Regret

We never would have taken him for a witch. He seemed so steady, a reliable type, paying his bills on time and mowing his lawn. He never had any kids, his wife died young. He was real generous with the neighbor kids, helping out some to get their kids nice stuff.

We figured with all that hard work and no family to support, he probably could do that kind of thing because he had a stash of money somewhere. A guy like that probably invests and does responsible things with his money. He came home early when we were looking for a safe.

He came home right after we found some kind of altar in the basement, and he kind of came home by popping right into place, in this little circle on the floor right behind us. Scared the fuck out of us, but Kim, she never was one to freeze in fear, and she just started moving and got her knife right in his eye socket before I knew what was going on.

He didn’t die right away, he started twitching and all the lights flickered. Fucking electricity or fire or some kind of light started pouring from his fingers and his eyes glowed with it. I couldn’t move. I don’t mean I froze in fear, I tried to run but my feet were stuck to the floor, and Kim’s too.

He spoke, and it wasn’t loud but everything around us kind of rang with his voice anyway, I did too, I felt like a guitar string plucked deep inside me. And he says, right before he dies, he says, “Die from regret.”

I didn’t end up feeling a lot of regret right away. Kim, I was worried about her though, she was so eaten up by it, and that ain’t the first man she’s offed, but I never saw her so torn up. She ended up eating a bottle of pills.

I figured maybe it was a curse, but I was in the clear, ‘cause she did him, not me. But as soon as she went, the nightmares started. Every time I eat, I feel bad that man can’t taste anything anymore. Every time I get tired and cranky at work, ‘cause I can’t sleep, right? I get all tired and cranky and sore, but as soon as I think about how good it would be to go home and sit in my chair, I remember that dude was a hard worker, and he probably liked that feeling of relief too.

Today I got a headache, and I felt bad because that man would never get a headache again, even though it was pain. All those rough moments just make the smooth moments sweeter, and he can’t have either. I don’t think I’ll last out much longer.

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: King of Hazards, Reversed. More tarot stories.

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The Moon, Reversed

The living room looked familiar, but when I stepped onto the carpet it felt like I had two sets of feet. One pair I could feel brushing the fabric, the carpet was soft and plush but my feet were definitely on it. Then it felt as if there were another pair over that pair, one floating a few inches off of the ground, toes dangling lazily and only just brushing the fuzzy carpet.

My stomach revolted from a sensation that reminded me of driving too fast in the country, hitting a dip that bounces the car just enough to unseat you and thrill you a little. I didn’t feel thrilled though, I felt a sense of dread.

Shadows around the room seemed to grow thicker, maybe a little undulating, as I realized I had seen this room before. This was the room in that dream I kept pretending wasn’t happening. That meant he was right behind me, and yes, there are the hands around my throat lifting me, and that’s not a thrill I feel.

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P.S. – I added a little guide to this game that I’m playing here, if you want to play along or get a better idea for how I’m coming up with prompts.

P.P.S. – Aunt Robin, if you made it here, this is the Guided Tour page. Make sure to see the brownie story I accidentally showed Mom (I did get out of her that I never told her what kind of brownie I wanted to be). Over here is the Staten Island post I was talking about. Maybe one day I’ll come stay in a haunted hotel near you and it won’t have to be twenty years until we chat in person again.

The Chase

The crunch of the snow was too loud. Yes, they could see my footprints, but they’d have to find what direction I went first. That would be easy to do when I’m clomping though the barren forest like a deer drunk on rotten apples.

There had to be a way, I had to have a chance somehow. They could see me through the winter trees, they can hear me on the snow, hell they could probably smell me on the wind. The lake. I could try the ice on the lake, it’s thick enough this time of year. It would be slow, but I could try moving like I was on skates.

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I remembered that the northern side of the slopes nearest the lake tended to be slippery, something to usually avoid but I could use to my advantage, dropping down to slide. Would they know to do this, or would they run at the slope too fast and be surprised by the treacherous drop? I could hope, maybe they navigate the woods by instinct rather than reason, they seemed more like animals, not rational enough to maintain a mental map of potential dangers in the woods.

That could be my advantage, my reason, my logic. I don’t jump to act with blind passion like they do, I’m not prone to fits of rage that cloud my ability to perceive. This could be my saving grace. I could run them through treacherous areas, navigating them safely, using my reason, my human advantage.

***

“There he is, the foul child murderer. He’s headed for the ice slopes.”
“Good, the weakest part of the lake’s surface is there. It is warmed by the current from the city’s drainage. He will break the ice with his fall. We will be on him in seconds.”
We ran, amazed at the foolishness of humans who considered themselves woodsmen, who hunt the innocent for sport and call us monsters.

 

P.S. – I am madly in love with my new book idea, so spending less time wondering about interesting blog posts and continuing the zombie flash thing is probably a trend that will continue for a while.

Zombies Just Wanna Be Loved

I am mortified at my lack of presence here lately. Every day I’ve been wanting to write, but couldn’t. Besides moving back to Tulsa (sigh), there were the holidays, and a few dashes of the kind of drama I don’t really want to go on about here.

And the unpacking, oh man the chaos. We left the trailer looking like a tornado went through it. I had to deep clean everything and start reorganizing before I could unpack. The two year old “helped”, so naturally it went painfully slow. I only found where she put my hair brush yesterday.

It wasn’t just that I couldn’t write, I couldn’t even find my coat and shoes for two weeks after we got back. I had to run around in my bathrobe and slippers that I was wearing for the drive down here. I’m still not done cleaning and unpacking. At a couple of points I was down with the flu. Also, with fibromyalgia, winter is always a struggle. And as I said in a brief update post, I didn’t even have a laptop cord for a while.

I’m throwing out a list of excuses, but there’s a point to it. I feel so guilty for missing so many posts, but the main reason is not how busy I was (that happens to everyone). It’s because I used up my emergency posts during the packing, move, and surrounding chores the first time we relocated in October. I figured my stash would build up again the way it was created, by occasionally writing an extra piece or two as relevant ideas occurred to me.

I mean, surely I wouldn’t need to dip into my extra writing folder too many times so quickly after depleting it, right? Sigh. I’m old enough to know better, and how tempted fates get mischievous. I want to be a professional writer and here I am skipping posts frequently.

So, I learned. I shall apply this lesson immediately. My next few posts will be brief, just a simple bit of flash, so I can focus on building up my stash again (during cleaning breaks). I’m going to pull a single tarot card out of my deck each week and use it as a prompt, posting the resulting story without any of my usual blathering on about aspects of my life that impact my writing, until I have a safety net back in place and my house is less chaotic. I mean, I’d say clean, but I love writing too much for that to happen.

P.S. – Post title is a song reference.

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Cake

I can hear their cries for the boy over the incessant banging. I know the ancient chest of doors barricading the door is heavy and sound, but I’m worried about the bookshelves covering the windows. Can they be tipped over the couch that locks them in place?

I smile at my new little friend, cold and muddy from his run through the forest. “No reason to worry,” I lie, “We only need to hold out just a little longer and help should arrive.”

“That’s what my dad said.” My heart sinks with grief at the insane cruelty of the human race. Whatever madness caused this mob, at least it will be easy to get justice for his family. “Well, help is even closer now. I tell you what, we don’t have to listen to them. Let’s turn up the radio really loud and go eat cake in the kitchen while we wait for the police.”

He held my hand and followed quietly, but I could tell that trying to turn his crisis into a party was a mistake. I didn’t know what to do other than to try and be chipper though, it’s what I’ve always done.

I pulled out the leftover cake I was fortunate to have on hand, and placed the chef’s knife next to it. “Would you mind setting the table?” I asked as I rummaged in the dishwasher for a pair of forks.

“M’am?” He asked shyly. I looked over my shoulder and froze as I saw the blade in his hand. “I’m not hungry for cake.” He smiled, and I realized I had been wrong to assume the blood on the corner of his mouth had been his own.

Frustrations.

I am not trying to take an extended break. I fully intended to take maybe two weeks off, get settled back into the trailer (because the beach house isn’t happening so I’m sitting here half a country across from my lover again). The details aren’t important, but it appears I might be without a charger for my laptop for up to another 2 weeks. Hopefully not that long. I want to write so bad my teeth itch.

Sometimes you have to carry your home on the inside.

I have a recurring dream, one that always brings me comfort, though to some it might be considered a nightmare. There’s a place I visit, and when I’m there, I soar with freedom. Sometimes literally, because hey, dream. I know when I’m in this place again, not because I recognize it, nothing in it is ever truly familiar. It’s not the look of the land, it’s the spirit.

I might be walking down a prosperous neighborhood, admiring the occasional flash of stained glass and enjoying thrills of delight at lawn gnomes tucked discreetly in well-tended flower gardens.

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I’m always on the move, a quiet pressure deep inside urging me away from where I was, and onward to where I am going. Looking for something intangible, looking for something I can hold, something to satisfy the desire that can’t be filled.

Sometimes, I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m looking for something to steal. Stolen treasures are even more exciting. But I never find anything. There is nothing that calls to be mine.

Maybe I enter a home, only to pass through to the other side, winding my way through backyards and over fences. Maybe I turn down an alley, or take a shortcut across an empty lot. Maybe I stick to the streets and simply make another turn, and it all falls away to something else. A new neighborhood, a new adventure.

On this street, colorful laundry flutters in the air. Cautious eyes on strained faces peek through open windows while the sweat drips from their brow. The colors of the homes change from brick to adobe, and strong spices flow from a market on the corner.

A breathless push through the excited market might turn me into a rustic neighborhood of wood and pine, or one that likes to mix up its architectural style with a minimalist modern flare. Every street has something new, everything a gleaming snapshot of the shiniest treasures that area has to offer, be they succulent or depraved, glitters of the exotic or the luxurious, the serene or the mysterious, and always, always out of reach. No matter how simple the treasure I have found might be.

Always. Be it a lawn gnome, or a family sitting down at the table together for a meal.

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I never live there, I am always walking through, and everything I see is out of my reach, therefore exotic and exciting.

I know exactly why I have this dream, and I know exactly why it comforts me. I won’t tell you every detail, but I might hint that when I wanted to live in the woods, there was a reason it might have been preferable to home. Maybe more than one reason.

Those reasons stopped in my teenage years, and so did my attempts to run off and live like a feral child. I was always caught, but those moments of freedom wandering around unfamiliar streets affected me forever. To the point that they molded my dreams.

When I started riding a bike to explore, the dreams started sometimes taking on the feel of flying, racing along in pure joy up and down the roads. Never high enough to reach the sky, or even avoid cars without a lot of effort, but a nice smooth gliding flight that I had the joy of recreating when I woke up and got on my bike again. I don’t have a bike anymore, but I still fly through neighborhoods in my sleep.

When I lived on the street, the longing to be a part of the places I passed through grew to something more intense, darker, but comforting and familiar in its own way. The dreamy landscapes I wandered through grew more colorful, more diverse, more like an entire city contained in a small area, each street a representation of the best of all the towns I’ve wandered through, secret treasures and fascinations intact.

Know what reminds me of that oddly comforting dream, that recurring expression of an emotion I know no name for other than wanderlust? That word only expresses the desire, not the blissful satisfaction of something new and exciting washing over you in waves as you experience temporary release from despair (or, more recently, mild annoyance).

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Walking around Staten Island, that’s what. The smallest, greenest borough of New York City. A variety of cultures stacked on top of each other, some streets new and shiny and some streets cracking and mossy, and all of them beautiful.

If I were forced (well, persuaded by love) to live in pollution and population filled New Fucking York City, this would be the place to stick me. Home of protected marshlands, deer, subcutaneous egg laying sand fleas, and reputedly practically the whole damn island is haunted.

Seeing the state of many of these places, once shining and now peeling with grief, crammed right up next to homes oozing prosperous promises, I can see why rumors of ghosts linger. Also, there was that serial killer with his associated scandalous hospital, then the other abandoned hospital that’s supposed to be like an entire village, the mob hitman who cut up that dude in that mansion… Anyway, you know. Fun history alongside all that birth of our nation stuff.

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I want you to take a moment and put yourself in my skin, with forty some-odd years of that dream driving your spirit. Now add twenty years of living in virtual confinement, restrained by poverty, lack of transportation, and the life of a single mother struggling to get through school (before I met Joe), followed by a new bundle of joy and the chaining to the home that brings.

Then suddenly…

I’m living in a landscape that holds some of the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood of my spirit. The landscape around me mirrors adventures that have called to me for decades. I play in unexplored landscapes and unfamiliar cultures just when I’m walking to the store. Awesome.

As pleasant as this place is, it is still New York City. Exotic, challenging, and bold. I walk, and I look around, and I feel my soul taking it in to store for later, material for memories that will become stories and dreams. My inner life grows wealthier, my need for stimulation being fed.

And Joe is talking about possibly sending us back to Tulsa.

Oklahoma. Land of flat, dull, and boring. We don’t even have basements, or homes above shops. I grew up surrounded by people who picked on me for reading for fun. People who had no idea how to eat an artichoke and had never eaten shrimp and ask you what church you belong to when you meet because it’s assumed you are Christian.

I mean, okay I get it. When it comes down to it, our current housing situation is not going to work out for a multitude of reasons. It would be less expensive to ship us off, we could save money to buy land faster, and oh boy, I do want land.

But I haven’t explored Manhattan yet, and it’s December so it’s cold and Joe’s commute is twice as long because of shoppers and tourists. I don’t think I want to face that crowd. Stuck in traffic that long with a hyper toddler, not a good idea either. If I were alone, the crowd and cold would just be part of the adventure, but I just can’t do it to her. I was hoping to visit the city with her in the spring, but now I hear I might not even be in the city over Christmas.

I had my heart set on so many things. I won’t get to tour the best graffiti, or eat a dandelion in Central Park. I might not even get a chance to see Poe’s banister before we leave. I did get to gather seashells with my daughter, and I do admit the beach was lovely (if you admire the tragedy of urban decay and can vaguely enjoy the horror you feel while you watch trash bobbing in the waves).

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I thought I would be here for a year, and that I wouldn’t have to be apart from Joe again. I wanted to walk through Washington Square park while wondering how many bones I was walking across. I wanted to drink with the ghost of Dylan Thomas. Now, instead, I may be going back to the trailer. To paint the walls in a vain attempt to inject optimism and a woodland theme into my life.

Or, as I was informed this morning, perhaps we’ll be moving to Long Island, with an actual view of the ocean. It would be longer until we saved enough for land, but we would stay together and I could continue my plans for the rest of the year.

This should be earth-shatteringly good news, a possibility to cling to, but it’s just making me worried it won’t happen.

Once again, I’m not sure of where I will be and when. The way possibilities keep popping up, then fading away around here, that might be going on for a while. In a way, it’s cool. All the possibilities have positive eventual outcomes, even going back to the land of flat, dead, and boring will lead to land, so I know I can adapt.

It’s just that, well, humans are complicated creatures and the seed for adventure isn’t the only thing in my heart. Lots of stuff lives there.

Fucking anxiety and PTSD to name a couple. Know what stuff like that doesn’t like? Instability. Unpredictable futures. Trying to get settled in, and just when you do, it’s time to move again. I totally signed up for this journey, I just didn’t realize it would jump around so much or move so fast.

I am not reacting well. Thankfully, middle age doesn’t just come with wrinkles. It also comes with a lifetime of experience and skill sets to stave off the waves of panic attacks that would have been hell in this situation when I was younger.

And I have a brand new, shiny skill set that hasn’t even gotten boring yet. Bullet journaling about organization, a routine, pain solutions, family meals, standard life skills that will remain consistent no matter where we live or what we are doing. That helps.

I mean, I just got a new journal for 2019 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve at least started notes on collections for more than half of the pages, so apparently it’s helping quite frequently. I have to say though, copying recipes from Pinterest into my BUJO is the most white girl thing I’ve ever done. At least I don’t think I’ve been so drunk that I’ve lost a shoe in public.

P.S.- I finally caved and got Scrivener, and had one of those moments where angels sang in chorus while light radiated so hard my hair blew back. I’ve already started a bullet journal page with custom icons.

P.P.S. – Posting Tuesdays now. I tried posting when my views were at their peak, apparently that is not a good strategy to get more views on my blog.

Celebrating My Inner Domestic Goddess

This week, I’ve put my projects aside. Mucking through the aftermath of a sick household made me start to see that it’s far too easy for me to let my home fall into total disrepair. It might be time to re-balance and organize my primary job as Mommy. If that job is more efficient, I will have more time to write.

Naturally, there is only one method that someone like me would use to do such a thing, because I need rulers and colored pencils to be a large part of my life. So, I bought a brand new bullet journal to start setting up for 2019.

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I have sketched out a habit tracker for every month and planned or already started collections for meal planning, holiday menus, chore maps and scheduling, etc. The dates and calendars I am making might be for 2019, but the collections and task organizations I can start using now.

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I’d show you more pages, but my eyes are horrid. I can’t make text clear to me even when I’m reading, photography of text does not work out well.

I’m excited though. A new pair of glasses has finally climbed up to the top of our priority list, I’ve already had the exam, and I’m stoked. I was told I would never see clearly again, but apparently I didn’t understand that was with single vision glasses. It looks like bifocals might end up being life altering.

I have to wait a few days, but hopefully both my art and my photography will improve. It will certainly be easier to see if my camera is in focus. It will make drawing easier to do, but I’m also hoping it will make it easier to control my fingers, I know fibromyalgia will keep my fingers stiff but maybe better vision will help hand/eye coordination.

Once I get my shiny new glasses I’ll post a few more of my favorite pages.

The Entomologist (again)

So, I guess it was inevitable that the unfamiliar viruses halfway across the country would seize the household, leading to an astounding backlog of housework once I recovered. Therefore I’m going to give myself a pass while I try to pull it all back together even though I’m still coughing every time I walk to the kitchen because my main job title is Mom. Repost week! This is my fav.

The Entomologist

“Oh, she is beautiful. I bet Dr. Fairweather will notice you for this one. You might even get more than just the grant out of him.” She winked.

“Excuse me?” I could never remember this one’s name. Grad students are so temporary lately.

“Was that too forward?” She smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Anyway, she should help you get that grant for sure. I know you’ve certainly been working hard enough to deserve it.”

“It’s not about me. It’s not even about my work, but she does bring me some hope.” I couldn’t help the smile I felt rising to my face as I put her in the specimen jar.

“I don’t understand, what do you mean the funds aren’t available?” No, no, I needed this grant.

“I’m afraid the last of it went to Dr. Aemulus.” Fairweather wouldn’t even look me in the eye, shuffling through papers on his desk instead.

“But it was promised to me, you told me you would make sure of it.”

“Well, to be frank, she has an amazingly persuasive argument for her cause.”

“Does that argument have anything to do with the weekend you spent together?”

A deep flush spread up to his face from the over starched collar of his shirt. “Don’t be petty.”

The whole campus was abuzz with excitement.

I sipped at the champagne and wished it was mead. I like mead, the child in me enjoys sipping nectar like a bee. Dr. Aemulus came in on Fairweather’s arm and everybody clapped. The grad student said, “This should have been your event.” Incubo. That was her name. Something Incubo.

“Don’t be petty,” I sighed.

“Wait, that’s mine. That’s all mine. What are you doing with my things? That’s delicate equipment, what are you doing?”

Fairweather the betrayer came in, holding his hands up as if to physically restrain me if need be. “Calm down, we need this space for Dr. Aemulus to run her experiments. Your equipment will go down to storage where it will be safe until it’s needed again.”

“Calm down? How do men always think saying that will help?”

“Just be reasonable. The money from forensic research will be far more valuable than conservation efforts. Why are you letting some grad student put a bug in your ear anyway?”

“What grad student? How can you think I’m angry because of a grad student? You’re insane!”

I shouldn’t have to do this. I am a good person. I deserve loyalty. But no, here I am covered in fucking blood up to my arms in these stupid beetles. Necessary forensic research, my ass. This “research” has all been done before, it solves nothing. Nothing.

Out of pure spite, I crumpled his stupid starched collar before dumping more of the flesh consuming beetles over the pair of them. I patted Aemulus’s hair. “Feed your children well,” I whispered.

Fire grew in my heart. Fire grew in my eyes.

Incubo was right. Sometimes, fire is good for the forest, even if some pollinators die. I was wrong to stop the controlled burn the farmers wanted last fall. Sometimes, burning it all to the ground gives room for renewal, for the new, the strong, the helpful, to flourish and grow.

The heat tingles my skin, flush from being so near, the smoke billows to the sky and blows through my hair. I feel so alive. What an absolutely beautiful day.

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They found her bones in the ashes. Her grad student stood quietly with the other onlookers as the bodies were carried away.

With a sad smile, Incubo said, “it looks like I will need a job soon. What about you? I hear you’ve been busy, but they haven’t given you the help you need,” the muse of jealousy continued, “Personally, I think you’ve been underappreciated.”