Friday, June 19, 2015

One Act Play

(The scene opens on a couple and their young son, around 3 or 4, standing on the steps of a home.)

Martha: Todd, sweetie, could you please fix your shirt? It’s untucked in the back and we want to make a good impression. And Jackson, wipe that dirt off your pant leg! Can’t you stay clean for once? My goodness!

Todd: Take a deep breath, we’re all cleanly shaved, showered, and dressed. Jackson had some apple slices before we left so he should be fine until we leave for supper. Everything’s going to be fine, Martha, just relax. 

(Martha takes a deep breath, then rings the doorbell. A loud commotion can be heard from outside the house and the door opens. A dog rushes out and jumps onto Martha.)

Martha: Oh dear! Oh no, my pants! They were brand new!

(The dog had jumped on Martha, his dirty paws staining her new, white pants. A woman emerges into the doorway, wearing a old t-shirt and ripped jeans covered in paint stains.) 

Dakota: Sorry about Baxter. He can get a little jumpy when meeting new faces. But please, come in, come in! My name is Dakota, and my husband Mark will be come upstairs in a little bit, he's down in his studio. Can I interest you in a drink?

Todd: A glass of ice water would be perfect, thank you. 

Martha: Jackson, why don't you go find Brian and play, ok? I'll call you when we're going to leave. 

(Jackson runs down the hallway to find his friend Brian. Martha looks around the dirty living room, trying to find something to compliment.)

Martha: Oh what a lovely painting! Did Brian paint that? 

Dakota: No, I did. 

Martha: Oh. 

Todd: SO anyways Dakota, what do you do for a living?

Dakota: I don't really have a job, I spend most of my time at home painting or making jewelry, and Mark usually stays downstairs and does his wood work. 

Martha: So you don't have a real job? 

Dakota: My job is painting and sometimes I make jewelry. 

Martha: But how do you make money?How are you even able to afford little things like food? Where do you get your income? 

Dakota: I'll sell my paintings and jewelry online on my website, and Mark makes tables and carvings that he can sell. 

Martha: People actually buy that stuff? 

Dakota: Sometimes money can be tough for us and we have an extremely tight budget when it comes to clothes and food, but we're doing what we love. 

Martha: Shouldn't you love going to bed in a full stomach and seeing your son in clean, new clothes?

Dakota: I provide my son with everything he needs and more, and just because I don't sit behind a desk all day crunching numbers doesn't make me any less of a person than you are. I'm happy doing my work, it's something I love. And shouldn't that be what life's all about? Doing what makes you happy and living the best life you possibly can? 

Martha: I think having a steady income is the best life you can live. 

Dakota: Well I disagree with you there, Martha. I actually choose to enjoy life and make it fun and interesting. Now if you'll excuse me, I have plenty of food in which I prepared for you both, let me grab it from the kitchen. 

(Dakota exits the room, and Todd gives Martha a disapproving look. Then the lights fade out.) 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Picture Perfect Stories

The hangover hit me hard, the room spinning if I moved too fast or tried to walk around. The sharp, white lights of the hospital fueled a raging headache which probably created a pain the equivalent of being whacked in the head with a hammer or some kind of hatchet. I want to see her, I need to, but the small amounts of food I had managed to keep down were threatening to find a way outside of my body whenever I would attempt to stand. The doctors have ordered me to remain in the waiting area, only immediate family could enter the ICU, but I need to see her. Need to see that she was okay, to see that she was going to be fine and nothing was wrong, that once she woke up everything would be okay and go back to normal. I need the guilt that was sitting in the pit of my stomach, along with the alcohol and a couple crackers, to go away. I need to know I haven’t hurt her. I would never hurt her. But somehow we ended up here, her expensive dress ripped to shreds with her blood smeared on my tuxedo and alcohol staining my breath, my ’72 Chevelle at the bottom of the reservoir.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the sky was clear, not a cloud to be seen for at least a few miles. The temperature was what most would describe as perfect, not too hot yet not too cool either, a slight breeze swayed the tree branches and allowed the leaves to dance while birds sang quietly in the background. It was the kind of day people would pray for, fathers would stop watching the game long enough to mow the lawn and mothers would kneel inside their gardens, while children would actually put down their phones long enough to enjoy the weather, the volume of their screams and laughs escalating thanks to the absence of walls and the need for an “inside voice”. For most it was a perfect day. But I resented the birds, and the way their singing reminded me of hers. I wished clouds would completely cover the sky, the enormous, dark clouds that made it seem like the sun would never appear again, clouds that would quiet the children’s’ laughs and force parents to put their landscaping tools back inside the shed. I wanted it to rain, complete torrential downpour, the kind of rain that caused flood warning alerts to make everyone’s phones buzz. The world wasn't deserving of sunny, with perfect temperatures and a slight breeze. The trees didn’t deserve to dance and the birds shouldn’t be allowed to sing. The children aren’t allowed to laugh and moms and dads don’t deserve to get to try and make their yards look better than their neighbor the next door over. Not when she couldn’t either.

I had loved her ever since the day I saw her. Had never spoken to her, she probably didn't even notice me, but I was completely, head over heels in love with her. The first thing I had noticed were her eyes, large and round, a sparkling emerald color that would sometimes change based on the atmosphere around her. I was captivated by her eyes, then the splash of freckles would peak through the minimal makeup on her face. Her cheeks were rosy pink, often becoming red when she felt awkward or a little uncomfortable in a situation. Her hair was golden, soft and smooth, and reflected the sun whenever she'd flip it over her shoulder or pull it back, which she did whenever she fully got into her zone, oblivious to everything else besides her task. Her clothes were always simple, never drawing too much attention to herself, yet she somehow always managed to look better than everyone around her. But there was something wrong with her nose. Her nose always seemed out of place, like it didn't belong on a face as beautiful and stunning as hers. A small trickle of blood always seemed to crawl it's way onto her lip, never a lot but enough for her to become flustered and frustrated and rush out of the room. She started spending more and more time sleeping; in the library, during study hall, sometimes she'd even clock out during class, often earning we a lecture I'm positive she'd tune out. She had been a smart student, no valedictorian or anything, but bright enough to to get her into a good college, yet suddenly she stopped showing up for class, staying for attendance then scurrying into the bathroom. Her bones started to become more prominent, her face sullen and pale, her lips chapped and cracked. Her emerald eyes lost their sparkle, turning dull and empty. She was still beautiful, nothing could change that. But she had changed, she now seemed so sad, so damaged. Broken. 

The office lights of the overachievers still working late, the ones loved for their job, who rarely went home and their significant other was the company laptop instead of a real living a breathing human, lit up the city. It was my favorite view, the brightness in contrast to the dark skyline. It had been that way ever since I was a child. I'd sit on the small window seat next to the window of our 2 bedroom apartment on the fourteenth floor of the old brick building and watch the sun disappear and the stars come out. The city continued to move no matter the time, taxi drivers swerving around everyone else, horns muting the expletives almost every driver would yell. Some people hated the noise, the inevitable craziness of city made them turn their noses away and sprint towards the suburbs. But I loved it. The city was filled with people constantly moving about and noise that never stopped and the occasional rodent that would scurry past you and hiss while you waited for the subway. That germ-infested, rodent-crawling, street food selling, office light lit up city was my home, it was where I belonged. 

I have always been afraid to fly. The idea of being trapped and restrained inside a metal contraption that's flying hundreds of miles an hour thousands of feet above the ground just isn't something I find to be fun or exciting. When I was a child, and my family took us around the world, I was fine with planes and the idea of flying. The sky didn't scare me and I enjoyed flying with the clouds. The constant motion of all different people inside the airports always captivated my attention and as a child, you can never go wrong with gift shops at every corner. Security was always my least favorite, the shrill sounds of metal detectors always hurt my ears. But flying never really bothered me. But for some reason, when I boarded the plane headed towards Europe, panic set in and the plane walls caved and all I wanted was to get off the plane. I hadn't been on a plane ever since the accident, but I didn't think it would be problem. It shouldn't have been an issue, I had flown countless times with them, but all I needed was to get off the plane. 

Three hours. All I had to do was make it through three hours of the reception then it was officially acceptable to leave before everyone became too hammered and something awful would happen. The ceremony had been torturous. Her blonde hair was perfectly curled and pulled into a fancy knot that rested by the nape of her neck. Her dress was simple, white with some embellishments around her petite waist, fitted tightly to her perfect figure. Her skin was perfectly tanned, a perk of living by the water and never having to work due to Daddy's paycheck. Her jewelry was equisite, probably costing more than my student loan debt. And then there was him, waiting for her at the end of the aisle. Smiling, his eyes only on her. His tuxedo was perfectly tailored to fit his slim figure perfectly. His usual scruff had left his chin and his hair had been cut and styled perfectly. And I hated him for it. I wished he had gotten fat so his suit looked rumpled and wrinkled, ugly and imperfect. I wished he had gotten some gene from his family which made him go bald and grey by the time he had hit 25, and I wish his wife to be wasn't a supermodel who never looked less than perfect. But I got the invitation asking if I would attend, a phone call promising it wouldn't be weird, and now I'm here enduring torture for at least three more hours. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Picture Perfect

It was beautiful to look at. The water was always blue and clear, with the occasional fish swimming by my feet. The rocks were large and smooth, which made them less painful when walking barefoot. Trees grew tall all around the sides of the spring pool, creating a wall that hid itself from the world. Hid me. The first couple times it had happened, I had just sat there, stunned, my face stinging, , unable to move a muscle. I had run to my room and let the tears stain my cheeks. I had been afraid of ever coming out of my room, fear of what would happen to me or what he would say to me, but the bottle of Scotch usually ended up wiping away any memories he had of the previous. He'd get drunk almost every night, wailing for her to come, praying he'd wake up and she'd be lying next to him, healthy and cancer free. But each night would drag on, and she would not come. Liquor was his only friend, and he'd get too drunk to remember why I was covered in bruises. That's how I found the place. I had walked in after school and could hear him puking in the kitchen, and he was screaming out her name. I was too afraid to face him, so I ran. Ran deep into the woods and had no intention of stopping until I was too far to go back. And I reached the pool with rocks that weren't too sharp and the trees that hid it from the world, and I prayed I would never have to go back.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Burst" Writing

Prompt: Write a short story in which one character reduces another to uncontrollable sobs without touching or speaking to the person.

264 days. He had boarded the planes and left for Afghanistan 264 days ago. 324 days ago he had gotten down onto his bad knee and promised me a lifetime of happiness and love as long as I said a simple three letter word. 324 days ago he scooped me into his arms and placed the ring on my finger and I couldn't stop smiling for who knows how much time. 323 days ago we were lying together in our small apartment overlooking the city and he promised me the world, a life for the two of us. He promised me a family, 2 boys and a girl, that we could watch grow up. To scold when they would take home a grade we knew could be better or to praise when they won an award or scored a goal. He promised me a new home, in the suburbs so the kids could run and play but still close to the city we were both raised in. A big, pale blue house with a giant kitchen and a porch that wrapped around the front, a place where I could drink a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise. The back yard would be surrounded by a white picket fence, keeping our dog on our property and out of the flowers. 323 days ago we planned our forever, our lives and how we could share them. But 6 days ago, the soldier came to up to the door of our little apartment, dog tags and a letter in his hands. He didn't have to speak, or open his lips, or even look me in the eye. I knew, tears flowing from my eyes, muffled sobs escaping my lips. He did not have to move for me to know, that in that very instant, forever was over. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015


It was an everyday routine. The alarm would begin its annoying yet effective beeping at exactly 5:27 a.m., which allows me about three minutes to stare up into the darkness as my ceiling fan swings in circles. After the three minutes pass, I’d crawl into the bathroom about 100 feet away and hop in the shower, usually taking about 12 minutes. After I had finished in the shower, I’d dry my hair, it’s length and thickness taking up about 20 minutes of my time. Make up normally took about nine minutes, and I’d spend about six minutes dressing myself in the plain clothes that I had placed on my dresser the night before. Never anything fancy or nice, as it would often end up getting dirty and being covered by the heavy suit if we got the call. After I finished getting dressed, I’d walk about 300 feet into the small apartment kitchen where it would take four minutes to make a pot of coffee and pour it into a travel cup, then climb into my car. The station was only 5 minutes away, so if I remained on task and got ready as I did everyday, I’d get to work with a few minutes to spare before my shift would start.

I always had everything planned out. My days were always mapped out, strategically set up so everything went perfectly, as planned. I was always perfect. I’d sit at the my desk waiting for the phone to ring, usually an older woman who needed her cat rescued from a tree, but occasionally we’d have to send the trucks out or an ambulance to the scene of a nearby accident. I stood in the small kitchen, making myself some breakfast. I never would usually leave my desk while on duty, but my lunch break wasn’t for a while today and I was more hungry than usual. I may or may not have decided to pour myself a glass of wine, and then another, but really I can’t remember. As I may or may not have been pouring my third glass, I heard the faint ring of the phone in the other room, and I sprinted to my desk to answer it. Bus accident and few miles away, many injured and 2 dead so far. I dispatched the ambulances, then sat at my desk relieved my change in schedule hadn’t cost anyone a life or me to miss the call. I walked back into the kitchen to find if engulfed in flames.