Monday, January 30, 2012

Something New

Ok, so I tried falling asleep last night, but this practically wrote itself in my mind keeping me somewhat awake for quite some time.  I figured I should probably get it out of my head when I got home today, so here it is...

BTW, if you want to read more, let me know and I will post every couple of days that I write this...

            She sat on her mom's floral couch purposely on the opposite side from Brian quietly wishing he would leave.  She'd broken up with him weeks ago, but he still stopped by every day to hang out making the situation that much more awkward.  Why didn't he get the joke that it was over? After two years together, he should know by now this time was for real.  But Kayla couldn't find the words or the guts to hurt him enough to make him come to terms with reality, so instead, they watched TV in silence. 

            Her phone rang in her hand and Derek's number popped up on the screen. She smiled to herself and ran down the hall of her little apartment where she could answer in the semi-privacy of her bedroom. "Hello?"

            "Hey," he greeted her.

            Excitement flooded her body as she heard his voice.  This was the first time she had hope happiness could exist in a long time, but guilt from Brian down the hall crept in as well. "Hi, how are you?"

            "I'm good. How was school?" he asked knowing they'd only been apart for a few hours.

            "It was alright. How about you?" The small talk killed her, but she knew it was necessary at this stage of their brewing relationship.

            "It was cool. So I was thinking that we could go out this weekend," he jumped straight in.

            But before she could answer, Brian interrupted from the family room. "BABE! The movie is starting!"

            She covered the mouth piece of the phone hoping Derek hadn't heard. The last thing she wanted was to explain Brian to the boy she was starting to like.  "Hey, I gotta go.  Can I call you later?"

            "Um, sure," Derek answered, but she could hear the disappointment in his voice.

            "Hey, I do want to talk to you, but there's something I need to take care of first." She knew the time had come for her to put her foot down with Brian.  She'd never be able to move on if he was hanging around her house all the time.

            "Sure. I'll talk to you later."

            When she hung up her phone, she was exhausted and frustrated. She wanted to pursue things with Derek, but Brian was getting in the way. As she walked back down the hall, Brian was curled up on the couch with a soda in one hand and the remote in the other.  She took the moment to look at him with a new sense of direction. With his short brown hair and blue eyes, he wasn't bad looking.  For a long time, she'd admired how his volleyball player build gave him great legs and body without making him too bulky.  She'd loved that about him, but now there was...nothing.  How had it gotten this convoluted?

            "Brian, I think you should go home."

            He looked up and smiled.  "I will when this is over."

            Defeat took over. She didn't have the energy to fight with him, so she sat down instead and watched the movie on the opposite side of the couch without saying another word.

            The next day at school, she met up with Ethan, her best guy friend.  They met over a year ago and were inseparable.  "Ethan, I just don't get it. He won't stop coming over."

            "Kay, you've got to tell him it's over," he suggested.
            "Ethan, I broke up with him.  I'm not sure how much more I can say without tearing him apart."

            "I get it, but you've got to tell him something.  Anyway, I'll come over today. Maybe he'll get the gist from that," Ethan declared.

            "Ok, but don't get all guy with him. I don't want a fight." She was desperate for something to change and this may have been the ultimate solution.  Ethan was awesome, but it was clear they were just friends.  He didn't seem interested in the least. Plus, Derek was obviously into her. There were too many variables to think about and Brian shouldn't be in the picture any longer. "Why don't we go get a bite instead? I don't want to go home yet."

            "Ok, that works."

            After school, Kayla and Ethan went for a milkshake and hung out for what felt like forever. "Ethan, thanks for this afternoon. I needed it." She hugged him before getting in her car. "You're the best."

            "Anytime.  I'm here for you. You know that, right?" he asked hugging her back.

            When she pulled away, she was grateful for his friendship.  "I do. I'll call you later."

            "Bye," he said and she drove away.

            Her whole ride home she wondered what things would be like if he wasn't just her friend. He was entirely too cute for her, not to mention nice.  Just thinking about his rock hard abs and chest made her a little giddy. She even took a moment to imagine running her fingers through his chocolate curls, but snapped out of it remembering their friendship.  There was no chance in her mind. But when she pulled into the parking lot, Brian was sitting in his car waiting pulling her head first from her other thoughts.  Instead of being excited to see him, she sighed wondering if this would ever end.

            "What are you doing here?" she asked walking up to his truck's window.

            "I was waiting for you to get home. Where've you been?"

            "I went for something to eat with some friends." Never before had she been more irritated by his presence. "Brian, I've been out of school for over two hours.  How long have you been waiting for me?"

            "Only about thirty minutes.  I was going to leave if you didn't show up in another fifteen." His creeper status was rising an at exponential rate freaking her out to the core.

            This only irritated her even more.  "Ok, whatever." She walked past him to the stairs leading to her door.  She wasn't going to invite him, but he followed her regardless. 

            When they entered her apartment, she wished she wasn't alone all the time. If her mom had been home more often, maybe she wouldn't have been with him for so long.  Instead, for the past year, her mom had been off with her ex-step-dad "dating" on the weekends.  For six months, Kayla had been fending for herself every weekend staying with Brian only for the company.  But enough was enough.  She no longer wanted to be tied down to a guy she didn't like.

            "Brian, you need to take the rest of your stuff with you today," she said pointing to a bag of CDs and other miscellaneous belongings.

            He took a deep breath before answering, "Kayla, can we talk?"

            "What about?" she asked fearing what was about the happen.  She couldn't even sit down; instead, she shifted her weight and leaned on the back of a chair in her miniature kitchen.

            "I miss you. Can't we work this out?" He looked pathetic. 

            "No. We can't," she answered shocked at the courage forming in her stomach.

            He looked shocked, but he continued. "I love you. Please can we try this again. Don't you love me at all?"

            Those words were the ones she dreaded the most, but she knew deep down the truth had to be told. "No, I don't. It's over."

            He looked like she'd punched him in the stomach and ripped out his heart. "Oh."

            "Brian, we can still be friends," she instinctively offered wanting to make it less harsh than it had to be, but he flinched.

            "I can't be friends with you. I can't be around you anymore."  Tears spilled from his eyes as he pushed past her and walked out the door.

            There were no good-byes, just hurt feelings as she stood there in shock it was over.  But then she looked at the table and saw the bag. Shit, he's coming back. So she waited, and sure enough, the doorbell rang forty-five minutes later. There he stood with a bag for her.  It was everything she'd "left" at his house.  "I'm sorry," she said as they exchanged bags, but he didn't answer.  He just took his things, turned around, and walked down the stairs without another word said.

            When she shut the door, she sat on the floor bracing herself with the wall and cried.  Two years were over and done.  She didn't cry out of heartbreak, but rather from the end of a phase in her life.  Now she was finally free to move on, but how?

Friday, January 27, 2012

FL3F #4 Horrible Mistakes

The glass shattered in her hand when she learned these would be her last 24 hours alive.  The news was so shocking, she hadn't realized her hand was bleeding with shards of glass protruding from her palm.  It was numbing for a few seconds, but the reality sunk in quickly knowing her time was running out.

Instead of going about her regular routine, Samantha grabbed her purse and headed for the door with dozens of eyes questioning her leaving.  She knew they wanted answers, but she had none to give. "I'm leaving," was all she could get out of her mouth before the door closed and she ran down the hall to the building's exit. 

"Mrs. Curtis!" her boss called from behind her, but she didn't even flinch. She just kept running for her car. 

She drove home to her children wanting nothing more than to spend her last living moments with them by her side.  "I love you so much," she assured them without revealing too much.

"Mommy, we love you too. Why are you so sad?" her son asked. It always amazed her how intuitive her children had become the older they got.

"Mommy isn't sad. I just want to spend time with you," she lied.  There on the couch, they sat watching a tv show she had little interest in but knew they were happy.  Her children clung to each side of her while she thought about tomorrow.  Would they be ok without her? Would they remember her in ten years? How would her daughter look on her wedding day? Would her son graduate from college? Too many questions ran through her mind. There wasn't enough time.

"Let's go to the park," she offered.

Her children jumped up, "YES!" they answered before she could have another thought.  The three grabbed their coats and headed for the door ready for an adventure.  As they walked to the park, her children talked wildly about their day at school, what they learned, and what they wanted to do for lunch tomorrow.  It was all too much for her to soak in.  How could she leave them? It wasn't fair.

She watched her children slide on the slide, swing on the swings, and run freely on the grass. It was the ideal afternoon she never wanted to end.  As the sun began to set, dinner was entering her mind.  She wanted tonight to be the best last dinner, but all she could imagine making was eggs and toast.  Breakfast for dinner was the family favorite. Together they ate as a family while Samantha took it all in.  Time was moving too quickly. 

The baths she considered mundane were special that night as she prepared her children for bed.  Once the teeth were brushed, hair was combed, and children were dressed, she tucked each in for their sleep.

"Good night my dear," she said to each kissing both children on the forehead. She could feel the tears slipping down her cheeks as she shut each bedroom door.  "I don't want to die," she whispered to herself before walking to her bedroom.

As she climbed in her bed, she said a prayer for the first time in many years. "God, please take care of my children. Please let them grow to be good people, be successful, and most of all, please let them be happy." She forgot how far faith could take her, but those words brought her incredible comfort that night.  She knew it would all be ok.

The next morning, she woke looking around surprised she was still in her room. She wasn't sure what she expected, but her room was not it at all.  She reached for her phone instinctively, but this morning there as a text message.

>False alarm. There was a HUGE error when your tests were read. Please call ASAP<

Samantha's hands shook as she dialed the number to her doctor's office.  "May I speak with Dr. Brown? This is Samantha Curtis." Silence followed.

"Mrs. Curtis, there has been a terrible mistake.  You are going to be fine."  These words shook her to the core. She had a new lease on a life she had taken for granted.  Today would be the first day of the rest of her life. She wasn't going to waste a moment more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dreams or Goals

I haven't blogged about anything substantial in a while, but today has inspired me.  As a writer, self-doubt rears its ugly head from time to time.  It's easy to take a no and turn it into I'm a bad writer.  It's easy to want to give up and not try for more.  It's easy to want to walk away.  I feel that now, but it's not in my nature to give up.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm meant to be a reader and not a writer. I love reading stories. I love reading books about people in their mundane or even extraordinary lives. It gives me a release from my life and an escape from parenting, endless grading, and even my own issues.  Reading is amazing.  It can also be inspiring.  It inspires me to be a better person and to be compassionate about others.  I cry when the characters cry and laugh when they say something funny.  It makes me feel...human. 

Today I received bad news with little to no feedback.  That kills me inside and self-doubt comes back.  I want so badly for my personal dreams to come true, but being published cannot be a goal. It can't be a goal because I have zero control of the outcome unless I take it into my own hands and publish myself.  I'm not saying I am going that route, but in reality that is the only way I can ensure it happens.  My only choice is patience. But the question for any writer is how much patience can one have before throwing in the proverbial towel?  I don't know the answer to that. It's different for everyone. 

So what am I? A reader or a writer?  Can I be both or is one outweighing the other?  Reading is safe, while writing takes a chance.  So for now, I don't know.  I am in a perpetual holding pattern constantly using my inner filter keeping me from saying things I will regret later, but the problem is my filter is keeping me from writing as well.  So again, I just don't know. In the meantime, I will continue being patient, but I'm not sure how much longer than can take place.  I may have to take my dreams and make them goals.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grammar Tips Wednesday - To, Two, and Too

There are many times when I read something with the wrong form of to, two and too. That being said I want to discuss the differences.

To is a preposition demonstrating relationship between two things. I drive to the movies. He gave the cupcake to his mother.

Two is a number. There are two cats on my couch.

Too is a synonym for also. I love him too. It is also a word indicating excessiveness. There are too many people in the crowd.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

FL3F #3 Missing

Unfortunately, I don't have my first line flash fiction Friday this week, but I will post it this weekend.  Sorry for the wait.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grammar Tip Wednesday - They're, There, and Their

So, for most people this is a no brainer, but I'm a teacher and I know it can be a toughie for some.  There is a HUGE difference between they're, there, and their.  When I'm reading something and the wrong one is used, it irritates me to no end.

They're is a contraction.  It actually means they are.  They're going to school today.
There is a location.  (It can fall under many different parts of speech.)  The book is over there.
Their is possessive.  Their books are in the car.

It's easy to write the wrong one when drafting, but it's important to know that spell check will not pick this up. 

I hope this helps.  Have a great day!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

FL3F #2 - Regrets

I never thought the end would be like this.  I always imagined graduation being the time of my life, but instead it's sadness looming over my head like a thunderstorm.  All I've ever wanted is to be free of my family, be an adult, go to college, and so on, but now, I want to stay a kid forever. I want to go to my friends' houses and watch movies while eating ice cream and laughing.  I want to come home to a house where dinner's going to be on the table thanks to my mom and dad asks me how school was.  I want to get up early and drive to school where I will inevitably be irritated by the idiots, but still learn something.  Now it seems like it's all going to change.  It's all so different and unknown.  That scares the hell out of me.

How am I going to make the time between college classes and a job to stay friends with the people I've known my whole life? What if when I start school, I hate it and want to change majors? I mean, there's jobs for Philosophy majors right?  I don't know.  They told me I had options and it felt like it would take forever to get here, but I'm here now and it feels like it was just yesterday.

I sat and listened to the guest speaker at graduation only listening to about one third of the speech.  Someone commented later that it was profound and life changing.  Why didn't I listen?  What was I doing instead...texting?  LAME!  Why didn't I grab hold of that moment and embrace a ceremony I never get to be a part of again? Oh God, I'm already regretting everything.

I want to go back four years. I want to be a freshman entering the building scared to death in awe of the seniors towering over me.  I want to go to Homecoming all four years instead of choosing that stupid party instead.  What was so great about that party anyway? Oh yea, there were supposed to be college guys there. LAME!

I want to participate in spirit week every year twice a year instead of making fun of the kids who dressed up.  They did look like they were having fun. Shit, what was I thinking?

Please let me go back.  Please let me stay a kid.  Oh yea, I can't turn back time.  That's it! In college I'm doing everything. I'm gonna do everything people say is stupid and have fun with it.  I'm not going to do drugs or get drunk, I'm just gonna have fun.  What a stupid waste! I should've listened to Mom and Dad when they said I would regret everything if I followed the wrong crowd. 

Well that ends now.  I'm done with it all.  I'm moving forward and never talking to them again. I'm going to be a better person. It's time....right after I finish this joint.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grammar Tip Wednesday - Than vs Then

As I mentioned, I'm starting a new post on Wednesdays with grammar tips for writers. These are common mistakes I see in writing I've seen in things that I read. Today is Than vs Then because this is one of my major pet peeves.

Than is a comparison and Then refers to time.

ex. One book was better than the other.
      First I went to the mall. Then I ate lunch.

I hope this helps at least one.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Line Flash Fiction Friday (FL3F) #1

*Here's my first entry for FL3F.
Writer's Block

            I could hear the footsteps from down the corridor causing me to tremble all over.  What would they do next?  What could they do next? It was so cold in the sterile room, and as I looked to my left and right, unable to move anything other than my eyes, all I could see was white walls and a table in the corner covered in strange metal devices.  I struggled to free my arms, but the leather straps held me tightly against the rock-hard table.  The footsteps came closer still and I clenched my teeth.  Why am I even here? I don't understand, I thought to myself having no memory at all of arriving in, whatever it was.

            "Ms. Jones, have you decided to tell us what is going on yet?" the voice asked.

            "I don't know what you're talking about," my voice cracked as I answered. I tried to see his face, but my forehead was already hurting from the strap pressing me down.  "Who are you?"

            "Ms. Jones, we've been through this before.  When you tell use the information we need, we will let you go."

            I could feel the tears forming in my eyes, "I told you, I don't know what you want.  How did I get here? Who are you?" I asked again, but this time there was no response.  He just moved to the table in the corner.

            He began moving items around on the table, I could tell by the sound of the metal clinking against each other.  "Please tell me what you're looking for and I will try to answer you," I begged.

            This time, he moved to my side. "Ms. Jones, I will only tell you this once more.  I need to know where the item is.  If you don't tell me soon, we will resort to other devices forcing the information from your mind."

            A second set of footsteps started down the corridor getting closer with each step.  These steps were much lighter than the man's, but I still had no idea whose they belonged to.  "Stephanie, don't make this harder than it already has been.  Tell us where it is." The woman's voice was kinder, but firm.  I could see her blonde curls in my peripheral vision, but that was all.  She came closer still and actually leaned over me allowing me to see her face.  She wasn't stunning, but she wasn't ugly either.  Just plain. 

            "Please just let me sit up.  I can't think strapped to this bed," I cried. My breath was restricted from the position of my back making my panic stronger with each gulp.

            "I will see what I can do, but until then, we need something to work with," she answered.

            I decided to play along to get my way.  I tried regaining my breath by imagining myself at home on the couch reading a book.  It worked...enough.  "Ok, I will tell you what I know, but I need to sit up."

            I could hear them whispering behind me, but no words were forming in my ears.  They were quiet enough for me not to understand.

            After what felt like many long minutes, the man came to me and unstrapped my head.  The release of tension was immediate.  I could move my head around freely, but my neck was stiff and ached with each motion. "Thank you," I said sincerely. Once my muscles loosened, I looked for the first time around the room I was being held in.  The walls were stark with no decorations. I could see the white marbled tile on the ground and no other pieces of furniture, aside from the corner metal table.  It appeared I was in a hospital, but there was no one else in the hallway outside the open door at my feet.   I was alone.  There was, however, a camera in the corner hanging from the ceiling behind my head.  Then I looked at the man.  He wore a black suit with matching tie.  There was nothing identifying about him at all. I had hoped to at least recognize something with my new freedom of sorts.

            The woman's back was to me, but her white lab coat scared the hell out of me.  There was something sinister about a white lab coat in this environment mixed with a table of foreign metal devices.  Fear took over me again.  "Please tell me where I am," I pleaded, but she told me nothing.

            Before I could respond again, I heard the motor of the table kick on. I began rotating to a standing position allowing me to gain my bearings a tad more, but still there was little for me to learn.  "Stephanie, now's the time for you to give us the information we need.  Where is the item?"

            "Which item are you speaking of?" I asked playing along as best I could.  I did NOT want to return to laying down.

            "Do not play games with us.  You know where the box is.  Now speak," he commanded.

            It began to come back to me. The box. This was all about the box.  "I told you I don't where it is, but I know who does."

            The woman leaned against the wall.  "Who then?" she said growing tired from this process.

              "He took it and told me I'd never see it again."

            He crossed the room and whispered in her ear again, but this time I heard one sentence, "Then it's done.  She doesn't know and I believe her.  He stole it and will never be back.  It is lost."

            "We can't be sure of it. If we give up now, there's no more hope," she answered.

            "It's done," he replied and began untying my wrists and ankles.  "You may leave."

            I couldn't believe that was all I had to say to be free, but then I had no idea where I was.  "Where do I go now?"

            The man looked me in the eyes. "Go down the hall and knock three times on the door.  They will let you go."

            It couldn't be this easy.  How was it that they changed their mind so abruptly? But I wasn't going to argue either.  I had to get out of there before they strapped me down again.  The floor froze the bottom of my feet as I took once step after another slowly then quickly down the hall.  I could hear them talking behind me saying things like, "What a shame" and "Waste of potential." I had no idea what they were referring to, but I had an idea they were speaking about me.

            I arrived at the door and knocked as they told me...three times.  The door opened, as did my eyes. I found myself lying on a leather sofa in a doctor's office. When I turned my head, the doctor tapped her pen on her clipboard.  "Did you find the cause for your block?"

            "I think so," I nodded.  "It was there all the time, but I didn't know what to say to get rid of it."

            She nodded with me.  "Good, Stephanie. I think we've made real progress today.  You should be writing again in no time."

Upcoming Changes

Hi everyone! This post will be brief. I'm starting some changes to my blog this year.  Starting tonight, every Friday, I am going to attempt to post what I'd like to call "First Line Flash Fiction Friday." What this means is: I'm going to ask my classes to give me a first line for a story.  From the lines given to me, my students will vote on their favorite.  From there, I will write a flash fiction in roughly an hour and post it on my blog. I will underline the donated line so you will know what I had to work with.

Along with FL3F, I'm going to incorporate Grammar Tips Wednesdays.  Each Wednesday, I will address common grammatical mistakes I see in writing.  I hope it helps even one out there. 

So, now I'm off to write my FL3F.  I will post it shortly.  Have a great weekend!