Tag Archive: fiction


Up thoughts

Alice in Wonderland all rights to Disney


She stood on tiptoe her nose barely reaching over the edge of the table. The treats were so tempting sitting in their cut crystal bowl screaming “eat me”, but still she wavered. Some small animalistic lobe of the brain alerting her to the danger of too perfect an opportunity. Quickly she glanced side to side, sure she was about to be found out for the uninvited interloper she was, but no one looked or noticed. Quick as a flash tiny hand took tiny treat. The jolt of adrenaline added to the flavor making the sugar complex and wonderful. Wildly she enjoyed the stolen morsel, and having eaten her treasure sank to the floor… deflated. No one had noticed or cared. Emptiness filled her stomach and inch by inch swollowed her, mind and all. Everything now felt sharp and disjointed as if it had become over large or ungainly. She sat with her new feelings and confused by them began searching for explanation. She had gotten what she wanted, right? 

Yes, it had been exquisite in both anticipation and reality. So why did she now feel even smaller? 

The thoughts made her want to wipe her hands off, as if this mindset could be cleared away so easily. 

Maybe, no. Perhaps the real want had not yet been met. 

Immediately her searching switched to scanning. The treats were little, the pleasure they brought had been little, and the motive tiny. She would need something much bigger to make the smallness go away. Ruby and amber flashes winked at her from smoky glass decanters daring her to “drink me”. This, she thought, was no little thing this was big. The big action of a big person who people would notice. Decided she went for the decanter thinking only up thoughts. The flush of success, so newly acquired, slipped away as the liquid passed parted lips. It seared and burned on the way down pulling her after. 

Up it seemed was still out of reach.

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I itch between my shoulder blades, the unreachable itch of watchful eyes cast my way. I don’t dare turn to look as the pointless gesture only makes me look guilty, of something… of anything worth watching. Instead I slowly roll my shoulders and stretch my back, even pull a yawn. It is better to appear bored, or better yet tired, tired people aren’t a threat. It’s hard to mobilize when you are beat down by life and lack of sleep. The gaze slips from me to the truely tired business man slumped against the hand rail beside me. He startles noticibly before faining indifference. I keep my smile small and smother the laugh threatening to bubble out, nothing attracts unwanted attention like laughter at tense moments. The urge completely abates with the soft gasp and hushed rustle of fabric that means someone is being “helped” off the train for questioning. 

A heavy silence follows those sounds; filled with dred and inactivity. I cannot blame them the fear we are all mainlining these days, compliments of our government for our own good I’m sure, is a potent drug. 

I check my watch, like I always do, stand and walk towards the back of the train, per usual, shift my bag to the center of my back, in a perfectly normal manner. I am just a commuter. I am just tired. I am “sheepole”. The thoughts drive through me like a steel rod, straightening my back and my resolve, like bolts of lightning, energizing and wild, like the truth which frees.

Impatiently, I wait for the train to stop and the doors to open. I tap my toes, check my watch, and adjust my bag. In an exaggerated motion I crane my neck looking for the conductor who will stand near the open the door waiting to help myself and the pair in front of me disboard. I mumble and “swear to god” under my breath. Everyone has backed away from the door except us three. Our mixed bag of emotions, as repellent as noxious gas, acts as a shield. No one wants to see the fear in the eyes of the man being taken for questioning or the joy in the young recruit’s. I remain impatient and agitated. I shift my bag to my side just as the train lurches to a stop. My perfectly timed fall is unavoidable and undignified. As the locked doors spring open the young recruit, I grabbed for stability, and I fall down the steps in a tangle.

The fearful man, selected for questioning, freezes for only an instant.

We lock eyes.

He nods once, then is gone.

The itchy feeling is back, but at least I no longer have to suffer the dreadful inactive silence. What comes next will have been worth it.

I am civil disobedience, and I will not be ignored.

 

“She just… kind of broke,” the little boy sounded surprised. 

“Well what happened,” his grandfather asked him. “Did you wind her up too tight? Did you press her buttons too many times?”

The perplexed look never left his eyes even as he shook his head no vigorously.

“Maybe you neglected her then,” the grandfather offered. “Is she still in one piece? Was she nurtured? Did you protect her from the muck of the world?”

The boy turned her over in his hands more gently with each revolution. “I think so papa!”

“Then what do you think it could be kiddo?” 

The boy’s eyes squinted and his brow worked up into a furrowed ridge before a lightbulb went off behind his eyes. “I don’t know, but I’m going to try and make it right.”

All rights to owner

What do you remember?

As seen on wikimedia all rights to the owner

The night was sharp. I have no better way to describe it. It looked like it had been cutaway from the daylight by a painter’s knife with short sure motions. 

I could focus on little else.

Driven to distraction it wasn’t till my fingers started to burn from the icy wind that I looked away from the heavenly Bob Ross. Summer sunsets are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is some kind of eery otherworldliness in crisp winter night skies. 

Once inside I turned off the TV and put a kettle on to boil, the image had me in the mood for strong tea and dark silence. So I watched the red-orange flames lick out alive waiting for the hiss of steam.

I held the mug with both hands soaking up the minty warmth, but the tension in my shoulders refussed to drain away. Something in the night nagging at the periphery of my attention. The house was quite, the door was locked, I closed my eyes willing the edges of my frayed nerves to lie flat…

I startle at the sound of a man clearing his throat sloshing piping hot tea onto my right hand.

“Ma’am can you tell me what happened,” he asks a look somewhere between pity and suspicion in his eyes.

“Happened? What happened?”

He checks a notepad while I look around the small uncomfortable room. It has dingy short pile carpet, a table with coffee cup rings, and hard molded plastic chairs. The man makes direct eye contact, only suspicion this time, “What do you remember?”

“It was sharp,” his eyebrows shoot towards the ceiling, “the night was sharp.” I elaborate, “the sky had this look like it was painted, you know what I mean? Too many straight edges…sharp-like.”

“That’s what you remember?” 

He’s incredulous.

“What about the fire? Do you not remember the fire?” The man is very nearly yelling at me.

I consider what he has said, thinking back, trying to remember. Like a reflex I take a sip of tea, “I made tea.” I offer holding up the mug.

He stands and walks to the door. Quick quiet words are exchanged with someone I cannot see. “I just handed you that tea ma’am,” he says while walking back to the table, “you don’t remember anything.” This time it’s a statement not a question.

“The night was sharp and otherworldly.”

He looks at me so hard he looks through me. The pity is back in his eyes.

Looking

If I had to describe it I would have said that she had her sea legs. She swayed from toe to heel in the ebb and flow her hand resting gently on the rail in front of her like an after thought. Her ease was all the more evident as the man with nervous eyes directly to her left gripped the rail like a life line. Was she adrift? Certainly, but she wasn’t casting about for rescue like the man. Her eyes swung over the throng pausing to read this or that sign, to stare out the windows where brief and eerie light would often break the gloom, and when anyone met her gaze head on she smiled before looking away. If the though that I shouldn’t be watching this sure-footed woman had actually crossed my mind I would have dimissed it, the T was a dull dredge of a task only made better by people watching, but it didn’t. So I waited to see if she would notice me also a veteran of the halting jerking MBTA holding a book in one hand and the rail in the other. Till then I would continue to make sailing analogies. She even wore nautical navy trousers and linen all she needed was sun and surf and the look would have been complete. The slow moving green line surfaced, whale-like, she  adjusted her bag freeing a pair of sunglasses and caught me looking. Her eyes dropped and heat raced around my collar. No smile for me then, but she looked back up quickly and smiled before putting on her bright green frames. I watched as she pressed the call button and waited for the doors to open. As the doors slid to a close I walked over to the window to watch her disappear as the T sank back underground. She waved once and fell out of sight. Maybe she was more like a mirage … or a fever dream…

I found a misused copy of this paperback on the shelf of my local swap shack (basically a large lean-to filled with “free to a good home” items) and it begged to be picked up. Like many I knew about the Lovely Bones, it was a bestseller after all, and I had seen the movie, but I had not read the book. So nearly 15 years after it had originally been published I started my secondhand copy with the dark ring shaped stain (suggesting it had functioned as a coffee mug holder way more than as a stunning piece of literature). I am happy to report that where it fails as a coaster it more than succeeds as a work of fiction.

This book opens with one of the most hit you in the chest lines I have ever read.


In my opinion books live and die in the first chapter, if I’m not hooked by the end of Chapter 1 it’s going to be a slog. This book had me by paragraph 1!

There are many things to love about this book, and just as many ways to approach this review. I won’t be sumerizing, go find another review if you are looking for a book report, or doing an in depth character analysis. I will instead give you 5 reasons why you must read this book (as I see them anyway).

  1. The tension- If you love a good who done it mystery or crime drama don’t pass this book up. You may know who did what but believe me there is tension in spades. Will the guilty party be found out? Will Susie figure out how to live in her heaven and in her family’s world? What impact will this have on everyone who was touched by Susie? Can a family torn apart by violence pull together? I could go on too. Don’t be fooled, knowing the killer’s identity does not mean that this story will disappoint in the surprise or gasp worthy moments.
  2. It is not a let’s hold hands and cry cathartically book-So I recently tried to convince someone to read the book and the response was “I don’t like books about little girls being murdered” followed by the “is something wrong with you?” look. That is not this book! Yes of course there are sad moments, Susie and her family grapple with some very serious things, but for me at least it was way more joyous than depressing. For example I felt sheer joy when Lindsey falls in love, laughed out loud at/with Grandma Lynn, and smiled from ear to ear as Ruth cajoles Ray into friendship. Don’t let the emotion behind this story scare you off, embrace it. The young feel everything as passionate extremes allow yourself to get swept up in it, it is Susie’s story after all take this opportunity to look through another’s eyes.
  3. For the lines you will want to highlight and quote (though I cannot condone book disfigurement)- This book is full of memorable lines and I am sure different ones will stand out depending on what you need. Goodreads lists over 200 and I am sure there are even more quotable lines. As I read The Lovely  Bones I was struck by how many people could be reached by Alice Sebold’s words. I found lines to share with those struggling with loss, that I would love to text to my young cousins, to help the many who never felt like they belonged in their current situation, to inspire, to encourage, and to just mull over. The words in this book are living things and each read breaths new life into them.
  4. It is better (longer) than the movie- Now I know that every time you hear this sentence it is accompanied by a look of disdain, but that’s not how I mean it. What I mean is the movie is constrained by time. There is only so much time which can pass during a normal length feature film before the audience loses focus. Whereas books can be as long as they want spanning decades of time. So while the movie keeps us focused on let’s say the next five years surrounding Susie’s murder The book reaches further into the future where we see Lindsey graduate college, Ray working towards an MD, and an aging Mr. Harvey. The reason I like the extended time line is twofold. Firstly, it suggests, with subtlety, the timelessness of Susie’s heaven. The jumps in time are not the same from chapter to chapter and we follow her friends and family for different stretches of time as well. To me this makes perfect sense and is a wonderful way to show the disconnect between Susie and everyone still living on earth. Secondly, it puts a fine point on the fact that Susie doesn’t get to grow up. A little harsh I suppose but true. This is a life and death story told by a young adult and her perspective cannot change because she cannot change (which is important to how the story ends). Mr. Harvey is a man and Susie is a girl if she becomes a woman the fear of him will lessen. So in my opinion the time in the book is critical both explaining and being explained by the story making the book better than the movie.
  5. Karma- So whether or not you believe in the religious component of karma most of us like the idea of good things happening for good people and bad things happening to bad people. Believe it or not, but I think this book adheres to this universal ideology. Yes, something horrible happens to Susie but she is not lessened by it George Harvey is. She is in a perfect world and she receives the ultimate gift in the end (not to give anything away here is tricky). While this may seem like a small consolation I still believe it counts because Susie gets joy, love, and wonder while Mr. Harvey does not. His fate is darker and well deserved.

Susie’s voice is refreshing and the story is captivating, hit the library stacks you will be glad you did.

Spring evening

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~Hungry eyes by ericadalmaso on DeviantArt~

Fucking spring.

I fasten the toggles on my Gloverall and start up the street. The wind pics up.

Tick…tick…tick tick tick tick tickticktick.

Perfect.

I hunch my shoulders, drop my head, and pull my hood up.

Squelch…skewe….squelch…skewe.

Damn it.

I shiver as a stray rain drop slides down my back.

Braaahhhhnnn! Ding ding ding ding. Brraahhhnn!

What time is it?

The cold wet of my pant leg starts to chafe pulling at my attention, a distraction from the ache in my side.

Slap, slap…shhaaaa…slap, slap…aaaahh…slap, slap. Ding…

I stop running and hold my side fighting for a full breath.

6:21! You gotta be kiddin’ me!

“You got a dollar miss? I need to get home.”

Yah, you and me both.

So this is an attempt at writing a first person present tense story. I became interested in this choice of perspective after I came across Whose skin am I in posted by J.S. Kuiken. This post was thought provoking and made me want to try my hand at a new and challenging story telling mechanism. Well it was very hard to tell the story without narrating, but I hope that I was able to keep you interested in my character and her plight. Be sure to check out J.S. Kuiken’s blog.

Façade

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As seen on Etsy - sookimstudio

It was subtle.  Not something the casual observer would have noticed.  Just a few well hidden hairline fractures in the otherwise perfect façade.  The constant fussing with her hair drawing unwanted attention to the pealing faux finish on her designer sunglasses.  The too fancy up-do nearly hiding the roots showing in her outgrown custom balayage highlights.  All the pieces were there, slightly shabby, but there, and to the unobservant she was a woman who had it all totally together.  Truthfully she was on the brink.  The clinched jaw, roving eyes, and fidgety hands gave her away.  She was holding on by her not so professionally manicured finger tips.

“You have to act like you don’t care,” I said over my shoulder when I caught her checking herself in the dark reflective glass of the subway window.

“Excuse me?”

“Act like you don’t care,” I repeated.  “If you have it, you know it, and you don’t have to check on it.”

Her mouth opened and closed a few times before she decided to ignore me, but she didn’t look in the glass again.  Instead she leaned back cocking her hip in an “I’m so bored pose”.  I couldn’t help but smile.

Autumnal Blur

The world wooshed by in an autumnal blur as the Starling Express sped onward.  Even though the blur left Lonnie feeling slightly dizzy he never looked away, like his sister Katrina did, he stared barely blinking.  He was so transfixed so expectant that something exciting would happen that others often found themselves staring out his window too.  Lonnie never noticed them shaking their heads as they walked away.  This was how he had first seen a deer, once a salmon swimming up river jumping a tiny waterfall, and town after town fade away as rails zigged and zagged.  Secretly he felt that just as the train ate mile after mile of track his eyes drank in panoramic sights and slightly smudged Kodak moments.  It was his little blurry world and he loved it.

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All rights to owner

It happened in an instant, the shift from givers to users, and world merrily followed after.  Down hill.  For all the good it did us.

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