go in. I’m not family. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Henry threw an arm over the boy’s (he was twenty-four now, he should probably stop calling him a boy) shoulders, and strode up to the nurses’ station.  For a moment the nurse seemed to consider telling Henry that it was family only, that Colt couldn’t come, but Henry shut her down with a look so fierce it made Colt squirm, and he wasn’t even on the receiving end.

They found out she was sedated, doctors wanted to keep her like that for a little while.  They still weren’t a hundred percent sure what she’d taken, but she was losing her mind when Colt brought her in, and she hadn’t been looking to stop anytime soon.  They had to sedate her so that at the very least her heart would slow down that she wouldn’t go into cardiac arrest.

The doctors gave a lot more mumbo jumbo, only some of Henry was able to decipher, and Colt even less. They thanked the doctor.  And for a while, they sat silently.  And then the careful question.  The one Henry didn’t want to ask but needed an answer to.

“Colt.  Was it an accident? Or an attempt?”

“I don’t” Colt cleared his throat and tried again.  “I don’t know, Henry. I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry, I don’t know.”  Henry could see just how desperately Colt was trying not to cry. There was the woman that he loved laying on a hospital bed, put there by her own actions, and he didn’t even know if it was intentional or not, but he was trying to hold it all together.  And Henry respected that instinct, but it was bullshit.

“Hey,” He pulled Colt into a hug.  For a second, the kid went stiff, trying to stay strong, but then he melted.  He was sobbing into Henry’s shoulder, the gross sobbing of a scared boy.  There was nothing dignified about Colt in that moment, and to be perfectly honest, Henry wouldn’t have the man in love with his sister any other way.

“I’m sorry, Henry. I should have kept a better eye on her.  Or, I should have been watching out for her.  I should have seen the signs that it was going badly or noticed that she was using again or something. I should have seen something.”

“No, Colt, no. This isn’t on you.  It’s not even fully on her.  It’s complicated–life’s complicated Colt, and this is no different, it’s no one’s fault, and it’s everyone’s fault.  We just have to make sure that Lot gets better.  Our job is to make sure that Lot gets better.  And our goal to never end up in this situation again.  Okay.  Promise me right now, you and I will try our very hardest at all costs to make sure that this does not happen again.  Can you promise me, Colt?”

“Yeah.  Yeah, I promise.” He’d started to calm down now, not shaking as I hard.  “I promise, for Lot, I will do everything I can to make sure that she gets healthy again.”

“Good.”  Henry let Colt go, and Colt went back to his little chair at Lot’s bedside, slipping her unfeeling hand back into his.

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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Stories


Fiction: Late Night (135 words)

“What is it that you want me to do, Clark?  What do you expect from me?” Marjorie sounded angry, but he knew she wasn’t.  She was tired. Exasperated. He was too, and he wanted more than anything to make it easier for her—for them both. But he didn’t have that luxury.

He just had to let her seem angry, let her rant and rail and say things she didn’t mean. Then he had to forgive her easily when she felt guilty tomorrow. That was the balance that they struck. After all, she’d forgiven him for a lot more—it was the least he could do to let her know that he understood.  Because he did.

It was a terrible situation.  All they had now was each other. If they stopped forgiving each other—what would be left?

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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: Psychic Advice (278 Words)

My dad was the one who told me I was psychic He had been too, and he explained that it would get stronger, and then it would get weaker.  He warned me time and time again that I would only know after the fact when I had been at my peak, and that no matter what I should try to do some good with it before it faded and was as good as gone.

Of course, like the proper little shit I was, I ignored my father completely and wandered into a city to use my abilities as a con man to make some serious change, telling people just what they wanted to hear, being who they wanted me to be—so I could make them do exactly what benefited me.  Usually, it benefited them too—but often in benefited me more.

But then I met Daniel.  He told me, and I believed, that he would lead me to everything I’d hoped to get out of life.  I just had to make a few concessions, follow a couple of his rules.  It was so subtle.  I didn’t even really realize he was influencing me. When I first said no, he didn’t even try to convince me otherwise.  He just kept this quiet confidence that I would come around to his side. He didn’t leave me to my bad ways.  He just waited.

I asked him why—what made him so sure I was going to come around to seeing his side of things?

Daniel just smiled, and I remember word for word what he said. “Ah Arthur, you might be the psychic, but I’ve seen your future.  You’ll do the right thing.”

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in Maggie's Stories


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Fiction: Traditional Gift of Leather (518 words)

“Sweetheart?  Come on, angel, I need you to wake up.”  I could hear Aden, but it sounded like I had cotton balls in my ears, which his voice was struggling to get through. “Bree, I will never forgive myself if you don’t open your eyes—so if you love me at all, please wake up for me.”

It was hard, my eyelids felt like they weighed a hundred times heavier than they should have been, but I managed to get them halfway open. “Aden?” My voice sounded like I’d been gargling broken glass, and my throat felt like I’d swallowed it afterward.   For all I could remember before blacking out, maybe I had.

“Oh, thank all things good.”  Aden let out a sound that was half a laugh, half a sob.  It got easier to keep my eyes open, and Aden came into better focus.  One of his eyes was almost completely shut, with a substantial amount of blood caked up near his hairline and the beginnings of a bruise along his jawline.  I imagined I didn’t look all that much better. “How do you feel?” Aden asked.

“Hell,” I answered.  Adding the ‘like’ to the beginning of that would have taken too much extra energy that I didn’t have.  Thankfully, Aden knew me well enough to figure out that was an answer.  We’d been married three years now, after all. I tried to sit up, but Aden put a hand on my shoulder.

“Stay down, Bree.  Don’t over stain or pull anything until I can give you a complete once over, just in case.”

“Your head,” I protested, looking pointedly at the blood starting to drop down his forehead.

“I know,” Aden winced a little as he touched it gently, “if you check out, you may have to get that up for me.”  I started to protest, but Aden cut me off, “I know, I know but Demi isn’t here and I can’t see the top of my own head.  It’s either you or bleeding out.”

I nodded slightly and was relieved to find that it didn’t hurt too much.  Whatever had knocked me out hadn’t been a head injury.  But I stayed still and let Aden fuss over me, knowing that the only way he’d sit still long enough for my sloppy stitching was if he was sure I was mostly intact.

I tried to make it as neat and clean as I could but I was not the medic in this family. It took longer than it probably should have, but I wanted it to be done as well as possible.  When I finished and sat down next to Aden, he put his arm around me and kissed me softly, “I’m really glad you’re not dead, Love.”

“I’m glad your head is still attached,” I replied, looking at the watch on the hand still resting in his lap. “After midnight.”

“Oh, so it is,” He sighed, glancing down at the watch and then back at me with a goofy grin. “Happy Anniversary.”

“Worst. Present. Ever.” I muttered, but I let him kiss me again anyway.

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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Stories


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Fiction: My Father the Teacher (338 words)

By the time I was 9 years old, I could have happily lived in airports and on airplanes for my entire life.  I’d learned all the tricks, all the secrets, and in many ways they felt like home themselves, considering all that my dad had us traveling.  I’d even go as far as to say I was more comfortable sleeping on the couch in some hidden corner near the boarding gate of wherever Dad had us this week than I did in a proper hotel room.  Of course, being home with Mom felt the most like home, but I was only there once every three weeks or so, usually only for a night or two.  Then dad had a new plan.  And we were off again.  Mom stayed home with my brother, who didn’t care for the traveling, but she saw how much I was my father’s daughter, how much I loved going from place to place, So—she approved my homeschooling and signed the slips that let my father take me out of the country with her blessing.

By the time I was ten, I had more stamps in my passport than days I’d spent in a regular classroom, but I’d be willing to bet that I had learned more than anyone else my age. After all, history was taught to me in the ruins of the society we were discussing.  Pride and Prejudice was read just down the road from Jane Austen’s final resting place.  Science was studied knee deep in a swap with some insect or other trapped in my hair while my dad and his friends tried to identify it and I just really hoped it wouldn’t bite me.  Whatever struck my dad’s fancy that month, that’s what we were learning about, that’s where we were going.

So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say I had an unusual childhood, and a less than orthodox education.  But go ahead and quiz me. I bet you I’ll know everything you want me to and so much more.

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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Stories


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