And how does that make you feel?

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With December rapidly approaching, I am anticipating many social media posts about the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. What seemingly started as an innocent way to get children to behave during the month of December has morphed into an epic competition to see which parent can get more creative with the benign holiday character.

Many blog posts and articles have been written with very strong emotion regarding this cherubic creature. Parents either love him or their contempt is so strong they hold ill feelings towards those parents who embrace his presence.  Some argue that he is the Elf on the Shelf, with a strong emphasis on the word shelf. He may stealthily maneuver his way around the house in the darkness to take refuge on another shelf, but that is his only purpose. Others, holding tightly to their innovative genes, have created a list of 101 ways the Elf can get into mischief during the night.  Spoiler alert – most of those creative ideas require extensive clean-up the following morning although I’m sure the children would be thrilled to see what mess the Elf made while they slept.

elf

Had my life been different and I had kids of my own, my children undoubtedly would have been in therapy either during or shortly after the Christmas holidays.  I blame my choice of reading material but my sense of entertainment tends to lean towards the macabre.  Picture Dean Koontz or Stephen King finding indecent ways of displaying the Elf and you have entered the world that my Elf would have had to endure.  There would have been crime scenes, possible Elf DNA and an abundant amount of Police tape. This is the stuff that my dreams are made of, the stuff that helps me write my books. But this is also the stuff that would have a child sitting in the waiting room of an analyst’s office at least once a week.

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For those of you able to remember to innocently and creatively display your Elf each evening after your children have fallen asleep, I applaud you. You are creating memories that your child will inevitably pass on to their children.

As for me….perhaps I will get out the Elf my brother gave me and track his bizarre habits in a journal.  CSI – Elf on the Shelf.  Hmmmm…..I may be on to something……stay tuned.

Ashes to ashes – fiction

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heart-ants

She knew his heart would crash, landing right at her feet the moment she told him it was over.  What had been a fairy tale beginning had quickly turned into the twisted relationship only Dean Koontz could do justice in one of his macabre stories.  It had been tumultuous, to say the least, and she just needed to be free of him.

Over the course of their relationship, he had retreated into a cocoon inside his mind, fueled by the haze of booze and cigarettes.  She had not realized his heart had shrunk to such a miniscule version of what it once was until she saw it laying before her, cold and lifeless on the stony ground.

His face seemed to become more emaciated the longer she looked at him.  He had not reacted verbally to her accusations.  He could only nod in sullen agreement because he seemed to have lost the ability to speak.  She berated him, lashed out for each minute she spent wishing her life with him had been different.  With each bitter word she uttered, her Machiavellian intention became clearer to him.

She couldn’t tell if his eyes actually became bigger when he realized what was happening or if it just seemed like it because his body was withering at such a rapid rate.  His hair-line seemed to recede as she watched and his gaunt complexion resembled more of a skeleton than a human body.  She pulled the small doll from her pocket and lingered before she pushed the last pin into the woven material that covered its chest.  A small sigh escaped her lips and she plunged the final pin into the doll.  What remained of his skin and bones hastily turned to dust and fell to the cobblestone street.

She stood idle for a few moments and watched as the ants began to march single file through the crack in the stone.  Like a well trained army, they worked as a team to circle the tiny carrion and haul the remains of the lifeless heart down the hole to take home as a trophy.  Little did they know, the spell she had created would only allow that heart to exist for mere minutes after the rest of his body had disappeared.  The ants would get it into the hole but it would never remain solid long enough to present it to the colony.

As she walked away, she carefully removed each pin remembering the outcome that each jab had on his physical being.  She tossed the pins in the gutter and placed the doll safely back in her pocket, hoping, once again, this would be the last time she would need it.

~~

mutant750-wk

Written for the Grammar Ghoul Challenge – to use the picture above – Just a lonely heart by Marina Carvalho
is licensed under CC by 2.0
,  and the word crash with the following definition – Move or cause to move with force, speed, and sudden loud noise

 

 

 

100 Word Song – I Saw Her Standing There

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I was perusing the mystery section, nothing really grabbing my interest, when I saw her.  The library was as reticent as expected but there was an aura of absolute silence beyond the normal quiet.

She hovered amidst the Dean Koontz novels, showing no interest in one particular book.  I feigned any enthusiasm and continued down the row of books, not taking time to make contact.

She still understood me. She would have put money on the fact I would be in this section.  Even after her passing, she still knew my vices and could anticipate how I would avoid reality.

~~

Written for the 100 word song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  The song choice this week is “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles.  My best friend passed away almost 10 years ago and I still feel her presence in the strangest places.  This prompt made me think of her.

Play it again, Sam

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The Daily Prompt is this: Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

I am slightly obsessed when it comes to Dean Koontz.  I have read all of his books at least once, most likely twice.  He wrote a book in 2003 called Watchers that detailed the escape of two laboratory animals that had an indescribable connection to each other.  One of the experimental animals was a horrendously disfigured failure of a creation and the other was a beautiful Golden Retriever.  Both of these genetically altered animals were blessed with the intelligence and reasoning ability of a human.  Only one was loved and doted on for his success and the other hated him for it and wanted nothing but to kill the dog.

Watchers is a strange premise for a story, but the relationship Travis has with his dog is remarkably touching.  I can honestly say that I have read it at least 10 times and it still instills the same emotion when I read it.  It was the first book I chose to read when my mom went into the hospital.

The emotion and companionship described in the book between a human and his dog pulls at my heart-strings every time I read it and it makes me hug my dog a little tighter.  I only wish she could answer my questions with scrabble tiles as well!!

Trifecta challenge – Twisted Serendipity

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He had been standing in this exact place at least a thousand times.  He could find the precise location by the position of the trees and rocks and he loved these hills for their privacy.  He was always alone in this place.  Wildlife took shelter when they saw him and birds would stop in mid-song when they sensed his presence.  There was something unnatural about him.  The animals felt it, and he knew it too.  But he couldn’t stop himself.  He knew eventually his tenacity would pay off.

She arrived in the late afternoon on a Tuesday.  She didn’t look lost or scared and her camera hung loosely around her neck.  She didn’t notice that not one creature was making a sound as she concentrated on her footing, careful not to fall in such a remote place.  Had she been more aware of her surroundings, the silence would have been deafening.

She stood admiring the sun beginning its decent into the hills and took one step, two steps, inching closer to get that perfect picture.  The mouth of the hole he spent hours carving opened and swallowed her into the earth.  It was his moment of serendipity.  His fortune, her accident.

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He was pleased with himself.  He would come and visit her tomorrow and he left the way he had come.  The shrill song of the birds awoke her from unconsciousness and she let out a scream that nobody would hear.

~

This was written for the Trifecta challenge, which was this (and I think I have read too many Dean Koontz stories):

This week they are looking for stories or poems from 33 – 333 in length that feature the word: mouth. Not just any definition of the word will do though. Only the third definition shown below is accepted.

MOUTH

1a : the natural opening through which food passes into the body of an animal and which in vertebrates is typically bounded externally by the lips and internally by the pharynx and encloses the tongue, gums, and teeth
b : grimace <made a mouth>
c : an individual requiring food <had too many mouths to feed>
2a : voice, speech
b : mouthpiece
3: something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as

  a : the place where a stream enters a larger body of water

  b : the surface opening of an underground cavity

  c : the opening of a container

  d : an opening in the side of an organ flue pipe

Daily Prompt – The Light Beyond The Glass

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Daily Prompt – Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.  I took this line from Cold Fire, by Dean Koontz.

Even before the events in the supermarket, Jim Ironheart should have known trouble was coming.  The gloomy weather was an overwhelming indication that the confines of his small apartment would be his only safe haven, but he was never one to let the voice of reason be his guide.  He was a man, after all, and he would let no sinister feeling shape his mood or carve the path of his day.  He prepared himself for the barrage of wind and rain and locked the door behind him.

The Supermarket, oddly named since it stood on a small corner and was the only store for miles, seemed to cast an eerie glow through the mottled grey light of the morning and he  paused with his hand on the door.  Something was waiting for him inside that store.  He felt it as much as he felt his heart beginning to pick up the pace of its beat.  He surveyed as much of the store as he could see beyond the shelving units that were home to his precious fast food addiction.  After what seemed like an eternity, he couldn’t delay any longer without looking like he was casing the joint and as he pushed open the door the chimes signalled his entrance into the store.

The air was frigid.  Not just air-conditioned, but Arctic cold.  The exhalation of his breath hovered in front of his face and seemed to hang in the air long enough to form its own icicles.  The place was deserted.  Apart from the humming of the coolers, there was no sound.  With slight trepidation, Jim made his way deeper into the store.  It took several seconds before he realized his footsteps made no noise.  There was no squeak of wet rubber on the tile floor and no audible proof that he had even moved at all.  The incessant hum of the fridges seemed to increase in volume and pierced the silence like an arrow.  Jim was now drawn to the back of the store.  He needed to get to that fridge.

As he pulled open the door to the cooler, the world behind him went black.  The ethereal luminescence emitted from the refrigerated section of the store was the only thing that seemed to exist.   Jim turned slightly to look behind him and there was nothing.  The store seemed to have been pulled into a giant vacuum and the only thing that existed within those four walls were Jim and the door he still grasped in his hand.  The contents of the fridge no longer existed.  Jim seemed to be standing on the divide between the blackness behind him and the white light of the cooler.

Jim stared at the light.  He cautiously brought his free hand to the opening and found the courage to let his fingers be bathed in the warmth that the light was emitting.  His fingers tingled in the light and he felt a joy that he didn’t know he had within him.  He liked it.  He wanted more.  He stepped into the opening and the door closed behind him.  He was awash in such a blissful feeling.  He began to weep and as the saline from his tears saturated his cheeks he felt a sense of utter happiness.  All the pent-up anger and disappointment were sluiced away by his tears and for the first time in his life he felt blessed.

The alarm clock blared and Jim was startled awake.  The modest decor in his apartment swam into focus and Jim realized he had been dreaming.  He swung his feet out of bed and sat up, wiping the cobwebs of the dream from his head.  As he rubbed his eyes, he felt the dampness from his tears and noticed that his pillow was wet.  As he struggled to recall the fragments of his dream, he began to smile.  The smile became wider and, for the first time in a long time, he was happy to greet the morning.   Jim carried that feeling of joy with him for a long time after that experience and realized that the name “super market” was a gross understatement.

Once upon a time

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I developed my love for the vernacular at an early age.  Reading was a fun pastime for me and I treasure my very young memories of spending hours with my nose in the book – The Poky Little Puppy.  After my parents had read it to me at least a thousand times, I then regaled myself with that tale ad nauseam.  Even now, I recall the story with such great fondness. That series of children’s books certainly lived up to the name aptly given to them – Little Golden Books.

poky

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, is another book that will always hold a very special place in my heart. The message it conveyed is still embedded deeply in my childhood memories and is carried with me today.

As I got older, chapter books grabbed my attention and would not let go.  I was swept into a miraculous sea of imagination and wonder.  Oh, the places I could venture!   Judy Blume was my absolute hero as I matured into my teen years.  Akin to how I feel about Dean Koontz today, she spun tales that I would read until my eyes felt like they were bleeding.  I read everything she put to paper and when I was finished her collection, I started over again.

Roald Dahl was another master of vocabulary and he spun tales that kept me enthralled into the wee hours of the night.  A hidden flashlight and a phony admission to my mother that I would go to bed resulted in me hiding under the covers to lose myself in the pages for just a while longer.  Stories were a magical place where dream-like creatures came to life and the stagnant brain of a child was immersed in possibility.  C.S. Lewis had me wishing that, while I slept, my closet would transform into a portal that led to Narnia.

With all of the cherished memories I obtained by reading, I was overjoyed to share that magic with the next generation.  I absolutely loved to read to my ex’s three children and, like Mrs. Doubtfire, I used different voices for each of the characters.  We would take turns reading Harry Potter and each one of us wished that bedtime was just a little further away.  Years later, reading to my nephews allowed their extended bed time to be filled with countless stories from an abundance of characters.  How could I say no when they excitedly asked me to read more fables of magical creatures?

I was rather inspired to write this post after attending one of my nephew’s recent hockey games.  Every child that was not on the ice had their hands eagerly wrapped around some electronic device that sputtered out mechanical noises from the latest game they were playing.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a child with a book in their hands, consumed by words and ensconced in imagination instead of killing zombies or launching Angry Birds?  I will admit, I’ve spent my share of time launching those same Angry Birds, but I still, and will always, put words ahead of birds!!

Do you read with the children in your lives?