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The Five to Fifteen Minutes Thread.
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Linna Heartlistener
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shuram wrote:
I didn't get far enough into this character's state of misery as I would have liked. ...never even bothered to wake up!
Laughing
He was tormented sufficiently.

Khaliban- is yours associated with a particular book/series? (or RPG system?)
"And no one wants to work with the guy that helped a sixteen-year-old become the best assassin on Earth."


The five of us were arrayed on chairs or cross-legged on the floor.
Sandra started, outlining an invisible ball, or perhaps an invisible clay pot in her hands.
"Okay, the ice breaker is... finish this sentence: 'Culture is...' Fill in the blank."
After the requisite awkward silence, I leaned forward eagerly, "Okay, so if I wait for other people, I am not going to pay attention to anything you say."
Nervous laughter.
"I was reading this thing the other day... said that like some kind of Indonesian cultural art was 'an argument made again and again that the states that people were in this world matched up with their states in the ...I don't know what you call it, divine world.' "
"So I'm going to say "Culture is an argument, made again and again, that the way things are is the way they should be, in...' "
Here I trailed off.
"...certain various categories?"

(5 mins)
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
Khaliban- is yours associated with a particular book/series? (or RPG system?)


Part of original story that I considered turning into a comic book.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did it again.

I was deep in slumber. Fever gripped my mind and body in a vice, and I was deeply, desperately asleep. But the first spark of consciousness lit the void, and I thought to myself, I did it again.

Although I was doing my best to fight it, consciousness was coming upon me. It was tickling my mind softly and persistently, nudging me towards wakefulness. Awareness was misery, and, at that moment, I wanted nothing more in the world than to hide from it. On some level, I already knew what I had done, and I was not ready to confront my dread.

Physically, I felt terrible. So terrible, in fact, that no amount of denial was sufficient to keep me from noticing. In desperation, I clung to my blanket of sleep, but it was quickly evaporating from my grasp. Every pulse beat of my heart was a hammer to the backs of my eyes and an explosion between my ears. The throbbing of my head was a persistent tidal wave, and every breath I drew was a gust of wind scattering away the fog of my slumber.

My tongue was glued to my mouth, and my throat worked uselessly, begging for water. My thirst was a wailing need throughout my body, screaming in inharmonious discord against the clangor of [my headache].

Worst of all was the cold, achy shiver which shook my body. I was still fever sick. Everything hurt inside of me. Deep slumber was my only respite, and I had reached the end of that. With a heavy sigh, I accepted wakefulness, and the fact that I had done it again.

How had was it this time?

I hated asking myself, but it couldn't be helped. How bad was it? Feverish images blurred through my memories. Waking up alone, terrified for Adelle. Shoving people out of my way, sending them crashing against walls and down stairs. That man, that demon, holding her in the air and laughing....And then, I....

NO!


-------------------------

Wow, fifteen minutes goes by fast. Good news is I tried to take a nap, but this story called me back out of bed.
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Linna Heartlistener
"The Lady's fate is writ in water."

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oooh. we are held in suspense.
Reminds me of days we'd groan at the sight and sound of the words, "To Be Continued..."
________________________________

"Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops."

"All of these people I meet...
It seems like they're fine.
Yeah, in some ways I hope that they're not,
And their hearts are like mine."

~NEEDTOBREATHE

"It's not working."
"Huh?"
"Nevermind.. there it goes."
I paused, ready to click as soon as that darn cursor stopped spinning.

Then I saw.
"OH. MY--"
"Hey! Swearing!" he snapped.
Normally I would glare at him, but I was shaking.
"Come here. NOW! Look - it's all showing."
"Whaaat is wrong?" he asked, sauntering over from the couch like someone who would roll his eyes at me if he could make eye contact.
"It's Facebook. All my messages. They're showing."
"What?"
He looked over my shoulder, "Huhh... oh, this is not good. How many friends did you have last time you looked?"
"Six-hundred twenty-eight."
"You're down to 597."
I started crying.
"It's okay... it's not gonna be the end of the world. Why don't I log in; we can do something. We can send a few messages, talk about how so-and-so really wasn't as bad... most of the conversations are us."

He was halfway to his laptop by the time he finished the sentence.
I heard the 12 keypresses for his password.
And then I heard "FUH-- NO, NO, NO, NO!"
I ran to him and looked at the screen.
"It's okay, it's okay."
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I'm sending you Downriver."


Anybody else, I'd be waiting for a punchline. But Director Indigo has no use for humor. She's watching me. Waiting for a response.

I don't have a response. The surreal quality of the day has reached a fever pitch. I might burst out laughing. Make a smartass remark.

Neither would be appreciated. What does she want from me?

I look down at the file in my hands, seeking inspiration. Well, glory be. There's a punchline after all.

"He's gone missing. Downriver Market. Three days now." She fiddles with rearranging one of the many stacks of papers on her desk, and I realize she's nervous.

I should be nervous. I probably will be nervous if I can get past incredulous.

"Three days," I repeat. "He's probably sleeping it off in some 5-star hotel. Doesn't the Market cater to--" Careful now... "People of means with... discerning tastes?" Proud of myself. Weaselwords that won't set off any alarms if the room is bugged, which it almost certainly is.

"He may have crossed a line. He's probably dead."

Well, light a red candle to Lady Karma. "What does this have to do with me?"

"Find him. Or find out what happened to him."

"And then what? Drag him back here in chains? We have no jurisdiction Downriver."

"He's missing. He's the victim here."

Victim. Right. "The families of his victims might disagree with that."

"He was acquitted." Slowly, patiently, as though explaining to a particularly slow child.

"I know," I reply. "I was there."

(Be realistic, Gwen. His grandfather built this city. Did you really expect him to end up on the auction block?)

I can feel anger rising like heat through my diaphragm - mentally tamp it back down with both thumbs. Not now. It settles, heavy as clay in my chest. Dormant. It will do.

"And you were there," I say evenly. "You were there when his lawyers warned me to stay away from him and his family. So why me?"

She shuffles papers, not meeting my eyes. "They asked for you."

"They asked for me. Why?"

Because I'm expendable. She finds what she was looking for amid the clutter, pushes a thick envelope across to me. I take it warily. Inside, a train ticket and a bundle of cash.

"Bribe money."

I give her an incredulous look. She makes a soothing gesture. "For you to use to gain information, if needed. We have no jurisdiction Downriver."

"When do I leave?"

"On the next train. Don't stay any longer than necessary. I expect a full report by 0800 tomorrow."

A round-trip ticket. At least she expects me to come back. After that, well, it's anyone's guess.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted this in Bad Writing at first, but it popped up as first post on a new page, and I didn't want anyone being confused thinking that there was a new contest going on, so I deleted it and moved it here. I was thinking about working on it here, anyway. Basically, I've been working diligently on a story for a couple of weeks, but it petered out a few days ago and I seem to have lost my creativity. So I decided to write something random and fun instead Razz

Here is my Bad Writing post in its entirety:


Speaking of writing badly without any specific guideline or format, here's an

Extra-Special Extra Bonus:


Rocky is a lovable boxer mix with a half-tail, and Josie Sue is a pretty black lab with a salt and pepper face (she is going on nine years old). They are pondering the nature of their man-person's affectations, not without a subtle fire of jealousy.

"Well, he calls you 'good girl' all the time," says Rocky, jerking his half-tail back and forth with emphasis.

"But he calls you 'good boy' just as often!" asserts Josie Sue, with her tail a whirring flurry of anxiety.

"Yeah, but 'good girl' is full of specialness and adoration," counters Rocky, his half-tail twitching with certainty.

"Well, 'good boy' is endeared with love and caring," insists Josie Sue as her tail swings to and fro maniacally.

"That may be, but he's never called me 'good girl', he saves it just for you!" Rocky declares, accentuating the meaning of his words with insistent back-and-forth movements with his half-tail.

"Oh! Don't try that with me, you little whipper-snapper! Don't you know that I've never ever been graced with a 'good boy'? Not even once!" Josie Sue's tail is going into overdrive with hectic frenzy!

Rocky barks, "Why, I ought to---!"

"Don't you dare!" chirps Josie Sue, interrupting mid-bark.

Rocky growls, "Oh, you're going to get---!"

"No I won't!" yips Josie Sue, cutting in mid-growl.

Rocky howls, "That's it! That does it! Your butt is---"

"Bring it on!" bays Josie Sue, interjecting mid-howl.

The dogs leap at each other and disappear into a cloud of dust and commotion. Tails and half-tails, and legs and muzzles, pop out and back into the cloud randomly as it rolls around crazily. Yips and barks and growls aplenty spice the commotion.

Meanwhile, Saturn and Luna contemptuously watch all this ruckus from atop their special, carpeted play-tower. They are gray and black tabbies with subtle orange highlights, full of nobility and rectitude. They sit pretty atop their throne as they look down on the lower-class canines.

"Dogs are utterly ridiculous," states Luna, with an irritated flick of the tail.

"Indeed," agrees Saturn, as he he self-righteously wraps his tail around his feet.


* * *

Yeah, this popped into my head earlier, so I decided to flesh it out some.

Based on a true story.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The muse sang to me this morning.

* * *

John pulled into the parking lot at a quarter past six. The sun was just beginning to rise, fluffy pink clouds highlighted the event. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. This was it.

For no particular reason, he decided to park towards the back of the lot. Maybe he was procrastinating. Every lead he had followed had led to a dead end, and this last lead was the least hopeful of all. But it was last. If this abandoned shoe store didn't give him something--a name, an address, a ghost of a clue--then his search was lost.

Sighing wearily, he pushed his way out of the old Blazer. The old door squeaked in protest, and the seat springs squeaked gasps of relief as they lost his weight. His feet hit the pavement and he swung the door shut behind him a thump. Now there was nothing left between him and the apotheosis of his search.

The tapeworm in his gut suddenly fluttered in fear, and John knew he finally had the right place.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Where is Grellik?" Paltmann said.

"Dead, sir," his assistant replied.

"How?"

"Assassination," Wemec interjected.

Paltmann looked from Wemec to his assistant. "Are we in another assassination war?"

"No, sir," his assistant said. "This is a local problem."

"It's the Singapore street gang," Wemec said.

Paltmann rolled his eyes. "I thought you had them under control."

"I did, sir," Wemec said. "We ran into an issue."

"Issue?"

"Four of the boys raped a local girl," Wemec answered.

"What of it?" Paltmann asked.

"Apparently, one of her friends is training to be a professional. My sources tell me he wanted to castrate the boys."

"That wouldn't sit well," Paltmann said. "He's in training. He must have a master or a family. Could we buy them off?"

"We can't find them. The boy is only fourteen, but he seems to operate independently."

"Fourteen? If he tries anything, kill him."

"That's the problem," Wemec said. "As I understand it, he knew if he castrated the four boys, they would try to kill him."

"Of course," Paltmann said.

"But, if he killed them in response, the entire gang would try to kill him."

"I know, Wemec," Paltmann said. "That's the point of a gang."

"Yes, sir," Wemec replied.

"What does this have to do with Grellik?"

"His son was in the gang," the assistant said.

"Was?" Paltmann asked.

"Yes," Wemec said. "If the gang tried anything in response to the boy, again, the boy would retaliate."

"That's idiocy."

"Apparently," Wemec said, "The boy follows a very strict code of honor."

"Even if he could kill all of them, their parents would go nuts," Paltmann said. "Some of the Singapore people like their children. They'd use the corporate assassins."

"Yes," Wemec said cautiously. "They did."

"Why am I hearing about this now?"

"You were on vacation," the assistant said. "And, it happened very quickly."

"How long does it take a team of corporate assassins to kill a fourteen-year-old boy?" Paltmann asked.

"Actually, sir," Wemec said. "That's where we come back to Grellik. Again, the boy understood he would need to respond to the assassins and the parents."

"Grellik got caught in the crossfire?" Paltmann asked.

"No, sir," Wemec said. "The boy killed all of them."

"All of who?"

"The gang, the parents and the assassins. One hundred and thirty-four people."

"When the hell did this happen?"

"Last weekend, sir," Wemec said. "If you include the Friday."
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Necause I can't get to B.

...."So, I therefore present you with two choices, John Thompson," Dr. Euraough said. "You can choose to step through the beam, and die, at which point you will know the secret of what I did with your ex-wife, Anna, or--" Euraough begins to grin maniacally"--you can step back through the portal and return to your own time, uneducated and unfulfilled..." his voice dropped off because he couldn't hold back a fit of mirthful laughter. "Oh, ho, ho, ha, ha, of course you will also be unarmed as well!"

John looked down at his cold, lifeless artificial limbs. He squeezed his mechanical claws into fists. John could recall the satisfying sensation of fists squeezed tightly in anger, but squeezing these lifeless pincers into fists did nothing for him. The emptiness of it filled him with yearning, not satisfaction.

"These hands do nothing for me," John sighed. "But, if this beam will kill me, I'll gladly step through."

John swiveled his eyes up and cracked the camera lens with a sharp look of fury. Euraough saw raw hatred on his receiving monitor, and was positively delighted with the image. The mad scientist was sure he had ensnared his prey.

John looked back down at his cold, metal hands; he knew he would never feel whole again. But his artificial hands had never given him a feeling of wholeness. He was more than willing to trade in the feeling of [able/ability] for [a resolution to his conflict.]

John stepped into the beam.

[He does not find death in the beam, as Euraough had predicted. Instead, he is confronted by a phantasm within the beam. "I can show you a way out...." it whispers.]
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Linna Heartlistener
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shuram- A couple years ago, aliantha dared me to keep writing a story that I left at a bit where it was going to be "your imagination fills in the rest." In that spirit, I dare you to write up the parts that ended up inside [square braces].

I love the atmosphere for the tapeworm intro...
the fluffy pink clouds right when the day is beginning,
and how you get the "feel" of everything. I grinned wryly at this:
Shuram wrote:
The old door squeaked in protest, and the seat springs squeaked gasps of relief as they lost his weight.


What a way to find out your associate is dead, Khaliban.
I am very amused by the contrast of the dry, unemotional tone with the, er, content.
And of course, one guy telling another this.
Khaliban wrote:
"I know, Wemec," Paltmann said. "That's the point of a gang."

And: "Last weekend, sir," Wemec said. "If you include the Friday."


And as far as dry tones... we also have the boss in Sorus' story reminding the POV-character... Gwen.. "We have no jurisdiction downriver," after she's tried to protest that moments before.
And it's loaded with ironies.
Sorus wrote:
Be realistic, Gwen. His grandfather built this city. Did you really expect him to end up on the auction block?
Resonance with song lyrics that showed up over here once. (possibly incidental.) And... yay for her having a name.


I got the text at about 2am.
My best friend had told me that letting my ex's new woman have my cell number was, in her words "the worst idea I ever heard of."
And it was terrible boundaries too, apparently.
But a woman in my shoes has to take precautions sometimes.
It had paid off; not that she had texted me. It was her mom. The grandma of the new baby, I thought, reflectively.
"Hi - this is Jennifer's mom, and Stanley is drunk and on his way over to your place."
My phone had jolted me awake with that news.
They were about 45 minutes away, but the roads would be clear, so I might have as little as 20.

First I ran to wake my oldest son.
"Michael... we have an emergency, and I need to have you stay at Ryan's house. I've actually warned his mom about this. Would you call them?"

Now to wake up the other little ones. I looked around the peaceful blue-black of the room they all shared, night-lite in the corner offering a pale golden glow. Lighting up some of the faces of my babies.

Chelsea next. I shook her. "Chelsea, there's a problem. I need you to help me with some things."
"Whaa? Mom?"
"Hey, sweetie, I know it's night, but we are going to have to have you guys..."
I took a deep breath. How was I supposed to say this?
"...stay at a neighbor's house for the rest of the night."

Soon, I had all three of the younger ones bundled, and we stepped outside. Michael had pulled on a red sweatshirt and he was hotfooting it over to Ryan's. "This helps me a lot." I told him. And "Pray."
He didn't know the situation, and he walked with exhilaration.

I really hated what I was about to do next.
I walked over to the neighbor's back door, and banged on the glass.
"Hi, I am so sorry; I know it's late. But I have a really big problem right now. Could Annie stay with you for the night?"
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done, Linna. That was really intense!

You could maybe add a crying (bratty?) child to the mix, to add on an extra layer of stress.

The brackets are a tool I use to help me keep a [writing flow] going when I want to describe [something] better, or when [something] feels *lacking*. If I can't find the words for it, and I just *got to* go on, I slap on a bracket band-aid. They are also thrown on when I re-read something, and I decide I want to add to or change something, but not ready to do it at the moment.

When I revisit them (if I do), they can turn into a single word, a new phrase, or sometimes a whole new section of story. It's neat how that works. (haha and sometimes I just take the stinking brackets off and leave what's in them alone Wink )

Here's a revision for the last part of where I left of The Tapeworm:

John began walking slowly towards the door. Not quite hesitantly, but his slowness was unrushed. Each step was taking him towards hope or ruin. He could not imagine hope, he dared not acknowledge ruin, but he carried himself forward. His progress opened up a new perspective as he moved forward.

His new vantage point revealed a warehouse behind the building. It was buttoned up nicely, with stout locks and stainless steel engineering. When his eyes laid upon the stout structure, the tapeworm in John's gut nearly burst with excitement. Surprise lit his face, and his mechanical hand stroked his belly welcomingly, like two friends hugging after an extended. Absence.

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Linna Heartlistener
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Shuram! A crying and bratty child in that story is an excellent suggestion. Verisimilitude!

Well, here's the story that's currently my obsession:
_____________

"First of all, we would ask why their gods took no steps to improve the morals of their worshippers... [It was] incumbent on these gods, who were men's guardians, to publish in plain terms the laws of a good life, and not to conceal them from their worshippers."
-Augustine, "City of God," Book II, Chapter 4

"She was brought in for the test. In this way, she was found clean."
This is how my mother or my aunt or my grandmother would always tell the story.
It seems there was an ancestress in our family who underwent a severe trial within the very first years of her marriage. Or maybe it's just a legend, and never actually happened.

As a girl, I would always try to imagine it. I often wondered if it happened in the tabernacle, with its many-hued tapestries of blue and purple and scarlet, or in the temple with its shimmering golden walls. It changes how you imagine it, at least a little. I settled on imagining it took place within the temple.

It seems that her husband didn't like the way that another man looked at her in those early days of their marriage. Just three months, and he thought she had been utterly unfaithful! And a great sadness was that the other man - he had been a great friend of the husband before. The young wife wept bitter tears. And when the fighting became too harsh, it is said, she begged her husband to bring her before the Lord. And he did.

My mind is used to working at Law, like a farmer who works the soil he has seen each year, ox plough turning through the soil. Its paths are familiar, like the path that takes you to the nearest spring of living water - when that path has been worn down by the feet of a dozen generations or more.

I remember how it has one thing on one hand and another on the other:
Clean or unclean.
Guilty or atoned-for.
Life or death.
Profane or holy.

And I remember ordinances and statutes. The ways the physical realm of the earth comes into contact with the heavenly realms which are unseen. I remember the things this is made of:
the fat is burned on the altar, and the blood fills the air with its tang. And scarlet yarn, and sandalwood, and hyssop. Fragrant frankincense is offered.

I always wanted to imagine what it would have smelled like that day, the day when she was brought into the temple. Was there already incense that was burning, filling the air? Because I know the offering that she was prescribed to bring was not to have frankincense on it. So it would just smell like burnt grain, and nobody likes that.
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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arthur lay face down, pressed against the cave floor by the crushing weight of the rock fall. As he repeatedly gasped for air, dust billowed around his head in swirls with every ragged cough and inhalation. The rocks pinning him to the ground had crashed down from a great height and Arthur's sturdy armor had saved him from being fatally harmed but he had been badly injured and was firmly trapped. A deep gash along his forehead allowed a stream of blood to trickle down along the side of his nose and drip to pool where his cheek met the floor. Excalibur lay only a few steps away, half buried in the rubble. Small stones continued to dance down the edges of the fall as Merlin scrambled unsteadily up and into the mouth of the cave. Arthur was able to raise his head just enough to make out the outline of the wizard through the dusty haze. He could see Merlin's grey silhouette struggling across the myriad of stones and outcroppings that littered the ground around the opening. The wizard stumbled several times but was able to support himself with his staff to continue his progress. In a moment had made his way to within a few feet from where his king lay and then dropped to his knees, panting and coughing, his robes stained with a dark mixture of blood and dust.

"I am finished, my friend. I cannot endure." Arthur croaked.
"Take the sword. If Lancelot lives charge him with its use. I have been a poor steward of it. Perhaps he will discover the secret of its full potential as I could not." Arthur stopped to cough away his frustration. "Now go I say! I will rule no more." Arthur's voice wavered, betraying the despair that then ruled his heart.

Merlin saw the failure in his king's eyes and was dismayed.
"Nonsense!" Merlin howled.
"Have you learned nothing? Must I teach you every secret the universe holds before you finally learn the most base truths? You cannot surrender to mere frailty of body. You are not just a mortal man...you are Britain!"

Merlin stood, suddenly filled with passion. He looked up and directed his powerful voice to the heavens above the mountain. "You are the land and the land is you, irrevocably intertwined. It was you who drew the great Excalibur from the stone and you alone. You cannot relinquish your duty simply because you failed to grasp the true nature of your enemy for as long as you live you and the sword are one and with it you and your people are mighty! You cannot die, you fool!"

Merlin suddenly slumped and dropped back to his knees as his strength began to leave him. His voice suddenly sank to a whisper. "I have not wasted the energies of my life for the end you propose. Your knights fight on but they lose ground with every word I speak. In this dark hour they need their king. I fear for the future of us all should you lay aside your honor in this way. I beseech you. Rise my king. Rise and defend your land and your people!"

With a subtle gesture Merlin cast a spell, he whispered an incantation in the old tongue that held no meaning to Arthur. The end of Merlin's staff suddenly grew brilliant with a pulsing white light so bright that both he and Arthur were forced to close their eyes. And then as if the physical laws of the new world held no sway the massive rock pile was abruptly gone, vanished. Arthur gasped loudly as the great weight pressing him against the floor instantly disappeared allowing him to breathe deeply once more.

"A pity you could not teach me that you old bastard." Arthur jibed.
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh, a conflict between allies, aTOMic!

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First 15 mins:

I have said that I always imagine that the test happened in the temple. I imagine that woman, that young woman, a great-great grandmother of mine walking through the temple. I see the light shifting; she walks forward, but the lamps stay still. So the lamps' glow shimmers and the shadows play across the walls. I imagine strange reflections, like the shifting of a multitude of spectators. And who am I to say that there wasn't an unseen multitude present that day?

Then her husband would have handed her over to the priest, and the priest would unbind her hair and place her before the Lord.
And it's a funny thing, but I wonder if she realized that she was closest to the Lord that she would ever be in her whole life.
Live, or die.

Truly it is spoken that the Lord sits up high and looks down low.
Truly is it spoken that He is in a high and holy place, and also with those of contrite heart.
Broken-hearted. Set apart.
Falsely-accused. Cut off.

I wonder if she was - though knowing her innocence - if only for a moment - frightened. Frightened when that dust was put into the bitter water that brings a curse. The consequences for failure are sickening. Her thigh falling away. Womb swelling. Innards oozing and swelling.
That place where there should have been life assuming an instant transformation to death.

*****************

About 10-13 mins more:

And think of how that would be if those pains had come upon her.
A suddenly-swollen abdomen.
Not bearing burgeoning life, but full of decay.
How could that even make sense?
Swelling and disfiguring of the body - a woman's body - and that taking place there in the temple.
When life and death converge at the same point, usually some kind of cleansing is needed.

But she didn't fail.
And she walked out into the sunshine that day, she was met by her husband.
I am told that the sight of the clouds lifting on a gray, gray morning is not to be compared to the light of his eyes and his countenance when he saw her step outside.
I think his heart my have been lifted like when a father throws his child into the air.
His eyes filled with tears, and he wept.

His friend was waiting as they walked back. He knew his own innocence, and he did not doubt his friend's bride. There was no surprise in his eyes. Only gladness when his friend embraced him - now they were as brothers again.
He pointed to his friend and he pointed to himself, and he spoke to the wife of his friend: "We are restored to each-other, you see?"

But the paths of my mind always walk back again to that time when she was sitting in the temple.
When her hair was unbound and she was placed before the Lord.
Did she wish to capture that span of time, and make the sun stand still?
Why should that honour be granted to her, that she should draw near?
And I still wonder if the temple was filled with the scent of incense.

And maybe that was what gave me the courage to do what I did.
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 4:15 pm    Post subject: ecoc Reply with quote

Kelsa was sick for several days after the attack. Archomon had expected an infection to take hold, for Daemon wounds tend to fester, and so he cared for Kelsa tenderly. He cleaned her wounds and stitched together the worst of the damages; he made tea from Helbert tree bark to combat her fevers; and though he lacked the traditional medicines used to treat infection, he used potent incantations to boost Kelsa's immune system.

Once, during a feverish delirium on one of the worst nights, Kelsa called Archomon over to her bedding. Her eyes glittered crazily, and she grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, pulling his face to hers. "Kill it," she breathed heavily. "I can feel it inside of me. Kill it. It is eating me alive."

Archomon mopped gently at her forehead with a cool rag, and soothingly murmered, "We do not know if the seed will take hold. There is nothing to fear yet. You are young and strong, and I will see you through this."

"No!" She was hoarse with fever, but insistent. "It is killing me! I can feel it! It feeds off me! Kill it! Please! Please, please, please...."

"Child, you are sick with fever. You are too weak for an exorcism. Sleep, now." Archomon whispered a short incantation to give the command force, and Kelsa slipped off into the silence of a fitful sleep.

-------------------------------------(+15)--------------------------------------

On the seventh night after the attack, Kelsa was beginning to feel a little more normal. Archomon had spent the afternoon collecting wild herbs and roots, and she now sat by the fire sipping the decoction he had prepared for her. She watched Archomon across the fire as she eased the bitter medicine down her throat. He looked old.

Of course, he was oldest man she had ever met, but he had always carried his years lightly. His service as her Adwizard defined him, and by some token of magic or commitment, he had seemed to defy his age since she was a child. But now his back seemed unnaturally bent, and a palsy possessed his hands. A dull glaze clouded his eyes, obscuring the clever spark of wisdom she had always known and counted on. Something inside of him must have broken, and the years were finally catching up to him at an unnaturally accelerated pace.

---------------------------------------(+15)----------------------------------------

As if he could sense her thoughts, Archomon sighed and said, "I have served your family for a long, long time. I was Adwizard to your mother before you, as you know. And I learned the magic arts under the apprenticeship of your grandmother's Adwizard. I've been honored--" His voice cracked and his eyes bulged with wetness. After several shaking heaves of his chest, Archomon forced himself to continue. "I have betrayed the honor bestowed upon me. I have betrayed my position, I have betrayed my nation, I have betrayed my queen."

Kelsa was shaking her head furiously in rejection of Archomon's self-accusations. "Archomon, no_."

"No!" Archomon slapped his thighs. "Do not deny me this confession!" His voice rattled with acute decrepitude and he wheezed heavily between sentences. "I must confess my weaknesses!....I've become unfit to serve as your Adwizard."

Kelsa was openly weeping now. Tears streaked her cheeks, nearly steaming over a new flush of fever. "Archy_."

Archomon rubbed weakly at his eyes and sighed, "It is true. I've come to the end of myself. The world has changed and I am inadequate to this new purpose."

------------------------(+15)-------------------------------------------------------

Kelsa awoke to Archomon washing her forehead and neck with a cool, clean washcloth.

"Kelsa," said Archomon as he dipped the washcloth into a water basin, "sweet child, we must commence with the exorcism." He ran the washcloth down first one arm, then the other, making sure to get a good swab on the armpits and crelbows. "My strength wanes every day. Soon I will be too weak to make the attempt. Already I feel the malice of the Daemon seed swirling within your aura."

Kelsa had been roused from a deep sleep, full of prophetic dreams and confusing images.

"Malice?" she managed to squeak out.

"Yes, child," said Archomon. He pulled her blankets off and walked to the mouth of the cave. "I am quite certain of it. The Daemon spawn has latched on to you." He began shaking the blanket out, doing his best to dislodge the particles of her waste and invigorate the cloths with new air and freshness. "If we don't kill it now, before it grows roots too deep to sever, we will lose our chance."

---------------------------(+15)------------------------------------------------

Kelsa's eyes glittered with confusion as she squinted against the light at the mouth of the cave. "Kill what?" she asked weakly.

Archomon looked back at Kelsa sharply, wondering if she was playing games. The confused look on her face quickly brought a rush of sympathy within him. He carried her blankets back to her and tucked her in gently.

"Ah, I see you are still weary," he said with a sympathetic pat on the head. "Poor child. Forgive me, I believed you to be fully roused. Perhaps a little more rest would be good for you."

Kelsa began shaking her head in protest as Archomon hummed a gentle incantation to lull her back to sleep. "No, wait," she said around a mouthful of yawn, "you said you were going to kill something....An exor...cis...mmmmm?..."

"Sh, sh, shhhh," cooed Archomon as Kelsa's eyes drifted closed. "Worry not, child. I will preserve you. Do not worry yourself over the exorcism. It will be safe."

Kelsa let out a satisfied yawn as she rolled over on her side, wrapping her blankets tightly around herself. As Archomon got up to tend to his own needs, Kelsa mumbled back over her shoulder towards him. "Okay, Archy. We can do it. Just as long as it's safe. I don't want to hurt my baby."

Archomon gaped at her back in horror. His mouth was stretched in a silent scream as he realized the unfathomable depths of his failures.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shuram, I SO shoulda seen that coming, but: Shocked!
Just Shocked.

In the story overall, I especially appreciated these bits:
Shuram wrote:
Of course, he was oldest man she had ever met, but he had always carried his years lightly. His service as her Adwizard defined him, and by some token of magic or commitment, he had seemed to defy his age since she was a child. ...obscuring the clever spark of wisdom she had always known and counted on...

<snip>

..."Do not deny me this confession!" His voice rattled with acute decrepitude and he wheezed heavily between sentences. "I must confess my weaknesses!....I've become unfit to serve as your Adwizard."
... and the relationship of him in his service to her family line described.

My turn, now!
Commencing from this one, here.

What Came Just Before:
I really hated what I was about to do next.
I walked over to the neighbor's back door, and banged on the glass.
"Hi, I am so sorry; I know it's late. But I have a really big problem right now. Could Annie stay with you for the night?"


Fifteen minutes, begin!
____________________

I think I was talking to the grandfather; he must have been visiting this month.
Probably had the good mattress, but he was downstairs by the door.
And you know how old people sleep; any little night birds wake them up.
I felt bad, but the waking him up was vieing within me for the prize of "thing that is most making me feel bad," at that moment.
And he dismissed it with a wave of his hand, in the inimitable way that an elderly Indian gentleman can be gracious to you.
I relaxed; my shoulders must have dropped two inches as I let out my breath.

By now, the mother and father were downstairs; I could never remember their names. So I began anyway.
"Umm, hi, I'm really sorry, but do you think that Annie could stay here tonight? I ...I don't have time to explain, and I am SO... SORRY.. to wake you up, but can you please help?"

Just at that moment Priya was coming down the stairs.
I know the ways of a little 8-year-old girl, clinging to the stairs, just out of eye-shot.
Listening.
And before anyone else said a thing, she stepped forward. Reached out a hand to Annie. "It will be a sleepover."
And in that moment, she became the hero of the day.

Which was good, because immediately, Tyler - who had been wandering along with us drowsing up until now - started to come awake. And he woke up crying.

"Oh, yes, yes, of course she can," said the mother, still looking slightly stunned.
I smiled gratefully into her luminous dark eyes and made a mental note to ask someone - probably the daughter - how you spell her name.

Chelsea had already turned all of her attention to Tyler and now I could too, hugging him close.
I looked up at the mom and dad, "Can Annie stay here until... like, when it's time for school?"
"Oh, sure, we can get her to the bus stop," she said with an expansive wave of her hand.
That same expansive graciousness like her father.
Because I was sure this grandpa standing right here before my eyes was her dad; that wave of her hand gave it away.
"Thank you so much..." Shweta, that was her name. I remembered it now. "...Shweta."
"And all of you."


(12 minutes - yay, I've wanted to continue this story for awhile now.)

[edit: mostly formatting it. and changing one small pronoun or something for comprehensibility.]
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monique stared at the client and the minutes clanged in her head. What time was it? She didn't feel like she could take this job another minute.

"What are you looking for, Vilma?" she asked with a learned patience. Vilma did not look up from her task. "Vilma?" she repeated.

Vilma looked skeptically at the caseworker and returned to her task. She fumbled with the large stack of papers that lay on her lap. Methodically she removed one paper, held it close to her eyes, examined it and returned it to the bottom of the stack. "There is a procedure here. I am looking for the procedure" Vilma's searching pace increased, she shuffled to papers more quickly now.

The caseworker sighed. "Vilma, we can find the procedure later. We need to complete the bi-weekly right now" Vilma shot the caseworker a sharp glance. "Nothing can be completed without following the procedure. They sent me the procedure last night."

The caseworker looked over Vilma's shoulder to see Azumar drawing quietly in the corner of the office. Azumar, sensing the caseworkers mounting frustration spoke casually to her mother.
"Mama?" Vilma turned quickly in the chair to face her young daughter. "Mama, can we look for it later? Maybe tonight I can help you."
Vilma looked at her daughter skeptically. "We can't cook without finding the procedure. They told me that."
Azumar, still looking down at her drawing replied casually. "That's ok, Mama. I'm not hungry." Vilma returned to her pile of papers, staring at them with indecision. "Well you can eat, but we can't use the stove." At that Vilma drifted away, holding court with a myriad of unseen characters.

Monique looked at the little girl who colored busily at the small table at the office window. Monique surrendered and turned to speak to Azumar. "Sweetheart," the edge in the caseworkers voice barely contained, "could you tell mama that she needs to finish the biweekly?"

"Mama is busy." Azumar reaffirmed. "Mama can't talk anymore right now. "
"Azumar, Ms. Monique wants to go home so your mama needs to finish the papers. "
Azumar put her crayon down, looked thoughtfully at her creation, then turned to Monique. She walked over to her mother who sat absently across the desk from her. The little girl looked at Vilma for a minute and said "Mama is busy now"

Monique let her hand fall forcefully, a little too forcefully onto the desk, that lie scattered with papers. "ok, ok," she said with complete resignation. "When mama isn't busy can you tell her to come back to the office?

Azumar looked sympathetically at the caseworker and nodded her little head. Her thick dark curls fell across her face as she stood and went to her mothers backpack. She studiously packed the huge piles of random papers into her mothers already overstuffed backpack. Vilma, drawn out of her world by the proximity of anyone to her backpack, looked at her daughter thoughtfully. Vilma caught her daughter's hand, filled with nonsensical pieces of paper, and spoke quietly, whispering to her little daughter.
"Tell them you cannot come today" she whispered conspiratorially to her daughter. "There are guards at all the entrances and no one has eaten yet" Azumar pulled her hand gently from her mothers grasp and continued to pack Vilma's' papers away. Almost apologetically, Azumar spoke to Monique. "Mama is tired. We're going home now."

"Yes!" Vilma chimed in. "I have that report to complete." Azumar struggled to close the huge bag, her little hands finding it difficult to pull the zipper closed. Monique stood to help the little girl but Azumar warned her off with a glance. Monique returned to her seat, marveling as the little girl guided her mother to pick up the huge bag. She noticed, not for the first time, how Vilma's' back bent from the years of carrying that heavy bag on her back. In the year that she had worked with Vilma and her daughter she had never seen Vilma without the old backpack. More disturbing to Monique was she noticed that Azumar had now begun to carry her own little backpack, also seemingly filled to the brim with unknown content. (to be continued)


17 minutes Embarassed (this was already outlined so it went fast)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lorin- I am trying to answer one or two questions that your story poses already.
Was trying to figure out the answers while reading it...

And the little girl's backpack is. so. ominous.
Especially to "We People Who Think About Generational Things a Ton." (tm)


Now, me.
_________________________________

What Has Gone Most Recently Before:
..."Umm, hi, I'm really sorry, but do you think that Annie could stay here tonight? I ...I don't have time to explain, and I am SO... SORRY.. to wake you up, but can you please help?"

Just at that moment Priya was coming down the stairs.
...And before anyone else said a thing, she stepped forward. Reached out a hand to Annie. "It will be a sleepover."
And in that moment, she became the hero of the day...

..."Thank you so much..." Shweta, that was her name. I remembered it now. "...Shweta."
"And all of you."



Now:
_________________________________

"How many 'little-r' redeemers are getting their diapers change downstairs [in childcare or children's church] right now?"
- Pastor Josh Moody, on applications of the redemption of Ruth by Boaz (paraphrased)


Then I turned to go find a place for Chelsea and Tyler, Tyler weeping all along.
"Help, help!" I thought in my heart.
But no one heard my cry, and I kept a still - I thought steely - look in my eyes as I proceeded across the courtyard.

I took Tyler's hand. "It's gonna be okay, little guy."
"I think he's thinking of all those other times of waking up in the night," Chelsea told me matter-of-factly.

"Yep, yep. But this one is different." I said, directing the course of our conversation with a firm hand.
I imagined wrenching a river from its banks: It would serve my purposes like a watercourse being redirected for irrigation.
"You guys are going to stay with [Tyler's Friend] and [Tyler's friend's older sister / Chelsea's friend]."
"Oh yay!" said Chelsea, jumping.

Maybe she could do this better than me, because her hands were instantly on Tylers shoulders, and she gave him a fierce hug.
"Tyler, Tyler, you're gonna get to see [Tyler's Friend]."
He looked up at her. Stopped crying.
I imagined a small child connecting two streams of water in the sink by "painting" droplets of water to connect one to another.

"I already texted them," I continued.
Speaking unnecessarily, as it turned out.
Because there we were, and Grace was standing in the doorway, rays of radiance coruscating around her outline from the burning brightness of a lamp.

"Hey, I got your text," she said, smiling at me. Then she looked down, shrugged, and moved into cheerful-neighborhood-mom mode.
"Hey, Tyler! Looking forward to hanging out with [Tyler's friend / Grace's son]? Oh, look at Chelsea with her arm around him. What a great big sister."
Chelsea smiled a picture-perfect smile, but I wondered if she thought she was being flattered.

"Oh, thank you; you are a life-saver..." I said. "...this is. better than I'd imagined."
Kissed Chelsea on the head: "Be a good girl."

Then, as soon as I was out of sight of my waving Chelsea, I decided to just run across the frosty grass, who cares if I am early.

And I was early. I knew it. All that had only taken fifteen minutes. Now what would I do with myself? It's the waiting that just kills you in these situations. So I locked the back door, locked the front door, and used the chain, too. Made some coffee, because why not? Dug around for something to eat - in this case, very-sweet cupcakes from Tyler's 5th birthday party.

And then fretted.

(15 mins - not counting flavor-text, or choosing names for the girl and boy at the house where the kids stay.
Yes, lorin, it is SO OKAY to go over.)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two Deaths

John was searching for death.

He knew in his heart that his ex-wife was dead. Even if 90% of the world hadn't already died, John would still believe that Anna was dead. He would have found her by now if she was still alive. Yet he could not give up his search; he had to be certain. Even if he had lost all hope of finding her alive, he still believed the answers were out there.

John thought it was an odd fate, that he should be forced to face down his own futility in this emptied world. He could almost believe he had already died, that he was now living out life in Hell, and the few survivors of this world were actually the damned. That would account for his continued existence.

He should have already been dead. He knew this with certainty. It was the first thing he thought upon waking each morning; it was his final thought before each night's slumber. But he did not feel blessed to still be alive. He felt guilty.

And he was guilty.

He was damned and fully deserving of this fate.


==============================

Side note:
I write so very slow. I want each word to come out correctly and spend a lot of time thinking abut how I want to say what I need to say. When I was younger, I used to not be able to keep up with myself.

But now I just drip.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What just went before:

"Hey, I got your text," she said, smiling at me. Then she looked down, shrugged, and moved into cheerful-neighborhood-mom mode.
"Hey, Tyler! Looking forward to hanging out with Jonathan? Oh, look at Chelsea with her arm around him. What a great big sister."
Chelsea smiled a picture-perfect smile, but I wondered if she thought she was being flattered.

"Oh, thank you; you are a life-saver..." I said. "...this is. better than I'd imagined."
Kissed Chelsea on the head: "Be a good girl."

Then, as soon as I was out of sight of my waving Chelsea, I decided to just run across the frosty grass, who cares if I am early.

And I was early. I knew it. All that had only taken fifteen minutes. Now what would I do with myself? It's the waiting that just kills you in these situations. So I locked the back door, locked the front door, and used the chain, too. Made some coffee, because why not? Dug around for something to eat - in this case, very-sweet cupcakes from Tyler's 5th birthday party.

And then fretted.

*************

he bang, bang, bang on the glass made me jump straight up like a frightened armadillo.
I didn't expected him to go around to the back door!
Then my eyes righted the situation - it was only Shweta.

Slow down the breathing, slow it down. Deep breath. Drop your shoulders and relaxing.
Walking over to the door, all the while.

I slid the door noisily open in its track.
She must have seen me agitated, because she said, "Oh, so sorry." before she asked, "Can I have the toothbrush?"
"Huh, what?"
"For your dottter."
"Oh! Yes.. Chelsea's toothbrush - no, Annie's - is purple. Be right back."
I darted to the bathroom, darted back, toothbrush in hand.
I looked her carefully in the eyes. "You should be alright until school?"
I wanted to say, "It's an emergency... even if you need something, please don't come by here."
"Yes, of course."
"If there's anything else... please don't - oh, here, let me give you her backpack."
I grabbed the backpack up and handed it over... It's Barbie one year, Frozen the next. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"Oh, and money for her lunch."
My breathing was still heavy.
"I'm - just worried... there's a guy... a man.. who is going to come around here. And he's not a nice guy."

"Ohh... oh, oh... I see. Should we call the police?"
She looked down.

"No.. no; I've... got a plan."
And it will be fine by the time things are light out. It will surely be fine by then. He'll go away before it gets light.
"those who get drunk get drunk at night," I silently reminded myself.

"Thank you so much for doing this." She retreated with the backpack and toothbrush.

I watched her go for a few seconds, then slid the stubborn glass door closed with a thud.
Turned around and walked back to my coffee.

What could I do? What do you do when the waiting's like this?

*************

Well, apparently what I do is spill my coffee when trying to pour it up. It was like 2 in the morning, so I was able to excuse myself pretty quickly.

I reached for that one towel with the day of the week embroidered on it to clean it up. "Friday." Huh. It had definitely not been Friday for several days.

At least it wasn't one of the pretty towels my sister-in-law had given me.
Former sister-in-law.
"Not for any yucky stuff that will stain," she said, smiling, when she gave the set to me.
And they were nice.
But of course, what would be the first thing I would do when he left? Wipe up something that was fit to fix an amazing stain in it with one of them!

And then of course I immediately regretted it, because why would I be trying to get back at her?
She'd done me no wrong and been generally kind.
So I scrubbed it out - with great effort - and now there was a faint stain that you only noticed if you already knew it was there.
A secret reminder than an ordinary observer wouldn't comment on; only I knew.

Then came the knock on the door and his loud, bellowing voice.
"Shari!"

"What?" I hollered back, although I had every right to be there and he had none.
I came and stood by the door.

"It's only natural that a father should want to suu-suh-see his kids," he said, speech slurring in the end like an old hound dog dragging a broken leg in the dirt.

"It's 2:30 am."

"I was up with the baby!"

"So you get to see one of your kids."

"I'm tired and I'm hungry and I have no idea what I'm doing so stop harassing me with your logic!" he said.

Well, that's impeccable logic on your part, I thought. Oh well, some points for honesty.

"This is the point in the fight where you say 'Impeccable logic, dear!' " he muttered.

Jinx! He knows what I'm thinking even when drunk.
Dammit, these are the troubles that come from whenever once you let someone get too close...

*************

"I can't stand this anymore!" he continued.
"Life sucks, Shari, it sucks. I don't know what I was thinking, and I still don't. Time is passing us by. Our little children are growing up.
They're gonna spread their wings and fly away and bypass us."

I steadily held my peace, staring at a point in the corner near the door's molding. It was covered in cobwebs, and the resident spider appeared to have wrapped up a few more surprises for an evening snack.

He rattled on, lecturing my door. But my door was shut.
"I don't even know what I'm gonna do. I have regrets, Shari, do you even know what that means? I have regrets!"

He can't see me. Even if my eyes are spurting fluid right now. Do most anything and I will shut you out. The door is shut. But don't be vulnerable.

"Are you still there?" he hollered, in his deep voice.
"I'm here." I replied, in my quieter one.

"You don't want to hear all this. I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry. I'm just... I'm just ranting and railing on and on. I don't know what it's all for. What is it all good for?"

And at that moment my heart smote me, because if I hadn't left the back door unlocked after gettting my neighber Chelsea's toothbrush, then I'm not even good for knowing what my own name is! I turned and looked. The metal cylinder that slid through to lock was just dangling down uselessly on its chain. Calm down, I urged myself with a silent, insistent pulse from the back of my mind. Calm. Heck, he probably won't even stop talking until he's ready to give up.
If he gives up.

All that flew through my mind before he even started up again.
"This is horrible. It sucks. I'm hungry. I'm tired. And I haven't even had a sandwich in weeks."

"Hey." I said.
"Stan. Stanley. I can at least fix the hunger problem. Everything else is ...it's like we're awash in a freaking ocean. It's beyond me. It's beyond you. It's beyond any ten good men or women. Ten of each. And army of counselors and teachers. I don't know."
I eyed the gold security chain on the inside of my door.
But I can give you something to eat. I can do that at least, okay?"
"Okay."
"Wait here. I'll be back."

I whipped around the corner to the kitchen and grabbed the cupcakes from Tyler's 5th birthday party.
Stan, of course, had not been at THIS 5th birthday party, so I smudged the number '5' to spare his fatherhood the insult.
So there it was - white icing like concentrated sweetened oil, multicolored sprinkles, and a giant dark blue smudge that used to be a number five.
Though he probably hadn't had his own party for Tyler, like he said he would.
Probably hadn't done what he'd said he would.
But heck, he was the dad.

I came back and turned on the outdoor light.
And I opened the door, just as wide as the security chain would let me.
When dawn came, it would be a cold light, blue-white through the leaves of the trees across the alley.
But now we had the electric light, making noise from some bug stuck in it or something.

And I cut the cupcake in half and squeaked the halves through, each on their own paper plate, eyes down, focused on the things I was handling.
Cars. It had Lightning McQueen on it. Dang. He'd recognize re-used kid's birthday party fare. If he noticed.
And his hands took them.
And he ate.
"Thank you," he said.
And he looked up, looked at me through the 4-inch opening of the door.
"And I'm sorry."

I looked back at him.
"I second that sentiment. Sorry, too."

*************

(I reckon each were about 10-15 minutes)

Shuram- ehh... who knows what's best... I love the idea of "freewriting"... and of the suggestion deer found somewhere of just writing nonsense until the wheels start turning again...

...but there's definitely a place for carefully-considered placement of words. So do what works, or whatevs...
Do whatcha can.
Do whatcha will.
Don't do whatcha won't.
(I know, I know; that last one's superfluous.)

Oh, yeah. I think I like the fact of this guy here engaging in his futile search.
And his first though and final thought of each day being what it is... Ahhh!
Eeek
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