Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Speakeasy #160: Rock My World

"Tell me if you're game?"

The question was asked so furtively it aroused Esau's curiosity.

"I'm game," came the whispered response.

"Yes! Good. Get Petr and meet me back here at sundown".

As Esau came out of the passage he saw the two men, a conspiratorial look about them. It was not unusual for these two to spend time together, for Ronan often consulted with Allan while working in the mine, and they frequently visited together during meals. But this furtive whispering was different than the easy banter Esau normally observed, and Esau wondered why.

He'd not spent much time with either men; though Esau and Ronan were both from the Kuran tribe and Esau had been at Elbrus now for a full season. He’d found it difficult to make friends and thought it was because he was so much younger than the others, Ronan and Allan were at least five summers older, and they usually ignored him.

Ronan acknowledged Esua now, and headed for the exit passageway, while Allan turned up a different corridor. Ordinarily, Allan would eat and sleep with the workers, but yesterday visitors had arrived from the Rioni and Arak tribes, and Esau knew that Allan, as the Elbrus Heir, would be expected to attend meals and other functions with his tribe.

Esau couldn't help but wonder what Allan and Ronan were planning, for it seemed highly suspicious that they would be planning to sneak off together when such important guests were on site.

Later that night, after dinner was over and the sun almost set, Esau unobtrusively followed Ronan and another man out of camp and into the mine entrance, where Ronan had agreed to rendezvous with Allan.

Esau noted that someone had recently replaced the crystals set in strategic locations throughout the cave; they emitted a low light that illuminated the otherwise dark interior of the place. Esau stayed well back in the passageway as the men he followed met and greeted Allan; creeping forward quietly as they made their way into the most recently excavated mineshaft.

This new mineshaft had just been opened two days before, as the miners quarried a newly discovered vein of crystal for which Elbrus was so famous, and in the process had discovered a huge, cavernous chamber whose very walls shimmered with immeasurable wealth. The Elbrus leader had immediately stopped further excavation in order to decide what to do with this fantastic space, for it seemed the setting was much more valuable than the crystals it contained. As Esau faced into that chamber now, he estimated it would be large enough for all the people of Elbrus and Kura to gather within and still have room for more.

Esau watched as the men made their way to the far edge of the chamber and found places to perch.

When Ronan pulled out the flute he'd been given as a child, Esau began to smile.

Allan was setting a large, hollow, wooden base upon a flat surface, carefully placing varying sizes of stone slabs upon the base, while Petr uncovered a handheld drum fashioned from a hollowed tree trunk, over which he'd stretched some sort of animal skin.

"Ready?" Allan asked, his quiet voice easily resonating across the distance.

And then they began to play.

Esau had heard music before, although only rarely and usually only on ritualistic, solemn occasions.

This was different.

This was like nothing he had heard before.

The flute was old and had been handed down through generations, deer bone hollowed and pierced just so; it produced a high, sweet note that rose and fell with Ronan's breath in a playful crescendo of trills and tones.

After a moment, Petr struck a rhythmic staccato upon his drum, while Allan created a mellifluous tempo upon an instrument that would be known one day as a lithophone, playing a melody of chiming notes that harmonized in accordance and consonance with the other instruments.

Obviously these men had played together before, the music flowed and danced upon the air, vibrating and reverberating within the chamber and beyond. As the music continued, Esau became aware of others filing in around him, including the Leaders and their Heirs; men and women drawn to the music and the resonance and the pulse, stimulated by the intensifying cadence as the composition repeated and built. And as they came, Esau noticed how Allan's smile widened and grew, and Esau knew then that this was exactly what Allan had set out to achieve.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Speak Easy #159 - Pyre

Pyre sat cross-legged on the ledge outside the cave at Eagle Peak, trimming the leopard skin that his cousin, Tulie, had gifted him recently in celebration of his last name-day. The fur was thick and the skin supple; Tulie had done a superb job curing the hide. Pyre felt certain he would look very striking draped in the cloak this would make.

Pyre set his flint knife aside, laying the hide in his lap and stared, unseeing, as thoughts of his cousin filled his mind. He thought of Tulie, out in the forest with her band of women, learning survival skills and exulting in a freedom that Pyre could only long for. It hardly seemed fair to him, that Tulie, as Heir to the Rioni tribe, could be free to roam the wilderness for days on end, while he, Heir to the Kuran tribe, must remain ever confined, needed for one task or another; this time to aid his father in planning and storing winter inventories.

"Where are you?" he wondered idly, sending the thought out into the morning air, imagining her lovely face in his mind and forming a connection just like that.

"I'm at the fork of the Tilik river," came the reply, silent except within his mind, "Janna is teaching us how to spear fish." And suddenly Pyre’s mind was filled with images that Tulie must be projecting to him; of four women perched somewhat precariously on rocks jutting out over the river, thrusting and stabbing long spears into the dark, swirling water.

Pyre closed his eyes to allow the images to continue undisturbed; vicariously enjoying the impressions Tulie sent of her friends, unfettered by responsibility and duty. Tulie sent a whoop of joy through the mind-link as one of the younger women struck true; muscling her spear up out of the water with a large, glistening, wriggling fish dangling from the end. Suddenly losing her balance, Breean fell off the rock and into the water. But the river was shallow and she managed to keep the fish on the spear as she splashed her way to the shore, laughing and heedless of the shocking cold. The girl lay the spear down amidst the sand and the rocks, the fish still firmly attached, and they watched, collectively, as it fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.

"I've got to go, Pyre. I'll need to get Breean out of these wet clothes and you should not be here for that."

"Wait," Pyre sent a thought back through the link, "I can help. Show me your location again." He studied the details she sent into his mind, until he found what he was seeking."There, stop. Hold your sight; yes, just there." He fixed his attention on a small pile of driftwood leaning against an outcropping of stone some distance from the shore.

He opened his mind to the power that lay dormant within his spirit, shaping flame from the spark of his imagination; casting fire through the link he held with his cousin, where it flared into existence and suddenly the driftwood caught and burned brightly with an unnatural intensity.

"Yeah, Pyre!” Tulie exclaimed. “I knew you could call fire, but I didn’t know you could project it like that!"

“I didn’t know you could project images either; it’s what gave me the idea.”

“Well, thanks! This was a big help. I never asked; what are you doing?”

“I’m working on the leopard hide you gave me and wondering what I ever did to deserve such a gift?”

“You gave me that cloak of silver fox fur last summer, don’t you remember?”

Of course he remembered. It had taken three seasons to hunt enough silver foxes to make the cloak. “Nothing but the best between cousins, right?”

“Right! I have to go, cousin. Maybe I’ll see you soon?”

“Probably not before winter sets in. But, you never know.”
He felt the link fade as he opened his eyes and became aware of the weight of the fur in his lap, “Thanks again for the hide, Tulie.”

But she was already gone.

He sighed, and picked up his flint knife again, wishing he could be spear fishing, or hunting silver foxes, instead of waiting for his father to call him to task.

“Pyre!” As if on cue, Aron popped his head out of the cave, “What are you doing? There’s no time for daydreaming. We’re waiting on you in the storeroom. Let’s go”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SpeakEasy #158: Embers

Embers burn slowly
Like underlying resentment
Ready to burst into flame
At the slightest stirring
Of angry winds

For a time it seems
the embers might die
The spark snuffed out
With rain like tears
Or sorrow

But then the embers
reignite and thrive
Smoldering by the fuel
and intensity
Of our Passion

Finally the embers
Merge and flame on
The rightness eclipsed
every mistake
made along the way

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Speakeasy #157 Viva la Resistance

Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold. The night was bitterly cold, as bitter as the hunger and the heartache that plagued most of Paris during this winter of 1943.

She was being followed. Giselle could feel it in her bones just as surely as she felt the cold. She pulled her scarf tighter around her neck and head, her hand gripped around the note in the pocket as if her very life depended on it. She knew it would cost her life, if the Gestapo caught her with it.

The click of her heels echoed loudly, so as she rounded the corner, Giselle took off her shoes despite the cold, running as fast as she could, barefoot and silent. Zigzagging down streets and alleys in a path meant to confuse; cutting through another alley just ahead and finally into an unlit shopfront where Jean-Pierre met her and closed the door behind them.

"You were followed?" Her brother asked, concern written on his gaunt, brave face, as he led her into the dim interior of the unused shop.

She nodded, catching her breath after the long run. "I can't be sure, but I think I lost him. I never saw who it was." She took the paper from her pocket and handed it to him. "You must wait until morning to deliver this. Don't go out tonight, Jean-Pierre; promise me you will wait." The gaze she fixed on the young man was stern, because she knew he would rather have joined a resistance group that hunted and killed Nazi's rather than this subversive group that seemed only to pass on information.

"There is a doctor," Giselle whispered, "He lives at 11 Avenue Foch. There is a picture in his window, for you to know you are at the right place. It is an unusual drawing, of a baby in a womb. Knock at the door of the apartment where you see this picture and give the note to the boy who answers. His name is Phillip, he is the doctor's son. He will know what to do with this message. I don't know what it is; it's in code. The man who gave it to me thought it best not to know, so that if you are captured and tortured, you can't give anything away."

She shuddered with foreboding and Jean-Pierre's eyes widened as he looked at the crumpled piece of paper in his hand, though they were both young and naive and had no real idea of the danger their involvement would bring.

They sat down in a darkened corner, and she unbuttoned her coat, removing a worn satchel and extracting a stale baguette and a round of cheese, which they shared eagerly.

After a time she stood, retrieving her satchel and covering her auburn hair with the scarf, buttoning her coat over her too thin torso, while Jean-Pierre stuffed the note into an inner pocket and stood with her.

He hugged her fiercely, fearing to be alone again when she left, but too proud to admit it. He was fourteen, after all; too old to be hanging on to the skirts of his older sister.

"Stay here until morning," Giselle warned him again, as he followed her to the shopfront. "Don't go home; don't go find any of your friends. Don't come to the club." She gave him that look again, and he nodded. There was too much fear to allow them to smile, but the look they shared, and the love it embodied, eased their spirits somewhat.

"You'll be safe here," she assured him, though she hugged her brother as though it might be the last she ever gave him. "Promise?"

He nodded again, locking the door behind her as she left, lingering at the window and watching until she disappeared from sight.

The nightclub was quiet tonight, just a few patrons drinking quietly at the bar. There was a fire burning in the stove near the piano, so it was warm as she took off her coat and sat, striking a low, lonely key before signaling the owner for a drink.

She was just finishing a slow love song when the door opened and the enemy in Gestapo uniform entered. Her heart constricted when he sat, menacingly, at the table directly in front of her, blocking her only exit. Giselle launched into the national anthem, La Marseillaise.

Viva la Resistance, she thought, determined to be brave and defiant to the end.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Speakeasy #156: A garden by the lake

"When are you going to let me take you away from this life and make an honest woman out of you?" Sebastian asked Mathilda sulkily, pulling on his pants and removing an uncounted sum of money from his pocket.

"Just as soon as you're ready to bring me home to that nice ranch of yours out by the lake," Mattie answered him as she always did; lazing on the bed half draped with sweat stained sheets and the other half bathed in sunlight streaming in through a high, narrow window.

"Ah, Mattie. Why can't you just agree to be my mistress and let me set you up in a nice little cottage outside of town?"

"And just what do you suppose I would do with myself when you aren't there?" She pouted, wondering why he didn't know how much his proposal tempted her, and how it hurt her even more.

"You could plant a garden and learn how to sew and cook and do other useful things," he suggested.

She laughed in disbelief, hooking the buttons of her dress and looking at her reflection in the faded mirror to make sure the bustle hung just right over her bottom. "Sure, I could just see myself, pullin' weeds and shooin' away the rabbits when they get too close to my vegetables!"

Sebastian's throaty laugh thrilled Mathilda, "That would be a sight to see! Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate."

"You would have to teach me to shoot," Mattie suggested, wistfully thinking that maybe then she could challenge his wife to a duel. Mattie didn't speak that last thought out loud, but Sebastian read it in her face and he pulled her into his arms for a long, lingering embrace.

"Someday," he fisted his fingers into her thick, blond hair, whispering the unspoken promise in her ear; and she tried not to let her heart believe him, though it had been lost so very long ago.

She smiled her best unassuming smile and pushed him out the door. She was still dreaming about a garden overlooking the lake, blooming with a thousand flowers, when the next knock came at her door.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Etha followed Madra and the others into the dimly lit cave, moving slowly, allowing their eyes to adjust to the darkness and giving their senses time to become aware of their surroundings before they could no longer see those surroundings. They traversed down a narrow hallway to a large open area, filing in with Madra in the lead, followed by Etha and the four other novices behind. It was dark, but not so dark that Etha couldn't make out the shapes of the others nearby, or sense the distance to the walls or the opening through which they had come.

As the girls settled to a sitting position, Etha sought to still her nerves; she was slightly irritated at the irreverent whispers of the girls around her, and struggling with feelings of anticipation and fear. Etha was normally very confident and self assured, but now she felt only trepidation and uncertainty.

"Let us begin," Madra spoke quietly, pausing for a moment to ensure she had the girls attention. "I chose you for this lesson because you have all shown an affinity for Gaea, an awareness of the Earth Mother and her many aspects. I brought you to this place to have you try to open yourself to Gaea's senses and hear if she might speak to you."

Madra's voice was soft and muted, as though the very walls tried to absorb and swallow her words. "Lie back with your eyes closed, listen to my words and tune out all other thoughts in your mind. Slow the rhythm of your breathing, and just listen to that rhythm. Breath in... Breath out... Breath in... Breath out. Let the rhythm of your breathing match the rhythm of earth's pulse, and let yourself become aware..."

Madra's words quieted, and Etha opened her senses to her surroundings. She could feel the coldness emanating into the darkness of the room, felt the pressure of the earth weighing down upon her spirit as her consciousness moved beyond the boundaries of the cave until it felt as though she were sinking. Down, down into the depths she sank, becoming aware of the presence and the pulse of Gaea's lifeblood and it seemed as though she were becoming absorbed within the earth. Etha tried not to panic as she became attuned to a pulse outside her own and knew the very moment when her own lifeblood merged with something far bigger and more powerful that she had ever imagined.

Gaea's rhythm was slow and ponderous, and Etha lost all sense of self and time as she traced Gaea’s lifeblood, beating with a rhythm that radiated slowly, sluggishly. It pulsed with a steady beat, pushing, seeking; burrowing outwards through dark heaviness and slowly, slowly reaching upwards, searching, seeking until finally it found and infused a network of roots and tendrils and life.

Etha's consciousness expanded, twisting and twining, pulsing and surging outwards, upwards, further and further until Etha felt herself stretched beyond her capacity to comprehend; as though she might lose herself in the infinite being that was Gaea. She sensed power calling to her, nourishing her lifeblood as surely as it had infused the network of living plants and Etha hungered for this power more surely than she hungered for food. It frightened her, for she didn't understand it. This was so far beyond her scope of understanding, but the more she tried, the more panicked she became. In alarm, Etha began to struggle against the weight and the presence of Gaea, closing her senses to all but her own panic and forcing her thoughts back into the confines of her own body, lying on the cold, hard floor of the cave.

Her eyes snapped open and she sat up. Her heart was racing and her body was covered with a light sweat.

"Where are the others?" She asked Madra, seeing that she was alone with the Spiritual Leader.

"I sent them away," Madra replied, a hint of exasperation in voice. "They were not able to remain still enough to reach a trance state like you did."

Etha nodded, disoriented and unsettled. "How long have we been here?" She asked.

"Quite a while. The meal bell has rung twice since we began. Are you ready to speak of your experience? Did Gaea speak to you?”

"I... No. I’m sorry” Etha shivered as her sense of self slowly returned even as she yearned to return to that state of selflessness; so at odds with the fear of being consumed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Karl and Stefan

Todays writing prompt is to write a scene about the first time your father saw your mother. In this case, I decided to write about Tulie's father and mother, one of my characters from "visions of the past"

It was high summer and the gathering was coming to an end. This year only five tribes had gathered, and there had been a great celebration for all the boys, like Karl and Stefan, who had attained the status of manhood this summer. The celebrations were over now and the tribes were starting to return to their homes, but Terell of Riana had insisted that her tribe linger, in order to provide additional spiritual guidance and testing.

Karl and Stefan had been friends for as long as Karl could remember. As heirs of two of Kakaesian tribal leaders, they had often spent time in each other’s company at summer gatherings and Exchanges. Over the years they had formed a strong friendship based on common interests and goals.

Earlier that day, the Kakaesian Spiritual Leader had gathered the newly-marked men for testing and training, and Karl had soon become bored with the whole process. He was actually somewhat relieved when Terell had discovered no trace of the skills or abilities that she sought.

She had tested Karl and Stefan together, and Stefan had shown a certain ability to receive thoughts, though he couldn't mind-speak directly; no matter how hard he had tried to send his thoughts out to others no one heard him but himself.

Karl, on the other hand, had shown no trace of spiritual ability, his spirit didn't seem to extend beyond his own physical body and mind; he could neither mind-speak nor project his sight beyond that which his own eyes could see.

They left the tent that had been erected for the testing, Stefan prattling on about his excitement about the prospect of traveling to the Riana valley this winter for training.

It had been dark in the tent and Karl's eyes were still adjusting to the brightness of the day, when suddenly someone came bounding around the corner of the tent and ran right into him with such force that he lost his balance and fell to his knees.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going. I'm so sorry. Here let me help you up."

Karl eyed the tall, gangly, dark haired girl as she put her hands around his arm and tried to hoist him up; but Karl was so mesmerized by her impish features that he just sat there, stunned and immovable.

"Madra? Where did you come from?" Stefan asked, his expression as perplexed as Karl imagined his own to be. "And why haven't we seen you at all during the gathering?"

"Oh, I just arrived. Mother wanted me to spend some time at Elbrus; but now that she's almost ready to go home, she wanted me to join her here so I could travel with her when she leaves."

Could this really be Terell's daughter? Karl wondered. "The last time I saw you, you were just a little girl throwing rocks at me for calling you names."

Laughter lit her golden eyes. "And now here I am, knocking you down into the dirt. What an ill-mannered child you must think me!"


Terell's voice emerged from behind them, and before Karl could think of a reply to her last statement, the girl had dropped his arm and rushed forward to greet her mother with a warm embrace.

“You made excellent timing getting here,” Terell said, with a note of pride in her voice, turning the girl towards the tent. “I’m glad, as there is much to do. We still have a few more boys to test and you can help with that, and then I’ll want you to help with the packing for our return.”

“Oh, Mother, I just got here. Can’t I at least rest for a while?” the girl complained, but went willingly enough with the older woman, turning back to Karl and Stefan with a quick grin and a wave.

Stefen let out a low whistle of appreciation as she disappeared into the tent with her mother. “Maybe she’ll get to help with my training this winter,” he said.

A sense of jealousy flickered towards his friend, and Karl found himself wishing he hadn’t yet been tested, for he had felt a definite spark within his spirit when this girl had locked her golden eyes on his, and it was like nothing he had ever felt before.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Survival skills

Without a word, she dropped to the ground. Quietly, she crept forward, creeping slowly past the tree she’d been hiding in and pouncing suddenly upon the three women who were supposed to be stalking her; causing them to screech in surprise and dismay.

“Ah, Tulie!” Mara exclaimed. “Where in Gaea’s name did you come from? We’ve been searching for you forever.”

“You’re supposed to be learning survival skills,” Tulie admonished the women. “If I had been a leopard, you would have been its meal.”

“There hasn’t been any sign of big cats in the area,” Mara protested.

“That’s not the point,” Tulie retorted, “You didn’t even know I was near.”

“That’s not fair, Tulie,” Janna complained, “you only told us that you would be hiding, you didn’t tell us you were going to be hunting us yourself.”

“I didn’t tell you I would stay hidden in one place, did I?” Tulie asked the flustered girls. “I just said that you should find me. You walked right past me and didn’t even sense that I was there.”

“Where were you?” asked Luann, “we searched this entire area, twice.”

“I know! I watched you, looking behind every bush and rock, even behind the trees, but you never once thought to look up, did you?” Tulie scoffed. “ I was right there the whole time!” She pointed to the large tree where she had been perched, nestled in the lowest branch. “That should have been the first place you looked.

“Come on, then. Let’s go back to camp and we’ll try this again in the morning.” As Tulie led the women back to their base camp, she thought about other lessons she could teach them. She’d already taught them to scout out the safest areas for making camp, to provide shelter and fire for themselves, to find and replenish provisions as needed.

Her goal was to prepare them to journey, undetected and alone; to be able to travel between and among the various tribes within the region. To observe and report the activities of those tribes to Madra, the Riannan leader, who was the spiritual leader of the region, and Tulie’s mother as well.

These women were the daughters of the Kakaesian tribal leaders, chosen to be the Appointed among the tribes; though they’d not be assigned to their own tribe, for their loyalty must be to Madra. They had been chosen, not just because they were the daughters of the leaders, but also because they had shown signs of possessing the skills necessary to be Appointed; the primary skill being able to mind-speak across distances. Perhaps, Tulie considered, this might be what she should practice next.

“Tonight, we’ll spend the night in silence,” Tulie spoke within their minds, for she not only had the ability to mind-speak, but she could link their thoughts together so they could hear each other and not just one another. “Speak only through the link, and only the thoughts you want to share.”

“What, you don’t want to hear Janna’s thoughts about bedding Ronnald?” Mara quipped, “or Luann’s longing for home?”

“Probably not,” Tulie laughed, “and I don’t want to hear your thoughts about how hungry you are, either Mara, unless it is to tell us what you will prepare for us to eat.”

Tulie fetched her water skin and filled it from a nearby stream, all the while being plagued with an odd sensation of being watched, though her scrutiny of the surroundings didn’t show anything unusual or particularly dangerous. Through the link, she warned the girls to be especially aware, even as she heightened her own senses, loosening her spear from its place on her belt and bringing it to hand.

A strong, musky scent was the only warning Tulie had, drawing her eyes upward into the tree directly ahead, where she saw the leopard just as it sprang with powerful momentum in the same moment Tulie flung her spear with all her strength and speed. Tulie felt shock and fear within the link as they waited for the impact to come.

And then a silence descended within the link, as the women pondered what had just occurred, eventually they busied themselves with their chosen chores. Mara was the designated cook, and she sent thoughts to the group about starting the fire, while Luann offered to find some tubers if Mara would make a stew; and Janna sighed and thought about Ronnald, much to the amusement of all, while Tulie set about skinning the cat.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The tree

Write everything you know about your favorite tree

Jolene lay, surrounded by rock and short grass, under an ancient tree; peering up through thick, wide needles and gnarled limbs that seemed to spiral up and up and up. The canopy of this tree was wide and glorious, spreading out in a maze of branches for birds to nest and perch upon. The web of branches were so thick that Jolene could hardly see the sky above, except through small pockets of light where she could see soft clouds and brilliant sunlight, streaking down through the branches and the needles.

Before she had lain down in the grass, her twin brother, Josef, had left her to go lay on the other side of the tree, but the trunk was so massive she could no longer see him at all.

She only knew he was there because she could feel the wonder in his thoughts, linked to hers across the distance.

“It seems so real,” Jolene heard his thoughts in her mind, “like I could actually touch it if I wanted!”

In reality, they weren’t anywhere near the tree, for they did not know where it stood, except within this memory. The memory had passed to Jolene from her mother, Shanidar, who had passed it to her daughter along with the ancestral memories that her mother had passed on to her when she had died. These ancestral memories were as old as the tree, and perhaps as difficult to follow as the gnarled maze of the branches twisting above. But the memory was as real and solid as was the tree, and one day Jolene knew that someone would find it, and would touch the tree as she now saw Josef touching it in her thoughts.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Things people don't touch

Write a list titled, “Things people don’t touch.”

Obvious things:
A hot stove
Burning coals
Dog poop
My ex-husband’s feet
The wind
A rainbow
Your shadow
A tongue to a frozen pole
Art in a museum

Things I don’t touch:
Too strong emotions
Optimism (why change a good thing)
My 401K retirement

I'm sure there are lots of things that people don't touch. For some reason, this exercise didn't touch my creativity!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tenth lap

Write a scene that involves a shallow lake and a margarita.

Maria swam a few more laps in the shallow lake, counting the strokes to know when to turn back; twenty five strokes up, twenty five strokes back. Was this the seventh or the eighth lap? She couldn’t remember, decided it was the eighth and prepared herself to do two more. It was early in the season, so ten laps was about all she could manage; as the season progressed she would either increase to twenty laps, or change the stroke count to fifty up, fifty back. That was the nice thing about swimming in the lake, you just swim parallel to the shore and you could swim as many strokes as you like. When she was younger she liked to swim out into the middle of the lake, but as she got older she had learned that it was better to be closer to the shore in case a cramp came on or a boat came unexpectedly around the corner and into her cove.

She swam out twenty five strokes, then turned around to swim back, slowing down to a breast stroke and surveying the surroundings. The sun was starting to go down and the cove was starting to darken from the lengthening shadows of the trees and hills surrounding the cove. Overhead, the buzzards were circling lazily, looking for scavenge, or perhaps waiting for Maria to drown. A blue heron had flown in to the cove sometime around her fourth lap, and Maria was captivated by its grace and beauty. She knew the large bird would fly away as soon as she came out of the water, but for now it was lovely to look at and Maria felt that it’s presence added a sense of serenity to her late afternoon swim.

At twenty five strokes she turned, this time swimming a side stroke, facing in towards the shore, when suddenly the heron startled and opened its large wings and flapped up and away. Maria lost count of her strokes as she turned back to see what had startled the bird, and just then she saw Frank coming down the trail towards her, carrying a small ice chest in one hand and a bag chair slung over his shoulder.

By the time she swam over to the edge and climbed out of the water, Frank had set up his chair next to hers and was pulling two plastic bottles from the ice chest. “I know you don’t like to drink beer right after your swim,” he said to her, shivering as she pressed her wet body against his back and neck, “so I brought you a Margarita instead!”

“Kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise,” Maria mentioned, though the grin on her face belied the gruffness of her tone. She took the bottle he proffered to her, twisting the top off and clicked her bottle against his. “But it was very clever of you to put it into water bottles.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

La Sagrada Familia

Write a scene using the words pint, bristle, and Jehovah.

Light streamed in through the stained glass windows, highlighting the walls and the columns in bright radiant colors. The light filled the cathedral with a sense of Jehovah God’s presence; or so it seemed to Rebekkah, despite the crowd of tourists who gawked and stared and snapped pictures with their expensive cameras. Rebekkah couldn’t blame them, the Sagrada Familia really was incredible, inspiring a hushed reverence even to the most ardent atheist, who came to worship the architecture if not the God it was built for.

Rebekkah tried to make herself invisible as she cleaned up a mess a small child had made at the back of the Apse, quickly and efficiently sweeping up the crumbs and trying not to bristle at the people streaming by, oblivious to her pint sized body. It only took her a moment to complete her task and disappear into the hidden passage that went down into the workers quarters, which most people didn’t even know existed. It seemed there were just as many people down here as there were upstairs, only these were not tourists but staff workers and laymen that kept the place running.

Rebekkah was still amazed at how many people were employed here, from the architects to the sculptors, carpenters, stonemasons and bricklayers, electricians and metal workers, crane operators and scaffolding assemblers, not to mention the cleaning staff and the gardeners, the visitor guides and security. It was an exciting place to work, and she loved the high energy of the workers and the tourists alike.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fish Eyes

Write about a memory you have about fish.

She was crying again!

The little girl couldn't understand why the new baby cried so much and why she had to have so much attention. Every time the baby cried, Mommy stopped whatever she was doing to go check on the new baby. If Mommy was playing with the little girl, she would tell her to go watch the fish swimming in the aquarium until Mommy came back.

The little girl loved watching the fish swim, they were pretty to look at and it was fun to watch the fish dive to the bottom and then soar back up to the top. Sometimes they came up to the glass and peered out at her. She liked how she could see her reflection in the glass, too. She tried to see her own reflection while looking at the fish, but it was hard to do except when she crossed her eyes, which just gave her a headache, and anyway she was tired of looking at the fish.

This time when the baby had started to cry and Mommy left the room, the little girl had been playing with her brother, who was playing with a rubber hammer pounding blocks together.

“Do you want to try?” her brother asked, holding out the hammer to the slightly older girl.

“Ok,” she accepted the toy and banged it against the block a few times, trying to drown out the sound of the baby’s cries.

“Mommy said to watch the fish,” little brother reminder her and she looked over at the aquarium, it’s glass showing a reflection of the two kids sitting on the floor with a pile of blocks.

She got up and peered into the aquarium, watching the fish swim up and down, up and down, while the baby cried and cried and she could hear Mommy singing a lullaby trying to make the baby stop.

She held her hands up to her ears to try to shut out the sound, but because she was still holding the hammer she hit herself in the head. Urgh, she wished that baby would stop crying! The fish came up to the glass and peered out at her, and for just an instance she thought she could see her own reflection at the same time she was seeing the fish. She wondered what the fish would do if she touched the glass with the hammer, but she never expected what happened next, when the glass cracked with the soft impact and the water began seeping down its side.

Only now it wasn't the baby who was crying, but little brother as well, and then Mommy came back, and she wasn’t singing a lullaby any more.

Max, the intrepid hunter

Write from the point of view of a cat at night.

I am Max, the intrepid hunter; fearless and brave. I hunt for my food when it gets dark, prowling in the light of the moon. My eyes are keen and sharp, my senses alert to the slightest of movement. I remember seeing evidence of mice over here by the well shed, I will lay in wait until they think it is safe to venture out and then I will pounce! They will never know what took them, for I am Max, the intrepid hunter, fearless and brave! Oh my, what was that? What is that sound? Is that a raccoon? It’s loud and I think it is coming closer. Run, Max, run for the deck, find a hiding place, where, where? Yes, here, they’ll never find me under the BBQ, with the thick, dark cover. I will be safe here, until the raccoon is gone, and then I will go out again. For I am Max, the intrepid hunter! Fearless and brave.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Write about your best friend when you were sixteen years old

By the time I was sixteen, I had moved from California to New Jersey to Montana, was living in a two bedroom house (if you count the attic) in the town of Hamilton with my Mom, three brothers, and a little sister. Having moved so often, I had become afraid to make new friends, not sure when I would have to move again. I was also quite insecure and had very poor social skills.

I had two friends. Peggy and Berta. I don’t think they liked each other as much as I liked either of them, but they tolerated each other if we were together. Mostly, I hung out with one or the other, but not often both at the same time.

Peggy had her horse and I remember riding with her from her house to my house; I don’t remember how we went, if there were trails that crossed the country or if we actually rode down the highway. I suppose there were country trails that we took. I just remember having her horse in the backyard and it stepped on my foot. I was always afraid of horses and this just sealed the deal for me and horses from that point forward. I think Peggy and I had a falling out over some boy; I made such bad choices when it came to boys that I’m sure my behavior disgusted her and eventually she moved on to safer friends.

Berta wanted to be a cosmetologist and liked to fashion my hair. I loved it when she did that, because I had no idea how do to such things for myself. When she wasn’t fixing my hair we liked to play cards, our favorite was a game called speed (or spit). Berta liked to drink while we played cards. She had a flask that she kept stashed and by the end of the afternoon when it was time for her to go home she would be quite high. I didn’t like to drink, I preferred to smoke pot, which she didn’t, and so we would get high together in our own separate ways. Eventually her parents put her in to rehab and I never saw her again.

Mostly my best friends were my brothers. We hung out together like a tight fisted gang. They had friends and their friends became my friends. Charlie and Alan and Wade are the ones I remember the most. Mom was at work during the day and our house was close to the high school and so it became a natural hangout after school, an unsupervised place to drink and smoke and generally goof off.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wake up!

Write from the point of view of a dog in an apartment.

Oh dog, I have to pee again! When is she going to wake up? Maybe if I poke my nose in her face, she’ll be happy to see me and she’ll scratch my ear. My ear itches soooo bad! When is she going to wake up? I’m hungry, I wonder if there’s any food left in my dish? There is! Oh yay, mmm, num num. Oh dog, I still have to pee! I should go see if she is awake yet. Wake up, wake up! Can’t you feel my nose pressing against your hand? Maybe I should lick your face. No don’t swat me away, wake up! Wake up! Oh! Hello! Your eyes are open now, you’re awake. Dog, I hate it when I smack my tail against the table, but I just can’t help it, I’m so happy you’re awake! Won’t you scratch my ear? Oh yes, just there! Oh yes, I love you, I love you! Oh dog, I have to pee!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A ray of light

Write about a time you were surrounded by leaves.

The forest floor was wet with dew, little droplets falling silently off the ferns and other plants to land among the mulch, where small puddles had formed at the base of the large sycamore trees. The sun was just rising, though it was yet dark and quiet among the trees of the forest. The cicadas and crickets had long since stilled their night song, and the nocturnal creatures had ceased their prowling and returned to the hidden places where they slept.

As the sun slowly ascended, birds awoke and began to fill the forest with chittering and chirping, flittering from tree to tree and perching high above the forest floor, where the leaves were beginning to illuminate with phosphorescent transparency. The green luminescence of the leaves stood out in stark contrast to the dark shade of the limbs and trunks and ground cover below the leaves, and glowed with a radiance that seemed to shine like magic.

As the sun continued to rise, streams of light filtered in between the trees to land in bright swaths of sunlight that battled the darkness of night and bathed the forest floor in glory, highlighting the birds and the squirrels that danced among the light, and reflected within the dew drops like the sparkling of diamonds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Young Love

Write a scene where the narrator observes two people getting engaged. The couple does not know that they are being watched.

He sat on the park bench under the shade of a large cypress tree, enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and watching the ocean crash on the beach. He could hear children laughing in the distance, playing in the water or in the sand; and occasionally a seabird sang out as it flew by over head. On the sidewalk behind him a couple of teen aged girls skated past, chattering gaily with each other about nonsensical things, clothed only in short shorts and bathing suit tops.

In his day, girls would not be allowed out of their house in such skimpy dress; but his day was long ago and his daughter, and grand-daughters after, had broken him of his old fashioned notion of proper attire, and so the thought only frowned briefly across his bearded, smile-worn face. Thoughts of his daughter inevitably brought thoughts of his wife and he allowed himself a moment to walk down memory lane, remembering her sweet temperament and ready smile that had graced his days for more than fifty years. How he missed his Betsy!

It seemed as if his memories were being played out before his very eyes, for just then he witnessed a young man and woman walking towards him on the beach, hand in hand as he and Betsy had done so often in their youth. They seemed oblivious to everything except each other, and as the old man watched, they stopped and embraced each other, gazing into the others face with an intensity that seemed to exclude all else. They were too far away to hear what they were saying, but the old man could just imagine the words, for it was this very spot where he himself had professed his love for the wonderful woman who had become his wife. And sure enough, as if on cue, the young man took hold of his girl’s hand while at the same time pulling something out of a pocket and went down on one knee. Her exclamation of surprise and affirmation was not too far away to hear, and the old man smiled in wonder and delight as she flung her arms around her fiancĂ©’s neck, just as Betsy had done when he had asked her the same question, all those years ago.

They kissed they way young lovers do, the way he and his Betsy had done; and,as the kiss deepened, he sent a prayer out for this young couple to be blessed with the same kind of steadfast love that had carried him and his Betsy through fifty years of passion and hardship and joy. The diamond sparkled in the sunlight as she placed his ring on her finger, holding it out to admire it on her hand as they walked past the old man, dazzled by the promise of a bright, colorful future.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stomp your feet

Today’s writing prompt is to write a scene about opening a present:

Bill came in to the garage, stomping the dust and dirt off his feet as he always did; then entered the house through the mud room, pausing to turn the stereo on and press the multi button which would project the music through all the rooms in the house. Alan Jackson was singing “country boy” and Bill found himself doing a bit of a jig as he passed through the kitchen and into the living room. When he didn’t find Peggy there, he continued on to the back of the house, where he found her brushing her hair and primping in front of the mirror.

“Casey’s back,” Bill told her.

“Ok, I’m almost done. Are you going to change your clothes, too?”

“I will, but I want to see Kimberly first,” he replied, feeling silly about feeling excited about seeing his daughter.

It had been almost two years since his youngest daughter had decided to live with her mom full time, and he missed her more than he knew how to express. She’d only been to the house a few handful of times since then and her absence had left an ache in his heart that rarely went away. The only thing that came close to healing the ache was the presence of his eldest daughter, Casey, who had decided to live full time with her dad when Kimberly had moved out. He was so proud of Casey, and so thankful for her presence in the evenings after work when he would otherwise be alone. She came home from work on weeknights and shared the antics of her day with him, obviously enjoying her dad’s company and trying to fill the hole that Kimberly had left behind.

But Kimberly was here now, and while he was thrilled to be seeing her, he couldn’t help think about the bittersweet irony of it all.

The party they were having was to celebrate Casey’s new job and new life; she was moving to San Francisco to live with her boyfriend next week. Casey was all grown up and leaving home and Bill tried not to think of the ache her leaving was going to do to his heart.

He turned to leave the bedroom, but Peggy caught up with him before he reached the door, putting an arm around his waist and turning him back to her for a hug and a kiss. “Happy Birthday,” she said, smiling at him, even though his birthday wasn’t until Monday. She tried hard to make him know this party was to celebrate him as much as it was to celebrate his daughter and he appreciated the effort. He hugged her back and gave her bottom a squeeze, then headed off down the hallway to see his daughters.

“Happy Birthday, Dad,” Kimberly greeted him with a bright, tentative smile, and he tried not to rush forward too quickly or hug her too tightly; though he only let her go when she squirmed at bit and pat patted his back.

“I brought a present for you,” she said, holding out a large gift bag with lots of colored tissue paper, which he took from her just as Casey and Peggy also joined them in the kitchen.

“Hmm, you smell nice,” Peggy said to Kimberly as she gave the slim girl a tight hug, then nodded towards the bag Bill was holding, and Bill knew that Peggy was trying to make light of the fact that she too was just as thrilled to have Kimberly here as Bill was. “What’ve you got there?”

“Kimberly brought me a present,” Bill beamed, ruffling through the tissue paper and pulling out a large tissue wrapped object. He unwrapped it slowly, trying to savor the fact that his youngest daughter was in his kitchen again, and that she had remembered his birthday, wondering what token she would have bought for the occasion. It was a wooden sign, and as he unwrapped it and turned it over to see what it said, his heart constricted in his chest and his throat tightened with emotion as he read:

“COWBOYS, scrape your feet before entering”

“Oh, that’s perfect!” Peggy and Casey exclaimed together as Bill registered the words and the sentiment.

“I know just where this goes.” Bill hugged his daughter again, and all his girls followed him out to the garage,where he fumbled around looking for a nail and a hammer, giving himself time to compose himself before turning back and hanging the sign next to the garage entrance where just a short while before he had stomped the dust and the dirt off his feet.

As they stood back and admired the sign, Kimberly said, with an impish grin, “I wanted it to say ‘stomp’ your feet,” and then she shrugged and grinned, “cause that’s what you taught us to do when we got home.”

And together, they stomped their feet and turned and went into the house.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hide and go seek

The prompt today is to write a scene that involves an annoying relative

"Oh, no" Amanda muttered under her breath as her little brother entered the living room where Amanda was lying on the couch, watching cartoons.

"Do you want to play cards with me?" Bobby asked, "we could play go fish or war?"

"No, Bobby, not now. I just got home from school and I just want to be alone."

Bobby was only three and had not yet started school. He spent all day at home alone with Mrs. Thompson, and by the time Amanda got home from kindergarten, Bobby was bored and looking forward to playing with Amanda.

They went through this every day. Amanda loved her brother, but when she first got home from school she liked to have some time to herself.

Bobby flung himself on the ground in front of the TV, but he quickly lost interest in the cartoon and turned around and was looking at her. "We could have a staring contest," Bobby suggested, his big brown eyes opened wide and gazing intently into hers.

"No, Bobby! I just want to watch TV!" The Animaniacs were on and she loved their funny antics, and she didn't want to be bothered with her little brother. But Bobby continued staring at her, and it was hard to ignore him as his face scrunched up from trying not to blink. "Stop staring at me!" she demanded, hoping he would just go away.

"Stop staring at me!" Bobby mimicked in a sing song voice, still staring at her, though she noticed he had blinked several times already.

"We could play hide and go seek!" Bobby suggested, and Amanda thought that was a great idea!

"Okay, Bobby! You go hide and I'll come find you," Amanda smiled benignly at the naive little boy, shooing him out of the living room and slowly starting to count.

Creative Energy

Once upon a time, I used to love to write. I would write every day, usually just journal type entries that exercised my brain by writing about the days events and how I felt about those events. Somehow I got out of that habit, and found myself writing less and less. I became more circumspect about my writings, privately concerned about who might read and misinterpret my thoughts.

I turned to writing poetry and for several years I almost always was able to write a poem every week. Eventually that ended when I discovered a passion for painting and I focused my creative energy on that outlet. My painting has slowed down, because I have gone back to school to get a BS in IT Management and it takes up most of my spare time. I still paint, though not as often as I would like. iPaint

In the meantime, I find myself with pent up creative energy.

My sister recently began writing poetry and posting it at the SpeakEasy where people are challenged to write flash fiction (750 words or less) based on weekly prompts. This really got me excited, because I used to love to write creative fiction and somehow I had gotten out of that habit.

The first few weeks after being turned on to this site, I simply read the posts and let them incubate within my psyche. Then I started to think about how I would respond to the prompt, but still didn't attempt to put thought to paper. Last week I decided to give it a go, but only came up with about 150 words and couldn't come up with a story line. This week I actually came up with 592 words, but the challenge ended before I could bring my story to a conclusion.

I am so out of practice!

So then, I discovered a site that offers daily writing prompts, with the challenge to write about the prompt for 10 minutes a day. I thought to myself, this might be just what I need to get myself in the practice of writing every day. This could be the outlet for my creative energy, and at any rate it could inspire me to write again!

I'm gonne give it a go.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


This is a test
This is only a test
Had this been the real thing
This would not be a test!