Friday, July 29, 2016

Free Fic: The Garden Within


"It's been drizzling all day," Jake complained as he entered the hallway.

"It's good for the garden!" Amanda, his sister, called out from the side room.

Jake hung up his damp jacket and ran his hands through his hair to push out the droplets of water. "Yeah? It rained all day yesterday too."

"Rain is good for the soul," Amanda countered.

Jake turned the corner and stepped into what their mom affectionately called "the morning room" because the early morning sunlight would brighten everything until noon, and then everything would be cast into shadows. To enhance its nature, she'd painted the walls a dark, botanical green and the ceiling a delicate shade of frothy pink. In the sunlight, the room glowed with serenity. In the afternoon, it dimmed, and nobody went near it.

Amanda leaned against the pink cushioned chair while sitting on the floor. Spread all around her on the green carpet were cards and envelopes. The cards had beautiful fern fronds flattened and glued to the fronts. Half the envelopes were addressed and stacked, the others were spread out, waiting.

"What's this?"

"I'm inviting everyone to a garden party at the end of the month." Amanda reached under the pink chair and brought out a teacup. She sipped at it and lifted one eyebrow. "I'm going to invite Levi."

Jake groaned. "Can't you just let it be?"

"He broke up with Paul almost a whole month ago. If you wait any longer to tell him you like him, he's going to get snapped up by someone else. And those amazing parkour moves and perfect abs will go to someone else."

"Amanda," Jake warned.

"It might already be too late. But, in any case, I'm still going to have my garden party. Look." She pointed to the things spread around her. "I'm going to have tables with white tablecloths, and put a pink vase in the center. The ferns are always fresh looking, so I can make those into centerpieces. And I have a whole lot of this velvet ribbon. I'm going to turn it into streamers and bows." She yanked a green and gray striped napkin out from under a pile of fern cards. "And these, on the tables."

"Sounds nice."

"And, pots of tea. Pink hibiscus herbal tea. Plus cupcakes. I'm debating if using green food coloring is too much."

"It is," said Jake.

Amanda shrugged. "White cupcakes, then, and I can frost half with green icing and half with pink icing."

Jake made a face.

"It's a theme, dummy. You can't just have a haphazard party. You need a theme to pull it together." Amanda huffed. Then she pulled out a pink plate from beneath the chair, two pears rolled back and forth before she set it down. "Bowls of fruit on each table. Green pears, green apples. And some finger sandwiches."

"It sounds lovely," Jake said. "I'm sure it'll be a nice party."

Amanda grinned and picked up an envelope addressed to Levi. She pushed a card into it, licked the flap, and sealed it. She held it out to Jake. "This is Levi's invitation. Do me a favor and deliver it for me?"

"I can't decide if you're helping me or not," Jake said as he took the invitation.

"You know you love me." Amanda waggled her fingers at him to be gone. "Go."

Jake glanced to the window. The rain had stopped and the sun broke out from behind the mist. The room's demeanor changed with the brighter light from sulky to quirky and hopeful.

He had no excuses and only opportunity. "Thanks," he said as he left her behind to plot and plan her garden party, and he went out to see if a conversation might turn into something more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

don't go light on the octopus

Just watched Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, an old submarine movie from 1961. It had not one, but two giant octopus attacks. Which were probably my favorite parts of the movie. There's something that is a whole lot of fun about the underwater shooting that was done at that time period -- the way the light is, the music played over the action. Just very distinctive.

Also, it makes me think, as I'm writing that I should not fail to put in the second 'octopus'. It's the second octopus attack that you don't expect, because it has already been done.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

writing, for real

What a productive weekend I've had! I'm about 3000 words to the good on a story I've been working on. I started it over a year ago, got back to it in April and set it aside when I reached a point where I couldn't move forward. I fully intended to start something new this weekend, and only picked it up to check it over -- and am surprised to find that I've got so much material to get out for it. Very happy about this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

colors and emotions

Color is kind of a big topic. We associate colors with all sorts of things, and some of them are emotions. But some of that is learned, and some of it isn't. There has been some work in the scientific community about that kind of association (fascinating stuff, highly interesting to read about).

Some of that applies to color. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys -- is a construct. Yellow is for happy, purple for royalty, white for purity, blue for calmness -- some of it is associations, some of it is about availability, and some of it is just random.

The sun is yellow, it gives us life, that's a pretty good thing, so yeah, yellow is going to fall on the happy scale of things. Purple used to be very difficult to produce, so only the wealthiest could afford it. A calm sky is blue, a calm ocean is blue, so blue becomes connected with calmness.

But artists are playing with colors all the time -- in visual works, and in writing. Sometimes they use the colors as a shortcut. The bad guy wears the black hat, the good guy wears the white hat (in some cultures). Sometimes, they use those colors to trick the viewer into believing a character isn't evil, and later there is the reveal.

For my four little fics, as I decided on the tone of the story, one of the first questions I asked was, do I buck the color, or do I go with it? I will say, writing with the color association was so much easier than trying to write against it.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Free Fic: The Color of Old Memories


"This was your mother's." Grandma Kathleen took down a box from the mantle over the unused fireplace. She sat down on the small white chair near the window and placed the box on her lap. In the gentle morning sunlight, she looked softened and peaceful.

Monica pulled the matching white chair closer and sat down as well. The chair was very low to the ground and Monica's knees came up high, making her feel like a giant in a children's room. Grandma Kathleen had always been petite. She fit in the chair like a queen holding court. Of course, in this room, everything was more courtly. The golden walls and spare furniture gave it a calm, stately air. This was not a room for playing in, but rather for sitting and contemplating. A room for storing old memories.

"Where did you get it?" Monica asked with a pointed look to the box.

"You mean when." Grandma Kathleen ran her fingers across the lid. "I put things in here in little bits and bobs over the years. Her first day of school, her last day of school. When she brought home her first boyfriend, and the day that boyfriend broke her heart. A trip to summer camp. A beach vacation the summer before she married. I've been tucking these things away all her life."

"Didn't she want them?"

"She discarded them, yes. She tends to do that, discard too much."

Monica remained silent. Her mom certainly did discard things, as well as people. She knew her mom loved her, but sometimes it was hard to remember. Four husbands in, and a fifth one in the making, and Monica couldn't remember a time when her mother wasn't exchanging people in their lives. Grandma Kathleen, however, had always been as solid as bedrock.

"Here, you open it." Grandma Kathleen pushed the box into Monica's hands.

Monica slipped the top off and looked down. There was a vase and a plate shaped like a feather, and pieces of paper, and a few rocks, dried out flowers, ribbon, a postcard, shells, and a yellow bracelet. None of it meant anything to Monica. She touched her finger to the wing of a paper butterfly and then stroked the grain of a ribbon. Then she picked up the bracelet and slipped it on her own wrist to test it out. The plastic was heavy and cool against her skin.

"One of her favorite bangles," Grandma Kathleen said. "She wore that every day when she was a freshman in high school until some other girl told her it was ugly. Then she threw it in the trash. I found it and fished it out."

Monica nodded. She could imagine that. Her mother cared a little too much about appearances, and that sort of comment would have stung her most sharply. Monica liked the bracelet, though. "Would you mind if I kept it?" she asked.

"It's yours." Grandma Kathleen pulled out a string of fake pearls, though they were a nice quality. "A gift from her best friend, who then stole her boyfriend the next year. When she found out, she ripped the necklace off and chucked it out the window. I found it in the shrubbery when I weeded the next week."

"That's terrible!" Monica said. "And you kept it?"

Grandma Kathleen shrugged. "At first, I thought they would apologize and make up. They'd been best friends for years. Too long to let a boy come between them. But they never did. Later I kept it to remember that she was forged by resentment and bitterness that wasn't her doing."

"Oh," said Monica. She didn't touch the pearl necklace. Anything nice about it had been ruined by its background information. She pulled out a postcard of a yellow-green pear. The writing on the back was too faded to read. "And this?"

"After college, she spent a year in France. She only wrote once." Grandma Kathleen sighed. "But I've always liked the picture, and I can count on one hand the number of letters she's sent, so it is special." She looked down at her lap and then up again. "It's almost lunch. Would you like something to eat before you leave?"

"Sure." Monica put the lid back on top of the box.

"Bring the box, we can talk more about it in the kitchen."

"Okay." Monica stood up. As she followed her grandmother out of the parlor room, the good one reserved for guests, she had a thought. "Are there other boxes? Did you make one for me?" Monica paused. "Is there one for you?"

"Certainly." Her grandmother's expression turned sly. "Come and visit me again and I'll show you the others." She grinned. "I do enjoy your company."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

little snails or slugs, or something icky

My poor garden has been getting attacked by something that's been eating into my root vegetables. The veggies are mostly fine, except there are brown streaks through the flesh -- obviously a tunneling something or other. A snail, a slug, an insect burrowing in. It is so frustrating to pull up a turnip and find that half of it isn't any good because of the brown streaks.

I cut away the yucky stuff, and have still have some good root to eat, but it makes my veggies ugly enough that I feel like I can't give them away to friends. I would want to give veggies that at least were whole, and didn't need trimming down.

I have other things coming up later this summer, so I'll have to wait for those.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Just had a tidy little thunderstorm sweep through -- it became dark and noisy and then the rain fell hard, tapered off, and now I can hear the cars wooshing through the wet streets. But I'm glad -- we needed the rain, especially my hostas. I can still hear the thunder, but the sun is back and the rain is gone. It only lasted about 15 minutes, a little more rain would have been nice.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Free Fic: Three Colors of the Sky


The room felt cold. Mike reached up to adjust the gym bag strap on his shoulder. The weight of the items inside grew heavier as he walked farther into the room. There was a window to the right, but the sunlight filtering through weakened before dimly glancing off the back of the couch.

The only thing alive in the whole room were a few branches of ferns and leaves, and even those were slated to die. They were stuck into a vase of water and not potted in dirt with living roots.

The entire room felt like those dying branches. Except for a lonely statue on the mantel not a single item of interest was placed anywhere within the mausoleum-like room. The dull gray of the rug matched the somber attitude of the blue-gray walls, and even the logs in the fireplace reflected a tinge of blue from their birch-white exterior.

Mike shivered.

"Are you cold, dear?" Mrs. Havermeyer asked. She held a tray in front of her, with listless looking items in gray and the saddest version of baby blue Mike had ever seen. The color of the teapot made him suspect that even boiling hot tea would turn ice cold when placed inside.

"No, ma'am," Mike said. "Just waiting for Brock."

"Ah," she said. "Do you want to sit while you wait?" She set the tray down on one of the couch cushions, but there was still enough room for two people to sit.

"No, thank you. He should only be another minute." Mike didn't want to move past the threshold into that chilly, storm-colored room.

Brock bounded down the stairs. "Sorry I'm late, Mike. Had to dig out my racket from under the bed. I think there's a colony of goblins down there!" He slowed as he approached Mike at the threshold, and then looked into the room. Brock paused and then walked forward, kissed his mother on the cheek. Something about Brock's lively nature dimmed as he entered the room. His bounding had been exchanged for careful walking, and his buoyant voice notched down to a sedate tone. "We're going to play some tennis. We'll be back later." Brock retreated slowly.

"Very good, dear." She smiled at her son. "Dinner is at six."

"Thank you."

The last glimpse Mike had of the room was Brock's mother sitting primly on the couch, pouring herself a cup of tea. What he remembered best were the scuff marks on the perfectly groomed rug. She'd walked into the room and disturbed it's solitude, and there she remained.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

perfect for dough, too hot for bread

Here it is, the height of summer. The outdoors is warm, humid, and alive with sunshine. I love watching my garden get lush and green, and my tomato crop is filling out. My squash plants are blooming and spreading (and spreading and spreading!) But, I miss baking. It is far too hot to turn the oven on, so I rely on the microwave, or eat things that don't need any cooking. is the best time of the year to rise bread dough, and the worst to bake it. It's funny how many things are just like that!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

all the colors of a single room

I came across an interesting article in Real Simple (August 2011) the other day, since I'm always glancing through magazines new and old. It was called One Word: Color, and it had the same room changed up with four different color schemes. And on the opposite page, there were some accessories in the same color scheme. Here's a link to the on-line version of the article:

As a writing prompt/challenge to myself, I thought I should try to write a ficlet for each room. It's taken me a while. I wrote the first one easily enough, and then waffled on the other three. I couldn't grasp where I wanted to go -- it was the same room after all, could I make the stories different enough? Or would they just be carbon copies of each other. Was I just going to describe the room? Or would there be enough story to surround to location. Finally, today, I had the time to sit down and hash out those other three rooms.

Now that I have everything done, I'll be posting the ficlets for the next few Free Fiction Fridays. So, stay alert, because the stories will be coming.

last half of the weekend

It's been a low-key weekend, which has been wonderful. I have caught up on some old e-mails that needed responses, and done a bit of organizing in the mess that is my 'filing system' on my computer. (It all makes sense at the time that I create folders and sub-folders, but later on, everything is in total chaos!) I've done a bit of reading of some old stuff I'd written -- always and adjustment to see how your own style has changed, not changed, and developed. I still have a whole afternoon ahead of me that I can focus on these things, and I'm thrilled to be making some headway!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Free Fiction: Conference Call Insomnia

Jamison flopped onto his left side. He breathed three times and switched positions. He curled up on his right side. His arm was trapped beneath him, going numb even within a few seconds.

Jamison shoved the covers off and reached for the light switch. Yellow light filled the room and Jamison made a quick trip to the bathroom. Then he came back to bed, turned off the lights, and pulled the blankets back over him.

Usually the bed was warm--already warmed up by Lance's presence--but not tonight. Lance had flown out to Philly for a conference and would be gone for three full days and nights. Attending the conference would be great for Lance, but Jamison hadn't realized how miserable it would make him.

Jamison shivered, even though he had two comforters on the bed. He crawled out again, turned the lights back on, and dug out a third blanket from the closet and spread it over the bed. Jamison also traded his boxers for an old, soft pair of sweatpants, and pulled out a long-sleeve t-shirt from Lance's drawer. Lance wore a size larger than Jamison did, so the shirt hung loose, but it wrapped comfortingly around Jamison. He crawled back into bed. Off went the lights.

Then he tossed and turned some more.

It was too quiet. Lance didn't snore, but he did make consistent breathing sounds. Jamison was used to that constant in and out.

Jamison shrugged the blankets off yet again, flicked on the lights, and pulled the cord to make the ceiling fan turn on. Then he turned off the light, but left the fan on, and got back into bed.

The sheets were cool, but would warm in a minute, and the breeze brushed across Jamison's face. It wasn't exactly what he wanted, which was Lance in the bed, but it would have to do.

Jamison piled pillows behind his head and propped himself up. He closed his eyes and tried to find that quiet spot inside his head that would allow him to sleep.

It remained elusive.

After staring into the darkness for untold minutes, Jamison considered his options. He could go downstairs and sleep on the couch. He could raid the kitchen and come back with a full stomach. He could rummage in the medicine cabinet and try to find a sleep aid. There was always alcohol. Taking a shot of something would help settle him down.

As he contemplated, his cell phone buzzed so quietly that if he'd been asleep, he'd have missed the call. Jamison reached for it.

"Jamie," said Lance.

"You called," Jamison said.

"I thought you'd be asleep by now," said Lance. "I was going to leave a voice mail for you to find in the morning."

"I'm having a little trouble falling asleep." Jamison didn't mention that it had been nearly two years since they'd had to sleep apart, but it was foremost in his mind. He'd grown accustomed to draping himself next to Lance, and to have the bed so empty was nearly painful.

Lance sounded sheepish. "Yeah. Me too. Just missing you."

"We have unlimited minutes," Jamison said. "We could just leave the line open, and sleep like that."

"I like that." The sound of movement came over the phone and when Lance spoke again he was muffled. "I've put the phone next to me."

Jamison did the same. He closed his eyes. "Good night." He could hear Lance's breathing and it felt like a balm to frazzled nerves.

"Good night, Jamie."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

there will be fic

I worked off a prompt this evening, so there will be fic for Friday!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Free Fiction: Cold Kisses

Jordan counted the ice cubes as he pushed them through the opening in the old fashioned ice bag. "One, two...eight, nine...nineteen, twenty." He twisted the cap closed and shook the bag to evenly distribute the contents and then held it up. "Here. Sorry about the, uh--"

"You hitting me in the face?" Bryce took the offered ice bag and gently placed it on his right cheek, against where the bone ran prominently beneath his eye. He'd always been slightly vain about his somewhat chiseled looks, and his broad cheekbones had been a major part of that. Of course, now he also realized that meant having them front and center when people got clumsy. Almost like a target, waiting to be hit. "I know you didn't mean it. But, geez, man. I've got an interview tomorrow. You couldn't have accidentally knocked me afterwards?"

"I didn't know you were that close, and the lid was stuck." Jordan shrugged. "Sorry."

The cold felt good against his skin, and Bryce dared to hope that a bruise wouldn't develop from Jordan's elbow attack. He wouldn't have cared, except Bryce wanted to make a good impression at his interview. Management positions like this didn't come along that often, and he'd wanted to show up looking his best.

"It'll probably be fine. I've certainly taken worse."

Jordan's expression didn't waiver from anxious and guilty.

"Come on. Might has well watch some tv while I let the ice do its thing. Rest and ice, and maybe I won't look like a clown for my interview tomorrow." Bryce led them into the living room. He sat down on the couch, careful to not jostle his face any more than necessary. He could still feel the echo of the impact beneath his skin.

Jordan followed his lead and gingerly perched on the edge of the cushion. He handed the remote over.

Bryce flipped through a few stations until he found something on--some sort of action adventure movie he couldn't remember the name of--that would keep his attention. Then he leaned back and held the ice bag in place on his cheek.

"It's been twenty minutes," Jordan said after a suitably long time. "You need to let it warm up and then reapply. Do you need more ice?"

Bryce pulled the ice bag away. That half of his face was numbed and quite cold, although he'd been paying attention enough to not let the cold become so severe he damaged his skin. "In a minute." Bryce set the ice bag aside. He wrapped his hand around Jordan's wrist and tugged him closer.

Jordan leaned in. "Yes?"

"You forgot to kiss and make it better."

The anxious look vanished, finally, and a small smile came to Jordan's lips. "I can do that." He walked his fingers up the side of Bryce's face, spider-like.

With his skin so cold, it felt oddly distant and somewhat unreal. "How's it look?" Bryce asked.

"Fine," Jordan said. "Not even puffy a little. I don't think it'll show." He placed his lips against Bryce's cheek and fluttered a kiss against his skin. "But you're so cold."

He hovered his mouth over the skin and huffed warm air. Jordan's fingers played at the edges of the injured area, rubbing in front of Bryce's ear and fiddling about at the bridge of his nose. He kissed Bryce's cheek so softly that he barely felt it. Then, Jordan dropped another kiss, and then another again. His lips were soft and pliant, and just thinking of them made Bryce's interests jolt up. The kisses trailed down his face to the start of the curve on Bryce's ear.

Suddenly, the skin on Bryce's face felt tight and warm. He wheezed out hot air from his lungs and tried to gulp in cooler air. "Jordan," he whispered.

"Shhh," Jordan said. "You're all flushed." He pulled away and grabbed the bag of ice. Then he pushed off the couch. "Let me refill this. You don't want to bruise."

"Not sure I care anymore," Bryce said, and he meant it.