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Fiction: Morning Routine (582 words)

I was so tired. I didn’t want to get up at all. But all I could see with my eyes closed was the list of things that had to get done today. So begrudgingly I opened my eyes and pulled myself up into a sitting position.

“Morning, sleepy head.” I turned and saw my husband sitting up against his pillows, playing with his phone.  Today was his day off, he could stay in bed as long as he wanted today—and when he did get out of bed, it would just be to move to the couch to play Xbox until it was time for him to make dinner because his only responsibility was to make our dinner tonight. And I kind of hated him a little bit for that. I told him as much.

“Aw, you’re my little go-getter. You’ll be perfectly fine today.” He smiled and blew me a kiss.

“I’m exhausted,” I countered, crossing to the outfit hanging on our closet door. “I’m fatigued. I’m burned out. I’m run down. Do you get it or do I need to keep going?”

“I’m thinking you might not have slept well.” He answered, putting down his phone, watching me start to get dressed. “Are you going to be okay driving?”

“Yes, I slept well enough that I’m not a danger to society.”

“Okay, just checking.” He crossed the room and wrapped his arms around me, preventing me from finishing the whole dressing process. “I don’t want you to run into a pole on the way to work.  That would absolutely ruin my day off.”

“Well, glad you’re so concerned.” I groaned. I half-heartedly tried to get away from him, before sighing and leaning against him. “I don’t want to go to work.”

“I know,” he answered softly, kissing me gently on the head, “But someone has to go make the big bucks, and that’s not me. This is what you get for getting that fancy college degree and working at the fancy desk job, and then marrying a lowly security guard.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I griped.

“But I cook for you. And I am quite the impressive chef. So—that counts for something?” He added hopefully.

“Yes, yes, that counts for a lot,” I had to ease his worry before he spent the whole day wondering if he really wasn’t good enough for me. “But right now, you have to let me go because if I fall asleep against your chest there will be no waking me up for work again.”

He made a ‘Mmm’ sound that I felt through his chest, while he considered making me fall back asleep, convincing me to call out of work sick and enjoy a day home together. But he knew that in the long run, I would feel guilty that I didn’t go in and work on all my projects, and if later down the road I needed that sick day and didn’t have it, I would irrationally blame him for it. So, he just kissed me on the head and let his hands fall to his sides.

“Tacos for dinner?” He asked, stepping away long enough for me to finish getting dressed.

“Sounds lovely.” I let him kiss me again, without holding me. If he held me again, we’d just be stuck in a cycle of embracing and letting go and embracing again, and I’d end up late for work.

“Stay safe out there,” he told me, crawling back into bed again.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Stay Still (509 words)

When he woke up, he didn’t dare open his eyes, not yet.  He could still feel the angle of the bed, the gentle weight against his side that meant that Marjorie was in bed next to him, but he had no idea if she was awake or still asleep. He waited for it to hit him, that weight in his stomach, the regret they had discussed last night, the dread that they’d just ruined their friendship, that nothing between them could be the same. He waited for the sinking feeling that meant he’d just ruined the best thing in his life thus far.

It didn’t come.  He didn’t feel the dread that he’d made a mistake.  He just felt–safe. Comfortable.  Happy.  He hadn’t felt that in almost a year.  It was nice. It was accompanied with that nervous vulnerability because he knew that Marjorie could destroy his happiness with only a few well-placed words, but in a way, that made the whole thing better.  He had to suppress a little giggle as he realized what this meant. He had a crush on Marjorie. A proper schoolboy crush. How hadn’t he seen it earlier?

Clark finally cracked his eyes open, blinking against the brightness of the room, careful not to move too much in case Marjorie was still asleep. She was.  It was strange for him to tip his head to look down at her, a sight so familiar, yet so strange.  They’d known each other so long that this definitely wasn’t the first time they’d woken up alone in bed together, Marjorie was a cuddly drunk, and more than once Clark woke up with his arms wrapped around her as she slept it off, because if he tried to leave while she still had alcohol in her system, she would whine and cling to him more.

But those times they had always been full dressed. This was the first time with this kind of weight, that they woke up together, naked, satisfied. It was so different, and almost exactly the same. It was reassuring to see that Marjorie hadn’t changed in the night, she still felt as comfortable in her spot as ever.

Marjorie always turned herself in the night, curling herself into his side, her nose buried into his chest, one arm tucked under herself, the other arm stretched across his waist. He remembered laying like that back in high school, how somehow it managed to make him feel like she was holding him at the same time that it felt like he was holding her.  And now, skin on skin, it was amplified a thousand-fold.

Clark wasn’t going to move. He was going to stay there, perfectly still, until Marjorie woke up. There was always the chance that she would feel the dread and/or regret when she woke up, so if this was going to be the only time that he was going to lay here like this, feeling her skin on his, he was going to take every second of it for what it was worth.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Night Shift (544 words)

It had been a long day. A very long day. She had to deal with stupid customers and stupid bosses. All she wanted to do was fall in her husband’s arms or lap, and rant about the stupidity she had to deal with.

She expected him to be in the living room, playing some game over the internet with his brother because that’s what he tended to do when he had a chunk of spare time—but the TV was off and the living room was dark. Curiously, she stuck her head into the kitchen to see if he was making himself a snack, but there was no husband there either. As she headed towards the bedroom, she listened for the shower, but didn’t hear any water running. If he went out, he would have left her a note on her bedside table, saying when he’d be back and if she should expect him for dinner. She didn’t make it all the way to the bedside table.

“Okay. This is ridiculous.” She griped, coming into the bedroom to see the lump that was her husband still asleep under the blankets. She ripped back the covers and he groaned, groping wildly for the pillows to hide behind. “Get up.”

“I work nights now,” he complained, like she hadn’t been aware of that every night for the last four months. “I need my sleep.”

She took the pillow away from him as well in one quick, practiced motion. He stole the second one off her side of the bed and buried his face. She sighed, meeting more of a fight as she tried to pull this one away too. “You got in bed at 4:13 this morning. I know, because you flopped down on the bed and nearly bounced me out of it. It is currently–” she stopped the tug of war on the second pillow to check her watch, “5:46 pm. For the love of all good things please tell me that you got up and did something today.”

He lowered the pillow slowly away from his face, giving her the smallest, most sheepish smile. “Have I told you that you look absolutely lovely today? You’re a mighty fine woman.”

“Nothing at all?” She groaned, tossing the slightly twisted pillows back into the spots at the head of the bed.  “At least tell me that you have the night off and you don’t have to leave here in less than an hour.”

“I have the night off,” he confirmed, smiling like a child who did well in school that day, “I don’t have to leave her in less than an hour.”

“Excellent.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and started to take off her shoes, “That means that you are well rested and refreshed and ready to make dinner for your lovely wife who spent the whole working day on her feet.”

He opened his mouth to start to complain, but she narrowed her eyes just slightly and he turned the complaint into a smile. “Of course, love, angel, sweetie, beautiful wife who I am gladly sharing my life with. I would gladly make the most delicious of dinners just for you.”

“That’s what I thought you said,” she replied, blowing him a kiss.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Real Estate (511 words)

The car ride had been utterly silent. Since leaving the fifth and final place they were looking at today—the train wreck of viewings that the realtor had set up for them—Neither Harvey nor Nessa had anything to say. Not anger or frustration, just dejection.  Nessa did swear quietly as the key got stuck in the door of their three-room apartment which was supposed to be just a temporary place but through one roadblock or another had turned into their home for almost two years now.

“Well, I like the third place. It wasn’t that bad.” Harvey smiled coming into the main room, trying to lift Nessa’s mood.

“Really?” she collapsed on the futon dramatically. “Everything there smelled like fish. And not faintly like fish, but like someone hid week old tuna and herring in all of the air vents and turned on the heat for six months.”

“It—wasn’t that bad,” Harvey protested weakly, lifting Nessa’s legs to sit down on one end of the couch, before pulling her feet into his lap. She sat up a little to raise an eyebrow at him and he shrugged, starting a half-hearted foot rub. “Okay. It was that bad. But I did like that third place for everything else.”

“Yeah—I did too.” She flopped back against the cushions, “New goal: find a place exactly like the third place we saw today, but doesn’t smell like it’s where bad fish go to die.”

“Noted.” He smiled, leaning his head back without ever stopping the gentle foot rub. “I thought this was going to be so easy. I thought for sure we’d have a place by now.” He mumbled to himself.

“I told you,” she groaned, a hand waged vaguely in the air which may have been an attempt to send a rude hand gesture in his direction.  “I warned you. I tried to tell you that your time line was unrealistic. I tried to warn you.”

He added new vigor to the foot rub now. “I know, I know. You were right, and I was an idiot for not listening to your well-organized research.”

“That’s right you were,” she grumped to the ceiling, “It was good research.”

“It was, love, it was very good research.” While continuing the foot rub with one hand, he reached out and brought her hand to his lips. “The best of the research.”

“Yes, and don’t you forget it.” Nessa sighed, pressing her hand gently against his lips in the lazy way of kissing him back.  When Harvey dropped her hand to go back to the foot rub, Nessa propped herself up on her elbows. “We’ve got to fire Karen.”

Harvey laughed. “Oh yeah, we definitely do. I’m pretty sure the fourth place was an active drug lab. We’re not going to find someplace we like with her. We need to find a realtor more along our view for a home.”  Harvey paused for a second before— “I almost hate to ask, love…”

Nessa rolled her eyes, but smiled. “Don’t worry, Har, I’ll do some research.”

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Stories, Uncategorized

 

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Fiction: Behind the Front Lines (404 words)

“I can help,” I insisted, “I’m new, yes, but you know I know this stuff, please.” I reached out to grab Priya’s wrist, to make her turn and look at me, to make her listen to me, to see sense.  We were in a war here, and this was a battle. You didn’t let soldiers sit on the side lines, especially when the fight was going to be close.

I expected her to be angry, that I was defying her orders, that I was daring to challenge her in the middle of a fight where she clearly out ranked me, that I was preventing her from moving forward—but it wasn’t anger that I saw when I pulled on her arm and made her face me. Not Anger. Desperation. “You can’t go out there Anna Belle, you just can’t.”

“Give me one good reason I can’t go out there and fight next to you.”  I challenged.

Priya gave me the look again, but I wasn’t backing down. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines while my friends went out to fight.  And then suddenly, my hand wasn’t around her wrist anymore, but she wasn’t pulling away either. Her hand slipped around to the small of my back, and she pulled me in close, kissing me half on the mouth in one hard fast motion. “You can’t be out there Anna Belle because if you are out there I will be distracted worrying about you and I need to not be distracted okay.”

I’m not sure what expression was on my face now, but I don’t think it was very reassuring for poor Priya.

“Look, I’m sorry. Now is not the time but—We’ll talk about it later. For fuck’s sake, Anna Belle, go help fortify the medical room or something but please, please, don’t ask me to take you out there again, please. I just can’t do it.”

I blinked, and nodded. Priya, for the first time in weeks, looked slightly relieved.  She kissed me again quickly, and then in a blink she was gone.  I stood frozen for a few moments longer before realizing that I had to move.  As I made my way back towards where the medical rooms were, I found that it was happy kind of stunned. I hadn’t known what I wanted until it was presented before me.  But I wanted Priya.  And she—well she definitely something’d me too.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Late (307 words)

Oscar looked up from his armchair as Elena collapsed onto the couch with a dramatic flair. “Hey—It couldn’t have been that bad, could it?”

“I’m such an asshole,” she replied.

“Tsk,” Oscar clicked his tongue, pulling himself up from the armchair.  He sat at the edge of the couch, pulling Elena’s head up and into his lap so that he could run his hands through her hair the way that she liked so much. “You were late to work. It happens. You’re not an asshole.”

“The girl I was relieving missed her bus. She had to wait an hour and a half for the next one.”  Elena pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes—which Oscar knew meant she had a headache. “I may not be an asshole, but I sure feel like an asshole.”

Oscar waited for a second—just letting her lay there and running his fingers through her hair, letting her calm down from the day. Then, he carefully got up, moving slowly as to not jostle her head to much.  “Stay put. Take a nap. I’ll make us some soup for dinner, and if you want to, we can buy a city bus pass refill card to give to the girl who had to wait an hour and a half.”

Elena opened her eyes and blinked up at Oscar. She always looked so small and innocent when she felt bad. Probably some kind of defense mechanism to get people to take pity on her when she didn’t feel like she could take care of herself. “Really? Do you think that would help?”

“Would it make you feel better?” Oscar asked.  Elena gave a small little nod. “Okay, then we’ll do it.”

Elena smiled—and it was a great sight to see. “Okay. I’ll nap then. Wake me up for soup.”

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Time and Space (641 words)

When he kissed her, it was so hard to pull away.  She had to remind herself that this was the right thing to do, that this was the good thing to do. And in the long run, she would be so much happier if she pulled away now.

She took a step back, and took a deep breath to steady herself.  She didn’t realize that she was looking at the floor until he said “Is something wrong?” and she lifted her chin to look at him.

“No. Yes.  Both?” she gave him a weak sad sort of smile.  “We can’t do this right now.”

“Like right this instance or—“ he started but she just shook her head.  “I don’t understand—I left her for you.  I broke up with her to be with you.”

“I know.  I’m sorry, I know, and I am not going anywhere, I promise.  But—we can’t do this right now.” She shook her head and sat down hard on the edge of the couch.  “Give me a second to put my thoughts in order—I swear I knew what I was going to say before you kissed me like that.”

“Well, I guess it’s good to know that I can do that.” He answered, sitting down on the other end of the couch, not sure if he was allowed to sit closer than that with whatever was going on inside of her head.

“Yes, yes, you are definitely an amazing kisser and that is making it so much harder to stick to my guns.” She commented half without thinking, the soft casual flirting that had become such a part of their lives in the last little while. But then she had to sit up a little bit straighter and look him in the eye and speak point blank. “I know that I implied that when things were over for you and her, then it could be you and me—but we can’t just jump into this.  It’s—well, to be honest, I know how badly it feels to watch someone leave you instantly for someone else.  I know that gut terrible feeling, and I can’t do that to her—she’s not a bad person—and I just can’t do that to her.”

“But we’ve already done it to her. I’ve already done it to her.  She knows I left her for you. I mean, I didn’t say it point blank, but—she’s smart enough to put two and two together to make four. I don’t think—“

“It makes a difference,”  she answered before he even finished his thought.  “I know it doesn’t seem like it should make a difference, but it does. Besides, I think it would be best to give this whole thing some space. This whole mess has gotten so tangled and jumbled up into—well, I don’t even know what to call this, but I think it would be nice to take a breath.  Get some distance from that relationship.  But your feelings for her to bed.  Mourn the loss of a relationship that did make you happy, because just because you’ve got another relationship in your future, doesn’t mean that you should immediately forget about that one.  Stabilize your life, just a little.  I promise, I’m not going anywhere. I swear, this will all still be here in a couple weeks when there has been some distance put between us and this tangled mess.”  She took a deep breath—since she’s been talking almost nonstop and it sounded like she’d almost hit the end of her oxygen. “Am I at least making a little sense?  Can you see where I’m coming from? Can you wait a little while?”

He took a deep breath too.  He looked her in the eye.  “To be honest, I don’t want to.  I want to wrap you in my arms and kiss you until you forget what you were thinking again and I want us to just be happy together.  But I understand what you’re saying.  And I understand that this is what you need to feel okay with what we’re doing. So—yes.  The answer is of course, yes. We can wait until you feel comfortable. You just let me know when you’re ready for us to be us.  And I—I’ll just wait.”

“Thank you,” She stood up, crossed around to the back of the couch before leaning down and kissing him on the top of his head. “It won’t be as long as you think, you know.” She commented off hand.  “I know for a fact I will not be able to stay away from you but for so long.”

He tilted his head back to smile at her.  “You know, that is really good for me to hear.”

“Yeah, I thought it might be.”  She gave him one more little kiss on the nose, before heading out of the house. It really was for the best.  She just had to keep reminding herself of that. And hold out as long as she could.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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