Headed Toward Complexity


It’s truly amazing how much of your real life comes out in your writing, once you actually allow yourself to write at length.  I teach high school.  I have this bizarre proclivity to complicate things that do not need to be complicated.  I can attribute this trait to absolutely no one from my past that I can recall.  Maybe it’s just my thing.  Some people walk tightropes, I make instructions twice as long as needed.

But this is REALLY coming out in my NanoWrimo this year.  I started with the simplest of ideas and it’s spiraling into a (much worse) version of Inception, sans the flying fruit or stunning good looks.  I’m inventing characters almost every night.  Tonight, the novel went to a completely new depth I never anticipated.

Writers:  Is this good or am I setting myself up for a lifetime struggle.  I know what I want (in my mind) but how can I know if it will resonate with readers?  I teach the complexities of novels.  What was their true intent and what have we simply assumed?  I know it doesn’t truly matter what was intended, but I still don’t want to die thinking “Nobody gets me.”


Happy Weekend, by the way

New Novel Excerpt! (Nanowrimo 2014)


Need more to read before you return to your family?

Here ya go.

I warned you I’d do this.  Happy Election Day, by the way.  Is that a thing?

It was when I was really starting to see my writing turn to utter shit when Jazz called to ask me to pick her up from work. It was a believable ruse; her car was unreliable and needed attention. Even though I had pretty much stayed out of her business with the car, I knew she had to get it to a mechanic before too long or she was going to be bussin’ it to work. I told her no problem and slammed home my laptop.

Of course it was raining, and since my the passenger side of my windshield sometimes leaks, she got in and made a shitty comment about staying drier if she’d walked. Part of me wanted to let her walk, but I just drove on to the next light. Why do you always hit red lights when you don’t want to?

“I can’t work there anymore,” she began. She found some old mail in between our bucket seats and used them to sop up the saturated blackened area beneath her feet.

“What happened?”

“Well, you know how it goes, right?”

I did. But I wasn’t sure what could have happened this particular time.

“Wanna take me through Rally’s?”


“It was Carlos and his stupid-ass way of running that place. He brings me in, right, and says he’s got twenty or thirty hours every week if I want them.”


“But what he doesn’t mention is that some of those hours are going to be hosting.”

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, fuck that, right?”

“Exactly!” She’s pissed because hostesses make minimum wage and have really boring jobs. Standing at the podium and writing down names for four or five hours is as mindless as it gets. It’s easy money to some; to girls like Jazz, though, it’s a fucking nightmare.

“Well, what ya gonna do?” I ask absently. I meant it in a can’t-beat-em-join-em sort of way, but she didn’t hear that tone.

“I’m fucking gone, is what I’m doing.”

“Gone? As in, you quit?”

“Well, I didn’t storm out or anything. But I’m not going in Friday when I’m supposed to host.”

I found the restaurant she wanted and wheeled in. Two cars were in front of me, but at least the rain was lightening. She tells me the order without looking up from her phone. She’s scrolling through automatically, no real chance that she’s actually reading anyone’s status.

“You think he might let you have tables at all?”

“Oh…prob’ly not. There’s this new girl he’s been fucking obnoxiously flirting with all week.”

Jazz is too green to know this shit happens in all restaurants everywhere. At least, in my limited experience around this town it does. And we’re not a special town by any means, ya know?

NaNoWriMo 2014!


This will be quick.  If you’ve been enjoying/ignoring my recent posts, then this is for you!

My workhorse of a wife (stay-at-home mother of two, organization/cleaning queen, blogger, and outstanding person) is adding NaNoWriMo to her November to-do list.  We’ve both tried for several years, but life has tended to get in the way.  She’s murdering this daily word-count goal (about 6 double-spaced pages) and I’m struggling to stay on par.  My story is coming together, and I’m really liking the free trial of Scrivener.  More about that as the month continues…

If anyone out there actually cares, I’ll post another rough draft of a scene.  I’m not asking for you, dear reader, to do anything.  Except recycle.  That’s important.

In the meantime, help yourself to a favorite beverage.  You’ve (probably) earned it!

NaNoWriMo Day 1 – 1700+ words


This is meant to be read by fiction writers.  This is the first day of writing (some after midnight, the rest just now) for my NaNo project.  It’s crazy, disorganized, filled with errors, and probably illogical.  It’s a first draft.

–I’ll never fucking understand why fucking adults think I’m screwing with them when I tell them their fucking plate is goddamn hot.  Never fails.  Every time.  College kid or grandpa.  Men more than women, I’ll grant ya, but they all do it.  So I got tired of it, ya know?  It can’t be their first time in a restaurant, right boss?

–Bill, I know.  People are idiots.  You and I see it all the time.  But you also are old enough to understand liability.  Of course the plate should not have given that guy third-degree burns, but…

–Isn’t it first-degree?


–I think first-degree is the least worrisome.

–That doesn’t make sense, Bill.  First.  It’s top priority in a burn center.

–Well, it was the lowest level.  And I’m sorry it happened, but goddamn.

–I know, Bill.  Look.  Please let me go back and handle it.  Look.  It’s a quarter to ten.  We close in a little over an hour.  Maybe just hang back here and you can start on closing.

–I thought he was kidding, John.  I really did.

–I know, I know.  Look.  We can limit the damage.  The EMTs are coming on our dime.  Let’s just make sure we look proactive at this point.

–Fuckin’ hate lawyers, man.

–We all do.

–I’m not gonna get fired, am I?

He deep-sighed.  And stared at Bill for an uncomfortable four seconds.  Using his peripheral vision, he saw the flimsy red stick click between the three and the four.

–Look, Bill.  I’m going to talk it over with HR now that they’ll know about the EMTs coming.

Bill let his foodslime-covered kitchen shoe fall from his left knee.

–I’ll just go.

–No, please.  Don’t.  It doesn’t have to…I mean…I’m telling you you’re not…

Bill flipped a raggedy single on his desk.

–Just mail my last fucking check, John.  And fuckin’ thanks for the support.

“You did not,” Stacey cried out with that grin that’s all but forced me to hang around with her.

“Yeah.  Fuck that place.”  We’re at Legs, which sounds like it’d be a strip bar, but they are known for their southern-fried chicken after hours.

“Shit, man,” she said, the smile diminshed quickly.  “I don’t want to work there if you’re not.”

Stacey’s a real sweet kid.  Been hanging out for about six weeks off and on.  All the girls at that place have to tie their long hair back or pin it up.  When we go out for drinks after work–like straight after work, still smelling of gravy–she lets it down.  Somehow the dark hair gets curlier the longer we stay.  If we’re at a table, I’ll get caught just looking at those locks.

“Well, I feel a little bad about just taking off–probably shot my chance at a referral.”

“Yeah,” she said, still examining her tall pilsner glass.  She only just ordered domestic bottles before we met and came here together for the first time.  The shit these kids don’t know astounds me.

“Think I shoulda stayed?”

She shrugged.

“You’re too nice, young lady,” I stated, then signaled Bobby for two more tall ones.

She grinned and turned to me.  “I know.  I mean, I know why you took off.  Sounds like you were going to get the ax after you clocked out.”


“Well, anyway…what are you going to do?”

Bobby put the beers in front of us.  Without prodding, Stacey downed the rest of the first and reached for the new one before swallowing.

I offered my glass to be tapped with hers.  A small, congenial smile crept across her face.

“I have no fucking idea.”

We laughed, then chugged.

Bobby dropped a glass while trying to dry it.


“How old did you say he was?” Gina asked me.

“I didn’t say, actually.”

“Stace…come on!  Your first boyfriend since Thad?  I have to know every—”

“I’m just…he’s not my boyfriend.  Just this guy who I hang out with after work.”

We were getting birthday manis–gifts from our moms.  A tradition.  Being born on the same day in the same hospital meant–to our mothers at first–that we were sisters in another life.  I love Gina to death, but she also gets a little too cozy in my personal business these days.

“If I tell you, will you please drop it for now?”

She doesn’t even take the time to close the magazine she held before tossing it over her head onto a shelf of ancient issues Shape and Good Housekeeping.

“Hold still, please,” Gina’s woman says in Chinglesh, without flinching.

“He’s twenty-eight.”

Her eyes exploded open and I could tell her brain was overloading with simple mathematics.


“Yeah,” I said.  “Now please let me just rest my head and enjoy the pleasurable service these fine women offer.”

“Okay, okay…that’s fair.”

I think I counted to nine this time.

“Have you two…?”

“allGina, come on!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

My girl tapped my foot to indicate its removal from the buzzing warm water.

“Your friend, she no listen well, no?”

“No, Dang,” I said, then coyly looked at my oldest girlfriend  “She doesn’t.”



(Much later)


So, Bill’s been working–actually just fucking around at–a handful of jobs.  Stacey texted him less and less.  One or two came from her little friend Gina, but Bill never really gaver her much to go on.  Another sweet kid, he thinks, but even less mature than Stacey.  Although two years earlier, breaking up their friendship might have been a little funny, he has no interest in that these days.  He’s starting to really see thirty creep up and fucking around with girls who still have the high school mentality is starting to make him look more and more like a fucking chode.

After putting in applications at more established restaurants and not getting any bites, Bill was strongly considering moving to a new town.  Like, far away.

He is actually packing one day when he hears on the radio in the room that a new place is looking for experienced restaurant help.

He goes in, applies, doesn’t get a chance to see the hiring manager that day but is assured he’ll be contacted either way.  They all say that, but no one has ever called, even just to thank him for his interest.  But he plays the game and feigns enthusiasm.

“Sir?” a voice called from behind him as he swung open the heavy wooden door.

Bill turned and watched a man his age–probably younger though–rushing toward him.  “Sorry,” he said, unnecessarily.  “My ‘screener’ back there just handed me this.  You’re Bill McKenzie?”

“Yes, sir,” he said automatically.  Addressing younger men in that manner was, at first, troubling, but now despicable.

“Got a call just last night from my old manager at Nantucket.  John?”

“Yes.  Good man.”

The man introduced himself has the HR coordinator–Bill thought about the person who comes up with all these different job titles for the same position.  What’s his title, by the way?

“Anyway, John said you might be applying and that maybe I could help you out.”

The door closed and Bill stood at the man coldly.

“Yeah,” he continued without affording Bill any space.  “He says to quote Fuck off unquote and for me not to hire you.”

Tearing up the application was just plain unnecessary.




Bill starts dating.  Maybe a cliche coffee girl.  Whatever.  But it’s the one who changes him.  Let’s name her Jazmine.  She likes him to call her Jazz, but that reminds him of the Fresh Prince’s dim sidekick.  That is, until they (Bill and Jazz) have sex the first time.

I walk into her apartment and am smacked with the odor of a fishtank.  A few steps in and all I can think about is this fish I had as a kid who, in the most traumatizing fashion I can say, committed suicide right after I finished watching the baseball All-Star Game.  I was probably about nine.  I took shitty care of it, I know.  Probably overfed it or whatever.  But it was like it was WAITING for me to walk by to do it.  He or she did three or four vigorous laps around the glass bowl then just popped out like a performance dolphin at Sea World.

“Did you hear me?” Jazz asks.

She’s in the kitchen and searchiing through drawers.  Her question had to have dealt with food.

“No, I’m good.”


“Wait…what did you say?”  I do this with her (and many people) when I don’t hear the question, guess with a vague answer, then try to construct a fictional misunderstanding of the original question.  It rarely gets executed well.

“I asked if you wanted to go to my room instead of the movie.”

Yeah…I’ve got nothing for that.

But I do smile and dart toward her.  She’syoung enough to get over it, especially when I lift her into my arms and spin around.  She’s having a blast and I take her to her room.

It’s our first time at her place.  The very first time was in my car–I know, it’s a tad embarrassing to fuck in a car when you pass twenty-five–but there was a good reason*.  Since then, it’s always been at my place, but now that I’m moving, there’s too much shit anywhere.

It’s her roommate who has the fishtank.  Her fucking door actually has a crayon-based drawing welcoming all entrants to “The Aquarium.”  If a girl ever wants to keep dudes out of their bedrooms, it’s by putting up fucking signs like that.

So we’re in her room and I sort of just dump her on the bed.  I can’t tell her that she’s getting a little heavy.  She’s definitely not fat or anything; it’s just that I’m too far removed from when I last regularly lifted.  A slight twinge in my back makes me flinch and bite my lower lip, though I cover it with a laugh.

She’s too involved in the romance of the carrying-to-bed to notice anything wrong.

It’s at this moment that I looked down and saw the copy of Emma on her nightstand.  I wouldn’t have noticed it, I’ve been telling myself, if I wasn’t meant to.

Day 16 – 1600+ words (Someone Gets Fired)




Mason’s mother told him to go to his room.  That always meant something bad was about to happen.  The toys in his room didn’t seem like toys when he was sent there.  He didn’t bother saying anything back because his mother used the Tone.  There were two Tones: one he heard from either of them after he did shit like knock over a soda can or pound the floor in frustration.  A second distinct Tone when they were made at each other.

The front door opened and Mason’s father dropped his keys into the tray by the door.

“Why are you home?” he heard his mother ask.  The afternoon was breezy and Mason tried to listen to the wind sneak into the gaps of his windows.  He picked up an faded green plastic car.  The miniature people that were supposed to fit inside were lost months earlier, but the car remained.  He ran it along the floor and made whirring sounds.

“Not now, Christine,” his father said.

“What did you just say?”

“Jesus Fucking Christ, Christine!  I said gimme a minute!”

A door slammed.  The bathroom door.  Maybe their bedroom door.  But a close-by door for sure.  Mason looked toward his bed and then his door.  He was safe in here tonight.  They were mad about something, which was weird because he just got home.

“If we need to talk, you better not be in there another half hour!”

He replied something back, but Mason couldn’t quite hear it.

Then the toilet seat slammed home.  He definitely heard that. When that door burst open, the handle smacked into the wall.  Mason thought of the little crack it made like a smiley face.

“Christine, goddammit!  I’m sorry.  I had to take a shit.  I didn’t know I had to fucking give you a play-by-play!”

“What happened?  Why are you home?”


“What?  I don’t get to know?”

“Where’s Mace?”

“He’s in his room.”

Footsteps thundered toward the boy’s door.

“Don’t you go in there!”

“Why the fuck not?”

“He’s taking a nap.”

“Jesus.”  His father’s feet hovered at the door.  Dark ovals hung there.  He couldn’t know why, but he assumed he was facing the door.

“Did you talk to Jerry?”

“I talked to Jerry.”

“What’d he say?”


“He said no, didn’t he.”  It wasn’t a question.

“He didn’t…shit.  Yes.  But he didn’t want to.

“What does that mean?”

“I mean it killed him to tell me that.”

“That’s three now, you know.  Jimmy, Hank, and now–”

“I fucking know it’s three.”

His mother sighed and sat down on the creak in the couch.  The shadows drifted away.

“Don’t,” she said.


“Kenny, what can we do?”

“It always works out, baby.”

Mason liked this part of their fights.  His dad was always the first one to lower his voice and say something nice.  He called her baby which used to make Mason laugh.

“I don’t know what we can do,” she said.  “I can’t ask my parents.”

“I know.”

She creaked the couch again.  It did that when people sat and when they stood up, but only on that one spot.

“He’s not going to let us stay here, Kenny!”

His father didn’t react at first.  She walked away, Mason could hear.

“Lemme just talk to him,” his father called out.

His mother didn’t respond.  Drawers flew open in the kitchen and silverware rattled.

The boots stomped through the room and into the kitchen.  Mason could tell they were talking but the words were jumbled and indecipherable.

He turned on a light.  The light his dad made in the workshop at the last house.  It was an old lamp they’d found in the attic.

“Wanna see if it works?” he father had asked him.


“Maybe we can paint it.”


“What color should we paint it?”


“That’s a good choice, son.”

Later that day, after his mother had made them hamburgers at the stove, his father led him out to the workshop.  He explained what all of the old tools that were still there were.  He told Mason not to touch them.  Some were quite sharp.  Dangerous.  “Your mom would have my ass if you got hurt out here, sonny boy,” he’d said.

Mason ran his fingers along the rounded base.  The red paint had chipped a little and the train sticker he got once from the grocery store was ripped off but not totally.

“I can get work, you know,” his father said.  They’d come out of the kitchen and had shook Mason from his memory.

“I can too.”

“I mean, I can go back to the store.  They always need help.  I’ll start at minimum, but it’s something.”

“But who’ll be with him all day?”

When they fought and weren’t yelling, his name became replaced by a pronoun.

“You’ll have to be.  For now.”

“Baby, I’m going to get work.”

“No one’s…”
“No one’s what?” his father said, a stern tone pepped up.

“Just lemme call Gayle.  She’ll probably let me come in Sunday.  Those other girls always wanted Sundays off, remember?”

“But we’re…”

“Are you fucking serious right now, Kenny?”

Every Sunday, Mason’s parents took him to Ringo’s house.  That was his friend.  Ringo’s parents and Mason’s parents sat in the living room and watched movies.  The sound was never on because, Mason’s dad had said, they were playing a game with words.  That was kinda weird.  Ringo and Mason usually played in his room and Ringo would sometimes show him te cigarette buts that he’d found from throughout the house.

Last week, the four adults played the game with shiny blue cans.  Looking through Ringo’s peephole, Mason watched them all drink from those cans at the same time.  They laughed more and more throughout the movie.  Mason looked forward then to watching movies with is dad and the blue cans.  But he wasn’t allowed to play that at home, he’d said.

“You want it so badly, that you’ll let that boy starve so you can get high?”

Mason’s dad had always told him his first word was “Hi!” and that that was pretty dang gone funny.  He almost had the words the way Daddy liked to hear them.  He said “Pwe dag on phffew!” and his dad always translated.

“Can you say, ‘Let’s get high’?” his mother asked him.  Her can was even shinier.  Silver, she called it.  What Mommy said made Daddy laugh a lot.

“Kenny.”  Mason pictured her touching his dad.  They played a lot and wrestled and sometimes they were giggling while they did it and others they were screaming.  Mason wrestled with his Dad once in a while but when he screamed at his dad, his dad would throw him.

“Kenny,” his mother said.  “We’re not getting fucking blitzed anymore.  You know?  We gotta quit that shit.  You know, for now.”

Shit was that word that Mason remembered saying before his mother slapped his face.

“Gawd,” he said.  “You’re so right.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“Thing is…the shit’s already paid for, you know.  ‘Member we used that one money to get it and paid Big Mike last week.”

“Oh, shit, you’re right,” his mother said.  “Well,” she kinda laughed.  That was the one that she made when she said we’d have lunch but the refrigerator was empty.  Or when Mason told her there was no butt paper on the spinny in his bathroom.  One time she made him sit there for a long time while she left.  Daddy couldn’t know she left though.  It was the first time she ever made him understand Secret.

“Yeah,” his father said.  You know Big Mike’s probably gonna tap that shit if we don’t come.  Won’t smoke it all or nothin’ but he’d take a piece.  Fucker.”

One time after the blue cans game was over, Mason said fucker and was told he had to get down and smell the poop.  Put his bitch ass nose right to it.  Ginger made poops on the floor a few times.  Ginger did it too much and was kicked by the door.  Dad told Mason she had to go see her mommy dog and daddy dog.  That was before the ice cream day.

There was the ice cream book.  Mason’s mom read to him from a book with a big ice cream cone on the front page.

“Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream,” his mother sang.

Mason giggled when she made the monster face and screamed “scream.”

“Do you want to get some ice cream?” she asked.

Mason whispered in her ear Yes because he was tired but wanted to put his head on her shoulder.

“I’ll make daddy go with you,” she told him.

Mason pulled the book down and skipped to the last page.  Daddy told him he was supposed to start at the frong but Mommy yelled at him and said he can start wherever.  Kid’s fucking three, Kenny.  He just likes the pictures.”  He found the clown and the guy with the white beard and said beard.

“I gotta call Gayle.”

“Good fucking luck.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Phones’re fucking dead.”

We didn’t–”

Kenny shook his head.

“Fuck!” she yelled.  She threw the phone and it hit and broke something.


“Oh, shit.”

“You fuckin’ broke that frame, godddammit!”

She ran over and crouched down.  “Shit!  Honey, don’t!”

“You’re going to cut–”

“Ow! Fuck!”
“I told you…”

“Fuck you, you told me.  You fucking did this!  Least his picture’s not fucking broken.”


“Torn.  What the fuck, you know what I mean!”

Christine laughed.  “Get some….nevermind.  Go turn on the water.  Cold.  Numbs it.”

“I know, I know,” his father said in a faded way.

His mother was alone, but she was talking.

“Goddammit, girl,” she said.  “The one fucking picture you have of him.”

Day 14 – 1400+ words (Completely New Story)


Marv Hamblin had a problem–one that would make his father disown him and his children abhor him.  Okay, maybe that’s a little rough.  He’s my husband, so I should start a little differently.  Accurately.  Marv had committment issues, but then again, what man doesn’t?  When we first started dating–can it be thirty years ago, really?–he was young.  I was too, but he was adventurous.  He had ambition.  Driven was a word I used to describe him to my father prior to Marv’s first Thanksgiving at my childhood home.

As a young father, Marv embraced his children.  O f course, I mean more than literally.  He didn’t quite live vicariously through them or anything, but he certainly put his own goals aside…for decades..and helped me raise them to be responsible adults.  We succeeded as parents, but not as a couple.  Does that sound right?

Before he actually retired, he began talking about it whenever the kids were all home.  He didn’t do it in hopes of having some grand, celebratory send-off or anything; he probably just wanted to hear himself say it more often.  You know, to make it more real.  Like when you teach someone else a skill–you tend to learn more about the skill the longer you explain it.  Perhaps surprisingly, the children–all of them–were relatively indifferent toward his choice to let go.  They certainly didn’t care about the financial rationale, which was the overwhelming theme of his narratives.

Also before he left his job for good, I began to see that old spark.  I know it’s cliche to say, but our entire relationship had accumulated decades of normalcy.  The old spark to which I now speak contained mixed messages of road trips, new hobbies, extravagant dinners–the things we did before having children and responsibilities.

But they were just words, I learned.  Then I began to think back throughout our marriage how often he did that.  He calmed me down with words, but he also filled me with so many hopes that never took flight.  Do I feel manipulated?  A little.  However, did I adopt the same behavior and use it toward him–and our children?  I’d be lying if I said no.

Marv has had an affair.  I don’t really want to find out the exact length because it could be longer and this may not be the only one.  I found out over the course of a few days.

It began with me answering the phone, even though either the number was not recognized or was somehow not shown on my screen.  My eyes may be bad, but they could clearly see the words “Unknown Number.”  A therapist might offer a solid analysis as to why someone my age would wish to suddenly answer the phone in situations such as these.

Don’t you know about telemarketers, Susan?

Are you aware that hackers exist, Susan?

People will go to great lengths to hide their identity Susan.  Just don’t answer it.

Marv was sleeping in more and more and I had given up trying to find any good television programs in the mid-mornings.  I thought about reading again, but I felt I was getting too old to start reading authors outside my comfort zone.  When you age, you tend to worry about odd things connected with your mortality such as “What if I start a series and never get a chance to finish it before I die?”  Some of the popular writers my girls and the girls at the office read not only have racier material than I remember, but their series sometimes take up an entire alphabet!

So when I answer the unknown number the first time, I only remember staring into my chamomile tea while the young woman spoke.

“M’am,” she said after a long pause.  She thought I’d hung up, I suppose.

“Yes, I’m here.”  I cleared my throat but didn’t plan to say anything else.

“I can only imagine how upset this makes you.  Please know this was a call I’d considered making for some time.”

It didn’t help, but I was glad she said it.

“You have to know, m’am, that whatever happened between your husband and my mother had to have been short-term at best.  For years, I was told my father died in a fishing accident and never doubted my mother.  Who does at that age, you know?”

I thought of the girls and the few white lies I supplied whenever I fielded life’s tougher inquisitions.  I had to agree with her.


“Yes, I’m here.  I’m sorry. I’m…”
“I understand,” she said.

I must say, those two words pissed me off.

But I stayed mute and let her continue.

“My mother and I have always been fairly honest with one another.  I’m an only child and she never re-married.”


“Excuse me.  No.  Never married.  Forgive me, I’m so used to telling this story under my previous assumptions of what happened to my father.”

A long pause.  The idea that Marv had a whole other marriage to attend to jump started the ticker Dr. Patel said needs “nourishment” and “rest.”


“Yes, I’m here.”  Then a short silence.  “You were saying?”

She was crying.  I had no idea then what she looked like, but I pictured a thin woman beside a window–perhaps in a hotel–and putting the phone to her chest to mute her uncontrollable bursts of emotion.

A sniffle.  “My future husband,” she began.

“What’s that?”
For a few seconds more I listened to her attempt to overcome her obvious attachment to whatever she was about to say.  I took the phone away and listened closely for words, not sobs.

“A medical history…” she eventually said.  “I was sick a little while ago and eventually ended up talking to my GP about my history.”

Over the next few minutes, I learned that her mother had gone with her, offering the expected level of comfort in that situation.  When the more personal questions arose, the doctor sensed something from the mother once questions about the woman’s father–evidently my husband–came up.  He casually stepped out of the exam room with her mother.  Muffled voices after that.  Then, however, her mother came back into the room alone and broke the news about her father not dying years ago as she had described.

“M’am?” she asked.

“I’m here.” Then I interrupted her before she could continue.  “Forgive me, though.  How did you happen to call me about this?”

She began to answer but I stopped her again.  Weirdly, it felt good.  I controlled the moment.

“How am I to know any of this is true?  What is it you want?  Why am I still talking to you?”

She must have sensed my urgent frustration because she pleaded with me not to hang up.  “I’m sorry, m’am.  I know it’s…well, this whole thing for me has been…”

Unable to finish her thoughts, I was left piecing her frame of mind together.

“You make coffee?” Marv asked from another room.  I didn’t have to turn my head to know he was in the kitchen staring at the empty carafe.


“Yes, I’m here.”

“Could you give me your mother’s name?  Perhaps where she was living when you were born?”

She provided both, the second as if she were reading from the notes she’d scribbled on the thin pad some hotels provide.

“Call back in a few minutes.  Rather, is your mother around?”


“Well, then,” I thought.  “Call back anyway and identify yourself as your mother.  Say nothing more.  My husband will answer it and I’ll watch his face to what you tell him.”

“I’m…I mean…okay, but…”

“It’ll be fine dear.  I have to do a little acting here so he’ll pick up.”
“You want some?” Marv hollered.  I could hear him unlocking the clasped canister.


“Yes.  I’m here.”

“Ten minutes, okay?”

“Okay.  But please know my doctor needs my family history this afternoon.”

“Just call.”

I clicked the red button without saying anything formal and turned my head   “No, hon.  None for me.  I had tea earlier.”  I found him in the kitchen filling up the carafe at the sink.  I placed my phone on the counter at the room’s threshold.


“Yeah, hon?”

“When was the last time you took me out for brunch?”

He laughed and stopped the water.  “This morning, looks like.”

We kissed.

“Need your phone?” he said as we left the room.

Day 13 – 1300+ words (no dialogue; someone having a bad day)


The day begins slowly, the way it should on important days.  The sole sound in the apartment is from the distant kitchen, where the coffeemaker you set not six hours earlier, has begun brewing your fresh-ground beans from Sumatra.  Dark roast has become your go-to choice, especially on Fridays and Sundays.  Fridays because you want to kickstart the weekend early in a caffeine-infused good mood, and Sundays because you want to get some stuff actually done before kickoff at Jeremy’s.

This is a Sunday.  And while all of the cars you hear from your open bedroom window may be headed to church or the early matinees the local theater has begun, you’re going to stay in your old white tee shirt and shorts and rub your eyes and read through your newsfeed for at least twenty minutes.  The coffee is done and still quite fresh by the time you play “myopia” on WordFeud.

Your feet do not touch carpet this morning.  They find the tops of your leather shoes.  Yes.  The ones you wore out last night.  Jeremy and the guys, remember, had called around ten and were all of a sudden going to the college bar to catch up.  It would have been uncouth to question everyone’s decision.  If Rog was in town, he was going to buy drinks for all of them.  Maybe there’d even be some intelligent-looking girls around.  You were in the drifting zone, you like to call it, and were well into an old episode of SVU, but you quick-showered, threw on something reasonable, dabbled cologne, and six hours later found yourself standing at your coffeepot trying to remember how to program for the following morning.

The shoes bear a stain you don’t remember, but you also can’t quite think of where the polish is at the moment.  No matter, really, because you’ll probably not need to wear those out for another few weeks.  Rog doesn’t come back home that often, and none of the other guys ever initiate a night out any more.  Forget the shoes; get the coffee.  When you open the bedroom door, you come amazingly close to hitting yourself in the face–a domestic violence victim’s excuse–but yours is that you’re just now realizing how hungover you are.  Danny Glover’s catchphrase from those cop movies comes to mind.  As you stagger through the long hallway, the desire to piss immediately arrests your attention.  It’s like your bladder didn’t realize you were upright a few seconds ago, but when it did, you got your warning.

Piss, fill-up, repeat.  This is not a lifestyle you are dying to return to.  It’s becoming so different now because the girls at those bars seem like pre-teens.  The music is noisier than you remember.  The bartenders–male and female–have a keener eye for age than before and “don’t see you” as often as they did.  Guys nowadays wear tee shirts with enormous wings on the back.  Or ones with raised letterings.  When Rog told you that shirts like that sometimes cost over a hundred bucks, you asked a question in a way that reminded you of your own mother.

It’s Sunday, and the corner Gas Up America! has good donuts.  Or is it doughnuts?  Both, you decide.  It’s warm enough to walk there and maybe doing so will speed up the recovery stage.  Take a bottled water and let your coffee hang out until you return.  You rub your stubble and decide sunglasses, though they may or may not be needed, will be worn.  No hat, because they remind you of the idiotic flat-billed hats today that are the rage among the wing-backed shirt generation.  You are twenty steps from closing your door behind you when you realize you’ve left your phone on your bed.  No sweat.  Gonna rough it, you muse.

The GUA is not busy.  The clerks are not young.  The stench of hot dogs that have been rolling on those grills for probably six hours minimum is not appealing.  You beeline for the donuts and examine the options.  You realize you’re no longer carrying that water bottle.  You’re thirsty.  What did you do with it?  Right.  Trash can outside.  Ten seconds earlier.  Held the door for a guy.  Who does that anymore?  Shit.  Now you really want another water.  But coffee sounded so good earlier!  You grab one of those obscenely tall water bottles for just under two bucks and come back to get a second donut for your baggie.  Then, you realize you’re going to be walking with water and donuts and that for some reason fucks with your self-image.  Tryin’ to be all cool with shades and scruff.  But you’ll be carrying calories and anti-calories.

It all sounds so fucking stupid all of a sudden.

You’re still so drunk it’s taken you fifteen full minutes to realize it.

Someone says pardon me and you step left without looking.  Now you’ve pushed over a display of beef jerkey and now there are dozens of those shrink-wrapped cylanders at your feet.  You need to be back in bed but you’re an unpaid employee, on your knees and resetting a cardboard casing of off-brand processed meat.

You hear giggles and you assume it’s because of you.  Humiliated, you’re still considering how you can play this off and boogie out of the store.  As you rise—the beef sticks are not at all placed in their proper containers (which explains why that’s always the case)—you scroll through your internal Rolodex (registered trademark) for possible clever-ish things to say as you leave, as if you about to unleash to the world this summer’s catch phrase.  Nothing is quite right, so you just leave and make a point not to hold the door for anyone.

Returning home, the Sumatra is like a childhood blanket you want to wrap up in.  It’s after ten and Jeremy said anytime after eleven was fine. Only two of the S’s necessary for game day.  Things will look up after a hot shower.  Shoulda been the first fucking thing you did, asshole.

It’s important, you think in the shower, not to ever think about that beef jerky again.  You’re not fifteen and not everything you do is analyzed by the masses.  To them, you were some hungover dumbass who actually picked up his own mess (sorta).  Nothing more.  It’s at that moment that you remember throwing the donuts and unopened bottled water in the trash can outside the door for reasons you cannot fathom now.

You think, Jesus did I really just go to the gas station for absolutely no reason?

You drink the hot water from the shower because you’ve seen actors in movies do that and you’ve always wondered if shower water somehow tastes better than it’s supposed to.  It doesn’t.  It’s hot fucking water shot into your throat.  This makes you think of some of the fucking college girl shots you did last night.  Your stomach turns a bit, but you know you won’t throw up in your own shower.  On your feet and ankles.  It’s bound to spatter, so don’t do it.  You won’t. But those shots were shitty and way overpriced.  Rog gave you a look once like what the hell, man.  What are you drinking on my dime, he was thinking.  Not happy that I’m paying for those, you think he said.

The hot water beats on your back and you lean forward, sorta like just fall into the tiled wall opposite the jetstream.  Fall, but not hard.  No blood or anything like that.  You think about some more of the details from the bar.  The narrative is forming slowly and you remember Rog got over it. He was, he explained many times over, just screwing with you.  You smile and think about the burgers that Jeremy cooks on gameday.

We ate at the bar last night, you remember.  Like, you took a table and ate.  Like…what the old people at those bars do.  You shake your head.  Like, literally shake your head at that idea.  Did we think that was all right?  We ate?  Who sits in a college bar after midnight and orders fucking food?  Pizza.  Was it pizza?  Sure it was.  You had it delivered all through undergrad.  Back then the student discount price for a sixteen inch was only five bones.  They wanted almost twenty dollars last night.  You actually say aloud some joke about the senior upcharge.  No one’s in the shower, idiot.  It’s not funny either way.  Was that bartender’s name Sherry or Sarah?  Why did she come up?  Did she…oh, right!  She sat down with you and Jeremy.  Rog was working a girl at the bar.  But this one, it was Sarah for sure.  She was nice.  She was tired and Jeremy had called her over.

The water’s getting colder.

The game’s on soon.

You’ll joke about last night, watch seven or ten hours of football, depending on your fantasy team’s success in the afternoon.

Rog said he’d swing by but couldn’t stay the whole day.

Day 12 – 1200+ words (dialogue-only argument between two characters)


Day 12 – 1200 words (dialogue-only skit b/t two people in argument)


Dad:  Did you do it yet?

Son:  Do what?

Dad:  You know what I’m talking—

Son:  In a minute, okay?

Dad:  No, son.  Now.   Please.

Son:  Why does it have to be this moment?

Dad:  Because I…

Son   Nope.  You can’t!  Remember?
Dad:  Wait…What?  Remember what?

Son:  Probably like…ten years ago.  I remember!  You sat me down one night.  I was probably like seven or ten or something.

Dad:  That math tutor sure was worth it.

Son:  You said, “Ahem, well, uh…listen son.  I want to do things differently…If you ever hear me begin to say ‘Because I said so’ you gotta just slap me and remind me how much I hated hearing it growing up.”

Dad:  That voice…that was supposed to be what I sound like?

Son:  Seriously though.
Dad:  I am serious.  I need you to do it…now.  Soon.  Your mother will be here any time.

Son:  And that’s my problem because…

Dad:  C’mon, man.  I can’t do this right now.  You’re almost a grown man.  It’s time to start taking…

Son:  Care of myself.  Yeah.  I get it.  You and Mom are ready for me to be out.

Dad:  Well, you’ve already finished one year of coll–

Son:  Save it, Dad!  I know!

Dad:  Whoa!  What’s with that shit?

Son:  I’ll do it!  I mean…Jesus!  Why does it matter so much?
Dad:  It just does.  I guess you’ll…

Son:  Oh shit…lemme guess.  understand better when I’m a father?

Dad:  I, uh..wasn’t going to say that.

Son:  Right.

Dad:  Okay, fine.  Just…please do it.  Like I said, she’ll be here soon.

Son:  Have you always been afraid of her?

Dad:  What did you just say?

Son:  I said, ‘Have you always been afraid of her?’

Dad:  What the fuck, man?

Son:  Touch a nerve?
Dad:  I’m about to…

Son:  Hey!

Dad:  College is changing you, son.  In ways I didn’t expect.

Son:  Wait.  Come back.  Dad!

Dad:  What.

Son:  I’ m sorry.  That was…out of line, I guess.

Dad:  Oh, you guess?
Son:  It was.  I’m sorry.

Dad:  I’m…sorry too.

Son:  What do you have to be sorry fo?.  I deserved it.

Dad:  No.  You really didn’t.  Not now.  Defnitely not when you were younger.
Son:  I’d…actually disagree.  It made me who I am.

Dad:  But you gotta understand, son.  It’s not something dads want at the top of their parenting resume.

Son:  What’s the big deal?  You spanked your kids when they acted up.  Who doesn’t do that?

Dad:  Well, your mother for one.

Son:  I meant dads.

Dad:  Well…mine didn’t.

Son:  But he wasn’t in your life.

Dad:  Uh-huh.

Son:  Okay.  Here’s my thing.  I mean, kids are going to test you.  Shit, Dad.  I just did not two seconds ago.  At least when they’re a certain age, you gotta set ‘em straight, right?

Dad:  Can I sit on that thing?

Son:  What, the bookshelf?

Dad:  No.  That?

Son:  Oh. Sure.  Lemme just….here ya go.

Dad:  Thanks.  Huh.  More comfy than I woulda imagined.

Son:  We got it worn in this past year, my roommate and I.

Dad:  I’d say so.  Wait.

Son:   What?

Dad:  Um…did you, ya know…with anyone on this?

Son:  Um…

Dad:  I’ll get a chair.

Son:  Sorry, Dad.

Dad:  It’s fine.  Glad I asked, at least.

Son:  Why don’t we just go get some coffee.

Dad:  That’d be nice…except you didn’t do what I came in here for in the first place.

Son:  Shit.  Okay.  I’m willing to do it.

Dad:  That’s remarkable.

Son:  Okay, okay.  I get it.

Dad:  Do you?
Son:  Ha!  Not really.  But I feel guilty now.  You know…your back, or whatever.

Dad:  Just don’t be in a rush to get older, son.

Son:  You kiddin’?  I’m never gettin’ old.

Dad:  Don’t let your mother hear you say that.

Son:  Ugh…she takes everything I say the wrong way.
Dad:  Son…she’s a mother.  She just cares.

Son:  I know, Dad.  I know.  But I’ll bet she only tells you part of the story.

Dad:  Are you suggesting that your mother would not be completely open with me?

Son:  What?  What’s that mean?

Dad:  I was just being a dick.

Son:  Ha!

Dad:  Okay.  I’m gonna get a chair.  I’d prefer not to sit on that bed…for obvious reasons.  In the meantime, please do it.  Begin it.  Do something to exhibit you heard her earlier and want to make her happy.  She likes that.

Son:  Being happy?

Dad:  You know what I mean.

Son:  Okay….Dad!  Don’t!!

Dad:  Why’d that happen?

Son:  I forgot those were there.

Dad:  You couldn’t even finish it?

Son:  Shit.  I forgot I put it down last night.

Dad:  Now we’re both in it.  She’s going to get here any second and we’ll be sopping up warm beer off that new carpet.

Son:  Shit.

Dad:  Dammit!  It was one of the imports too!

Son:  Yeah.  Lemme get some cleaning stuff.  Didn’t know you liked those fancy beers.

Dad:  I splurge from time to time.  Didn’t know you thought it was okay to drink in this house.  You forget you’re only nineteen?

Son:  No.  That’s impossible.

Dad:  Well, now we’re both in it.  The room’s not clean.  There’s beer on that new carpet.  She’s going to be triple-pissed.  So much for a fun weekend.

Son:  Dad!  Relax!

Dad:  Shit!

Son:  What’s wrong?

Dad:  Oh, no!!

Son:  Is it your back?

Dad:  Yeah, son!  I’m a grown man crouched on the fucking floor!

Son:  What can I do?
Dad:  Oh my god!  Goddammit!

Son:  Dad!  Relax!

Dad:  Shut up!

Son:  I mean, don’t let it tense up!  Here…sort of fall into this beanbag.

Dad:  But you…

Son:  Just do it, Dad!

Dad:  I don’t want to think about what’s rubbed up against this fucking thing!

Son:  Then don’t!

Dad:  She’d better have been worth it is all I’m saying.  This is torture.

Son:  Do you have any…pills or anything you need?

Dad:  In my…I mean…wait.  Lemme think.  I uh..put them…

Son:  Dad!  Think!  Where were you the last time you took them?

Dad:  Yelling at me isn’t going to speed up my memory!

Son:  Okay!  I’m sorry!  I’ve just never seen you…

Dad:  Nightstand.

Son:  What?

Dad:  For God’s sake…I took them a couple nights ago right before I went to sleep.  They must be next to my bed.

Son:  Okay.  Just…breathe…

Dad:  I’m not having a baby, son.

Son:  I mean…relax.  I’ll be right back.

Dad:  Check around the floor if they aren’t on there!

Son:  Dad?

Dad:  Did you find them?
Son:  Sort of.

Dad:  What?  Jesus.  Either you did or you didn’t.

Son:  Well, you were right.  They were next to your bed.

Dad:  Gimme two.  And some water from your bathroom will be fine.

Son:  The bottle’s empty.

Dad:  What?!

Son:  All I found was the empty bottle.

Dad:  How can that be?  I just filled it….lemme see…when did we go…

Son:  It says a refill is allowed but with doctor’s approval.

Dad:  Shit.  It’s Saturday.

Son:  So it can’t be filled until Monday?

Dad:  Fuck it.  I’ll just lay here face down in….ugh…whatever’s been on this beanbag until Monday.

Son:  Wait!  I hear Mom.

Dad:  We’re both fucked now.

Son:  What does that mean?

Dad:  I was kidding.  Go get the door for her.

Son:  Hey, mom!  Is that dad’s prescription?  When did you get that purse?

900+ Words – 2 “SuperShort Stories”


SuperShort #1


Jenny Williams was slated to be baptized.  It was to be an important transitional day for her, she was told.  It would bring Jesus into her soul, she was told.  It meant that all the eyes of the congregation would be on her, she was told.  It meant that she would have a delivered pizza later that afternoon with her preferred toppings and not Eliza’s.  With that, she was sold.

When she went to junior high parties and the host’s parents bought pizzas for all the girls and boys present, she felt obligated to share her one pizza story.  At first, either no one listened or they nodded in order to make her feel comfortable.  When she shared the same anecdote at a high school party in 10th grade, they laughed at her–and not for the good reason.

Jenny’s older sister Eliza had warned her that high school kids were cruel.  Her prediction rang true throughout that whole year as she unwillingly became known as the churchy girl in class.  Trying to explain to her peers that she and her family do not even go to church much anymore was, she learned, a waste of energy.  Kids that age don’t typically listen to rational thought.

As a junior, Jenny began dating a little.  Dating in high school is harder and harder to explain.  Gone are the aw-shucks scenarios where boys nervously ask girls out to dinner or a movie.  Gone are traditions such as opening doors or buying flowers.  In Jenny’s case, she’d watched two different boys on different occassions play the same shoot-em-up video game.  As optimistic as she tried to be about boys her age, she was constantly reminded of their immaturity.

Then she met Mike.  A sophomore.  In college.

Mike didn’t go to church but he did smoke pot and go to college parties.  Jenny didn’t allow herself to become a statistic–at least not the superbad, criminal kind.  She drank a little–Mike knew her tolerance before she did–and met more interesting people.

This story doesn’t end badly, but you were thinking it would, right?  You wanted her to get mixed up with the wrong crowd or get raped or perhaps get so high or drunk that she loses her ability to operate a motor vehicle.  None of those things happen in this story.  If you were thinking they would, perhaps you’ve been conditioned by other artists and writers to believe those are the only outcomes for a character with this setup.

I chose not to let that happen to Jenny.


SuperShort #2


So I saw my ex-girlfriend in the grocery store this afternoon.  She had a baby with her.  It (the baby) isn’t mine or anything, but I found myself spending more time looking at it (the baby) than I did her (the ex-girlfriend).  We’d been broken up for maybe two years or so, but we’d (clearly) changed a lot in those two dozen months.  I noticed no ring on her finger, and she kept referring to the baby’s father as “her father.”  Formal, for her; trust me.

That implied a few things.  We didn’t speak long, but I avoided eye contact with her and it (the baby) by staring in the direction of a bright red frozen meal inside the refrigerated section of aisle seventeen.  It implied that its father was not around, not around very much, or missing.  Or perhaps too poor/cheap to buy a ring.  Girls will tell you fellas that as much as they say the size of the ring matters, it really truly does not.  Sure, they may wish you were richer and could afford a larger ring.  Here’s what I’ve noticed, though.  They like the gesture more than the ring.  If you give a girl a ring and make a promise to her, and she feels the same way about you, you’re golden.  Sure, you can make a speech about how you’ll buy her a larger ring after you make some more money.  She’ll say No No No..This one’s perfect!  If her face is bursting with energy, you’re good to go.

There was no energy–and definitely no ring–on my ex’s finger.  When I looked at the baby, I saw the eyes I fell for when I met her mother years ago.  It took a full twenty seconds or so making mindless chatter and staring at that baby’s face for me to remember why she and I had broken up in the first place.

Then I remembered that I tried really hard to bang her best friend and neither of them was into that.

Surprising?  It shouldn’t be.  Men are baseless scum for the most part.  We have morals sure, but we’re also programmed to conquer.  Some of us seek out women; others, men.  Whatever.  But if we get an idea and convince ourselves it’s going to work, we’re hard-pressed to let society’s rules pin us down and tell us no.

Sorry, folks.  Truth is damaging at times.  Frankly, I wanted her to put that baby down right there in aisle 17 and take it as we faced the frozen microwaveable meatloafs.

Wouldn’t you know it, though?  Someone jingling keys abruptly interrupted my impromptu fantasy.

“S’goin’ on, babe?” the guy asked, looking me dead in the eye.

She introduced me and I shook the prick’s hand.

She cleared her throat.  “He’s a friend from school.  Says he and his wife could babysit anytime we need…for free!”

I knew the next day that I’d have to start looking at bigger rings.

800+ words – Short Story involving an heirloom


**An impromptu short story I put together today**

Gina’s last wish was to be at her grandmother’s dust-riddled apartment a full hour away from work.  Her boss had okayed her absence under these circumstances, but she knew he had to say that and most likely did not mean it.  After only being there for three months, she’d figured out that Jim Michaels was a complete asshole but was probably her best bet at having a shot at a real publisher.

It’s not that Gina and her grandmother fought or had some sort of long-standing feud.  Nor did she have any disdain for either of her parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles.  She just simply hated funerals.  Her abhorrence of the traditional, and at times quite ceremonial, send off into the ground, was for Gina a collosal waste of time, money, and energy.  Of course, she knew she could not share these ideas with anyone–especially today, since it was going to be the last time anyone ever saw her grandmother’s actual face.

“When you’re dead,  you’re dead,” she’d argued to a friend once over coffee.  “Do me a favor, Jeanette.  Don’t even tell my parents I’m dead when I’m gone.  It’ll totally fuck up their plans.”

Rightfully so, this bothered Gina’s friend.  However, it had bothered her so much that Jeanette contacted a therapist without Gina’s knowledge or consent.  When the initial appointment time came, Gina was willing to talk to the guy but assured her longtime friend that she was only going because it meant something to Jeanette.  It was the only session.

After her grandmother’s small funeral, there was a smaller reception and some friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend had catered in some coffeecake and chicken salad sandwiches, apparently two of Grandma Lola’s favorites.

“Gina, do you have to head back tonight?” her mother asked without looking at her.  The sandwiches were gone, and a pitiful amount of crumbs covered the bottom of the second of two cakepans.

“Mom, I told you earlier,” she said.  “Dad?” It was evident that her impatience with her mother would not be put on hold during this somber late afternoon.

Her dad cleared his throat.  “We just thought, hon, that you could come to the house.  We…have something to discuss.”

Gina’s eyes scanned the room.  Her brothers and cousins were watching an evidently amusing video on one of their phones.  Kade, the oldest of the cousins, spat out brown crumbs at the climactic moment.

“Can’t you just tell me here?  I really can’t risk oversleeping and being late.”

Her parents peered into each others’ eyes.  It wasn’t an amorous glare, though.  Gina wondered if they had ever looked at each other the way they do in movies in theaters and the ones in her head when she reads.

The question remained unanswered and was interrupted by a slow series of family departures.  Everyone bid everyone else well.  The male cousins shared bizarre streetgang handshakes; the girls pecked each others’ cheeks–both were recurring actions that Gina could not comprehend but simply, shyly shrugged off this time.

“Gina,” her mother said as she swept away the crumbs from a central table into one of the two pans.  “My mother had a will.  Everyone is meeting tomorrow to discuss it before we go to lunch.”

“Mom, I just can’t…”

Her mother held up a hand.  “I know.  I understand.  Duty calls.”  She sighed and straightened the area where an apron would be if she’d had one on.

Without Gina realizing it, the room had emptied and Gina suddenly felt like she was in the principal’s office.

“I spoke with the attorney who handles…these things.”


Her mother bit her lower lip.  “Yes.”  She softened, realizing perhaps that she didn’t need to sugarcoat mortality with her grown daughter.

Gina watched her mother’s eyes drift to the side.  “My mom was…all my life, she was pretty much an open book.  What is it?” she sort of laughed.  “She wore her heart on her sleeve?”

“Guess so.  She didn’t really mix feelings, did she?”

“No, we girls always knew immediately when she was mad at one or all of us.”   She bit that lip again and examined the tiled floor.

“The woman worked harder after Grandpa got sick than she or anyone else I’ve known has their entire lives.”

“I know what you mean,” Gina said.  “Feels like we saw her less and less when I was in high school.”

“Well,” her mom said.  “She sure was tricky about everything.”

“What do you mean?”

That small laugh again.  “It turns out that…well, you know how she used to tell you stories when you slept over at her house?”

Gina nodded.

“Do you remember what you talked about after the stories?”

“Well,” Gina said.  “I remember she always wanted me to have some…plan.  You know?  Where am I going to school?  When or if I want to marry, travel the world, have kids…that type of stuff?”

“Do you remember any of your answers?”

“Mom, that had to be…” she quickly calulated…over twenty years ago.  Even if I could remember it obviously hasn’t come true.”  Her eyes went downward.  “Kids’ dreams never come true.”


Gina’s eyes were back up and say an old brown leather woman’s pocketbook.

“What’s this?”

“It was hers.  Her attorney says this is what she’s left you.”

“Gee,” she said, biting her lower lip.  “I’m so…moved.”

Her mother began to say one thing but switched gears.  “Trust me.  I’ll be there’s a reason.”

She unsnapped the lone button and withdrew a plane ticket and a handwritten note, signed by the deceased.

“What’s it say?” her mother asked.

“‘Darling Gina,’” she read.  “She hasn’t called me that in years, Mom.”

Her eyes watered.  “I know.”

“‘I’ll make this quick because I don’t like to waste time.  I’ve left each of you children $25,000 from…well, let’s just say some money I earned over my life.  You are hereby ordered to quit that job you told me about a month or so ago and get to Europe.  I don’t care how long you stay or if you even come back.  The world is too big to stay in one place though.’”

“Well, Gina?  Surprised?”

“Nothing that woman surpises me anymore.”