Kate tromped through the bushes, in her wedding gown; at least she’d switched to her flats. The fist fight between her fiancé, and his best man, Jim, had her heart thumping fast. She ran to catch Evan as he disappeared into the pussy willows, into the Woods. The sun burnt her skin, and she swore as makeup and sweat melted in rivulets down her face.
She’d met Ev playing pick-up basketball with friends, walking her fiendish dog, Slash. He was a rescue dog, and Ev abhorred him. Slash won him over when Ev learnt that the accident-prone doxie was left to die by the side of a road — just as him. Both doxie and man had a roped scar down their torso.
Ev had studied law within the military, but had been called up for a tour in Afghanistan. A mine exploded, killing one of his squad and leaving Evan half-dead; his right side slick with blood and guts.
It was two-years since Kate met Ev in the park and nine-months since he proposed, but only six-months with therapy twice-a-week that lessened his nightmares of that insufferable day.
Kate’s lace dress tore as she shoved her train over her shoulder. Where was her made of honor, Rose? She couldn’t get out of her corset alone.
“Ev?” In the stillness of nature she searched. “Where are you? What happened with Jim?” No answer, but leaves crackled. “Ev, please. It’s our wedding.” Little trails of blood marked Kate’s skin as prickled branches scratched.
Kate blew out her breath; a long train and flats made hikes through the woods impossible. “Don’t do this to me, don’t ruin our day because of him. You’re out, and you’re finally getting over the horror — you and Slash. You’re working at you’re dad’s practice, and you’re why I haven’t been drinking these past two-months.”
Kate’s throat was raw, and she heard twigs snap as she neared Ev’s scuff-less shoes cast aside. The pussy willow fluff in the air made her sneeze. She wiped her nose and sniffled. Her allergies alone hadn’t caused her eyes to tinge red and her nose to drip. She rubbed her eyes and screamed. Tears leaked out of her eyes, a constant dripping faucet.
“Kate?” Finally, Ev stepped out from the woods, barefoot. Her handsome guy in a fitted suit. He’d thrown his jacket over his arm, and his sleeves were rolled. He held a beer to his blackened-eye.
“Ev, thank God. I’ve been yelling your name forever. There’s barely cell reception, and we’ve missed our ceremony. What happened with Jim?”
Ev grumbled and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t want to talk, not today.”
“He’s your best man.”
“Not anymore, Cameron’s in.” Kate sat beside Ev on a fallen tree.
It crackled as she sat, and tore at her lace skirt. “You ruined my dress, you know. My mother will never forgive me.”
Ev rubbed a hand over her cheek. “Your shoulders are sun-burnt and you’re face is red; you’ve raccoon eyes too.”
“How observant of you.”
He grimaced then pressed his lips twice against hers, back and forth. “I would’ve come back. I wouldn’t leave you. I told Cameron to say I needed two hours.”
“Well, Cameron wasn’t fast enough. I saw you leave and ditched my Kate Spade’s. While I searched for you I suffered terrible allergies. Now that you’re discovered, I’m mad at you, Ev.”
“I get that. I still don’t want to talk about Jim.”
Kate huffed. She pushed at Ev’s shoulders. He teetered, but didn’t fall. She shoved him until she was pounding at his chest and shoulders. Then Kate rushed Ev as if she were a linebacker. Ev didn’t fall or talk.
Instead, he sniggered, a hand holding his stomach. “You have to stop! My stomach hurts from holding in my laughter of your whimpiness. Stop running at me; you’re exhausted.”
Kate grabbed Ev’s tie and yanked. “You pick up my train and march us back to the ceremony. Don’t pull this shit on me today.”
Ev’s mouth hung open, and Kate closed it, peach nails digging into his chin. “Bella, luckily, will fix my makeup and hair and even has a little vacuum to get the thorns and twigs from my ruined dress. We’re getting married, screw Jim.”
“You don’t want to know what happened?”
“Not until tomorrow.”
“Shut it. There maybe no guests, but your dad surely knows a judge who can help us before tonight.”
“Listen Kate –”
“No, you listen.”
“He hurt me. When that landmine killed Jace, he pushed me too. Jim was scared, but he was also a trained soldier. I asked him straight out who pushed me three-years ago. Today, he chose to tell me it was him who left me to die; him who never returned for me until twenty-three hours later.”
“Selfish prick. I’d like to deal with that coward myself. I’m sorry, Ev. I would’ve wanted to tackle him too”
“I’d have forgiven him anything as long as he’d been honest. No guy we were with would’ve said a thing, and they didn’t. It wasn’t their fight. But, it’s two-years later and he’s lied all this time. I went through so much. I’m still going through it.”
Kate swore and grabbed her phone from her clutch. She texted Rose.
“What are you doing?” Ev’s grey-eyes were wide. His hand stopped her typing.
“I postponed things. We’ll get married at the hall tonight before the fesitivities. It will be a half-hour, not a whole service, thankfully. This time away’s more important.”
Ev nodded and she gawked as tears ran down his face. “I’ve never seen you cry. Not even in physiotherapy.”
He pulled her down next to him, and buried his face in her neck. A wet cooling sensation flowed onto her collar. She barely flinched when his tears stung her sunburned skin. He needed to get this out, and Kate didn’t want him to notice her pain. She embraced Ev, and didn’t move until he was done.
Eventually, he peered up. “How much time?” His voice rasped and his face was flushed.
“Until 5:30 p.m. Rose and Cameron have it arranged. Everyone saw what happened with Jim. They’ll understand.”
Ev pushed a hand through his chocolate hair and wiped his eyes. “My face is probably as red as yours.” Kate leaned against him and the rip of her skirt up her leg made them both wince.
Ev shrugged. “It’s okay, babe. We’ll deal with it. We’ll get through tonight, and everyday after that. You’re my new bestie, and Cameron’s been promoted too.” She smirked and entwined their fingers.
Her thumb brushed over his mouth and his hand wrapped around her head, as he laid it on her shoulder.
Ev played with her curls. “Now, I look like a homeless wood nymph. Your fingers aren’t helping my hair. Ev kissed her neck beneath her ear.
She rested her cheek against his hair, as he laughed. “I like your new look. The amount of leg where your dress ripped is also an improvement.”
Kate elbowed Ev and he sniggered. He placed his hands around her face. “Is it true I’m the reason you haven’t been drinking? Is it because -?” She nodded and Ev’s eyes twinkled. When he grinned and rocked her back and forth, she knew the wedding would turn out.
He placed his hand on her belly. “Let’s hope Slash isn’t the jealous type.”
Jewel studied herself in the mirror, envious of her sister, Luna, who prepared for the party behind her.
She sighed as she stared at the dress her mother bought her; it was child-like. Jewel peered at Luna and her white freckle-less complexion. Instead of having lustrous golden-hair, Jewel was cursed with her grandfather’s ginger mane and speckled skin. I’ll never be a counterweight to Luna or those mean girls in my class.
Luna had style, while Jewel’s clothes were drab. The outfits her mother insisted she wear wouldn’t qualify as trendy. Emilia, had no eye for colors that corresponded to her daughter’s skin tone and hair. All Jewel wanted was to dress as fashionably as other girls.
She believed she was thewless compared to Luna, who shoved her aside, acting playful. She twirled her red gown in front of the mirror, and Luna’s skirt revolved around her perfect hips.
Jewel frowned. She was jealous of her sister. The pressure of living up to Luna’s elegance, and thinking about her mother’s treatment made Jewel’s head spin and her lungs constrict. She gasped for air and her heart beat sped. Luna noticed Jewel’s breathing and rubbed her back.
She was the only person who knew how much Luna despised her own appearance. “What’s wrong, Sis? Having anxiety? Relax, it will be fine. I left the mean girls from your class off the guest list.” Jewels chest and and hands unclenched.
“I keep telling you, you’re sixteen and you’ll grow into your beauty soon. Don’t let mother’s expectations bother you or those *itches from school. When I was in your grade, mean girls hated me too.”
Jewel nodded as the rest of her body calmed. “You keep telling me that my awkward stage is finite. But, I’ve always been gangly and plain.”
Luna smirked and grabbed Jewel’s hand as they sat on the bed. “No, you were a cute kid. Everyone thought so, and you’ll be a beautiful woman soon. You’re a late bloomer. Soon you’ll have boobs that rival those *itches in your class. Guys have a thing for red-heads, you know.”
“Mine’s ginger, not red.”
Luna squeezed her hand. “You’re beautiful as you’re are now. But I can’t make you see that. You have to believe that inside.” Jewel closed her eyes. She wished Luna’s words were true.
“You can’t keep postponing all of father’s parties or he’ll get mad again. One day you’ll believe you’re as gorgeous as I think you are. None of the women in our family are ugly or plain.”
Jewel shrugged. “I’m not ready, yet. Tell dad I’ll be fifteen minutes.” Luna hurried towards her door then halted.
She turned around and clasped her hands. “Jewel, wear one of my dresses. I have one that would be gorgeous on you. It’s not as trendy as the one you have, but the emerald green will highlight your hair and complexion well; your svelte figure too.”
Luna grinned and nodded. “I’ll talk to mom about letting me shop with you. Then, you and I can choose the clothes you like to wear. Mom can’t dress you like a twelve-year old forever.”
Jewel scrambled to Luna’s closet. She yanked out the emerald dress. “This one?”
“You bet. I always thought the color suited you better. You’ve got deasil, Jewel. Many excellent qualities on the outside and on the inside too; don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.”
Luna left and Jewel tore off her muted gown and slipped on the emerald silk dress. She zipped it up and was shocked to discover the shade made her skin glow. It complemented her hair too.
Her shoulders were bared and ruching at her chest enhanced Jewel’s cleavage. A bow on the gown sat above her bottom. To her delight, the dress was tight and ended mid-thigh.
Jewel grinned and borrowed a pair of her sisters heels. She flounced down the stairs. For once, was excited to attend one of her father’s parties. She couldn’t wait to see the expression on her mother’s face.
“Alice, is that you? Well, what door will you enter, the red door or the blue? The up or the down; it doesn’t matter you know, both are the same.” She fluffed her pony tale and straightened the lapels of her sky-blue blazer.
“Can’t Wonderland find another Alice? It’s a common name, you know. Just because my grandmother was, and my mother was, and somehow great-Grandpa Wren’s magical blood flows in my veins along with the first, Alice — doesn’t mean I have to follow in their footsteps. I left that world. I chose to leave. Why won’t you let me be?”
A grin appeared between the doors. “Dear girl, it’s you who can’t forget us; you found the doors home. That’s why you’re our guardian, but you as any Alice, must choose your path. Thus, you have before you two doors. Which door, dear Alice? You do have to decide. Time won’t wait.”
Alice trembled, and without thinking her hand turned the knob on the red door. Then, she was falling as the Cheshire cat laughed and Destiny caught up with Alice.
She’d tried to disappear, to become another young woman. But as her predecessors, including her dear mother, she was a guardian of Wonderland. The land of magic wouldn’t have it another way. She fell, and when she woke up, she sighed as brilliant flowers hovered over her whispering.
They beamed at her, brimming with questions. “Oh, Alice is it true? Have you come home. You’re the new guardian now, and your mother been waiting; her time is at an end. Five-hundred years is a long time not too see one’s daughter. Your time to serve has come. The white queen has decreed, as do your grandfather Wren’s people.”
Alice blew her hair from her face. “What’s the point of free will if your choices all lead you back to one path?”
The flowers shrugged. “Tulips and Marigolds don’t think of such things; we simply are.”
Welcome to another Writer/Blogger Interview with Micahel Grogan of Morpethroad: Random, Meaningful, Words. Please check out his wonderful blog. As a writer, Michael is versatile and has a wicked sense of humor. I’ve blogged with him a number of years. You can also find him on the site: Mind Loves Misery’s Menagerie where he hosts a writing prompt or two each week.
1. Michael, Please Tell Us About Yourself? What is it Like Where You Live?
I live in a beautiful part of the world. The Hunter Valley is a rich and diverse region with farming and coal mining being the predominant industries. I also live on the edge of a floodplain, and behind my house is a rich farming area where once-market crops such as potatoes, cabbage, and watermelons. But nowadays, it’s used for feed crops and the raising of some beef cattle.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I worked for 39-years as a teacher of Drama and English, and during that time wrote a lot of pieces to help my students. In particular, in the 1990’s with the introduction of drama into the school curriculum, I wrote material for my students, and at one time, produced a book of performance pieces.
As a teacher, I liked to provide my students with opportunities to perform. I wrote four musicals, the first one was basic and I’d like to think my musicals improved from there.
2. When Did You Begin Blogging and Writing Outside of Teaching? What Has Blogging Taught You?
By the time I retired I had started to blog. Initially, blogging was a place to release my writing. While blogging I discovered the opportunity to write and write in a more ordered way. I learned to address prompts on a daily basis to explore my creativity. The creative side of writing is what I love.
I don’t write for profit or anything like that. I’m not all interested in publishing, but I enjoy exploring the writing process. I’ve become engrossed in the process of ‘story.’ I produce the best effort I can. Then, I put it on my blog and link it to the prompt (or another blog), if necessary, and I move on to the next exercise (prompt).
So, I guess I’d say I write predominantly for me. If others enjoy what I write, then great. The other lesson I have learned from blogging is that your audience fluctuates. You might have 500 followers, but only 10 might on any regular basis read and comment on your work.
“I don’t write for profit or anything like that. I’m not all interested in publishing, but I enjoy exploring the writing process. I’ve become engrossed in the process of ‘story.’ I produce the best effort I can. Then, I put it on my blog . . .” Michael Grogan
3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging, and Why?
My blogging began in about 2012. At the time there was an Australian blog site and I posted my work there. The only issue for me was that I was the only one there. An occasional reader might come by, but I was looking for a wider audience and that brought me to WordPress.
WordPress provided access many wonderful writers and a whole new world of writing opportunities. I was so blown away by other people’s comments on my work, and I thought it was so rare that anyone would like what I was writing, that I used to cut and save the comments. I don’t anymore.
3. What Do You Enjoy Writing About On Your Blog?
Initially, I used my blog as a place to post work exploring sexuality. Summer and Tommy were two characters I invented to do that. After a time, I ‘got over’ that phase of my life and moved onto other writing.
If you read my blog you’ll find I write a lot of character-based material. I enjoy ‘character’ and so characters such as Miss Marble, Cyril Rum, and Wayne and Greg, have allowed me the license to explore and develop these characters and others.
To me, ‘character’ gives substance. My characters are never perfect — they have flaws, but they also have a sense of humor. That sense of humor allows me to comment on society, to explore satire, and for my characters to develop. I don’t pretend to make them politically correct.
For example, I know my Wayne and Greg stories about the angels from Heaven and Hell do ruffle a few feathers, but I think writing can and should do that. It should make us think about what we are on about. I think people take themselves far too seriously at times. Sometimes its good to stand back and have a good laugh at our behaviors and beliefs.
“If you read my blog you’ll find I write a lot of character-based material. I enjoy ‘character’ and so characters such as Miss Marble, Cyril Rum, and Wayne and Greg, have allowed me the license to explore and develop these characters and others.” – Michael Grogan
4. What Else Does Blogging Mean To You? Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation for Blogging?
Well, blogging to me is about exploring ideas in the form of a story. Also, when I started blogging a good friend said to me, that ‘my blog was mine, and that what I wrote was what I thought.’ He said ‘I shouldn’t get caught up in what other people might think.’ So in a nutshell, what blogging means to me is to be able to express myself, and be pleased with what I write.
For me, inspiration comes from the writing prompts I receive most days, from different blogging sites. I don’t do them all regularly. I pick and choose the prompts I like. Most prompts that I write trigger a memory or situation from my past, sometimes from what I have read or seen.
Sometimes it takes me a day or two to get a story going in my head before I write it. For me, the story has to work and if it doesn’t I stop, go away, and do something else such as mowing the lawn.
I see if when I go back to it I can make more sense of it. If not I don’t believe in twisting myself every which way to write something but, rather, it’s best to let it go and move on to the next challenge.
In many ways, writing is a puzzle. Whatever the prompt, I find it a challenge to match my ability to its demands. Like anything in life, some days you succeed some days you don’t.
5. Where Else Do You Find Writing Inspiration? What Don’t You Enjoy About Certain Writing Prompts?
I’ve never liked prompts that involve competition. I avoid them. I don’t like the notion of feeling under threat by imposed rules. I like the freedom to write what I like to write. I once entered a Short Story competition and was so disappointed I didn’t rate a mention when I realized after reading the rules, I had broken most of them.
Also, the people and places around you provide such wonderful inspiration. You meet wonderful people in blog-land. I find I’m in daily contact with great writers, amazing people from who I draw inspiration. In particular, the people I’ve met who have been so brave in writing their memoirs. For many of them, their lives have been the subject of abuse; I find them inspirational. My life in comparison has been dull.
However, my blogging practice is significant as it affords me the chance to exercise my brain and do what I love, writing about ‘character.’On occasion, I dabble in a bit of poetry
“You meet wonderful people in blog-land. I find I’m in daily contact with great writers, amazing people from who I draw inspiration. In particular, the people I’ve met who have been so brave in writing their memoirs. For many of them, their lives have been the subject of abuse; I find them inspirational.” – Michael Grogan
6. Do You Have Any Writing Habits, A Particular Time of Day You Enjoy Writing Most?
I tend to find I write best in the mornings. It’s 5:00 a.m. now. Here I am tapping away answering questions. If something inspiring pops up in the evenings that I have a ready response for, then I write before my idea disappears.
I’ve discovered another dimension to writing, and that is the reader’s response. If I can write something you find entertaining, that gives you a laugh, and you say so — that’s great feedback. Comments are a source of encouragement and I try when I comment, to encourage people to write because I know it’s not always easy. We should encourage and support each others writing where we can.
There’s also the aspect of learning something new. In particular, reading other peoples responses is a learning experience. We are never too old to learn.
7. Do You Have Any Current Writing Projects? Have You Published Any Recent Writing? Can You Describe Your Writing Process?
I don’t have any writing projects apart from the family tree document I am working on. I tend to use my blog to respond to the prompts I feel I can do. I was also recently published in the d’verse anthology, and that was a thrill to be included. But I don’t write with the intention to publish.
I usually look at a prompt I’m attracted to and let it sit for a while. Sometimes I have nothing, initially, and then at some point, an idea germinates in my mind and I go from there. The ideas might be from things I’ve read or seen, and I’m able to put my slant on them.
My first draft will be all the ideas I can think of, and then I go back and edit. In the case of word-limited prompt, I write everything and then edit by asking myself, ‘Will the piece stand up if I take this word or sentence or paragraph out?” Usually, when I remove words or sections these prompts work better.
8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Genre? Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Beginner Writers and Bloggers?
I like to try my hand at all sorts of things. Fantasy is good as I often feel there are not as many strict rules or conventions to follow. I’ve tried my hand at writing horror stories, but I don’t have any compulsion to read them. As I said earlier, I do like writing character pieces the most.
Helpful advice: You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Do you like writing, and who might your audience be? Your blog should also be for you. You don’t have to answer to anyone; you write what you like writing about. Also, don’t be disappointed if you receive few, if any, comments when you start.
As well, flash fiction prompts are a useful way to attract followers as they often have huge numbers of blogger submitting stories. Don’t blog as a way to make money; you’ll be disappointed. I imagine few bloggers make any money from their blog. Once you start seeing other bloggers are following you, its normal for a few of them to comment. But don’t expect others to comment on a regular basis.
Its also a blogging fact, the piece you write that you consider brilliant and a work of literary merit, may not receive any or many comments. Why? I don’t know. Most bloggers also have a short attention span and so blog posts over a thousand words won’t be read as much. It’s why 100-word flash fiction is so popular.
Lastly, be prepared to read other people’s blogs with the intention of learning something from them. There are many amazing writers out there.
9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us? Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs or Reasons You Follow Certain Bloggers?
If writing doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then you aren’t doing it right. You need to stop and evaluate what and why you are doing what you do. We all do it differently and whatever process works for you is a good guide. That people read and comment favorably is proof you are doing something right.
Favorite bloggers: I found this a good question in that it reminded me that during my blogging years, people I admired have disappeared for one reason or another. It has always been sad to read of the death of a favored blogger. Some of my favorite blogs are from people who rarely blog nowadays. Some bloggers develop a unique style and voice, and I like their approach to what they write, so I keep wanting to read more.
“You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Do you like writing, and who might your audience be? Your blog should also be for you. You don’t have to answer to anyone; you write what you like writing about.” -Michael Grogan
10. Can You Please Share With Us A Few Links from Your Blog?
Having written a number of posts about Miss Marble, the Witch on Grimace Street, here is a link to one that says something about her origins:
Last week’s Tale Weaver was a piece I wrote about Miss Marble and the aliens. In the end, I mentioned galactic dust and following some queries as to what the dust is, I have written the following, which may shed some light on where Miss Marble has come from, what Marble Juice is, and the significance of the galactic dust. Here is the link to that post: HERE!!
The Klator people had been visiting the earth for many millennia sourcing jupjup berries. They came to earth every two years as part of their orbit through the universe. In the beginning, there had been several spaceships arrive. The earth had the perfect climate for the jupjup berry and they were plentiful. For the Klator the berries provided sustenance. Their home planet was now uninhabitable and they were forced to live a nomadic life.
Their stopovers on earth were about harvesting and preserving as many berries as they could. With each visit, they became aware of climatic changes on the earth. They looked for new locations to plant seeds in the hope that by the time they returned the berries would be in fruit.
As time wore on, the places the berries would grow diminished for a variety of reasons. The climate did change, some years were poorer than others in terms of rainfall, heat, and cold. As the human population spread they took over fertile lands previously planted with the jupjup berry. To the humans, the jupjup berry was nothing more than an inedible pest and they destroyed as much as they could.
By the time of the middle ages, with the human population spreading and growing in numbers, the habitat of the jupjup berry diminished. Farms were expanding due to the need for more produce to feed the growing population.
This was a problem for the Klator. The issue of not being able to source the berries was looming closer and closer.
When they landed they avoided all contact with the humans. They saw the humans as a dirty, disgusting race content to live in their own squalor and offering little to the Klators.
One day, they happened upon a young woman gathering herbs in the forest near where they were harvesting jupjup berries. Curious that this young lady should be gathering herbs in that particular part of the forest they watched her.
The young lady lived in a small house in a street that was long and stretched away from the main town. She had inherited the house from her mother who had passed on her practice to her daughter. They were known in those times as witches as they dealt in all sorts of potions and medicines. Most of the townsfolk feared them especially when they had cures that actually worked. Many of these women had suffered the fate of the dunking stool. In many people’s eyes, it was only a matter of time before this young lady suffered the same fate.
The Klator were curious in discovering the young lady had a keen interest in chemistry. She was keen to find out the properties of the herbs she used.
Sensing an opportunity, the Klator decided to engage with the young lady. Discovery they knew was a huge risk. There had been ugly exchanges in the past and they went out of their way to avoid any reoccurrences.
In the middle of the night, they paid the young lady a visit. Startled at first, the young lady found she had not much choice but listen to the tale the Klator told. Mention of the jupjup berry enthralled her. She knew of the berry and knew most people considered it a pest and tore it out at every opportunity. The Klator asked her to look at the berry and see if there was a way the berry’s secret ingredient might be made.
The young lady looked at the berries offered to her and said she would see what she could discover. For several weeks she toiled at her task before discovering an alcohol the berries contained. This explained the berry’s bitter unpalatable taste.
Knowing a little about alcohol she worked to discover its chemical composition.
It wasn’t long before she discovered a sure way to produce it and in liquid form as well. She presented it to the Klator who, upon tasting it, declared it was ideal for their purposes.
They requested she make enough for the two years they would be away. With due diligence, she carried out the task producing several barrels.
The Klator asked her name were told she was called Marble.
Marble didn’t think of them again as the next two years were a time of survival for her. Times were tough, there was much sickness and the plague was ravaging the country when the Kaltor returned. Seeing them at her door heightened her already high levels of anxiety. Right at that moment, she didn’t need more pressure. The community was whispering witchcraft as she struggled to produce the medicine she hoped would cure the townsfolk.
The Klator had returned with the barrels from the previous visit empty. They asked her to fill them again and what was the name of the substance she made. She mumbled “Marble Juice” for the want of a better name and thought about the manufacture of the liquid for the Klator. It would take her a week to create enough to fill the barrels but in that time her own well-being might come under fire. The plague was not abating, the demand for her medicine was increasing. She explained all this to the Klator who were sympathetic to her cause.
They said they would give her an extra week to help her meet their needs and those of her community.
When they returned they noticed how much Marble had aged. She had not slept well, she worked long hours and the toll was showing.
With their barrels full they were grateful for what Marble did for them and so they gave her a bag of galactic dust. Their instructions were to mix a tablespoon of the dust in a pot of water and drink a half cup each day. Their message was it would give her energy.
Marble did take as they advised and found she did have more energy and could work longer. Before long Marble realized the drink she was taking each day was giving her more than energy. She noticed around her friends and family were growing older. She could not see the same deterioration occurring in herself.
Every two years the Klator returned. They brought Marble a bag of dust and collected their Marble Juice.
As time progressed Marble found people began to build houses along the road past her house. Over the years the area became known as ‘grimace.’ It was what the workers did as they walked past her house, grimaced as if fearful of giving cause to attract Marble’s attention. There were rumors she was not only a witch but a very powerful one. It was just a matter of time before Grimace Street became its official name.
The only friend Marble had in the world was her faithful hound, Sal. (Short for Salivate) She shared her half cup of life elixir with Sal each morning.
As the years went by Grimace Street grew around Marble. Neighbors came and went and Marble became known as Miss Marble.
The galactic dust she knew was invaluable. In the modern age with space exploration expanding and the search for extra-terrestrials ever increasing she knew that should any of the so-called ‘experts’ find out what she had, there would be no stopping them in getting their hands on the invaluable dust. So the arrival of the Klator was always at night, in secret and the galactic dust always locked away.
A Few More of Michael’s Blog Links!!
I started another lot of tales about an angel on sabbatical called Cyril Rum who started from this story: Burning Angelby Michael Grogan
Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to fill out the interview questions, especially, at 5:00 a.m. I apologize the Interview took so long for me to post. For those of you waiting for your interview, they’re coming! Thanks again and see you next time!
The ‘peacocks’ in our lives are brilliant orbs of light attracting everyone; they’ve clarified my life. I had wanted a tattoo forever, and when I my skin was inked, my largest peacock feather symbolized Evelyn’s presence, the smaller Kyria’s. They both spring from a Gerbera-daisy, on my tattoo, my home and myself.
Evelyn grew up on a farm during the 1930’s. Her only child to survive is my, Godfather. She had a love for stream-lined vintage cars and rebuilt one she drove. She was a skilled mechanic during WWII. Also, a single-mom who supported her son working at the Woodward’s Department Store from the 1950’s onwards. Before she retired, she oversaw much of the store’s finances.
Once, when her eldest grandson visited he counted her shoes.”Grandma, you’ve forty pairs of shoes. Did you knows that?”They were her indulgence. She strived for them, for all the treasures in her house. She had a carved record player of solid wood; no veneer allowed. She bought a pipe organ and piano. Up until the day before she died, she was a pianoist at her retirement home; all the songs she memorized.
Evelyn gardened and did laundry until ninety-six. “Every morning I wake up with purpose. I do something. Everyone else has died, but I awake with determination. I’ve had such grief, but the Lord tells me, ‘Keep going.’”
Her life lived in the crevices of her face, in her smile. After two husbands, she refused to marry Sam. “I’ve decided, I’m not made for marriage” She was in her mid-eighties.
Evelyn had an innate stubbornness in a post-war world where men of the 1950’s and 1960’s put women in ‘their place.’ Whether her opinions were ‘correct’ or not ‘politically correct,’ I had tears streaming from my eyes; my ribs ached during our visits.
Visiting her house, I brought my brothers. There was too much food, and my waistline was dependant on them coming with me. One helping was not enough for Evelyn. We inhaled her chicken soup and lasagna. Her trifle with ripe strawberries and her uncooked pie’s with sweet blue-berries, both topped with ‘full-fat’ whipping cream. Evelyn had gumption, despite everything life threw at her. She was both splendid and horribly flawed.
Her tattooed feather on my skin reminds me not to forget my dreams. Because of her, I’ve a purpose each day. I learned her secret to survive the worst ones, even with poor health.
Moreover, the smaller peacock feather on my tattoo’s for Kyria.* She adores peacocks; they were her wedding theme. Kyria fought to have her cancer identified. She was twenty-nine with a baby, as her undiagnosed cancer fed on her excess hormones.
She’s seen many doctors. “There is no way a girl your age has cancer. It will go away.” Then, after several second opinions. “The lump on your breast is due to pregnancy because you’re breastfeeding.” Then, “Your swollen lymphnoids under your arm, are a condition that occurs with breastfeeding.” She couldn’t feed her son; her pain was so intense from tumors.
Kyria’s naturopath diagnosed her cancer. “Demand that your doctor give you more tests. You should’ve been diagnosed a year ago.” Her diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer occurred in summer 2015.
She remains resilient. She is the prized-fighter who keeps rising after three-years of treatments. She faces her mortality each time she has scans on her organs, her bones, and her blood. Kyria attended a Clinic in Mexico, receiving a reduced ‘natural’ form of chemo, first. This treatment lengthened her life, her time with her husband, and her son. She’s survived two rounds of full-strength chemo. This April she must endure a third.
Each day she visits her naturopath for IV-treatments, along with various other doctors. She struggles but isn’t afraid to die. Her charisma draws all kinds of people as she shares her cancer journey. She’s a talented business-woman, writer, and her creative-thinking amazes me. Kyria’s gained empathy only ‘the permanently sick,’ know.
Like me, she has days of terrible fatigue, but Kyria’s also the mom of toddler. She has had more pills, vitamins, IV’s, hormones, and needles than I’ve imagined ‘healing’ consists of.
She was so proud last summer. “My hair’s growing back. I can have a pixie cut.” Kyria’s gorgeous in a way most women and cancer patients aren’t. She’s was beautiful before her disease, and beautiful despite it.
The peacocks in my life, are and have been magnificent. But peacock or Gerber-daisy, no person knows how long they have to live. So, when some days are difficult, or I’ve an impossible goal, my hand grazes my tattoo.
We don’t realize it, but to someone somewhere, we are a spark. We all have immeasurable potential. Don’t forget to use it, and keep struggling. Brilliant feather or hidden flower; endure no matter your brightness.
Here’s another piece from my writing course, edited from the original.
Credit: Greg Raines via Unsplash
Jordan revs his motorcycle for the third time. He drops his helmet, running fingers through his hair. His motorcycles’ roar and grumble soothe him, as he taps his fingers against the handles, waiting for Jessica to hurry up and get her ass out the door.
The door slams and Jessica fumbles her keys, locking the front door. He rolls his eyes as she teeters down the sidewalk in red stilettos.
“You’re so stupid, Jessica. You need to wear descent boots on a motorcycle, or those heels are gonna grind off on the road.”
She punches his arm. “Screw off. I can wear what I want. Mom said you have to give me a ride to class on Thursdays, for as long as you’re living at home again.” Jessica eases a helmet over her hair. “I hate wearing helmets on this thing; it ruins my hair.”
Jordan plunks his on, revving the motorcycle to drown Jessica’s whining. He slips on leather gloves and zips down the street, off onto the freeway and towards his sister’s university.
She’s still talking to him, but he can’t hear her. He grins as her shrill voice fades. Despite her shouting and poking his side, he makes the ride to her school as jerky and frightening as possible.
At the university’s fine arts building, he pulls into a tight parking space, removing his helmet. Jessica takes hers off, hair flying from static. She scoffs.
He peers back at his dyed-blonde dunce of a sister. “You need to wear a helmet, Jessica, because I drive fast. Your head could crack open like a watermelon.”
She screws up her face, prepared to yell, but he cuts her off. “I have a job I need to be back for on time. I can run out and pick you up, but you need be ready, Fluffs.”
She attempts to smack him, but he catches her hand. “I wouldn’t if I were you. If you still want rides, keep your hands to yourself. You can do your makeup and hair at school too.”
Jessica hops off the motor cycle, placing her hand on his shoulder, digging her almond pointed fingernails into the base of his neck. Jordan swears as she balances on her stilettos.
“Don’t call me Fluffs, *sshole. I hate that nickname.”
“I’ll call you what I want. Fluff is all your heads made out of and why you’re getting a BA in Fine Arts, not a useful degree.” He throws his sister’s Kate Spade at her.
Surprising him, she catches it. “I’m an artist. Stop being such a prick, Jordan. It’s what I’m good at. My brain has more creative juice than yours will ever have.”
She pushes him hard, and his motorcycle tips. He catches it. “Grow up, Fluffs.”
It wouldn’t surprise him if she fell over and cracked her skull from wearing those whore-red stilettos. Shaking his head, Jordan speeds to work.
His divorce was through, and he needed to find a new place. Jordan was tired of dealing with Jessica. Like his ex-wife, she was a spoiled princess.
Here’s another piece from my course, edited of course.
Credit: Paul Paul @ProdigyPaul via Unsplash.
Eugene steps onto the plane as his stomach summersaults. In Eugene’s seat, fellow author Jerry Norman, reclines.
“I need the legroom, let an old man have the aisle.”
Eugen shakes his head ‘no.’ He stows his carry on and sits. “Thanks a million for not making this difficult, Jerry. The aisle seats are quicker to leave from when the plane lands.” Eugene winks.
Jerry’s eyes narrow. “I’d watch it if I were you. I don’t like you sassing me.”
Eugene grins, then his stomach flips. The plane’s wheels come off the runway, and he buries his face in his hands. He swears under his breath between prayers until the plane achieves flying altitude.
Jerry laughs, “Think you’re some tough guy, eh? You take an old man’s seat than can’t handle take off?”
Eugene rolls his eyes. He notes Jerry’s red face with sweat gleaming. His hands are fisted tight around the armrests. “I don’t think you’re such a flier yourself. You’re a bit of bullshitter, aren’t you, Jerry?”
“That’s neither here nor there, Eugene. I’ve ridden on a plane that’s nearly crashed. Stop being such an asshole. I’m not a bad guy.”
Eugene snorts. He removes his iPad from the seat pocket and closes his eyes to the latest Avengers movie. When he awakes, screams of terror resonate. His stomach lurches as the plane nose dives, rattling, bumping up, and down as the left engine sputters.
Eugene believes he’s having a nightmare. He blinks, and everything around him occurs in slow-motion. The breathing masks tumble down, and Eugene gulps in oxygen at a slow even pace.
Beside him, Jerry has knocked his head on the window and passed-out. Despite Eugene’s dislike for him, he stretches as far as he can. He displaces his oxygen mask for a moment, and attaches Jerry’s. Then, he does the only thing he can think of doing, he smacks Jerry across the cheek to wake him.
“Jerry, come on. Your head’s bleeding, and you can’t sleep until you see a doctor.” He watches Jerry’s pupils dilate as he sucks in deep breaths of oxygen. Eugene’s numbness permits him to remain calm as the plane alters from a nose dive to a straight position above a grassy field. The landing is rough and jars everyone. At the end, Jerry catch’s his eye. Both mean realize the plane nearly crashed.
Eugene’s numbness fades as his nails dig blood-filled crescents into his palms. When they leave the plane and slide into a verdant feel, he turns to Jerry. “Stay awake, we need to find you an ambulance before you fall down right here.” The other author leans against Eugene, as he supports him. They find a paramedic who checks them both over for injuries.
Eugene thinks of the million dollars he could’ve had for arriving early to the writer’s conference both and he Jerry were attending.
“All that money wasn’t worth this.” Jerry fumbles over his words, but Eugene knows they are the absolute truth. He nods at Jerry lying in a stretcher in an ambulance waiting to leave for the hospital.
“I’ll come with you, Jerry, might as well. Someone has to call your family and let them know what happened.” Jerry makes a noise, Eugene assumes is agreement.
He closes his eyes for a moment. One million dollars.
“I tried, but I don’t love you. I hate hurting you. I’m sorry I cheated.”
“Are you? How do you switch your emotions off like that? Like a light-switch?” Jen’s voice was shrill.
Michael met her eyes but refused to answer. She stumbled into the living-room deaf to his begging. The back door slammed and his admissions ravaged her heart. These new wounds bled, sucking the life from her body. He’d hung her out to dry.
Dizziness overcame her and Jen lay on the couch, head buried in a pillow. She tried to absorb her ex-fiancés words, but her stomach was queasy and a strange ache grew inside her. It clenched and tightened, a fist squeezing her heart. Michael’s insidious behavior, shocked her. Her thoughts circled and her conscience hammered until she couldn’t stop them from revealing missed clues.
Jen was overcome with a sense of hollowness. Tears stung, traveling down the plains of her face as she peered into the fireplace mirror eyes flared-red, swollen with flat-gray irises; she felt emotionless and weary. There would be no more sunrises in life, not now, not ever.
Her heart ached, and the tangible throbbing pulsed and amplified until she couldn’t hide. Sobs wracked Jen’s body. She shivered, even when she pulled over a thick throw. Michael’s festering splinter of betrayal infected her heart and savaged her; nothing could ease Jen’s suffering.
Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the February 11th, 2018 Edition of SPF. This is a bit of a longer piece. Written for a writer’s course, around 500 Words as opposed to 200 Words or less. I cleaned it up and changed the original a bit.
Credit: J. Carol Hardy
Charlene twists her hair. The potent drink on the bar is her fifth tequila shot in an hour. The hazy, dreamlike atmosphere in the crowded town bar confuses her. Most of the crowd puff away, smoke lingering in the air, twisting above her, a toxic dragon of cigarette stench.
An attractive singer who isn’t local, belts out tunes while strumming his guitar. His catchy music has Charlene humming, her fingers tapping to the rhythm.
When he plays a soft song, the crowd boos. Some men throw beer bottles that smash and scatter glass against the small stage’s back wall. The singer peers around the room, his eyes darting back and forth. A bouncer drags away one of the offenders and the singer resumes his music, belting out cheerful tunes once more.
Charlene chuckles. As per usual, the town bar echoes with boisterous laughter and harmless drunks telling tale tales. Then, the creep beside her, pokes her arm. “Drink it, drink the shot.”
She peers up at him and his putrid breath makes her sick. “I don’t want it. Go away.” He leers and Charlene shivers.
She turns, stumbles towards the cracked vinyl booth where her coat and purse lay. Grabbing them she fumbles, zipping up her coat. The creep follows her and pinches her chin, trying to pour the shot into her mouth.
Warm tequila dribbles from her lips, acrid as she chokes. “No more, I don’t want anymore.” She cuts off his words, the poison of the creep’s lizard-tongue. “I’m going home — alone.”
Charlene teeters, leaning against the worn bar. She presses her hands against the humid backs of people waiting to buy more drinks. In open places, she leans on the bar, tracing it’s antique carvings, the dents on its worn surface. Jerry, one of the bartenders, slides her a glass of water. She nods at him, and swallows, her throat aching.
Past the bar, Charlene leans against a lone stool at a table. The stool wobbles on splintering legs. She grits her teeth, than sucks out a sliver of wood from her thumb. A gift from the table top.
Head spinning, Charlene lands in the quiet of the shuffleboard area, dizzy against the table. She presses her phone, fingers clumsy as she sends for an Uber. She downs more water from her purse. With some clarity, she wanders through sweat-soaked bodies towards the main door.
In the chill of the night, the creep is somehow beside her, waiting to follow her into her Uber. She ignores him, hobbling to a bouncer. “He’s following me, make him go away. He put something in my drink.”
The lie slips out; she doesn’t care. The creep who bought her five shots scares her. The bouncer’s blue eyes bulge. “No problem, Miss. I’ll ensure you get into the Uber alone.”
The bouncer offers the creep free beer to go back inside, and Charlene shivers, the wind biting at her face as flurries fly. She falls asleep inside the Uber, and the driver helps her into her apartment on the third floor. He takes the key from her hand and unlocks her door as she offers him a scrunched five-dollar bill.
“It’s fine. I don’t need help.”
The driver shakes his head. “That man you were running from, he’s bad. He has a different woman drunk each weekend night; he drugs many of them. The bouncer’s my friend, and he made sure you got into my Uber. We’re trying to catch him, but this a**holes too experienced to leave much evidence.”
The fact that the creep could’ve drugged her for ‘real’ makes Charlene ill. She rushes to the kitchen sink, throwing up multiple times.
The Uber driver ‘Ahems’ behind her. “I’m going now. Will you be okay?’
She nods. “Thank God, you’re a good man.”
“Stop accepting drinks from weird strangers. Don’t lead guys like him on. You have to think before you accept more than one drink; especially, in a small town like ours.”
Charlene nods, collapsing on the floor. She knows she’s asleep, but a sharp tempo beats against her temples. She’s half-awake, restless, afraid of the nightmares seeping in; the creep’s leering grin and eyes of a predator.
For November Notes Day 28, the song Prompt is “Into the Night” by Beacon. I’m using the the same song title, but by Santana and Chad Krueger, different musicians.
Credit: Patrick Kool
“Into the Night” by Santana and Chad Krueger
The pub was overheated and dim but Sam’s blood felt alive with promise as he sipped his third Corona at the bar. A slim woman wearing red silk floated onto the dance floor and he was struck still. The dancer was gorgeous. A gift from the Heavens.
Sam’s dark eyes held the beautiful dancers blue-green ones and he instantly knew how she felt about him from the widening of her eyes, the simmering gaze held between them. Even as she positioned herself to dance, the woman glanced at him. Then, closing her eyes she whirled, her footwork effortless, and her dancing lively, a dervish to a fast-paced song.
When Sam wasn’t looking, she grabbed his hand insisting he dance with her, entrancing him as she brushed against him with each complicated step. It was three songs before he realized every soul in the room had been keeping time with them, clapping their hands. Sam wasn’t a talented dancer by any means, but the woman in his arms, made his stumbling appear sensuous.
Her long golden hair flew about them unbound as they spun around in circles, the moon gleaming down from windows near the dance floor. Sam spun the woman one last time, lifting her body against him, before the tenth song ended.
“What’s your name?”
“I’ve never meant a woman as beautiful as you dancing, Manon.”
“Thank you, but I think that’s an overused pick-up line on me, ” she laughed winking at him. “What’s your name?”
“My friends call me Sam.”
Manon smiled. “I’m glad to be your friend, Sam.”
They continued dancing at a slower pace, finally, noticing the couples and groups of friends on the dance floor beside them.
She snuggled her head into the crook of his neck. “It’s easy to lose track of time, dancing through the night, singing along with you to the music.”
Sam grinned, “I don’t sing much, but I know the words to the songs.”
Manon brushed her hair back from her smooth face perspiring. After a couple of more songs, she stopped dancing for a a few minutes. Sam left, retrieving some vodka-water limes for them both.
Manon took an indulgent sip and grinned. “You say you know the right words to these songs, but do you know the right words to ask me, next?”
She put down her empty drink and looped her arms around Sam’s neck. They swayed slowly, no room between their bodies but her silk dress and his button down.
Sam inhaled Manon’s jasmine perfume. “I know what I’d like to ask you, Manon. What I’d ask any beautiful woman in my arms, but you’re not just any beautiful woman.”
“You’re saying the right words so far.”
He laughed, “What I was thinking was that maybe I could take you for an early breakfast and we could talk. Then, I could drive you home and you could give me your phone number. After, we could go on date number two in a day or so.”
” I’d love that, Sam. I’m a little surprised you didn’t ask to take me home and stay.”
“Would you have said, yes?”
Manon blushed, ” I’ll never tell,” but Sam knew the truth.
“I want to get to know you, Manon, and this kind of knowing takes more than one night; it’s old-fashioned, I guess.”
Manon’s smile was radiant. “Old-fashioned is new for me. Few men have ever wanted to actually know me or have taken the time before we even, you know.”
Sam chuckled and kissed her knuckles. “Old-fashioned is new for me too and it was there loss, just so you know.
Manon slipped her arm through Sam’s and they strolled off the dance floor laughing about what they both craved for breakfast.