For my Husband on Father’s Day

Father moment: Bob walks in the door after a ten-hour workday, lunch bag in one hand, mail (bills) in the other, trying to shake the day’s garbage from his head and wanting very badly “to get horizontal for a minute.” Out of necessity Bob has perfected the power nap. Still, his head doesn’t get to touch the pillow. When he walks in it’s like a magnet just stepped inside and everyone turns to iron. Phoom! There’s the sucking sound of displaced air as we all beeline for the man with the answers, the wallet, the brawn, the sugar.

“Dad, will you swim with me?”

And another. “Dad, will you fix my windshield?”

Or this. “Dad, can I have X dollars to do Y activity?”

And I tell him, “The fridge is leaking. And I ask him, “What are you doing tonight?” It doesn’t really mean what are you doing tonight? It means, “Let’s walk the dog because I miss you.” I tell him about the fridge and ask him for a walk as if those two pieces of information exist in entirely different cosmos, as if the fridge needing attention and me wanting attention can be simultaneously acknowledged. This, we expect from fathers: superhuman strength and the ability to transcend time and space.

And his hamstrings are tighter than a compound bow from the running, but walk he does. Fix the windshield he does, swim, shells out X dollars for Y activity. This father works all day, sets himself aside all night and drops into bed. I am a witness.

Thank you for loving us so well, for so often putting your dreams aside for your family and in so doing– offering an example and a challenge to those of us blessed to be called yours.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Writer at work! A guide to acceptable writer interruptions #writing #amwriting

Writer at work! A guide to acceptable writer interruptions #writing #amwriting

Thank you, GL Cromarty for expressing my exact sentiments. If anyone has a soundproof chamber I could place in or near my home, I’m interested. It need only be big enough to sport a comfy chair and end table.

G.L. Cromarty

Writers know all about the writing zone.

About how easy it is to get distracted.

About how hard it can be to get started.

About how difficult it is to keep going.

And about how annoying it is when our nearest and dearest interrupt us in the middle of our writing flow.

So, for those who are unsure what constitutes an acceptable writer interruption, here is a handy guide.

To bring snacks or beverages!

Please drop snacks off promptly. Do not engage the writer in conversation or otherwise interrupt while leaving the treats. Definitely do not lean over the writer’s shoulder while dropping the snack off and speak the last sentence on the page in the voice of a pirate (as my husband does)!

The house is on fire!

First make all efforts to ‘deal’ with this before interrupting the writer. Only once the fire truck arrives and you have…

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Flash Fiction: The Writing on the Wall

Shem’s last straw as maintenance man was the locker room.

“Not touching that.”

“Shem, you don’t get to choose what you clean around here. Either get going on that or… get going.” His boss thumbed toward the exit sign.

Shem got. No way was he going to scrub a floor-to-ceiling mural of excrement.

A cashier position offered flexible hours and no toilet scrubbing. The downside: people. But rules were rules. Low profile jobs sucked the same on any planet. This was his talion for scoring low on his entrance test: intergalactic signal duty.

Cosmic messages showed up as planetary ringworm when passed through the magnetic core– “random” cloud shapes or “haphazardly” downed trees from twisters or earthquakes. Even schools of fish swam in the shape of the message. Thing was, the message only lasted one hour. Signal duty meant sleeplessness and monotony.

As he worked the register, Shem intermittently cast his invisible third eye into orbit to scan the cloud cover. He gave a curt smile to the white-haired grandma purchasing deodorant foot powder,

“For my husband,” she apologized.

These people often apologized for purchases, especially men buying tampons. Shem offered her a half-laugh. Encouraging grandmas could get him sentenced to a twenty-minute soliloquy.

He slid the powder across the laser reader and fumbled it, spilling a white design over the glass. A somehow familiar design. Where had he seen it before?

Last time it was brown on white tile.

Vomit surged against Shem’s throat as the realization bloomed: this was a return signal, an intergalactic copy that. He missed the message. No one ever missed the message. The penalty for missing the message was–

Grandma reached to pet his cheek and he let her. Paralyzed.

“Son, it’s just foot powder.”

This was an entry for Zeroflash. Each month they hold a contest around a given theme or genre. This month it’s board games… sounds challenging!

P.S. The inspiration for the excrement-lined shower comes from Gabe, who swims at the YMCA. After swimming, he and his friends shower off in the boys’ locker room. Lately to the dismay of Gabe and his fellow swimmers, the shower has become the canvas of a disturbed young miscreant. 

The definition for talion can be found here, but it basically means that the punishment fits the crime.

 

Writing: My Quest

When I read something amazing I think, wow, this author must be extraordinary to be able to create this world, these people, this conflict. The Bible says we can know God in this way too, that His invisible attributes are known by His workmanship: our world. On any given day I can be impressed with God’s creation. All I have to do is look at a sunset or a storm or cows grazing silently.

Likewise, when I enter a fictional world held together not by atoms and magnetic forces, but by words and sentences, I ascribe to that creator an amount of awe. I think:  Only a beautiful mind could create such beautiful minds…

That’s why I wrote, initially. I was on a quest for a beautiful mind.

I still remember the first time I wrote fiction. The assignment was to create a scene from several different points of view. I created it, just a little junky park scene where two lovers passed by an old woman sitting on a bench.

I walked around the rest of the day like I had a secret, like I was a wizard or Captain America or just plain SPECIAL. I may look ordinary to you non-writers, but I just created a WORLD. Can Donald J. Trump do that? I think not.

I was hooked junky-style on world building and character creation. Still am. Some days I carry my chapter around in my head and smile to think of it. What began as a quest for me, a proof I’ve got something beautiful inside, became a passion in its own right.

Was there a specific moment you decided to become a writer? Please share! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Duplicitous: Flash Fiction for Microcosms

As they approached, a big rabbit appeared over the edge of the ditch, looked at them quickly and vanished into the bank. Hazel let out a cry and floundered after as best she could in the cumbersome space suit.

“Don’t,” Tom said. But Hazel didn’t listen. Their ship carved the very ditch into which the rabbit, and Hazel, disappeared. A swath of ivory several hundred feet long was the scar they bestowed upon this brown world.

Their crash bubbles saved her and Tom, but not Ike. Because the cockpit was cordoned off from crew seating by a reinforced steel shell, all Hazel heard was a groan and a squelch. An unnerving odor bloomed in the cabin.

Hazel crinkled her nose and called, “Not your best landing, Ike.” When silence was the reply, Hazel’s guts unspooled. Tom’s eyes were closed like a terrible roller coaster had just come to a stop.

At first Hazel thought a month’s worth of chile meals had splattered on the glass of the cockpit. Then she saw Ike’s horseshoe necklace and flight uniform in the muck. Hazel didn’t remember vomiting or screaming, but Tom appeared, holding her, using a soothing voice. Ike didn’t suffer, Tom said, and wiped her mouth with his bare hand.

His fingers lingered on her lips, sending a bolt of icy realization.

More than once she’d caught Tom giving Ike sidelong glances. There was malice in them, she was sure. Tom didn’t even seem upset about Ike.

It was Hazel’s idea to check out the planet. Tom wanted to return by autopilot immediately. Their systems told them it was 100% uninhabitable.

Which was why the rabbit couldn’t be real.

Tom was slower than Hazel, but he reached the edge and peered over. Hazel had a gun trained on his heart.

***

Every Friday Microcosms holds a flash fiction contest. I like the spirit there and enter whenever time permits. This week’s prompt was to choose a book off your shelf (hopefully we all had shelves…), turn to page 73, and use the first non-dialogue sentence of the first paragraph on that page. I chose Watership Down by Richard Adams. Watership Down is my favorite fiction book on leadership. Stephen King refers to it in The Stand. I believe he based his character, Nick Andros, on the protagonist of Watership Down.

What I Would Say to Graduates of 2017

Graduates, this is good stuff. But not just for graduates, for anyone who sees life as still full of possibilities.

Russell J. Fellows

2017

I live in a fantasy world, I know this. My wife is an actual queen. My daughter is part horse, and my son is an adventurous knight (Nexo Knight to be certain…if you know what that is).

I say all this to let you know that it is only in this fantasy world that I would be allowed to impart any wisdom toward those graduating high school or college this year.

I take what I can.

Friends of ours have a daughter that is graduating high school this year. We’re all very excited for her and proud of what she’s accomplished. She’s quite the artist and has a bright future ahead of her. It’s this event, and the fact that you can’t look anywhere right now without being reminded of these young souls venturing out into the great wide world now, that got me thinking. What would I say, if…

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My Alarm Clock Told Me

My alarm clock told me it was time to wake up.

But it didn’t stop there.

It went on to remind me about yesterday.

I hit snooze.

My mirror told me I look rather haggard lately. Getting old and ugly and hadn’t you better work on your personality? The mirror disagreed strongly with my alarm clock.

My rusty minivan with the huge crack in the front bumper told me it too had a bad day yesterday. That was yesterday. We got the call while we were taking a walk in the park. We’d stopped for ice cream.

“Are you serious?” asked my husband, ice cream cone in hand.

All the fun conversations begin with the phrase: Are you serious? 

Today no one told me to drive faster. Or jeered at my habit of abruptly braking. I have bad depth perception, people tell me. I think things are closer than they are, more dangerous than they are. I see danger everywhere.

The Lexus, Mercedes, and Teslas with whom I share the roadway, they told me I could have made better decisions in my youth. My youth told me it doesn’t love me and wants to break up. My children told me I make their lives miserable, that I make everything harder than it has to be. My house told me I clearly don’t have feelings for it anymore. My garden wants a divorce.

The sunrise over the interstate told me that beauty and ugly can and do copulate. Most every day. That I can have faith and still grieve the death of my dreams. That I can get a friend request from someone dead set on being my enemy. I can be smart and dumb at the same time. I can seem to have it all together and be falling quite apart. Yes. That was yesterday. Today I am told by the birds that beauty hasn’t fled entirely. The dead squirrel matted to the roadside with his symphony of black flies, disagrees.

A fictional character told me it’s not about how hard I hit, but how hard I can get hit and keep moving forward. Jesus says to take the hit and offer up the other cheek. These two agree. I listen to these teachers as if my life depended upon it. Because of them, I listen to the alarm clock when it tells me to wake up.