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Fiction: Friends [Part 3/4] (99 words)

She’s not coming. Again. I’m starting to get seriously fed up with all these canceled plans. I mean, she is clearly having a bad go of it this last while, but we’re just trying to get her out of her own head and to have a little fun, but she won’t stick to a plan anymore.  Maybe it’s that husband of hers—but they’ve been married a year now? Maybe he’s just starting to show his true colors?  I don’t know. But if she keeps canceling on us—well, then there is no point in inviting her, is there?

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: New in Town [Part 2 of 2] (521 words)

They headed into the small math room, which was filled with mostly the same people who had just come from the homeroom class. Lynn almost wondered why the students didn’t just stay put and the teachers moved around them.

Elli plopped down in an empty chair and made sweeping gestures to the desk next to her to invite Lynn to sit down.

Lynn took a deep breath and sat down. She knew all eyes were going to be on her all day, but to be honest, she hadn’t been expecting to have to deal with quite so much social interaction on the first day.

“So, you moved into a house that has been empty for as long as I can remember,” Elli pressed on, leaning across the gap between the two desks.

“It was my grandparents’ house.  My mother never sold it because she always planned to move back.  My parents have always owned it. They considered renting it out, but it’s not like people are beating down the door to move into Lowesville, are they?”

If Elli heard the insult to her small town, she ignored it. “What does your dad plan on doing here?”

“Living, I guess?” Lynn asked, an eye raised.

Elli laughed, a breathy high laugh. “No, silly. What does you dad plan to do, like, for work?”

“Oh. He’s a writer, has been since I was little. He publishes in enough magazines to keep food on the table.” Lynn didn’t feel the need to divulge that her father also had inherited an obscene amount from his own parents and if he wanted he could spend the rest of his life in indulgent idleness and still have quite an inheritance to leave for Lynn.

“Very cool.” Elli smiled and kept watching Lynn.

Lynn pulled her notebook carefully out of her bag, aware that Elli’s eyes were still on her.  When she had the notebook out, and pen in hand, she smiled carefully at Elli. “Is there something else I can help you with?”

Elli seemed to realize she was staring then. She blushed red all the way up to the roots of her hair. She scrambled for her own notebooks, and once they were set up on her desk too, she smiled at Lynn once more. “Well, if I didn’t say it before, I’m here if you need anything else. Tour of the town or a rundown of who is who. Not to say I know everything, but I certainly know a lot.”

“Thanks, Elli.” Lynn realized that she was probably being too internally harsh to Elli. She’d offered to help. She probably wasn’t out to torture Lynn for the rest of their high school careers. Lynn could use a friend to handle things in the next year or so that she was stuck in the small town.

But, as Lynn turned to say something, the teacher called the class to order, and Elli put a finger to her lip for quiet, nodding her head back up at the teacher, who looked very much like a no-nonsense older man.

She’d have to remember to be nicer later.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Bad Week (513 words)

Maggie sat alone in her kitchen, elbows on her knees, staring blankly at an empty spot on the floor, holding an unopened bottle of beer.  It wasn’t like Maggie to have an unopened drink in her hand, but she was so distracted she hadn’t even noticed that she’d come into the kitchen, let alone that the drink was still unopened. Arthur was back in London, working on some project with a friend from his teenage years. She didn’t even have good connections to the researchers in the area—so she couldn’t vet any of the intel he was receiving. On top of that, she hadn’t heard Daniel’s voice in nearly eight months, and she was beginning to wonder if he was ever coming back. And on top of that Jase was still lying unconscious in her spare bedroom, his silent watchful wife sitting at his bedside.  If Jase didn’t wake up, that was a whole list of complications that Maggie would have to deal with on top of everything else.

Maggie lived in her life in a constant state of “It’s been a bad week” but this had been a bad week even for her. She was exhausted.

There was a tap on the kitchen door leading outside, which brought Maggie back into the present. She considered the unopened bottle for a second with a furrowed brow. She stood up, using the edge of the kitchen counter to pop off the top of the beer as she went to see who was at the door.  She took a long sip as she looked through the peephole, trying to determine who was outside without letting them know she was there. She couldn’t see anyone, and decided she was too tired to try to make any further investigation into the matter, so flipped off the outdoor lights, and turned back to the kitchen table, going to take another sip of her beer.

She froze, the bottle only half way to her lips and her body only turned half way to the table. There was another bottle of beer sitting on her kitchen table—a brand she didn’t have in the house—weighing down what appeared to be a white envelope. Only one person could get in and out of this house without her knowing. Only one person could have been in this room at the same time as her without giving himself away. But why wouldn’t he have said anything? Why wouldn’t he tell her what he was doing? Shouldn’t she be angry at him for leaving her in the dark for so long?

She decided she didn’t care—and rushed forward to look at the envelope, spilling some of the beer in her hand. Sure enough, it was Daniel’s cramped thin handwriting on the front of the envelope, reading “Maggie, My Love.”  With all the patience of a six-year-old on Christmas, Maggie tore into the letter to see what he had to say for himself. It had been a very bad week, but if Danny was back—it could only go up from here.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2017 in Maggie's Stories

 

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Fiction: Full Moon (Part 2 of 2) (674 words)

“Rough night, hm?”  Beth’s eyes snapped open to see Liam Artis, the Graduate Teachers Assistant for the class she was currently missing.  He was grinning down at her, and Beth tried her hardest not the blush.

“My sister is ill,” Was all she could think of to say in that moment. She blinked a couple more times before adding, “that’s why I’m not in class.”  She began to wonder if Professor Andrews had sent Liam to come find her, if he’d finally been fed up with her missing class at least once a month.

“Hey, I have no room to judge.” Liam sighed, pointing at his own rumpled hair and the dark circles under his eyes. “Last night was a rough one for everyone.”  He sank into the chair next to Beth, slumping down so that he seemed shorter than her—even though she knew he had about ten inches on her easily. “I forget all the technically mumbo-jumbo—Something about the moon at its apex or Mars being in retrograde or…” Liam blew air through his lips. “I don’t know. My friend Jonny takes care of learning all that for me. I just have to do the hard part at night and stand back up, which is way easier said than done.  We’re just lucky that the illness excuse makes it so easy for people to cut us some slack. No one wants to press the girl whose sister has been dying since the day she was born—or the man with the reoccurring disease—but he bravely presses on to get his graduate degree.”

Liam went to rub at his eyes, and Beth noticed the bright, white gauze taped neatly around his hand. There was the beginning of an idea forming in the back of her head, but she didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even know how to begin to process it. He couldn’t be saying what he thought she was saying.

“She’s lucky to have you though,” Liam continued, “And your parents I assume. My support system when I was young was—let’s just call it mediocre and leave it at that.” Liam pulled himself up, sitting properly in the chair now, turning to look Beth in the eye. “So—was it a bite or hereditary?”

“I—don’t know what you’re talking about,” Beth stuttered. This couldn’t be happening. It was some kind of prank or something. He couldn’t mean it.

“Your sister. The werewolf. Was it a bite or did she inherit it?” Liam pressed on. Beth looked up and down the hall so fast her neck cracked, but there was no one besides them in the hall. She barely focused back in when Liam started talking again. “Mine was a bite. Parents didn’t know what was happening for a long time—believed it was the work of the devil. To Be honest, I’m not sure that they are completely wrong. But—it didn’t help with that whole taking care of your son the freshly turned werewolf thing. Like I said, your sister is lucky.” Suddenly, Liam was on his feet. “Come on,” He offered, reaching out a hand.  “Class is going to go over today—I’ve seen his lecture notes. I’ve already got a copy of the slides too, so I can get you those. I want to introduce you to some people. They’ll be excited to meet someone else who is in the know.”

“I—uh, what?” Beth looked back and forth down the hall again, like someone was going to jump out and tell her she was on candid camera at any minute.

“C’mon. We won’t even leave campus. What’s the worst that can happen?” Liam smiled, and Beth blushed again, all the way to the roots of her hair. It did make her feel more awake, so it was easier for her to stand up when she took Liam’s hand. “They are going to love to meet you,” He grinned, not dropping her hand as he lead the way down the staircase.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Voices (820 words)

<<Part 1>> 

<<Part 2>>
Lily parked behind the coffee house and took a deep breath through her nose.  Her last non-coffee scented air for the next eight hours—until she could get home and wash it out of her hair later that night. But at least it would be a busy day.  A day that could keep her mind off the night that she had, keep her mind off the dream and off “them”, The Man and Woman who occasionally seemed to have conversations inside her head.   Even if this busy day was filled with the whiny teenage girls who worked there on the weeks, earning just enough to fund their spending habits, and doing as little work as they could in the meantime.

“Lily.” She was barely through the door when her boss grabbed her gently by the arm and tugged her to the side.  “I need you to do back room work today.”

“Aw—Rachel, come on.  It gets so dull back there.”  Lily wasn’t above whining like the high school girls if she thought it might get her out of the worst work in the store.

“I know—I know.  But the checker is probably coming tomorrow, and the place needs to be spotless and above and beyond coed.  You’re the only one I can trust to go back there and actually do your job.”

“Remind me to be half-hearted and lazy from now on.” Lily griped, reaching for the cleaning apron off the hook.

“Ah, ah, Lily. We just know that wouldn’t be you. Not a lazy bone in your body.” Rachel grinned.

“You’ve clearly never spoken to my father.” Lily responded, but headed back to the back room regardless, and got to work.

Luckily, Lily had been the one roped into doing the cleaning for last quarter’s check as well, so the back room wasn’t anything as bad as it could have been. Unluckily, it was time consuming, but mind numbingly dull work that would take most of the shift without any mental stimulation.  It was going to take such a long time.

This was normally the time when she’d listen into the voices, just to see if they had anything fun going on, something for her to focus on that would help pass the time.

Normally, she would have done it without hesitation.  Anything would be better than sitting back here, scrubbing drains, plumbing fixtures, floors, and walls in silence.  But should she today? After those dreams she’d had?  Something about her helping them?  Should she encourage it by listening again? Was it worth it?

Finally, Lily had a “screw it” moment.  The scrubbing was so boring, and if she heard something that she didn’t like, she could always just blame it on cleaning fluid fumes.  Those things could get pretty nasty, so she had a ready-made excuse right there.

She tuned into them—the man and the woman she’d heard since she was a child.  It was kind of like adjusting a radio dial in her head.  If she put it at one setting, it was soft and static-y, something she could listen to but not something she gave her full attention to.

At another setting, they came in loud and clear, high definition sound pumping right into her brain.  And that was the setting she put it on now. Anything to drown out the boredom and silence.

She was worried that they were going to be talking about her again, but really, she needn’t have been.  In the long run, they almost never talked about her, percentage through her life wise.

“Ah-ha!” That makes seven points for me!” I’m kicking your ass, little man!” The woman crowed. They were playing rocks, which was, as best as Lily could figure, some kind of dice game.  They played it a lot to kill time.

“You know I only let you win because you get very pouty when you lose.”  The man replied calmly.  Lily knew that was true.  She’d heard him make moves that were too stupid to ever make unless he was doing it intentionally, but subtle enough that she wouldn’t call him out on it directly, whenever he started to pull too far into the lead. Lily had also heard the hissy fits that the woman had thrown on the occasions where she had lost.  She was a very competitive creature.

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you want to tell yourself so you can sleep at night.”  The woman rolled the dice again, “And another nine.  Okay. Your turn.  Unless you just want to go ahead and concede the game to me now.”

“No, no, I think I can hold out for another couple rounds.” Lily smiled to herself.  It was great to listen to them play rocks.  It was one of the best ways to pass time, even though she couldn’t actually play herself.   She settled into her routine, cleaning away as they threw the dice again.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Starting Freshman Year (456 words)

I was afraid to go to college, to be honest.  I had decided not to go to the state school that most of my high school graduating class was attending, opting for a private school in the mountains known for its amazing creative writing program.  (I’m actually kind of afraid that I’m not doing that program justice in my re-telling of this story, but in the school’s defense, I never actually finished my degree. But I digress.)  My mom didn’t like the idea of me going off to a school where I had never met anyone at all—but in spite of my nerves I reassured her that I would be one hundred percent okay.

After all—if no one knew me—I could be anyone, do anything, change my life for the better.  I had absolutely no idea how much my life was going to change just by choosing that school.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic again.  Focus, Anna Belle, Focus.

So, I put on a brave face for my mother, and smiled the whole drive to the campus—six hours away from my childhood home.  But I was scared.  Scared I wasn’t going to make any friends. Scared that even though I had been an A and B student in high school that college was going to be too much for me to handle no matter how hard I studied. Scared that when all was said and done—I was just going to have wasted four years of my life and have the same job that I would have had without getting a degree, except now I would be saddled with a mountain of student debt as well.  You know—normal stuff like that. Your typical going to college fears.

Have I sold this whole “I was a normal nineteen-year-old woman” thing yet? Because I was. Honestly. Laying it on too thick? Okay. I’ll stop.

Mom called me every night—which I both appreciated and hated.  My roommate thought I was such a little Mommy’s girl, but then again she wasn’t the type of girl I really wanted to be friends with anyway (a little pretentious, as it were) so I didn’t properly care about what she thought.

But then three weeks in—I still hadn’t made any friends. I had to do something. Anything.

So I steeled my nerves and faced my fears.  I joined a club.

It was the most nerve wracking thing I had done in my life up to that point.  Walking into a room full of people who know each other well,  and basically saying “Hi, Like me. Please. I’m desperate here.” Or maybe that was just me.  But that’s how I met them. And that’s where we’ll begin.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Night Out (540 words)

He burst in through my bedroom door, with Ryleigh close on his heels insisting he not be so rude–but he didn’t stop. “Okay. No more studying. This is insane and cannot be healthy. You are coming out and you are having fun with us whether you like it or not and I simplify will not take no for an answer.”

“Sorry, Anna Belle, but it’s just easier to roll with it when he gets in this mood,” Ryleigh sighed, “He’s on a quest.”

“And I won’t stop until I achieve my goal!” Timothy declared, pumping a fist into the air. “It is Friday night. We are young. We are beautiful. And we are locked away in our house and that is simply not okay.” Timothy stuck out his lip and gave me some pretty impressive puppy dog eyes, “Please, Anna Belle. Please, please, please come out with us tonight.”

“He’s already convinced Priya already–For what it’s worth,” Ryleigh added behind her puppy dog eye donned boyfriend, “We’d really like you to come.”

I thought about it for a second, there was a lot of school work to do–but he was right. It was a Friday night. We were young. We were beautiful. We deserved to have a night of fun. And that was something.

“Okay. Count me in.” I smiled.

“Excellent!” Timothy smiled wide, clapping his hands. “Clean Jeans. Nice Top. Those black heels I saw in your closet the other day. Hair, Make Up, the works. We’ll be back here to get you in forty five minutes.” Timothy grabbed my hand and pulled it in with Ryleigh’s hand like a sports chant. “Ready Break!” He threw all our hands in the air, before dropping mine and dragging a giggling Ryleigh out behind him, swinging my door shut behind him again.

So, I put away the books, cleaned up my work space, and started getting ready according to Timothy’s specifications. And he was good for his word–exactly forty-five minutes later the dot, there was a rapid knocking on my door. “Miss Anna Belle! Ryleigh won’t let me burst in in case you are getting changed or something but it is time for us to go!” He yelled through the door.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I laughed, crossing the room as quickly as I could. I threw open the door and struck a pose.  Timothy wolf whistled.

“Do I know how to pick an outfit or what?” He grinned.

“Careful now,” Ryleigh teased, “No need to make a girl jealous.”

“Aw, Love,” He sighed, pulling Ryleigh into a spin dip, “You know you are my one and only forever and ever.”  He kissed her squarely on the lips and I had to turn away for a second, embarrassed to be looking. That’s when I saw Priya for the first time.

She was wearing a beautiful low-cut red top, a pair of dark blue jeans, and a pair of red heels that made her look so amazing. I found it kind of hard not to gape at her. But I managed to just give her a smile.

“He’ll do this–once every two months or so,” Priya informed me. “Brace yourself.”

“Good to know,” I laughed, pulling my bedroom door shut behind me.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Stories

 

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