Not all silence is golden

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paul-helleu-sketching-his-wife-1889Her silence began to paw at him.   Like the constant yanking of coat-tails by an impatient child,  her wordlessness did more to annoy him than if she were nagging him, as she usually did on these trips.  But she was petulant in her nature this morning and it was agitating him to the point that he could not focus on his painting.

The day had lent everything he required for his creative process.  The sky was reflecting a profusion of purples and blues off the water and the grass was standing perfectly still, waiting for him to capture its very essence on his canvas.  She began to pick at the weeds in front of her and sighed heavily each time she threw a collection of dying blades into the windless day.

With each of her exhalations, his brush stroke became angrier and more forceful.  The once stunning colors on his palette were becoming a mottled collection of angry hues and the overwhelming emotion he felt rising in his cheeks began to match those shades of regret and dejection.  The beautiful day now felt sour and unfriendly.

He put his brush down and stood to stretch.  She turned her back to him and that simple gesture was the last act of child-like behavior he would tolerate.  In one fluid motion, he reached into the canoe and, without thinking twice, grabbed the paddle and struck the back of her head with all the force he could muster.  Her skull split like a ripe melon and an arc of blood spatter found the extra canvas hidden in the canoe.

After standing over her for several minutes, he delicately placed her hat back over the gash on her head.  He studied her for a moment.  There was such a serene quality to her silence now and he felt the inspiration to begin painting again.  He reached the for the canvas in the canoe.  There was something intriguing about the pattern of blood and his brush strokes on this new piece of art gingerly worked around those drops to maintain their artistic integrity.

He felt great satisfaction looking at his newest masterpiece.  He placed the canvas on the now spare seat in the canoe and began looking for some large rocks.  He would have to do his best to make sure she wasn’t found near the others.

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Written for the Grammar Ghoul challenge:  using the word “paw” as a verb and using this picture to write a story up to 750 words.  I’m not sure why my creative brain always goes in the direction of the macabre.

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Screw the other two percent!

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I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life that I can be proud of my accomplishments instead of picking them apart to find the most minute flaw.   My cake decorating days were rough!  I would spend hours putting together a three-tier cake designed specifically to match the request of the bride and, although she thought it was perfect, I always found the tiniest blemish and was disappointed in myself for not making it perfect.

At least I know I came by this mental mutation honestly.   When I was in high school I was a good student, especially in math.  I would bring home a test with 98 percent and my dad thought it was funny to ask “what happened to the other 2 percent?”  Despite the fact it was said as a joke, to an impressionable fourteen year old girl, it felt like a failure to me.  Unfortunately I have carried this with me along the way and although it has made me strive for that 100 percent even more, it has also made me extremely self-critical.

With my writing, something is different.  I have more confidence in my words than I have had in any other area of my life.  Perhaps with age really does come a sort of wisdom, or just maybe that elusive two percent was never meant to cause me so much concern.   Either way, I give myself that little punch on the arm when I’m really proud of something I’ve written, and not just in theory, I really punch myself in the arm…….

   

I hope you are able to be proud of your accomplishments.  Your successes should never be measured by anyone other than yourself.

Getting the lead out

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The Daily Prompt had me thinking again this morning.   This is what it had to say – “When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?”

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I vaguely remember the pre-keyboard era.  Either that, or I am trying to block it out because I do remember it and it makes me feel somewhat vintage.  I was the girl who loved to write letters to pen pals, write silly love poems, short stories and crazy plays that could only be created by an 8-year-old mind and acted out by animal puppets.

I would spend hours printing and practicing my ‘cursive’ writing.  (that word plays heavily in my vocabulary these days, but with an alternate suffix and a very dissimilar meaning!)  I loved to write so much that my wonderful penmanship turned into an obsession with calligraphy.  My doodles in high school were never flowers or hearts, but intricately designed versions of the alphabet.  There was something so satisfying about being able to create that type of flare with my own hand.

calligraphy

(image credit)

Now the world is so different.  Millions of fonts can be downloaded with the touch of a button on the keyboard and all of that creativity I used to enjoy has been replaced by technology.  I miss the excitement of buying new ink for my calligraphy pen or having to buy new pencils because I had spent so much time writing that they had all been worn down to little nubs of wood and lead.

Although I began writing my novel in longhand, the novelty wore off when I realized how much faster I could record the ideas on ‘paper’ by using a keyboard.  I do miss the days of the natural flow of ideas from brain to pen or pencil and didn’t have to tune out the incessant clacking of the keys.  Oh, how we suffer now for our arts.  ;)

 

 

The “eyes” have it – fiction

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This short fiction was written last year for a small collection called F*cked Up Fairy Tales.  It was used to raise money for charity.  Since I had never posted my submission on my blog, I thought I would take this opportunity to put it on here and use this as incentive to delve back into the morbid portion of my brain.  (The book isn’t going to write itself!)  This is my macabre version of the Princess and the Pea.

*****

The sputtering neon sign cut through the malignant darkness, blinking as the electric current passed through the wires.  It simply read ‘vacancy’.  He knew wayward travellers would soon arrive at the only motel for miles and he had meticulously prepared for the new stragglers lost on the unforgiving stretch of highway.  Each room had been cleaned by him and the deodorizer had been applied liberally to extinguish any remaining scent of decomposition.  He surveyed each room, his eye focusing on anything that may have seemed out of place, and closed the door leaving the room ready for the next guest.  He sat in the tiny office waiting for the first sign of headlights he knew would be coming.  He sensed that she was near.

The storm winds had escalated and the rain began to pelt down on the tin roof of the motel.   The staccato beat of water on metal soothed him.  He closed his eyes and let the sound bathe him in its rhythm.  She was closer.  His eyelids fluttered opened to see the high beams of the oncoming car slash through the darkness and his pulse quickened.  He could almost hear her heartbeat racing as she maneuvered the car through the puddles.

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The flashing pink sign looked like a strobe light as the wipers furiously tried to keep up with the rain on her windshield.  Her grip was tight on the steering wheel and she could hear her mother’s voice in her head calling it a ‘white-knuckle’ drive.  The vacancy sign grew brighter as her car made the turn into the motel parking lot.  She was almost positive she hadn’t been followed but parked the car at the back of the motel just to be certain it wasn’t spotted during the night.

She collected the small travel bag from the passenger seat and reached into the glove compartment for the Glock, tucking it into the side of the bag and concealing it from plain sight.  Exhausted from the drive she headed to the motel office and hoped for a short reprieve from having to constantly look over her shoulder.  This motel, in the middle of nowhere, may be the one place she could silence the voices in her head and shut out her warped reality, if only for a few hours.

She pushed the door open and immediately noticed the odours.  The deodorizer hit her senses first, but her keen sense of smell detected the pungent scent of death lying in wait underneath the lilac spray.  This essence was no stranger to her and she continued forward to ring the bell on the unattended desk.  Her hand absently moved to the side of her travel bag and traced the outline of the pistol.

He came out of the back office and greeted her with a warm smile, welcoming her to the motel.  The menial task of signing her false name was done and he moved around the desk to show her to the room.  Her hand never left the side of her bag as she followed him along the concrete walkway.  His gait was confident and his silence was comforting.  They exchanged no words as he handed her the key to the room that was meant only for her.  She opened the door to the room and felt his stare burning into her back.  As she closed the door and turned the deadbolt, she knew he was still standing a foot from her door.  She could hear his breathing and rather than feeling unnerved, she felt connected.  Nothing about this quiet man-made her feel uneasy and that was the feeling that scared her the most.

She poured a Scotch and stripped out of her rain-soaked clothes.  The acrid stench of decomposition was evident in her room as well but the smell dissipated slightly with a few more sips of whiskey.  She cranked the water in the shower and listened as the pipes vehemently argued with the task.  The hot beads of water from the shower stung her skin but she welcomed the pain.

Skin flushed red from the hot water and cheeks blazing from a half bottle of whiskey, she teetered across the floor and poured herself into bed.  The duvet felt like silk against her bare skin and the pillow was perfectly plump but, as much as she tried to fall into a deep sleep, she could not find a comfortable position on the bed.  She tossed and turned and what she hoped would be a fitful rest was a combination of half hour naps.   She awoke in the morning, achy and wearied.

Determined to find the cause of her lack of sleep she tore the duvet from the bed, letting her hand roam the top of the mattress to detect any imperfections.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  She grasped the handles on the side of the mattress and lifted it from the box spring.  The orb was not as round as it should have been, but that was from the pressure of the mattress.  The noticeably cloudy film and diluted pupil stared into nothingness as the human eyeball lay lifeless in front of her.

She moved across the room and took a long swill of Scotch from the bottle.  The murky eyeball seemed to follow her as she crossed the room again to get dressed.  Whiskey was not her first choice for breakfast but, given the circumstance, she didn’t care.  She packed her bag, tucked the Glock into the back of her jeans and collected the human remains that thwarted her slumber.

He was in the office when she arrived, coffee in hand and wearing the same warming smile he had worn the previous night.  She was not surprised that his first question was to inquire as to how she slept.  She gently placed the slightly misshapen ocular sphere on the desk and simply tilted her head, lifted her eyebrows and waited for his reaction.  His smile never wavered.

He spoke first, “It’s almost perfect, isn’t it?”

His words hung in the air as he eagerly anticipated her response.  The ticking of the incessant second-hand on the clock seemed to echo in the tiny room and his brain felt like it would explode.

Her response was succinct, “Show me more.”

He knew it would be her. From the moment the winds changed and the rain foreshadowed the previous night, he knew it would be her.  The Prince of Darkness had finally found his Princess.

“Judy, Judy, Judy.” Cary Grant may not have said it, but I will

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“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” ~ Judy Garland

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I spent much of my youth trying to be the person everyone would like.  I was never ANY version of myself because I wasted too much time concerned with what others thought I should be instead of becoming the person I was meant to be.   Eventually I was able to break the cycle of trying to please everyone.  I stopped feigning interest in things I had no real passion for and focused more on me.  I slowly distanced myself from the users and spent far less time crossing the Great Lakes for people who wouldn’t jump over a puddle for me.

In my wisdom and older age I have learned a few things that I really like about myself.   I speak three languages – English, sarcasm and profanity – and I am fluent in all three.  I love to write.  I don’t just do it because I enjoy it.  I write because words bleed from my brain and my head feels like it will explode if I don’t expel the stories trapped inside.  And I have learned to write without needing anyone else’s opinion or permission.  What flows from my brain to my fingertips is what I publish on this blog and I’m very proud of the words I have shared.

I enjoy my solitude and am happy with the company I keep, whether I am home alone or spending time with friends and family.  I love to cook and it doesn’t matter if it is a table for one, I will take the time to create a dining experience and not just ‘have some food’.

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(my dinner last night)

Music is a big part of my life and my playlist spans the recording alphabet from Abba to Zeppelin.  I could live without television but I could never have a life without movies.  I will still cross oceans for people but I am much more selective when it comes to deeming who is worthy of that epic journey before I captain the ship.

I am the person I am now because I fought to become this version of myself.  I stopped letting outside voices influence my decisions and started hearing the only voice that should matter – mine.  It took a while to get here but I have enjoyed the journey and am really liking the view.  Thanks Judy, I like your advice very much.

A rose by any other name is just how I choose to describe it

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Moon

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
–Anton Chekhov

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There have been times when I have been writing that I feel my words have become too “flowery”, too descriptive.  I love to take imagery and let the reader truly visualize what it is that I am trying to convey.  I am also a big fan of using metaphors to get my point across.

For a few brief sentences, I tried to rein in the flourish in my writing and then I realized I would be doing myself a grave injustice.  I would be writing with another voice that is distant from the one I have come to know and love.  Sure, I could artlessly tell you that the rose petal was falling off, but I would rather tell you that the withered skin of the aging rosebud hung listlessly, clinging desperately to the last breath of life held in the stem.  That is my writing voice, that is who I am when I am being true to my craft.

But it is hard to find the balance between too much and not enough.  When I write, I want the person reading to be able to smell, taste and feel my words.  I want that person to be so immersed in the images that they feel like they have left their physical world and have been transported into my words.  But I don’t want them to get so lost in the description that they feel the train of the story is going recklessly off the tracks.

Perhaps the delay in writing my book was to allow my voice to develop through my blog.  I have achieved a level of comfort here with my words and my ideas and I know that my voice is my own and not a weak interpretation of another.  I don’t just feel like I am telling meaningless stories anymore, I feel like a writer.  And Mr. Chekhov, I will never be the one to simply tell you that the moon is shining.

 (Thank you Daily Post for the encouragement)

Starting 2015 the ‘write’ way

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I was going to be lazy today and not pull the starter cord on my brain.  I was content to let it sit idle and enjoy the distant hum as it sat listless but that would go against everything I want 2015 to be – creative and filled with stories.  And although I am closing in on the end of a 70-hour work week, I still feel like I should at least try to conjure a few words from the recesses of my imagination and begin the new year the way I should, by writing.

words

I would like my brain to become so flooded with words and images that they spill over each other to fight for their right to be etched on paper.  I want to feel so full of inspiration I can do nothing BUT write to be able make room for the new ideas being born.  I would like to wake up in the middle of the night and rush to the computer to capture those ideas before they escape and trickle down into the abyss of lost thoughts.

If I can do this every day, if I can play my metaphorical flute and conjure those words like a snake,  writing will become a need, a desire much more passionate than just wanting to write.

Day one – success.   Happy New Year everyone and may all of your wishes come true in 2015!