Monday, April 28, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quarantine

"You can't keep me here! I've been locked in this room for days! At least I think it's been days..."


"Don't I have rights? How can you just do whatever you want because of my health status? Please... won't somebody talk to me?"


"There's nothing wrong with me. I'm fine. I swear I'm fine. Can anyone hear me?"


"Please... Don't make me do something extreme."




"Okay. I've calmed down. I'm sorry. I'm just going crazy in here. I just need something. Some contact. I won't touch you. I won't throw things. I promise."


"I know you don't trust me. I'll behave. I'll follow all your rules. I promise I'm fine now. Please, just talk to me."


"Fine. Be that way. I'll sit here until someone comes. I'll be good. You'll see."


"My skin is clear. I'm not coughing. No diarrhea. No fever. Why are you keeping me here? I'm fine. Can't you see I'm fine?"


"I'm not crying. It's just dry in here. I'm fine."


"Maybe you can't hear me because I'm not here. Hello? HELLO? Echo...echo...echo..."


"I exist."


"Don't I?"

Silence. Silence. Silence.

"Are you in there?"

"Yes! I'm here! Are you real?"

"We're letting you out now. I'm sorry for the extreme measures, but we had to protect you. You were the only one not infected."

"So why are you letting me out now?"

"We were too late. Your test came back positive."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Brief Update on the Craziness of My Life

So I've fallen (possibly irretrievably) behind on my #AtoZChallenge. I'll probably finish out the project just because I'm having so much fun with it, but life - as it is wont to do - has once again gotten in the way.

My mother fell ill recently and had to have an emergency appendectomy. My dad was out of town and it was up to me to handle things until he got back. The surgery went smoothly and she went home the next day. I went back to work as usual. Then some complications arose and she was in and out of the emergency room a couple of times and was finally admitted. She's still in the hospital, but she's doing a lot better.

In the middle of all of this, my boyfriend started having serious pain in his knee and that still  hasn't fully resolved itself.

Oh, and I also applied for school.

I'll be going to a Community College this fall to get my GPA back up after the catastrophe that was my sophomore year at OU. Hopefully no horrible medical or psychological issues come up this time and I'll finally be able to finish my degree.

On the bright side, I will be majoring in English/Creative Writing. Yes, I've finally accepted the inevitable. My goal right now is to go up through graduate studies and teach creative writing in college or privately. Also writing. Always writing.

Speaking of which, I've finally picked up my work on my Shine novella. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Shine project, it's a series of e-book novellas. The core store is by the New York Times bestselling author William Bernhardt. It's an action-packed, superhero-esque world where young women have begun developing strange powers. Check out his website for more information.

So that about sums it up for me. Between medical emergencies and trying to figure out financial aid, I've been writing when I can. I really appreciate all of the support that #AtoZChallenge community has given me and good luck to everyone else struggling to keep up!

Just keep writing.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Challenge: P is for Pantoum or "The Pantoum of the Great Recession"

P is for Pantoum, another poetic form. Apparently I'm on a poetry kick.   ;-)

We didn't pay attention.
It hit us out of a clear blue sky.
We should've known.
And some did.

It hit us out of a clear blue sky.
"We could've died."
And some did.
At least that's what they'll tell you.

"We could've died."
We whisper like praying.
At least that's what they'll tell you
As they balance their checkbooks and cry.

We whisper like praying.
The sky turns blood red
As they balance their checkbooks and cry
So much for the American Dream.

The sky turns blood red.
If only things were so literal.
So much for the American Dream.
There is no rest for us now.

If only things were so literal.
We should've known
There is no rest for us now.
We didn't pay attention.

A to Z Challenge: O is for OULIPO or "Because I could not stop for Decomposition"

Usually I don't like to provide much of an introduction or explanation for my poetry, but I felt this needed a little something. OULIPO is short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle which roughly translates as "workshop of potential literature." It's a small group of mainly french writers and mathematicians. The pairing may seem odd, but they seek to create literature within vary confined parameters. There are a lot of different forms. A lipogram excludes a specific letter (La disparition by Perec is a 300 page novel that excludes the letter 'E'). A snowball is a poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer.

I decided to go with N+7 rule. Basically, you take a work that already exists - a poem or a song or a novel - and replace every noun in the text with the seventh noun after it in a dictionary. Results will vary depending on what dictionary is used, and since I am at work, I was limited to an old thesaurus, but I kept with the N+7 results and came up with this little poem.

Because I could not stop for Decomposition

Because I could not stop for Decomposition -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Casket held but just Ourselves
And Imperfection.

We slowly drove - He knew no hazard
And I had put away
My lady and my lethargy too,
For his Clarity.

We passed the Scoundrel, where Chorus strove
At Reckoning - in the Rivalry - 
We passed the Film of Gazing Grass -
We passed the setting Superstition -

Or rather - He passed us -
The Diary drew quivering and chill -
For only Grace, my Grandmother -
My Toil - only Turmoil - 

We paused before a Hue that seemed
A Symbol of the Growth
The Root was scarcely visible -
The Corpse - in the Growth - 

Since then - 'tis Certainty - and yet
Feels shorter than the Death
I first surmised the Hosts' Health
Were toward Evening - 

Side Note: I tried this with a couple of poems, before settling on this one. The others were just completely unintelligible! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A to Z Challenge: N is for Nippon

Painting by alexaink

Goddess of the sun,
sister to the storms and seas,
you sit like a bird
on a branch while the tree burns.
A crown of flames wreathes your face.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A to Z Challenge: M is for Malapropism

"Illiterate him from your mind!"

"What?" Alice blinked in confusion.

"He has way too much affluence over you." Harley leaned back, smug in her assessment of the situation. "You're letting him create too much dysentery among the ranks."

Alice shook her head. She picked up her tea cup to buy herself enough time to translate Harley's advice.

"So you think I should fire him?"

"I don't know... I mean, he's really plummeted to the top. He's only been there four weeks and already he's practically vile president. But then you didn't hire him to create disorder. You hired him to preserve disorder."

Alice nodded, pretending to understand. She leaned back in her chair, surreptitiously looking around her to see if anyone had overheard. The other outdoor cafe patrons continued their meals, unaware of the stream of unintelligible nonsense coming out of her best friend's mouth.

"Look," Harley said, leaning forward. "You can't ignore that he's a man of great statue. But he's not exactly the pineapple of politeness. What are you going to do? Transact to another job? You've got to stand up for yourself."

Alice nodded, finally understanding the meaning if not the words of her friend's wisdom.

"After all, a rolling stone gathers no moths."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A to Z Challenge: L is for Leviathan

Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words?

Your stomach swells with his might. He has taken you over and commands you at whim. He is the force in the waters. He is the strength in your womb. You struggle for mastery over your own body. He has brought you to your knees.

I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.
Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?

How can you tame something so elemental? How can you control the intangible essence of life that consumes you? Water is his realm and he moves in you. Your blood, your waters, your life move with him and he is the master of those seas.

Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear.
He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.

At last he arrives. Unspeakably small. Unspeakably lost. A stranded whale on the shores of time. You hold him in your arms, in your eyes, to your breast. Small, yet some how the Leviathan still, ruler of your world.

A to Z Challenge: K is for Keelhaul

You dragged me under the ship. For once, that's not just a figure of speech. I should have seen it coming. I should have realized where that trip was headed. But I didn't. Not until the barnacles scrapped my back, tearing flesh. Not until I trailed blood like a comet's tail in the clear water of the Caribbean. 

"We're fine," you said. "I forgive you."

And, like an idiot, I believed you. Like an idiot, I stepped onto that boat. Excuse me. Ship.

Maybe you couldn't recognize your own fury, simmering under the surface, but I should have. I know you. I know the way your eyebrow twitches when you lie. I know the way your hands curl into fists when you're beyond frustrated. And I should have known.

The three minutes or so under the water feels inevitable. Painful. Terrifying. Inevitable. I'd envisioned storms. Getting stranded. Making the self-sacrificing decision to die so you could live. Not this. Not being hauled ass over teakettle into the water and dragged under like a sailor from the 1500s. 

Not you desperately dragging me back onto the boat. Not the burning, choking sensation of re-learning to breathe.

"It was an accident," you said. "Forgive me."

"We're fine," I said. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A to Z Challenge: J is for Janus

Okay, so I'm diverging a bit from my flash fiction/poetry flow. Today I want to talk about one of my characters in my YA novel, Opal. The main/title character is a genetically engineered, super intelligent young girl named Opal. She's been raised in a closed compound and her peers are all like her, engineered to be scientists for a megacorporation. Janus is one of those peers. They've always been drawn to each other both as friends and competitors. In many ways, Janus could be considered a "villain" but that's a shallow view of such a complex character. Honestly, he was my favorite character in the entire novel to write. He's so damaged and intelligent and brutal. So complex and so lost. I want to give you a brief taste of him.

This scene takes place after a huge prank that Janus and Opal pulled off and it looks like things might have gotten out of control. It's also their first kiss.

“How are you . . . feeling?” asked Janus, his voice was soft but electric, like the air just before a storm.

“Worried?” I watched a squad of S&S officers marching down the path that circled the compound. A patrol. Unusual for this time of day. “How should I be feeling?”

He crossed to me, his footsteps muffled by the carpet.

“You’re scared,” he breathed into my ear. I saw his eyes reflected in the window. A predator eyeing skittish prey. “You shouldn’t be.”

For once, the heat of his breath did not cause my cheeks to flush. I turned to face him. Janus used his height and stared down at me, his face raptorial.

“I shouldn’t?” I asked, hoping against logic that what he said could convince me.

“No,” he replied. “Our trick was flawless.”

I cringed, remembering the panic of losing my wristband. Behind my back, I instinctively touched the band, reassuring myself. Janus paused, scrutinizing me. His eyes, like the vacuum of a black hole, pulled everything in and let nothing escape.

“Yes,” he continued. “And as long as neither of us says a word, that’s the way it will stay.”

“I . . . I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“Promise me, Opal.” He reached out one hand and slowly stroked my cheek. I tried to look away. He grasped my chin, forcing my eyes to meet his. “Promise you will say nothing.”

I struggled against his grip. His nails gouged my jaw.

“I . . . I promise.”

Janus studied me for a brief moment. He leaned forward, our noses centimeters apart. His large dark eyes swallowed my vision.

In shock, I felt his lips touch mine. He held me in place but I no longer struggled. I closed my eyes and all thought stopped. All worry disappeared. His lips were soft but adamant. I folded into his arms. His tongue flicked lightly against my lips, then compelled them to part. I gasped as he bit my bottom lip. I tasted the metallic hint of blood, but I felt no pain. Instead, excitement-fueled adrenaline coursed through me. A silent promise of change pulsed in my veins.

Then the embrace ended. Janus stepped back. My knees buckled and I nearly fell. He straightened his shirt, smoothing the wrinkles my body created. I coughed, looking away. Embarrassment stained my cheeks, replacing the heat of the moment before.

“I’m glad you agree,” he said, turning his inscrutable gaze back to me. Nothing showed in his eyes. “It would be inconvenient for you to be . . . punished.”

My face drained of heat. I couldn’t breathe. I coughed again, mumbled something that I hoped he took for acquiescence, and hurried out the door, pausing while the door acknowledged my command. I could feel his gaze burning into my back. I ran down the hall and into my room before his door could slide shut.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A to Z Challenge: I is for Innocence.

Innocence is a child bride who poisons her husband.

Innocence is a young boy kidnapped and trained to kill.

Innocence is a parent choosing between food and rent.

Innocence is a girl who wants to go to school without being killed.

Innocence is a child forced to keep a pregnancy.

Innocence is a 12 year old prosecuted as an adult.

Innocence is a son forced to quit school to feed his family.

Innocence is a child whose parents are deported.

Innocence is a nine month old charged with murder.

Innocence is a teenager who chooses death over humiliation.

Innocence is a baby born in a war zone.

Innocence is a child being taught to hate.

A to Z Challenge: H is for Haemorrhagic

That conference in Kigali almost killed me. I have never been so exhausted in my life. Four lectures a day plus networking in the evenings? Never again. 8,593 miles from Kigali to Denver and I am finally home. Well... if you can call it a home. I don't have much in the way of furniture except for a fold out chair and mattress on the floor.

I drop my bags just inside the door and go to the kitchen. For some reason, a vague sliver of hope rests in that moment before opening the fridge door. As if kitchen fairies might have filled it to the brim with healthful, tasty food. I sigh, staring at the lone bottle of wine and a case of diet soda. I really need to go grocery shopping. For a moment, I just stare into the fridge, enjoying the coolness on my skin. My face feels stretched taut - like the heat of Africa followed me home. I grab the wine and slam the door.

If only my colleagues could get a look at me now. Whenever they see me it's in five star hotels, Prada, Louis Vuitton. I must be quite the picture, sitting on a mattress on the floor drinking wine out of the bottle. It's not even good wine. I laugh to myself and kick off my shoes. God, that feels good. I stretch my toes, arching my foot and stretching it back out. The wine makes me feel warm.

All this jet lag must be finally catching up to me. Or maybe it's the wine. I stretch my whole body this time, feeling the twinges and stiffness of a 30+ hour flight. At least have two days to myself before I fly out again. I'm feeling light headed. I glance at the wine, but I've only had a couple of gulps. Another wave of dizziness hits me and I fall back against the mattress. The wine bottle rolls off the bed. I manage to turn my head and watch as the red wine soaks into the tastefully off-white carpet. I try to care, but exhaustion overwhelms me.

I open my eyes sometime later. It's dark outside. My clock glows dimly showing 9:42 p.m. But I didn't get home until after ten. How long did I sleep? My arms and legs are covered with red starbursts. I must have spilled the wine on myself. I lick a finger and try to rub the red out, but it doesn't wash off. I trace the pattern again. I must be dreaming. I try to sit up, but I feel so heavy. I lay back and watch the headlights flare and fade on the ceiling. The light bends and hits me. I flinch back, covering my eyes with my arms. I must have the flu or something. Maybe a migraine. My head hurts. My  whole body hurts.

Damn those airplanes! Such a small closed space packed in with who knows who? Wasn't there an old man coughing a couple of seats behind me? At the thought, my throat tickles. I try to hold it back, but I can't. I roll onto my stomach and cough. Something splatters into my hand. It looks black, but I can't really tell. It's so dark in here. I wipe it off on a pillow I'm not using and throw it away from me. I should go to the doctor, but the only thing open right now is the ER. I try to sit up again, but fall back on the mattress. There's no way I can drive myself, but surely it's not bad enough to call an ambulance. It's probably just the flu. I should have gotten my shot weeks ago.

I close my eyes and drift off. Or try to. Someone opens the front door and light pours in. I try to cover my eyes, but I cough and cough. The carpet is stained with the black stuff or maybe it was the wine. I'm surrounded. Hands press against my skin, hot and heavy. I try to push them away, but I'm falling. I land against my mattress and start crying. Crying and coughing. My tears are thick. Too thick. I wipe my cheek and my hand comes away red. I scream, scrubbing my face, but I'm still coughing hard. I feel something rising and I vomit, throwing the black something over the carpet and bed, covering the wine stains.

It's a nightmare. A fever dream. I try to find my phone to call 911. My hands scrabble around the bed but the only thing I can get a hold of is the empty wine bottle. It must be in my purse. My purse is across the room with my luggage. I crawl off the bed through the black vomit and wine. Why does my apartment feel so freaking huge? My body is too heavy. The hands press against me, stopping my movement. I scream, but nothing changes. I need to get to the door.

Why do I need to go there? I can't remember. It's so far and I'm so tired. I'm crying steadily, great sobs that wrack my body until I can't breathe. My nails break, digging into the hard concrete under the carpet. I collapse, barely able to move my head.

Something inside me tears. A violent ripping shudders through me, but I relax. My muscles don't have the strength to clench. The pain is numbing. Bright white light washes through my mind and I close my eyes.

My hand lands on the wine bottle. The glass is cool against my skin. I sigh, because now I understand. I'm dying. It wasn't even a good vintage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A to Z Challenge: G is for Gwenhwyfach

What stronger hate is there than that between sisters? Sister mine, you who were fair of face and voice, you had the heart of king and the love of a hero. You braided them into your hair with anchoring knots, like pretty playthings to decorate your beauty. You had no understanding of the hearts of men.

Was it not enough to be Queen? Was it not enough to know the love of a great man? While other women scrapped at the smallest plot of land that they may survive the winter, you held grand feasts and laughed as men fell over themselves to entertain you. You were always a simpering little fool. 

They call that slap one of the "Three Harmful Blows of the Island of Britain." I can still feel the sting of my palm against your smooth cheek. They say I am the one who began it, but it was you, dear sister. You threw away a king and a kingdom for your childish ideals. You threw the greatest kingdom on God's good Earth into peril for what? Piercing eyes and a handsome face?

A king lies dead at your feet and you flit off to France. Were it not for you, the king would be on his throne. Were it not for you, his blood would not water the ground of Britain. Were it not for you, I would have been happy.

Instead your folly unleashed a flood that swept through our land, scouring her clean of good men and hope. Death followed on your heels as you danced heedlessly into the arms of another. You spoke of love as if that had anything to do with it. As if love justified the destruction of a great man and his kingdom. As if love was enough.

Three things are not easily restrained, the flow of a torrent, the flight of an arrow, and the tongue of a fool.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z Challenge: F is for Father


When I said "Daddy," I spoke to you.
The you that tucked me in 
And washed the pain from my broken skin
When I fell, as children do. 

When I said "Father," that was you too.
That was the you of hidden histories
and bones and lost identities.
The you that ran my heart through.

"We didn't want to tell you,"
You whispered through your beer
As Mom pretended not to hear.
"You weren't there. What else could I do?"

My vision shifted, the world askew
made me Atlantic-sick,
the ocean you picked
To cross, the country you picked to woo.

And they took you.
Despite the pain at your feet
And the secrets you keep
They pretended you were someone new.

But who, really, are you?
Daddy, Father. Empty words
that echo the countless voices unheard
because you only did what people do.

Now they scream at me, too,
From the camps and the ovens
and the smoke that rose to heaven.
Am I as guilty as you?

This much I know is true:
You fell, as fathers do. 

A to Z Challenge: E is for Elflock

I wake with tangles in my hair. My grandmother would blame the fairies who sneak into young girls' rooms at night. My grandmother with the small, strong hands and the lilting accent of the old world. My grandmother who set a bowl of milk out every night for the elvish folk. I think they followed her to this land of skyscrapers and nine-to-fives. They wove themselves into her long silver braids and slipped over the waves to this land of opportunity and shallow roots.

Women like my grandmother bring her roots with her. She held the stories of generations in her breast and whispered them to me for bed time stories. Her father, my great grandfather, was the seventh son of a seventh son. Tall and brilliantly blonde, he slayed monstrous beasts and bested unjust kings. Her mother was a changeling, a fae child small and dark. She worked magic in the between spaces and the earth flowered at her touch. My ancestors. My mythology.

These little secrets were whispered to me as I fell asleep and in that between space - between awake and dreaming - the fairies took root. They grew through my limbs and mind and now my lips whisper their stories. My pen draws their faces and wings and tangled hair. And I see them, from the corner of my eye. From the edge of a shadow or in the glare of a bright light. I see them as I fall asleep and I hear their whispers before I wake to find their knots in my hair.

Each morning I brush my hair gently, undoing their night's work. My hair has started to silver now, like my grandmother's. And like my grandmother, I brush and brush, then plait my hair in a thick rope down my back. The hair has an ombre effect now, silver shimmering down into dark black, the color my youth. Dark and fae like my mother and her mother before her and her mother before her. On and on and back to an elvish woman who chose death and love over eternal life.

And forward onto my own granddaughter who sleeps and is visited by the fairy folk. At night, I sit beside her and whisper the roots into her ears. I see the stories grow as her eyes grow bigger and she falls asleep with the whispers of her ancestors and their magic. She wakes, her dark hair tangled around her face. And the roots live on. Across oceans and time. Despite routines and grocery stores and electricity bills. Magic lives in the blood and feeds on stories and I am a gentle gardener.

A to Z Challenge: D is for Desdemona

Sorry for missing a couple of days, but good news! I am officially moved into my new place. There's still a lot of work to do, lots of boxes to be unpacked, but I shouldn't miss another day because of it. Thanks for your patience! So let's get back to it.

D is for Desdemona...

What kind of mother names her child "Desdemona?" Who chooses to call her only daughter the ill-fated? The cursed? My mother the tragically romantic. My mother the Bardolater.

Why yes, mother dearest. Of course I'd like to be named after the naively faithful and desperately optimistic woman who is murdered by her husband. Because hearing that story as a four year old makes me look forward to getting married. Because growing up with my namesake's unjust death makes me optimistic about relationships in general. Most young girls are presented with Cinderella. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. None of them are murdered for love. No. But Desdemona? Not exactly Happily Ever After.

So here I am. In another coffee house, on another blind date. My best friend is as bad as Austen's Emma when it comes to making matches. I definitely don't fit in her Austen-style rom coms. She's presented me with tall and short and large and skinny. With bookish and artsy and business-like. With smart or funny or handsome. But I am no Elizabeth Bennett.

I am Desdemona. The ill-fated. The cursed.

The coffee shop is nearly empty. It's almost ten at night on a Tuesday and all that's left are the dregs. There's an old man in the corner with a mustache to rival Nietzsche. An equally old bloodhound is curled up at his feet. A young college student is taking advantage of the free wifi. Her book bag looks bigger than she is. The barrista looks like a tattooed Audrey Hepburn, elvish and delicate. She has vine and flowers curling up her arms.

I chose the location this time. No more awkwardly fancy dinners. No walks through a park at sunset. This time the battle is at a place of my choosing. And isn't that what a date is? I put on high heels like daggers and war paint. But I am not looking to win. I just want to walk away with my skin intact. High hopes for a "Desdemona."

The bell above the entry rings halfheartedly as the door is pushed open. A man walks in. He's older than me, maybe ten years older. He's carrying a book, but I can't see the title. A hardback that looks well-worn. He glances at the old man in the corner and then the college student. He looks at her and writes her off, then he turns to me.

He walks to my table and sets his book down. Anna Karenina. I can work with that.

He smiles shyly and holds out his hand. "I'm Heathcliff. You must be Desdemona."

"Heathcliff?" I ask. What kind of mother names her child Heathcliff?

He smiles and nods, understanding my question. "Yes, Heathcliff."

I shake his hand and he sits. Strangely we are united in a coffee shop and I know. Whatever the end of the date may bring. Whether or not I ever see him again, this Heathcliff. He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. We children of tragedy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Classics Project: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is the debut novel of Carson McCullers. It centers around a deaf/mute man named Singer and the people that he attracts to him.

Before I get into my review too much, I do want to say I think this book is worth a read. It's very different from anything I've read before and I think it will take me a while to decided if I "liked" it. But it did make me think. There are also several spoilers, but I've tried to leave out the major turning points. So read ahead at your own discretion.

The main characters are Singer, his deaf/mute friend Antonapoulos, the tomboyish and musically inclined young girl Mick Kelly, the educated and idealistic black physician Dr. Copeland, the alcoholic would-be labor organizer Jake Blount, and the observant Biff Brannon who owns a local all-night diner.

McCullers weaves these characters around each other in a vast tapestry of a late 1930s Southern town. There's nothing particularly special about Singer (except for maybe his vast patience), but he pulls the lonely and downtrodden to him with a gravitational-like force. Each of the side characters are attracted to Singer because he is a deaf/mute who is willing to let them talk. They come to him individually and talk endlessly about themselves and their own lives, imagining that Singer is the one person who really understands them. Because of his silence, he becomes a reflection of them.

I almost pitied Singer his unfounded confidant status except that he does the exact same thing with his deaf/mute friend. Singer who uses sign language talks endlessly to Antonapoulos who doesn't. Singer is absolutely certain that his friend understands him without any evidence of it.

I thought the book would go on to some kind of commentary about how relationships that are based on false pretenses (seeing as how none of the characters actually understand each other) are ultimately unsatisfying, but no. Everyone seems completely happy as long as they have someone to talk at. When circumstances take that away they are exactly where they began or worse off. At one point, two of the secondary characters that have quite a lot in common actually get together and talk to each other. They end up not only not satisfied, but furious. Like they are just happier when the person they're talking to doesn't talk back.

The only character that seems to have any clue at all is the diner owner, Biff Brannon. He watches all of these people hover around Singer like moths around a nightlight. He knows that each of them are just projecting themselves onto Singer and he doesn't understand why they're all satisfied. In the end, nothing really changes even for him.

At times, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter seems so pointlessly nihilistic and at others it's like I'm the only one not getting it. I've read a lot of reviews of this book and, honestly, I feel like the readers are projecting themselves onto the book just like the characters and Singer. They make something larger out of what's there and everyone's satisfied. While I do think the book is worth a read, I don't think it's some amazing masterpiece. There are a lot of details that bothered me, but even the big picture seemed somehow less than what I'd expected.

Carson McCullers is a good technical writer and I would be interested in reading another of her books, but The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is by no means one of my favorite classics.

A to Z Challenge: C is for Calliope

They cry out for me as to a god,
As though creation is external.
Do not, dear mortals, be over-awed
For heads unfit still wear the laurel.
"Calliope!" My name has grown vast
Beyond the edges of my own ken.
The romance of myth, of ages past
Of what once was and what might have been.
Story itself has christened me 'muse'
And has thrust upon me this burden
Of inspiration, the spark and fuse.
What of the path that I determine?

For I was a mother long ago
And bore a son of most brilliant light.
I taught him words of strength - my sorrow!
For my lesson brought this lasting night.
The beauty of his words laid him low
Torn apart by jealousy and hate.
That was the harvest of my furrow!
What cruel twist - this irony of fate.
Muse, oh Muse! They exalt me on high,
Begging, pleading for a spark of grace.
For words they live, but by words they die
And leave forever mother's embrace

So call not to muses nor idols nor gods;
Rather look within for the path yet untrod.

Thanks everyone for reading my blog. I'm never really sure how what I write will be received, but I appreciate all of the encouragement I've been getting so far! Please keep reading and I promise there won't be too much in the way of archaic poetry (well... I say promise...) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A to Z Challenge: B is for Boléro

Today's flash fiction is inspired by Ravel's Boléro.


She walks with purpose, placing each foot carefully in front of her. 

He sits silently at the bar. The glass lamps glow red. He lifts his eyes.

She holds her head high, her dark hair swept back. Her neck is pale, tinted pink by the light. 

He orders another drink. 

She sheds her cape and sits two seats down at the bar.

He stands, stiff from routine and drink. He turns away from her.

She gestures and a drink is set in front of her. Red wine.

He's seen her here before.

She's seen him here before.

He turns, smoothing his hair back.

She pivots on her chair. Her black dress shivers as she moves, catching the light.

He lifts his jacket from the back of his chair and shakes the wrinkles out. 

She lifts her wine.

He leans against the bar and finishes his drink.

She wipes lipstick from the rim of her glass. Red like wine. Red like the light.

He turns toward her.

She smiles softly. Her dark eyes shine. She stands.

He puts on his jacket.

She walks with purpose toward the door.

He follows silently. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A to Z Challenge: A is for Antediluvian

Hey guys! I'm going to be doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year even with my new job and my #ClassicsProject. Am I crazy? I'll let you know. Each entry will revolve around a single word and be an original piece of flash fiction.


The flood swept me away when I was ten. It came roaring through my living room and picked up the toys I'd left behind. A doll. A set of blocks. It took my childish things and left me empty, soaked. Saturated with salt water and blood.

They tore the house down. I never saw it again. For me, it only exists before the flood.

The wallpaper was warm like honey. Momma read her books and listened to the blues. Daddy... Daddy was like the water. Soft and calm on the heavy, humid days. Terrifying and unpredictable when the morning sky turned red.

He painted the walls with his emotions. Our kitchen was yellow and bright. He'd done that room on a good day. The living room was a heavy red-purple. He painted the living room on my ninth birthday. Then he came to my room and painted my walls with blood.

There's a before and there's an after and there's a vast ocean of crashing water between them.

Momma and I live with her momma now. Grandma is old like an ancient oak tree. Her face shows the lines of the lean seasons and the floods. She smiles like she means it, and nobody says Daddy's name anymore. The one time Momma talked about him, she said he'd been swept out to sea with the levies. Grandma spat on the dirt yard and said "Good riddance."

So that's how I see him. He was the flood. He crashed through our lives and settled back into the abyss.

And now there's only an empty room. The toys are gone and the honey wallpaper bulges with decay. This room exists in my belly. My childish things are gone, swept out to sea, and I am alone in this room of salt water and blood. But I smile and don't mention Daddy.

He tore me down and I never saw him again. For me, I only existed before the flood.