Tag Archives: writer

FREE SHORT STORY…


A gloomy Tuesday after the long holiday weekend.

How about a short story?

This one is one of my favorites. I’ve tweaked it for a few short story markets but have not made a sale yet. I give it to you, my peeps, and hope you will enjoy it. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

TIME AFTER TIME

            The phone rang.

            I fought my way out from fuzzy tendrils of sleep and glanced at the bright red numbers on the clock. 3:00am. A chill squeezed down my spine when I reached for the receiver.  Calls past the witching hour always brought darkness. Accidents, sickness…grief, desperation..

            “Hello?”

            “It’s me.”

            His familiar voice ripped through my haze and left a bloody path of memories in its wake.  Oh, God, it was happening again. He was happening again.  My body tensed as if to ward off a blow.  I fought for breath and let out a squeak of my former voice. “Why are you calling?”

            “I missed you.  It’s been a long time.”

            Five months.  Two weeks.  Nine days.  Endless hours.  But I was different now.  I’d learned about myself and what I really wanted, needed from a man.  How many times had I shut the door on him and his empty promises?  Tonight, I needed to turn the lock and stand firm.  The final test had arrived.

            “I don’t want you to call me anymore.”

            His tone deepened to a dark, heavy pitch.  Steel sheathed in velvet that always wrapped me in a cocoon of warmth.  “God, I’ve thought about you.  Tried to get you out of my mind and go on with my life.  I know I promised not to call, but I needed to hear the sound of your voice.”

            “I’m sure there are plenty of other women who are dying to hear from you, even at this time of night.”  Bitterness leaked through, even though I strived for cold and breezy. How long had I convinced myself I could share him?  After all, he always came back.  We were soul-mates, or so he told me. There was no other explanation for the sweet hum in my bloodstream when he spoke, or the memories that struck hard and deep in the night.

            “I’ve never loved another woman.  Remember when I first told you how I felt?”

             A sticky Indian summer night.  Sneaking around the college campus and peeking into dorm rooms to catch an update of the Yankees play-off game.  His hands on my body as he stroked by back under my t-shirt and pushed me against the old oak tree.  Rough bark biting against soft cotton, his breath a warm rush over my lips as I heard dim shouts of “Go Yankees!” echoing in the distance.  Rain dribbled through the breaks in the leaves as the storm caught and held, soaking both of us. Piercing blue eyes held a mixture of experience, wisdom, and hidden pain as he looked into mine and said the words. I love you.  Funny, how every part of my life led up to that moment.  A turning point, a path less travelled.  I knew who he truly was and ignored the warning, believed I could change him like the long line of women before me.  But I gave the words back and he shouted his victory and swung me around.  My hair dripped in my face, my sneakers sloshed in the mud and I wondered if I’d ever be the same again. This man held a part of me – this lone self-described warrior who questioned the rules of society and dared to be different. I wanted to be his mate, the final one standing. I thought of marriage and happily-ever-after even as the other affairs continued; his pleading and begging for forgiveness and his warning that he’d always told me the truth. How could he be in the wrong when I’d known who he was?  How could I challenge his basic right to be his own man and use my grief as a weapon? He vowed to always come back.  And he had, but after so many times he’d come back to nothing but a shell of who I used to be – an insecure, scared little girl who couldn’t enjoy him because I always waited for the day he left.

            “I can’t go back anymore.”

            I was different now. The last time I walked into his art class, I waited for him to acknowledge my presence.  Our secret affair was always a double edged sword, especially around the other students. We played a game – he would catch my eye and nod, reassuring me I belong to him.  When he helped another student, he sensed my presence and always stopped to confirm my importance. That fateful day, his gaze had been riveted to the willowy blond as she splashed color on the canvas. Long elegant fingers wrapped around hers as he showed her how to hold the brush. He leaned close and whispered something in her ear, and her laughter danced in the air and shattered through me like a sunbeam on an icicle.

            And I knew. I knew I was trapped and would always be trapped.  I left then, ran away and refused to answer his calls.  I rebuilt my life on truth, stability, reality. 

            “I won’t ask you to go back,” he said.  I want us to go forward.  I’m ready for a commitment now.  I can’t sleep.  I spent New Year’s Eve alone this year, imagining you here with me.”

            Two years ago.  Frank Sinatra singing of blue umbrella skies as we slow danced in the candlelight, stopping to feast on a delicious array of cheeses, crisp crackers, tangy olives.  He made martinis and tipped the glass over my lips as icy vodka bubbled into my mouth and burned the throat. Then his lips followed, his tongue thrusting inside my mouth while he stripped me naked in the living room in the dark. 

            “Do you remember?” he urged.  “Do you remember my promise?”
            I will always come back to you.  Lying under a blanket on the carpet, limbs entwined, his words were more a punishment, a life sentence, than a lover’s promise. The reflection in the mirror was no longer me, already a shadow of the girl I believed I was, slipping away.

            Silence settled over the line until I forced the words out. “I have to go.”    

            “Not yet.” He talked then.  Instead of fighting, explaining, defending, he just talked.  Like I remembered so well – conversation stripped bare without niceties or hidden barriers. He wanted to change. He realized I was his true soul mate. He was no longer afraid of being with one woman. I was his future, his destiny, his true North.

            I listened for a long time, warm in my bed, safe in the dark. Listened as his voice wove a familiar spell of longing and completeness, and then he fell silent, waiting.

            My mind took up the old battle with my heart. I’d been strong these past months, living alone with the knowledge I would never be with him. Now, the faint hope arose, a tiny flicker as the past pulled at me like the heady scent of cognac to an alcoholic.  He never promised me faithfulness before; had never ventured into the idea of marriage or forever. How sweet it was to be in love!  How dull and gray and sobering the world was after heartbreak – like a long lonely road of nothingness, stretched ahead, with just the mantra of pride and strength pushing me forward.  I wanted to be strong for me, for my family, for my therapist. I wanted to pass this test but God, how long had it been since my body was pleasured by his lips, my mind drunk on his conversation, my life full again?  The anticipation of every minute, every phone call, until the world faded away under the stinging blue of his eyes. 

            The day we met replayed in slow motion in my mind.  The young girl I had been, seeking out an art class with the dream of setting the world afire. Twenty years my senior. Long dark hair touched his shoulders to mimic a modern day pirate.  Stinging blue eyes full of secrets and knowledge turned to mine as he said my name, and I knew. I knew he was the one, despite my snobbery at romance novels and love at first glance across a crowded room.  It was so much more than that – the feeling that another part of you had finally been found, my breath fuller, my vision more clarified and sharp, as a vampire might look back at her human life which had been fuzzy, my life shifted to Technicolor and I never wanted to go back. 

            He took a long time to approach me on a personal level. I stalked him with my youthful exuberance and passion. His fingers lingered over mine when he corrected my brush stroke. He sought me out after class with endless excuses, and we spoke of art and passion and dreams. He kissed me in the middle of the  work room. The scents of paint and cleaner and his musky smell filled the air. His lips gently took mine, but tenderness turned bold and he took me there on the floor – surrounded by white canvas and spilled paint and bright sun. He penetrated my body with bruising force, and I took every thrust and shuddered against him, complete. Drunk, alive, I moved into my second life.  He became my friend, my mentor, my confidante, and finally, my lover. 

            He became everything that kept me from a real life.

            I broke.  My whisper tore out of my mouth. “Please, don’t.”

            He knew.  Pride long gone, I waited and prayed for him to let me go. Wanted to crawl back under the rose colored comforter, sad but safe.  I begged God to spare me this one last time, wrangling mental bargains as I waited for my lover’s answer – closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, angry for giving him so much control.

            “I need you.” He paused. “Let me come up.”

            The words fell hard around me, then shattered into silence.  I took a ragged breath and for once, clearly saw the road in front of me.  How many times had I excused my behavior on reckless passion, or alcohol, or rash impulsiveness?  Tonight, I was stone cold sober.  If he came up, the cycle would start again.  He would ruin me, cut me into pieces, and leave me crawling for the door.  I’d feel alive again – food salty and sweet against my tongue, colors bright and vivid attacking my vision. But the payoff would be deadly.

            My mind whirled. Two paths flashed before me; beckoning, tempting.  I knew all of this and made my decision.

            “Come up.”

            I replaced the receiver and went out to meet him.

Play…


Children’s play is like our work, or so I have been told. Play is how a child expresses his or her individuality and explores his personality. I remember well when I was young my mother was obsessed with dolls. She loved everything about them and always hoped she would have a girl to share her hobby with. Unfortunately, I hated dolls. I loathed Barbies and the color pink. I loved any type of book I could get my hands on, roller skating, ice skating, tennis and all of my stuffed animals. One birthday, she surprised me with a doll carriage. I pretended to like it and went outside and cried. It was a piece of equipment I had no use for. My dad stepped in and told my mother to stop making me into something I wasn’t and to go out and get me a pair of ice skates I wanted. Poor mom. Ended up my brother liked the carriage better than me and strolled all his Star Wars dolls around. He denies it until this day but I was there and speak the truth.

My children have blossomed and now take play very seriously. They love their stuffed animals and can continuously be overheard using voices and creating dramas. This morning, I came out to find over 50 animals piled high on my couch. They were naked, yet again. They said they were the naked super-heros out to save the world and rescue all the animals from evil.  And I still keep wondering when they are going to keep on their clothes.

I also notice how my oldest dominates playtime. He is the alpha male and in charge of the games. Joshie usually follows along happily, but when he bucks the system my oldest tries to nib the rebellion in the bud. Joshie will pick his battles and just disengage and refuse to play. That drives the older one batty, but I discovered after a little while of playing by himself, he is all too happy to compromise for a playmate.

Last week, my husband and I were in the throes of watching The Bachelorette, one of my guilty pleasures. It was very quiet in their room (warning sign) so on a commercial my husband went to check on them. I heard his baffled roar echoing through the house. When I joined him in the room, they had a pile of their stuffed animals in a heap, a toddler pair of scissors, and a bundle of fur strewn over the carpet. Proudly, they announced they were playing barber and had given everyone haircuts. All of the fuzzy monkey hair now gone, the animals seemed frozen in a state of surprise with their baldness. Joshie informed me that their hair would grow back soon. Jake said he did it so he can see their faces more clearly. Echoes of my mother flew forth: “You would look so nice if you would just cut your hair so I can see your face!”

Ah, playtime. Important for adults too. My husband used to love Sony Playstation until the kids came and sucked up his time. Now he looks longingly at dirt bikes and older motorcycles and wonders if we will ever have enough money so he can re-visit his youth and go riding. And me?  I love to read and write – that is my favorite form of playtime. What I have noticed lately is the lack of playtime I see in my writing, and I have moved forward to correct this. I’ve been reading many blogs lately about the importance of the work itself and less attachment to publicity, blogging, marketing, and worrying about success. I think writers have it harder today than ever. Yes, there is much more information available to help us market our books, but I think we are in overload status. When I was writing years ago, it was just about the story. There were conferences, networking and the hardcopy of Writer’s Market to push us forward. Now, the story is so diluted with other factors it’s easy to write without any fun. And a writer continuously writing without fun is a writer that stops writing.

I enjoy my blog, actually, this is my playtime. And I am going back to core principles and am beginning to have fun again. I revisted my novella and cut out the last chapter that was technically good but written into a corner. I started the scene where I thought I would be interested, and things started working. I wrote 14 pages in two hours – the most productive I have been in a long time.

So, cheers to playtime. It should never be overrated or underestimated, no matter what age group we are in.