Independence Day

I read a post where The Write Practice introduced some prompts about Indepence Day. I decided on the second prompt: writing a scene where a character celebrates a holiday or occasion. I figured it would be a good idea to give some insight into Alex Powers, one of the central characters of my short story project.

Here goes:

I don’t do well with holidays, especially the Fourth of July. Dad says it’s just an excuse to be lazy. I find that contradicting as he stands in front of the charcoal grill he’s had for twenty years, roasting hot dogs, chicken, ribs. All the meaty stuff. A couple of his friends surround him, part of the crew from high school, I guess. 

I sit on the patio, a cooler in hand. Tyson plays with the neighborhood kids. Brandy chats with Sean and his latest squeeze, some golden Egyptian girl he met online. I see neighbors across the street with their grills. It’s like a friendly neighborhood competition. Who can snag the most guests?

I remember the Fourth of July when I was ten. Dad and Mom were huddled around the grill she bought for him as an anniversary present. They were so lovey-dovey, kissing each other all the time. It kind of made me sick, but in a good day. 

That evening, we drove to the park to watch fireworks. For some reason, they weren’t speaking. Dad didn’t have the radio playing. I didn’t think anything of it. I doubt Sean cared, either. When we arrived, we grabbed our lawn chairs and just held onto them. All the best spots were taken. That’s when I heard Mom and Dad speak. They were arguing about something. A lot of things, actually. I wondered what was going on, but Sean, being the slightly older brother, stopped me. He told me to not interrupt them. So I didn’t. Besides, the exploding fireworks muffled whatever conversations transpired. 

When we got back, Mom got out the car. Dad stayed in and turned to us. Sean was asleep. I, surprisingly, wasn’t. 

“Boys,” he said. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your mother and I have decided to separate for a while.”

I knew what that meant, what that would eventually mean. But it was the fact that Dad apologized first that threw me off. I had never known Dad to apologize for anything he’d ever said or done. That floored me more than anything else. 

Dad doesn’t talk it much. I think it brings up bad memories, and that’s saying something about him. 

The Promise

I recently followed a group on Twitter called “The Flash Fiction Hive.” Last week, the Hive challenged its members to write a flash fiction piece based on a song. I chose Craig David and Sting’s Rise and Fall. (If you haven’t heard of it before, I recommend you look it up on YouTube. 

Anyway, I was excited because it was the first story I had written in a while. And the first time in a while that I posted a story on my blog. I hope you enjoy it. 

Gordon stopped at the door. He hung his head, banging on the cream door. His friends warned him, but Gordon knew this was what he wanted. Jennifer, his girlfriend, wrote songs that complemented his deep voice. And everyone loved him. This was the first step in his path to stardom. It was supposed to be the beginning of a better life for him and Jennifer.

But he dreaded entering his apartment. He knew what was waiting for him. But he stood straight, ran his hand across his bald head, and cleared his throat. Gordon turned the brass handle and entered. And sure enough, Jennifer stood waiting for him. If not for the intense stare from her golden eyes, the glow of her bronzed frame in the moonlight would hide a woman scorned and ashamed. Gordon closed the door and walked up to Jennifer. He flashed a smile and a bouquet of daisies and lavender. Jennifer just stood, not caring about anything he was going to say.

“Hey, Jen. How’s my—”

Jennifer slapped him before he could finish.

“How dare you,” Jennifer barked. He gave a look of shock. Her words reeked of a vileness he hadn’t experienced before. Jennifer flashed a picture of him with some fans. She singled out a female draped around him.

“You promised me,” she sneered. “You lied to me. Did you think—? What the hell were you thinking?”

She plastered the photo onto Gordon’s chest and turned away from him. He picked it up from the floor. 

“Come on, baby. You know this doesn’t mean anything. So we had some fans come on stage. Big deal.”

“No, Gordon,” Jennifer replied in a raised, sharp tone, “it is a big deal. We talked about this. You said this wouldn’t happen again.”

He remembered the last time a female fan showed her appreciation. Jennifer caught them making out in his Camaro. She stormed out, tears bursting out of her eyes. Gordon caught up with her, pleaded with her to take him back. She agreed under the condition that there wouldn’t be any more girls.

“It’s not like the last time,” Gordon said. He lay the bouquet on the couch.

“Save it,” she said. “I’ve heard it all before. And I ignored it for a long time. I can’t deal with this anymore. We’re through.”

Jennifer turned her back from him. She felt her eyes swell with sadness and anger.

“Come on, Jen. You don’t mean that.”

Gordon caressed her shoulders, but she shrugged him off. He approached her again and twirled her around. He desired to see the sparkle in her eyes.

“I promise you, nothing happened. Nothing. I wish you were there with me, so that I could celebrate with you. You, babe. I promise you, there’s no one else.”

Gordon wrapped his arms around her. He pressed his lips onto her forehead. She looked up at him. The moonlight hid the redness of her eyes. 

“Promise?”

Gordon kissed her lips. “Promise.”

Jennifer tasted the sincerity and returned the favor. They kissed long and hard. He lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom, leaving the bouquet behind. 

Book Review: Emily’s Stitches: The Confessions of Thomas Calloway

I love the short story forum. It’s a daunting task to set a limit on words to tell a tale. But it’s something to weave a collection of stories together to form a bigger story. “Emily’s Stitches: The Confessions of Thomas Calloway” by Leverett Butts, is such an example. The crux of these stories tell the tale of Thomas, a young man trying to make sense of the world. But it’s not as simple as he believes. And after meeting Emily, a girl with issues of her own, the world becomes more complicated. And it doesn’t help that friends like Gardener Smith twist his way of thinking under the guise of educating him. The stories compose a journey of a young man struggling to find his place.

Leverett Butts does a wonderful job of integrating these stories into a tale that doesn’t pull punches. Leverett’s description of Owen, Georgia is so rich for a small town. The characters and their relationships have range and complexity. No one is squeaky clean, not even Thomas. And by the end, you get the sense that all of them are doomed to be stuck in the environment they were raised in. 

Leverett Butts includes a variety of poems and short stories. Some stories take place in the same universe of the main series.  Some deal with loss, some about revelations. “Misdirection” is a favorite. It’s about a hit man who approaches a crossroads in his career. “Requiem” is another good one where a young man recollects where he met the girl of his dreams and the friend who refutes it. And “Gods for Sale, Cheap” takes a satirical look at how we approach religion. I found that one fascinating. 

I want to write a series of stories that center around a theme, a character, a town, whatever. “Emily’s Stitches” is an example of how to approach such a task. What Leverett Butts does with this world and these characters is wonderful. He’s definitely an inspiration to follow. 

Technology Bites

Frank strolled into the local coffee shop and couldn’t help staring at the number of patrons with their heads down, looking at whatever was going on their phones. He felt disgusted. He thought it was disrespectful to be on a device while in line. His phone rang, but he did not bother to answer it. The phone kept vibrating, but stopped after five pulses in his pocket. It was his turn. Continue reading “Technology Bites”

First Kiss

Inspired by another prompt from Lori Carlson, this scene again takes place in an elevator, but under different circumstances. It should be noted that the names of the characters have been changed so as to not offend anyone. Enjoy.

Prompt: You’re stuck in an elevator with someone from your past. Write the scene. 

I ran to the elevator, hoping to catch it before it closed. Continue reading “First Kiss”

“Eye” Salute You

Lori Carlson wrote a scene on her Promptly Written blog, and I thought I would give it a try. 

Prompt: You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write the scene.

As the elevator door closed, a hand wedged itself in between. It belonged to a grey-bearded man with a camouflage cap.  He looked at me like I was supposed to hold the door for him, or something. I was already running late for my appointment and didn’t want the hassle. The door closed and the elevator started moving. He didn’t press anything. There was no possible way he was getting off the same floor I was. 

There was a stench about him I couldn’t put my finger on. It was like a combination of pain cream and perspiration. I tried not to wretch. There was some rope wrapped around his corduroys. I couldn’t imagine that keeping them from falling down to his ankles. He then turned to me with those icy sad eyes. I tried not to make eye contact with him. Instead, I focused on the cap with stars lining the brim. He took the hat off, almost daring me to look at him. It was entrancing, borderline hypnotic. It was as if he wanted me to know his story without him saying a word. He walked toward me. I couldn’t move. He leaned to me with those eyes for what seemed like an eternity. 

The elevator bell rang. He stepped back and nodded his head. The door opened and he marched out. I stood bewildered.  The door closed, but I didn’t care.

I Hate Birthdays

Before you read this, it should be noted that I do not hate birthdays. My birthday is this weekend. But I thought it would be a little fun to create a story about someone who despises her own birthday. I’ll share about my birthday weekend in an upcoming post. In the meantime, feel free to comment on this story. I look forward to reading what everyone has to say. Continue reading “I Hate Birthdays”