The Gift

Since everyone is doing a Christmas story, I thought I’d do the same. Enjoy.

Marcus Tillman smiled as he observed Kathryn opening her locker from afar. Kathryn Flowers, with her golden locks and pearly symmetrical frame. It didn’t seem fair to everyone else. And yet, Marcus believed it was destiny, especially since she broke up with Jesse Evans.

He had his proposal rehearsed. He repeated it to himself a hundred times until it was right. He was all set to go until Busby Barker jolted him from his dreamy glare. Kathryn strutted away from her locker.

“Whew.” Busby pushed himself away, fanning his hand.

“So, do you have it?”

Marcus pulled a sapphire box from his coat. He opened it, revealing a sterling silver necklace with a snowflake charm. The charm held a round sky blue stone in its center.

“Kathryn’s going to love it,” Busby said. “But are you sure you don’t need any help?”

“I’m fine,” Marcus replied.

“I don’t know. All that cologne you’re wearing reeks of desperation.”

Marcus sniffed around. He didn’t seem to care how much he lathered onto himself.

“It’s her favorite.”

“Ok, if you say so.”

Marcus closed the box and hid it in his pocket. The school bell rang.

“You’d better make use of those legs, Mr. Track Star.”

Busby jogged off. Marcus went the opposite way.

It would be lunch before he saw Kathryn again. She sat with the rest of the cheerleaders in the courtyard. Marcus squinted and popped his knuckles. He felt the perspiration in his hand stuffed in his coat pocket.

“Marcus?”

His heart best faster as every second ticked away.

“MARCUS?!”

He gasped at the second mention of his name. He turned to find Hannah Whistler shaking his shoulder.

“So when are you going to ask her?”

Marcus puffed his chest, then let out a blast of air. He relinquished his fists and shook his hands.

“Now,” he said. “Right now.”

But Hannah tugged his arm.

“Listen, Marcus. Don’t rush it. You gotta be smooth about it. Don’t let her see you sweat. It definitely doesn’t look good on you men as it does on us girls.”

Marcus shut his eyes and took another big breath. The bell rang, ending their lunch break. Kathryn and her crew split up to their separate classrooms. Marcus heaved once more and strutted out onto the court.

“Good luck!”

But he didn’t hear Hannah. He tapped Kathryn on her shoulder. She turned and immediately stepped back once she saw him.

“Marcus, hi.”

“Hey Kathryn. Mind if I walk you to class?”

“Umm…sure.”

It was perfect. Their classrooms were in the same building, on opposite sides.

“What’s going on?”

“Not much. Just getting ready for the holidays.”

“I know. It’s so crazy. I still have to shop for my little sisters. I have no idea what to get them.”

“They haven’t told you?”

“No, and I don’t know why. I’m the favorite sister.”

Marcus smiled as she spoke. He wanted to reach for her hand, but held back. Not before he gave her the gift. They stopped in front of Kathryn’s classroom.

“Well, I have to get going. It was nice seeing you.”

“Wait.”

He reached for her. Kathryn’s hazel eyes widened.

“I wanted to give you something.”

“Meet me at the parking lot after school.”

Marcus let go of her arm and she sauntered into her class. As the door shut, Marcus grunted in frustration. He couldn’t believe he let his opportunity slip through his fingers. But he released his fury with a burst of air. He nodded at her words. After school. It was perfect.

The final bell rang. Marcus beamed in delight. He rushed to his locker and retrieved what books he needed for homework. He shut the door and Hannah appeared.

“Jesus, you scared me.”

“I’m sorry.”

Marcus reached in his pockets for the box. Hannah shot a doleful look to him.

“Listen, Marcus. I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Wait. You were all for it. What changed?”

“It’s just that I saw Kathryn…and…”

“What? She left?”

“No. I’m sure she’s at the parking lot. But she’s waiting…”

“Look, I gotta go. I’ll let you know how it turns out.”

He gave her a peck on her cheek and rushed out. The parking lot was on the back side of the school. Marcus ran as fast as he could, weaving his way through the student body. He saw Kathryn sitting on the hood of her car. Marcus brushed his shirt down and ran his hand across his short hair. He let out a breath and walked across the street until he saw Jesse Evans approach. He saw him pull something out of his pocket and Kathryn clasped her hands in shock. His body started to shake. She hopped, then leaped toward Jesse and they exchanged a long kiss. He shuddered as his destiny wrapped herself in her on-again boyfriend. He walked back across the street. His head lowered, he didn’t notice Hannah at the corner.

“Marcus. I’m…I’m sorry. I tried to tell you…”

But Marcus walked past her, his box still in hand. She followed him to the courtyard where he stopped in front of a trash can, still shaking. Hannah screamed as he raised his hand.

“Wait!”

The voluminous voice startled Marcus. He turned and saw Hannah sticking her hand out. She approached him and spread her arms out. Marcus didn’t understand why, but he approached her and she hugged him tight. His sobs turned to full-blown cries. She caressed him as he released his tears.

“It was supposed to be me. Not Jesse.”

“I know.”

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My Writing Christmas List

We’re thirty days away from Christmas. (Hard to believe.) And by this time, kids and adults are compiling their Christmas lists. So I am going to give you my list of things I want for Christmas. And if you didn’t guess by the title, everything will be writing-related. Now, this is only a wish list. I don’t expect to get any of these items. But if there’s anyone willing to gift me any of these items, “Thank You” will be in order.

In no particular order…

  • Apple iPhone X. Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. I debated, and still am, on whether it’s worth getting the iPhone X or the 8 Plus. Either will fulfill my wants for more memory and a bigger screen. And either will have multiple uses besides using them for my writing and note-taking. The biggest questions come to cost and use of features. Am I going to use all the features that the iPhone X is offering? Will I sacrifice having the latest, greatest phone for ease of use? And what about the price? Am I willing to sign my life away—not that I already am—to have a phone that will be good until the newest model is announced? On a couple of occasions, I thought I had a definitive answer. Not so much now. But I have some time before deciding.

  • Bluetooth headphones. I like listening to music when I’m writing or doing anything else like outdoor chores or working out at the gym. Wired earbuds are a pain and I don’t keep up with the cushions on wireless earbuds. So I think having headphones will be better for me. They’re more comfortable and most will allow you to answer phone calls. Beats are the go-to, but there are others that are as good and cost less. I’m open to anything.

  • Writing Craft Books. I’ll be the first to admit that I need help with the writing craft. I get that books can only get you so far, but any help is welcome. Now I can compose a list just on this item alone, but I’ll list the books that are the most sought after. On the top of my list is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Ever since I learned of its existence and reading about how it’s helped so many writers. I can’t imagine not benefiting me. Next is Stephen King’s On Writing. The quintessential guide to the creative process. I used to have this book, but I gave it away. I want it back.

  • Writing Prompt Books. Like the craft books, I can compile a list based on this item. I research a lot of prompts on Pinterest and subscribe to a newsletter that posts new prompts every week. But having a book will be a boon. Will I use them all? Maybe. Maybe not. But it will get me thinking outside the box.

  • Short Story Collections. I like reading short stories as much as I like writing them. And The Pushcart Prize and The Best American Short Stories are the best out there. There are others like the O. Henry anthology. And there are collections by various writers that are on my list. What makes these collections and anthologies so great is that while they cannot possess the depth of a novel due to its format, there’s the potential of reading memorable characters and awesome storytelling. And I want to learn from as many writers as possible so that I can create memorable stories of my own.

  • Subscriptions to Literary Magazines. It’s one thing to learn from the best writers in the world. It’s another to discover and read works from local writers, whether first-time or seasoned. Georgia has some great literary magazines, like New South and The Georgia Review. I want a subscription to either one and, like the nationwide anthologies, learn what makes their stories special.

  • Writing Space. This may sound like an odd item, but hear me out. I live in a small house that’s filled to the brim with family and it’s always busy. Even when I have the time to write, I’m writing in the kitchen most of the time. And I don’t have the privacy I want and frankly need to concentrate on writing. I just want an area that’s designated for me and my writing. Someplace where people know that when I’m there, I don’t want to be disturbed, even if it’s for thirty minutes. And I don’t care if it’s at a corner of the living room. I don’t care if it’s in the laundry room. I just want a space that’s mine where I can write in peace.

So, there you have it. My writing wish list. Will I get everything I want? Odds point to “no.” But a writer can dream.

What about you? What are you hoping for on your wish list? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…

Rest and Recharge

Hi again, you lovely writing people. This will be short, I promise. I just wanted to let you know that I am taking a little time to recharge and prepare for the upcoming year. Can’t believe it’s about three weeks away. I thought about writing a Christmas story, and I still might. For now, I’m putting it on the shelf. Continue reading “Rest and Recharge”

Waiting

Trent glanced at his watch. It read, “12:14.” His feet tapped the floor like a drummer. Trisha patted him on the shoulder and kissed his cheek.

“Don’t worry. We’ll make it in time.”

He titled his head at the line. It looked as if it could circle the mall three times over. He and Trisha and Ophelia were in the middle.

“I told you we should have left sooner.” Continue reading “Waiting”