Friday, August 19, 2011

Response to Prompt Number Nine

My mother used to tell me that God was in the air on days like these. Skies so wide and blue you'd want to cry; the wind so soft and sweet, laughing through our hair and skirts; the dewberry brambles clustered with late summer fruits. I always smiled and agreed, but then one day I stopped. Just like waking up, I realized that it was all just a metaphor that had gone too far. It hurt her so much when I stopped believing and fell from grace. The day my father left, though, she did some questioning of her own. He took everything of value; our jewelry, our car, our hearts and hopes. He took everything and vanished. No goodbye. Not a backward glance. Months, then years went by, and no one could figure out how he'd managed to disappear without a trace. But I knew. When you're still young enough to believe half the stuff people tell you, just a handful of sins in your back pocket, you see closer to the basic truth of things the way no skeptical adult can ever see again. That man had the devil on his side, and for a good long while he'd be living large. This I knew, but just as the day ends in the west I also knew that eventually, he'd come down hard. He'd finally fall, and he'd fall so hard there would be no getting up and leaving. No, this time he'd break, and in my childish mind I played it out that I'd be there to see it. And I'd ask him, before the light was snuffed out from behind his eyes, if such an end was worth the trail of pain he had left in his wake. If he would even try to justify it. If he would even recognize me. You don't have to believe in gods to believe in devils. The proof is everywhere, and they have all the luck. But such luck always has a price. I just want to be there when my father's bill comes due.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Response to Writing Prompt Number Six

The Prompt: Three things you'd bring with you to a deserted island. Assume food and water are not an issue, and that you will be stuck on the island, Gilligan-style, for an unknown period of time. Defend your choices. I've actually thought of this scenario before, just to make my work day go by faster, but never with food and water not being an issue. Interesting twist.

The first thing I would bring would be my husband, but not just for the obvious reasons. Sure, it would be lonely without him, but he's also the strongest, handiest person I know. If anyone could build us a comfortable shelter, it would be him. He also has way more common sense than I do, which lessens the chances of accidental death by at least half.
The second thing would be my favorite multi-tool, the Crovel. It's a unique survival instrument that combines 13 tools into one realistically lightweight design. With this, any simpleton could survive on a deserted island. I'm not being paid to advertise, I'm just that jazzed about this tool. I'm getting one for my husband for Christmas.
The last thing would have to be an industrial sized tub of 100 SPF, waterproof, sweat-proof sunscreen (I'm not making this up, Neutrogena sells it). I'm so pale, I glow in the dark. There's nothing I hate more than being sunburned, and being outside for extended periods of time is one of the unfortunate side effects of being stranded on a deserted island. Rather than live with the pain and possibly get skin cancer, I'd rather come prepared and just hope that we're found before my tub of sunscreen runs out.

My Response to Writing Prompt Number Five

I knew it wasn't going to be a particularly good day when I opened the paper and noticed something a little off-kilter. There in the morning crossword, plain as anything, was the phrase "ROGER PETERSON HAS TWO WEEKS TO LIVE." Now, I'm not particularly good at adapting to abnormal situations, or even leaving my apartment and being a part of the rather terrifying outside world, but I knew my neighbor would want a look at this. Hell, it was probably given to me instead of her on accident. She works for the government, and I am an agoraphobic tech support specialist. I braced myself and opened my front door a crack to see if anyone was lurking in the hallway before scuttling to my neighbor's door and giving it a tentative knock. Nothing. I knocked a little more firmly. No answer. I began to panic. I took a marker out of my jacket pocket and wrote her a quick note to inform her that the crossword puzzle needed some attention, jammed the accursed paper under her door as well as I could, and quickly walked back into my safe haven and locked the door. My head swam. My breathing was too quick, too heavy. I needed my pills. I staggered to the medicine cabinet, opened the bottle, and shook out what should have been a mild relaxant but instead turned out to be a neatly folded note on crisp, lily-white paper. I opened it, and lo and behold, it was a ransom note for the same Roger Peterson from the crossword puzzle. Now things were getting ridiculous. I didn't even know a Roger Peterson! My mental state wasn't equipped for such drastic changes in routine! I desperately grasped for a bottle of sedatives, but again there was a note instead of a capsule of blessed relief. This time it was a map. I dropped it like it was going to bite me and backed into the familiar, spotless living room. I heard someone clearing his throat behind me. I spun around, panic rising, and squeaked, "How did you get in here? Who the hell are you? And how did you get in?"
The man calmly stood up, advanced on me in what I construed as a threatening manner, handed me a thick sheaf of paper, and said, "We have no time for pleasantries. You need to be briefed for the mission and I have a plane to catch. Sit down, Agent Mills."
My immediate response was to vomit on his pristine black shoes and pass out.
When I regained consciousness, my ears were ringing and I was tied to my office chair with what I assumed to be a sock in my mouth.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Response to Writing Prompt Number Two

The last big crowd had left the bar stiflingly quiet at the tail end of the night. She had been sitting on the same stool for hours, and he watched her, brooding, memorizing every detail. She cast him glances, darting, wordless queries, bright and flashing like the diamonds in her ears, oddly misplaced and catching every flickering light from behind the bar. She seemed to sense his gaze, and the tension showed in her stiff posture, her mechanical movements. Her hair, blood red in the lights, was much darker than it was the last time he saw her. The night he was jumped, she was strawberry blonde, her roots darker from the sweat and stringy from the stress of her running her bony fingers through it repeatedly. The memory caused bile to run up his throat and the warm penny taste filled his dry mouth. He took a swig of whiskey to drown the foulness. The last thing he remembered was the sickening crunch in his skull, and when he finally struggled to consciousness he was in a bathtub full of ice with a sharp, nauseating pain throbbing from his back to his crusty, matted scalp. Tonight, seeing her again, it all came back. The strength of his loathing disturbed him. And as he brooded, watching her, knowing from her half-interested glances that she recognized him from somewhere but hadn't quite placed him yet, he knew he had to act fast or risk losing the opportunity. She paid her tab and slithered off her seat, sinuous as the alley cat she was. He followed her out into the chirping summer night, silent and dark as his intentions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Pretty Side of the Speed Bump

Until last Friday, I had been working a dead-end job at a supermarket as a part-time cashier. I have a lively mind and like my feelings to be taken into consideration when talked to. The facts in those two sentences HATED EACH OTHER. The monotony of cashiering, coupled with the way people treat cashiers almost as a matter of course, made my pretty awesome life into a tiny nightmare.

And then I got The Phone Call.

It was like hearing a message from a deity, and all it said was that everything was going to be all right and I could quit my daily hate coma. I basically got the offer of a lifetime: an interview with the person who faux painted my parents' house. In case you couldn't already tell, I love doing stuff to houses. My house, your house, any house. Gimme a wall and a plan, and I'm there. We met, we chatted, she handed me my dream job. I started work Monday, and let me tell you, I hope to be doing this for a long time because I'm loving every second of it. My boss is amazing, the work is challenging yet fun, and the money is very good. My life was perfect for a few golden days. Beautiful home, amazing husband, dream job. The Life.

And then our AC unit broke.
It's the beginning of August.
Did I mention I live in the south part of Texas?

Fortunately, my parents live about fifteen minutes away, and offered to let us stay with them until the AC dilemma is over. And even more fortunately, my parents don't seem to care about how high their electric bill is. It's constantly in the low 70's in this house, and we usually keep it in the mid 80's in ours. I feel almost chilly, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I may not even wake up in the middle of the night because I'm too hot and irritated to stay unconscious. And that is a silver lining that I can live with.