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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 201 (February 13-19). Stories. Topic: Your Favorite Song

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You have until February 19 to post a story, and February 20-23 we’ll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Your Favorite Song

*Thanks to Aurora for the idea*

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with your favorite song (any song). I do not care, but it must relate to the story somehow.

Have fun!

message 2: by M (new)

M | 11263 comments Thank you, Leslie!

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul | 61 comments I promise I start writing again. So much good stuff you guys write just want to join in

message 4: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments It's that time again! It's synopsis time! (Confetti falls from the ceiling.) This week's story will be called "Heaven" and it goes like this:


Jody Rosewood, Suicide Victim
Leah, Jody’s Guardian Angel

THEME SONG: “Heaven” by Otherwise

SYNOPSIS: Jody commits suicide and goes to heaven. Before he can be allowed entry, he has to talk with Leah about why he did it and whether he deserves another chance at life or not. At the very beginning of the conversation with Leah, Jody reveals that he was a rape baby and hasn’t gotten over it.

And before you say anything, no, I haven't revealed the most important part of the story. I'll save that for when I'm actually writing.

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 13, 2014 07:50PM) (new)

Our Song by Catherine Niedzwiecki
The gold sandstone reverberated this morning in my soul; every time I looked up from my easel out of the living room window my heart double pulsed. I am molly coddling the canvas when my husband emerges from the kitchen with a pie plate full of morellos; he sets the plate on the hutch before approaching.
“Corking, my love!” He kisses my cheek. “And cornered.” He began counting each side of my triangular canvas.
“I cut off an angle.”
Humphrey steps back as if astonished. “Significant. You have never done that before.”
“Nonsense. Do I show you everything?”
Humphrey begins to fidget with his apron in an over exaggerated manner, as if harassing the cloth with his hands.
“What is it?” he asks. “The brass tacks.”
I look up again at the Sierra I feel I am forsaking.
“I feel I am collecting the day’s harvest of colors on my canvas. My canvas is like the cornucopia. I am experimenting with color – and shape.”
“Mamma!” he shouts. “I will leave you alone now. You can unwind after dinner with a slice of pie.”
“Check out the wild geese flying over. Ribbons of wind. Now I have received my Cindarella dress for this evening.”
“Bravo! Just steer clear of my rolling pin. Great Godmothers like to hit old husbands over the head with those. Check out the paint on your brush’s ferrule. Tsk. Tsk.”
“I will need two pins – one for the devils on each of your shoulders telling you to bother me while I am painting! Anyway, are not rolling pins like wands? Maybe she will turn you into a Chipendale! Now Kazam! Off with you!
My spouse tends to his crust in the kitchen. I am thinking about the splendor of the dark geese that flew by; I will paint all eight of them, embowed over one of the cliffs. Those geese are probably roosting at the hacienda just southwest of here. Some take off over there in the morning, others at late into the night. Close to 11 am now. The effulgence must have inspired the local shepherds in somewhat recent times, who asked guidance, stepping like guests over the lands, from the morning star.
The light is papery come dinner. I will make a papier colle while Humphrey makes the salads. I hear him set the needle on a record; our favorite song ensues.
“Another collage tonight?” he asks.
“Yes.” I reply. I was thinking “Colle out of Paper…paper mache”
“Papilonaceous.” He says. “Something with wings?”
“This song gave my heart wings,” I say softly.
“Use scraps.” He continues. “You are an artist. Use the Papilote from our fish.”
Humphrey is an artist. He knows the dictionary by heart. We met in school.
“What is the title of this song, honey?”
I laugh. “It is Pachelbel. Canon in D major.”
“Would you pass the paprika?”
“Well, I will be at the desk tonight.” He says with a wallow. Humphrey’s first love is books. He descends upon a page in the dictionary like a…a…
“Parachutist.” I jockey. “Let us eat. Your pages are waiting.”
“You just want to make art. You are busy, too busy for me and my Paphian thirsts. I understand.”
“I’ll stay for pie.”
“Excuse my paradiddle.” He thumps a tune to the last moments of our song.
“Ah, show me your paragon.”
“10 years. And to think you found me in a saloon.”
“You and your salty saliva. Thud.”
“Uh, thud?” He reaches under his chair and pulls out a rolling pin. “Slam. Parade rest. I was hiding this from Godmother. You will be tired after work."
10 minutes into dinner. 10 minutes and look what happens.
“I enjoyed the parallax of your canvas this morning.” He says as I clean up the table. He thrusts the paprika into my free hand.
“Are you trying to thwart my collage making tonight?”
“You are making me ticklish. It is not Thursday. No collage on Thursdays. I will see you then. Besides, I was expecting a wife in ribbons of wind. Wind is invisible."
"Save it for Godmother. No chip, no wind.”
“Load me up,” I say, putting the salts in the apron I have had on since morning.
“I am loafing here. Oh, okay.” He stacks me high with plates and glasses.
“I will load the dishwasher. You better get busy.”
“Looking at the canyons all day. I am going to make tallow candles next week. Do you think the Natives did that?”
“Perhaps. I know they made bonfires.”
I retreat to my studio, a little corner in our small apartment. I play Palchelbel again on my IPOD. And I play the song over and over until I am ready for bed. An artist must have tactics for achieving the understood. The fabled light in the morning, the unwieldy moon at night, and my husband, my sweet husband, intermittent seasoning sprinkled throughout both. Our song is a fine one; our art, an art or patchwork of interuptions.
Suddenly, I feel a paw on my back. My kitty cat.
“Mew. Mew. Mew.”
My husband steps sideways toward us.
“That is Meee-ow, kitty. Meeee-ow.”
"How are we ever going to get through the M’s?"
"One parallax at a time, my Love. Giver her a song. Maybe something Meu...Meulemans, Arthur Meulemans. Goodnight. And meeee-ow."

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Reka wrote: "Our Song by Catherine Niedzwiecki
The gold sandstone reverberated this morning in my soul; every time I looked up from my easel out of the living room window my heart double pulsed. I am mo..."

I added a "Maybe something Meu...Meulemans, Arthur Meulemans..." This may be continued next week. If I can wait that long...:)

message 7: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Garrison wrote: "It's that time again! It's synopsis time! (Confetti falls from the ceiling.) This week's story will be called "Heaven" and it goes like this:


Jody Rosewood, Suicide Victim
Leah, Jody..."

Can't wait to read this!

message 8: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Thanks, Lauri! I may get cracking on it tomorrow. Keep those fingers crossed. :)

message 9: by Gerardo (new)

Gerardo | 222 comments Good work, Reka! That was very descriptive.

message 10: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Here's my short story – critique welcome! :)

For You, Eliza
(Inspiration: Yellow by Coldplay)
PG -13

Patrick shakily signed his name at the bottom of the short suicide note, knowing it would cause Eliza pain. Sweat dripped onto the page as he folded it and placed it into the envelope bearing her name. Perhaps death will be a blessing after all. Maybe he’ll finally discover the truth in the world beyond.

Patrick took his thoughts away from that room to somewhere filled with warm love. With his finale exhale he saw Pia’s long braid dancing wildly with the motion of her favourite swing set.

The gun’s brutal blast sent the pigeons fluttering off the windowsill.

Eliza moved quickly through the employee’s lounge of the salon as she threw her belongings into a gym bag. If there was one thing she knew; it was when to move on. She glanced at her cell phone, it was 8:30am, perfect; no one will be arriving for another hour.

“Not even going to say goodbye, what a predictable and selfish decision.”

Startled, Eliza jumped back slamming her shoulder into the open locker door.

“God! Martha, what the hell? I’m just getting my stuff,” Eliza said rubbing the bruised spot on her shoulder.

Twisting her necklace between two fingers, Martha looked defeated. Her usually pretty and plump 46 year old face was now drawn and she looked her age.

“Where are you and Patrick going to go Eliza? This is your home. I am your home.”

“Patrick’s dead…suicide,” only then Martha noticed the red rims of Eliza’s eyes.

Martha raised her eyebrows in shock, “Oh my God!”

“Look, Martha you know I can never repay you for all that you’ve done for me. Taking me in, on one of the worst days of my shitty life. Giving me a job and a place to stay was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. I mean that. But…but now that Patrick’s gone, I just can’t be here anymore.”

“First you were leaving to start a new life with Patrick, now you’re leaving because he’s gone?”

“I suppose I need a fresh start now, more than ever.”

“Ok, I get it. You need to grieve right? It takes time. I’m here for you,” she paused. “Where are you going to live? What are you going to do?” There was panic in Martha’s voice as she felt Eliza slipping further away.

“I always figure it out.”

“But why? I don’t understand. Please Eliza, honey, explain it to me. I’ll listen I just want to know why you feel the need to leave,” Martha was beginning to unravel and Eliza knew it.

Bag packed, back straight, she turned her body toward the door. Martha stood in the way.

“You think you know everything at 25, trust me you don’t. You couldn’t make it out there before. What makes you think you can do it now? You think the statute of limitations has run out on what you’ve done? Poor Patrick, if he only knew!” Martha shook her head violently. Her voice fluttered with tears as she said, “You think I can’t go to the police?”

She grabbed Eliza’s arm and kissed her for a soft second on the lips.

“Why did you do that Martha?”

“I don’t know. It was just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Eliza looked down at her feet waiting for Martha to let her leave.

“For you, Eliza, I’d bleed myself dry,” she whispered, making Eliza feel just as uneasy as she did years earlier.

Martha let go of the younger woman’s arm then stepped aside. Eliza walked out of the door.

Patrick stormed into the salon one rainy afternoon demanding to speak with an Eliza Gill from Woodbrook.

“That’s me. Who’s asking?” Eliza laid the curling iron on her hairdresser’s station.

“My name is Patrick, I’m Pia’s older brother. I want to know where she is.” His voice expanded. “I want to know where she is. Right now!”

A nervous hush clouded over the salon as the 6 women tending to their beauty needs sat frozen.

“Come with me,” Eliza ushered the angry stranger into the employee’s lounge.

“My sister, Pia, where is she?”

“How’d you find me?”

Patrick took a deep breath in an attempt to inhale patience.

“My 15 year old sister went missing. I finally caught a break when the police shut down a club in Woodbrook and she was arrested. But before the police contacted me she was bailed out by a guy, some pimp, called Frog”

Eliza looked at her shoes. Her shame began to burn her eyes. She said nothing.

“Frog said some whore named Eliza Gill introduced him to Pia, then months later they took off together. He didn’t know where they went. Are you that whore?”

Eliza let the offensive label slide off her shoulders she’d been called worse. She looked at Patrick and absorbed the features of his face holding eye contact for 3 seconds too long. She knew how to simmer a man down.

“I never met your sister. I never even heard of her. I knew Frog, but that was another life and I’ve turned my world around since then. As you can see.” She gestured to the smock she was wearing and the room she was in. “If I were you I certainly wouldn’t take Frog’s word over mine.”

Having met Frog who was high and stinking of alcohol at the time, Patrick had no choice but to take Eliza’s word. He made a long sighing sound releasing the tension in his temples. It wasn’t in his nature to be confrontational, especially with a woman.

“I’m sorry. I’m losing my mind. It’s the not knowing; it’s agony,” the sorrow in his voice was tangible.

“We’ll go to the police together and I’ll tell them everything I know about Frog.”

A weak smile escaped Patrick, “Ok.”

Over the next few weeks as they worked with the police Patrick’s anger melted into a friendship then morphed into something more. Pia was never found.

After the heated exchange Martha confronted the once homeless girl she had taken care of for the past couple of years. She wanted to know who Patrick was and what Eliza had to do with his sister’s disappearance. Eliza broke down into a childish sob coming up for air with exaggerated gasps.

Martha remembered the frightened girl standing outside the salon wearing a ridiculous yellow mini skirt and peering through the window. The hooker was searching for safety. She remembered the shock and relief on Eliza’s face when Martha let her in and gave her something to eat. Martha had wanted, no, needed someone to love and care for.

“Tell me Eliza, do you know anything about that man’s sister?” Martha asked gently.

Eliza told the truth, the simple disturbing truth. She made a deal with Frog. She recruited the teenage runaway, Pia, and traded the child’s freedom for her own.

“Pia was just a child, and now she’s missing or worse,” Eliza’s tone was steeped in remorse.

“You can go to jail for this.” Martha stated as a matter of fact.

“I needed to get away from Frog. Martha, this was my only way out. Maybe I should tell the police the whole story, maybe they’ll go easy on me?”

“Go easy on you? You’re an adult and you made a teenager take over your prostitution job. No one’s going easy on you.”

“Maybe I should leave town?”

“I don’t think that’s the answer. You have a good life here now.” Martha held her friend’s face and lowered her voice, “I’ll keep your secret.”

“You will do that for me?”

“For you Eliza, I’d bleed myself dry.”


On the morning she discovered Patrick’s body on the wet crimson sheets, Eliza dropped to her knees. She thought he had finally succumb to the torture of not knowing whether Pia was dead or alive and the guilt of not being able to protect her.

She saw the note on the bedside table. After reading it she instantly jolted to her feet making the decision to get the hell out of town.

It was signed with Patrick’s name, but the brief written message wasn’t his.

"For you Eliza, I’d bleed myself dry."

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)


message 12: by Lauri (last edited Feb 15, 2014 07:20AM) (new)

Lauri | 17 comments spelling error! finale should be final :)

message 13: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Reka - I love the Canon in D too!
Excellent story, Lauri. I listened to that track on YouTube - very moving.

message 14: by Jay (last edited Feb 17, 2014 04:45AM) (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Off To See The World

“‘And that’s what happens when you don’t do as you’re told,’ the Fat Controller told Thomas, very cross at the bother he’d caused.” Meredith turned the page and paused for her son to look at the next picture. She saw his finger move along the words, his lips moving slightly as he read.

Meredith continued reading out loud, wondering how much he’d read correctly. “‘Now you’ll be stuck in that shed for a week while you’re mended,’ he continued, ‘so let that be a lesson to you.’ Look, Chris, see how unhappy Thomas looks?” she said. “Sometimes when you’re told you shouldn’t do something, it may not seem to make any sense, or you don’t think it matters if you disobey just once, but adults know what things can cause accidents.”

Christopher twisted sideways in bed to look up at his mother. “But I’m not a Tank Engine.”

“No, you’re not,” Meredith said, chucking him under the chin, “which means it’s much harder to mend you if you get broken.” She kissed the top of his head and got up off the bed. “Time for sleep now.”

Christopher snuggled down under the quilt while his mother turned off the reading light, leaving just a small night light glowing.

“Can we go swimming again tomorrow? And make another sandcastle? A bigger one?”

Meredith paused by the door and blew him a kiss. “If you go to sleep right now.”

He reached up to catch the kiss, grinned and shut his eyes tight. “I’m asleep!”

She pulled the door mostly shut and went downstairs with a light step. Just two days in the holiday cottage by the sea had done wonders to reduce her stress levels. The biggest benefit, though, was creating quality time to spend with her six-year-old son. He hadn’t adapted well to school. Meredith had the distinct impression that he was bored. Sometimes a keen intelligence and an enquiring mind could be a disadvantage. She decided to check her options with private schooling that would stretch him more. If they had to move, since she wouldn’t contemplate boarding, then so be it. As for the cost, expenditure would need to be prioritised. This holiday might well be their last for a good many years.

She poured herself a glass of wine and went out onto the decking to enjoy the warm evening breeze. The glass nearly slipped from her fingers and her eyes widened in shock when she saw the man seated there, staring out to sea. There was no doubt in her mind. How could she ever mistake that silhouette, the leonine mane skimming broad shoulders? Most of her life had been spent following Aiden, getting caught up in his dreams and adventures.

She swallowed hard, her throat dry. “Aiden,” she said, as coolly as she could, “what a surprise to see you here.”

He got up and turned to her. They stood, just looking at each other, so much history and so many unanswered questions between them. “Meredith.” His voice was low, throaty. Slowly he raised his arms to her. “I’ve missed you.”

Meredith cleared her throat and resisted the temptation to just run into his offered embrace. She’d always forgiven him for everything, all the hurts, small and large, all the trouble he’d got her into through their childhood and teens. He’d been the lynch pin of her life. He had made life fun and worth living. Yes, she’d forgiven everything… everything except running away. She thrust her glass into his hand. “Take this one. I’ll get another.”

Aiden grabbed her wrist and twisted her back to face him. “Meredith?” He put the glass down on the table and cupped her cheek, ran his thumb across her full lips.

She stood there, trembling, unable to move away, unwilling to allow herself to respond. He released her wrist and cupped her other cheek, raised her face to accept his kiss. As their kiss deepened she couldn’t help herself - her arms crept up round his neck, her fingers pushed through his hair.

“Oh, God, it’s been too long since I’ve tasted the wonder of you, Meredith,” he said.

His words brought her back to the moment, the awful fact of his betrayal. She turned away so he wouldn’t see how close to tears she suddenly was: he must not be allowed to see her weakness. “I’ll get that wine.”

When she returned he was sitting once more, again staring out to sea.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he said.

Meredith followed his line of sight. The early summer night sky was just deepening through the darker shades of blue to a velvety blackness. A full moon cast a ribbon of light across the gently swelling waves that rustled and murmured up the beach and around the rocky headland of the bay.

“A moon river across the sea.”

“That was your favourite song,” he said. “I’m hoping it still is.”

She turned to him, eyebrows raised in silent enquiry.

“'Two drifters, off to see the world',” he quoted, his voice excited. “Meredith, I’ve seen so many places, so many amazing things, these past years. Will you let me show you? Will you come with me this time?”

Ice water over her head could not have turned her blood colder. “Do you truly not remember why we split up?” she asked. Her lips felt numb and her heart thudded painfully. She felt a howl building inside her, the same howling she had felt when he left her, the howling that only ended when she first held her son.

“Of course I remember!” He took her hand. “Our child can come too.”

He grinned, the old infectious grin she remembered so well, but this time she didn’t see the situation as humorous. “Can come? You think I have an option or desire to go off with you and leave him behind? Our child? You don’t know our child’s sex, or his name or anything else about him. What makes you think you have the right to come back into my life and try to turn it all upside down? Seven years without any contact whatsoever and you think you can just turn up on my doorstep like this and be welcomed back?”

She ripped her hand out of his and grabbed her wine, taking a big swallow as she battled to control her anger.

His hands flew to cover his mouth, then spread wide. “Meredith, that wasn’t what I meant.”

His face was so expressive, and she knew him so well, that Meredith was able to read all the things he was feeling at that moment.

“You know me, foot-in-mouth disease, all cattle beware.” It was a long-standing joke between them.

“It’s a good job you write better than you speak,” she said.

Aiden took a sip of his wine and sighed. “May I start again?” he asked. He paused, gathering his thoughts, and his eyes lost focus as he stared out at the river of moonlight. “I admit, I was a real shit to you and deserve to be hung, drawn and quartered for being such a coward. My only excuse, and it’s a damn poor one, is I was too young.”

“I was young too.”

“Yes, you were, but you were always wiser than me.” He looked at the floor then grinned again, sheepishly this time, looking up at her with his head still bowed. “I do know I have a son, you know,” he said softly. “I’ve even got photos of Christopher.”

“How?” Meredith demanded. “Have you been spying on us?”

“Yes and no…” He shrugged. “I had to find you so I hired a private detective.”

Meredith’s skin crawled at the thought of being watched, of her and Christopher being photographed without her knowledge.

“I can afford lots of things now,” he murmured. “See that yacht there?” he asked, pointing out into the bay.

“How could I miss it? It’s enormous.” She’d noticed the yacht dropping anchor earlier that day and wondered about the owner, wondered why they would choose this small bay to stop in.

“That’s mine. That’s what the three of us can go travelling the world on. Us and the crew, that is. You wouldn’t have to pay for a thing, Meredith. Whatever you desire I shall obtain for you.”

She sat straighter. “So you think you can buy me now?” she said. “I’ll have you know I’m quite successful now too. I pay my own way in life, the life I choose.”

Aiden thought about her paintings and his readiness over the years to pay whatever it took to own his favourites. Meredith didn’t yet command top fees but year on year the prices for her work were increasing. He didn’t tell anyone who the anonymous owner was who lent his artwork for display in galleries all around the world. He didn’t tell Meredith either. He was just happy that a few words from him in the right ears meant her amazing work was becoming better known and hence more desirable.

“I’m not trying to buy you, Meredith,” he said. “I just want you to know that I can take care of us now.”

Faintly, the sound carried across the water, they heard the clang of a bell.

“That’s Edith Moon’s bell,” Aiden said and jumped up. “I named her for you and your song.” He flicked the end of her nose. “Come on, let’s swim out to her!”

Meredith stared at him in amazement. “You don’t get it at all, do you? The first thing you learn about being a parent is that there’s someone else’s life in your care, and that life is more precious than your own. How could you think for one second that it would be OK to swim out there and leave a six-year-old boy alone here? You’re not too young now to understand. Your old devil-take-the-hindmost adventures were fun when we were young and there was only ourselves to consider, but that attitude is no good from a father. I guess you’re still not ready to be a parent. Goodbye, Aiden.”

She turned her back on him and went indoors, ignoring his pleas for her to stay, to hear him out. She locked the door, turned off all the lights and went to bed. It was to prove a restless night for her, though. Sleep evaded her until finally she drifted off just before dawn


message 15: by Jay (last edited Feb 17, 2014 02:44AM) (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments (cont)

She woke to bright sunshine streaming into the room and a gentle breeze wafting the net curtains. Her eyes flew wide open as she heard her son outside in conversation with a man, a man she’d momentarily thought she’d just been dreaming about. In a few fluid movements she was out of bed, dressed in shorts and tee-shirt and down the stairs.

“Christopher,” she said, a sharp edge in her voice, “I’ve told you many times not to talk to strangers.”

Christopher squinted up against the sunlight and rubbed the side of his freckled nose. “He’s not really a stranger, Mum,” he said. “His name is Aiden and that’s his boat out there.” He pointed out into the bay, where the yacht swung gently at anchor. “She’s called the Edith Moon and you have to call boats she, not it because they’re as beautiful as the women they’re named after. And Aiden writes books which he says I wouldn’t like now but I might like them when I’m older.” He dragged his spade through the sand, leaving a deep furrow. “Soooo, if I know all that he’s not a stranger any more, is he?” He looked back up at his mother, waiting for her verdict.

“And what about before you knew all this about Aiden?” she said, in the forcedly reasonable tone that warned Christopher he wasn’t yet out of the woods. “When you first saw him you saw a stranger, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped you disobeying me.”

“But I didn’t speak to him, because he was a stranger, so he spoke to me and told me stuff so he wasn’t a stranger and I could talk back.”

Meredith loved the way Christopher’s mind worked, the way he used prior knowledge, logic and extrapolation to make sense of his world, but it could also be very annoying.

Aiden chuckled. “He’s very bright, isn’t he?”

“Very devious, I’d say - like his father.”

Christopher looked from one to the other, sensing an undercurrent of things unsaid, a subtext he wasn’t privy to. “I’ve never met my father,” he told Aiden. “He went away before I was born to find something.”

Aiden looked serious. “What was it he was looking for?” he asked Christopher.

“Mum said he didn’t know, and that’s why it’s taking so long for him to come back. It’s very hard finding something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.”

Aiden nodded. “That’s true.” He looked at Meredith. “But you can be certain the moment he knows what it is he’ll be back.”

Meredith was feeling more and more uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking. “I think it’s time for breakfast.” She took a few steps towards the sea and drew a line in the sand with her foot. “Christopher - you’re not to go an inch closer to the sea than this line, OK?”

Christopher nodded: it was a familiar instruction.

“As it happens, I know Aiden," she said. "We were next door neighbours when when we were little. Aiden - come up to the house and help me prepare.”

He realised she meant more than the meal by ‘prepare’ and meekly followed. “See you in a minute,” he said over his shoulder to Christopher.

Meredith stood in the kitchen, hands resting on the table as she waited for Aiden. “Don’t you dare tell him who you are,” she hissed as soon as he entered. “He can live with a new friend disappearing. It would be devastating for him to meet his father then have you just walk out on us again.”

“Don’t I have any rights as a father?”

“You would do if you’d ever been a father.”

He turned a chair round and sat down, leaning his crossed arms on the back. “I’m saying this all backwards again.” He paused and rubbed his chin. “Meredith,” he said, “I have no intention of walking out on the two of you again, not now, not ever. I’ll be forever grateful for whatever degree of access you’ll grant me to your lives - I’d like it to be full-time, but I’ll accept whatever you can find it in your heart to give me. I intend to earn a father’s rights, not demand them.”

Meredith put the milk jug on the table it some milk sloshed out onto the table. “Just remember one thing, Aiden - it is my decision, and mine alone, if and when I tell Christopher who his father is.”

Aiden nodded his agreement. “OK. Now, shall I make some toast?”

Over breakfast the conversation was almost entirely led by Christopher. He seemed fascinated by Aiden and it dawned on Meredith that her son had experienced very little in the way of male company.

“How many books have you written?” Christopher asked around a mouthful of cornflakes.

“Five so far,” Aiden said, “every single one written with the swell of ocean waves beneath me.”

“On a raft?” Christopher asked. “Like Kon-Tiki? I made a raft with Mum and we tried it on our river back home but it all came apart and we had to swim back to the bank!”

Aiden laughed. “Your knot-tying hasn’t improved then,” he said to Meredith.

Meredith could swear she saw the cogs in Christopher’s brain clicking and rotating as he evaluated that statement. “You’ve seen the yacht,” she said to Christopher. “Why would anyone write on a raft when they have a lovely boat like that?”

“Because it’s more fun?”

Meredith paled. Her son’s attitude to life was so like Aiden’s: look for the fun, look for adventure, never accept the easy or mundane.

“You know, Christopher,” Aiden said, “I don’t think it would make any difference what type of craft I was on, just so long as I could feel the waves.”

“And keep your laptop dry.” Christopher looked guiltily at his mother, remembering her dismay when he’d ‘borrowed’ her laptop and then spilled cola all over it. “They don’t work very well when they get wet.”

Aiden reached across for more juice and another slice of toast. “I started off working on other people’s boats and that’s when I found I wrote my best work when I’m at sea.” He finished slathering on marmalade and licked some off his thumb. “So when I sold lots of copies of my first book I bought a small yacht so I could write my second one. And you know what?”

Christopher shook his head, totally engrossed in everything Aiden had to say.

“I found out it is awfully hard work, crewing a yacht all by yourself. Then I sold the film rights to the first book and lots of money started rolling in so I bought the Edith Moon and now I have a crew to help me. I can write when I want, crew when I want, and when we call into port I can go and do lots of fun things on land. Perfect!”

“Mum, can we get a boat, huh? You could do your paintings at sea and I’d crew the yacht.”

Meredith stood up and started gathering the dirty crockery. “I think you’re a tad too young for that yet, Christopher.” She put the plates and dishes on the drainer. “Now, it’s a lovely day so why don’t you go back out while I clear up here? Then we can go swimming together.”

“Will you come swimming too, Aiden?”

“You bet!” He paused and looked at Meredith. “If you’re mother’s agreeable, that is.”


“OK, OK, go on, now, out with you and let me get on.” Meredith turned to the sink and held tightly to the edge of the sink, her shoulders tense. It was all too sudden, all happening too fast for her. She didn’t feel ready for a full day of Aiden’s company, which would entail watching every word she said, every minute monitoring what Aiden said.

Aiden held her upper arms and guided her back to a chair. He started running the water to wash up and spoke with his back to her. “I’m not trying to force you into anything,” he said, “but please think carefully about what I’m offering. At sea you can paint, I can write, we can both teach Christopher. And think of all the experiences he’ll have, all around the world. It’s an amazing planet, Meredith - let him experience it for himself, not just see pictures in dry text books. When we’re in port he can meet children and learn how they live, learn their languages, just by playing with them. It will stretch his mind, teach him to appreciate what it really means to be a human being living on this incredible blue planet. It will colour the rest of his life, help him achieve his potential. It will -”

“Stop! Stop! I can’t think straight right now.” She held her hands over her ears and went out to join Christopher.


That evening, with Christopher asleep and the balmy air once more tempting them onto the veranda, Meredith felt calmer, less pressured.

“Thank you for a wonderful day,” she said, leaning back with a contented sigh. “I appreciate the way you put up with Christopher’s barrage of questions with such good humour and, er, the times you turned the conversation.”

“I’ve been the bad guy for seven years,” Aiden said, “but I intend doing my damnedest to be the good guy from now on.” He leaned across to stroke her arm. “So, will you come with me? Both of you?”

Meredith’s mind was whirling with all the possibilities, all the factors, all the shattered dreams that now seemed possible again. All the hopes that could still be dashed…

“Aiden,” she said, looking deeply into his eyes, “once upon a time I thought I knew your soul, but the going got tough and you let me down.” She saw how he winced, how much it hurt to hear it, to think of it. She knew about hurt, crippling hurt. “I believe you wouldn’t do anything like that again. But I don’t know that.”

“So you’re turning me down.” Aiden’s voice was flat, defeated.

“No, I’m not,” she said, “at least, not yet.”

Aiden cocked his head in enquiry, in hope.

“Get to know your son. Let him get to know you. Ask me at the end of the summer if we’ll come away with you.”

“I’ve found what I was looking for.” He took her hand, lifted her fingers to his lips. “I love you, Meredith.”

message 16: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Heaven
GENRE: Modern Drama
RATING: PG-13 for mild violence, mild language, and rape themes

Heaven was everything Jody Rosewood thought it would be: fluffy pink clouds that looked like sherbet ice cream, picturesque orange skies, and most importantly, the perfect hiding place from his screwed up life on earth. Jody didn’t get here because it was necessarily his time to go. His key to heaven came in the form of a cup of bleach mixed with Jack Daniels.

When Jody first got into heaven, his white clothes were fresh and clean and his angel wings were softer than a kitten’s fur. He was the perfect fit for this place. But when he tried to pass the gigantic golden gate, it wouldn’t open up for him. Standing in the way was a gorgeous blond angel with a halo around her head and glowing blue eyes.

The angel walked up to the suicidal Jody, grasped both of his calloused hands, and attempted to have a gentle conversation with him about why he chose this particular gateway to heaven. She introduced herself as Leah before asking, “What are you doing here, Mr. Rosewood? Are there not people on earth who miss you right now?”

Jody tucked his chin with a sorrowful expression on his face as he said, “No, Leah, there aren’t. Nobody on earth misses me. I’ve been a pain in everybody’s ass since I was born. I wanted to be a good person and lead a normal life. But I…I just…”

As Jody broke into tears, Leah wrapped her loving arms around his shoulders in an attempt to comfort him. She said, “I know all about what you were going through during your time on earth. Your biological father was a horrible human being. He was a rapist and that’s how you were born. You never got over that.”

Jody and Leah separated from their embrace before the former said, “How am I supposed to get over something like that? Every day, Leah. Every day, those images played in my head. I couldn’t focus in school, I couldn’t hold down a job, I had to live with my mother all these years. What other choice did I have other than drinking that bleach?”

Leah placed her gentle hand on Jody’s stubbly face and said, “There’s always another way, Jody. Yes, heaven is a very nice place as you can plainly see. But then again, so is earth. Take a look down below. There’s the coolness of the ocean, the magnificence of the mountains, there’s the beauty of the trees. And most importantly, whether you believe it or not, somebody down there wants you alive.”

Jody said, “I know exactly who you’re talking about. My mom wants me alive, doesn’t she? Maybe I don’t want to be alive anymore, Leah. In fact, I think she should have aborted me when she had the chance. I’ll take an existence in a glass jar over a lifetime of being mentally screwed up any day of the week.”

“It didn’t have to be that way, Jody. There was always help for you somewhere out there. You just needed to find it. Help isn’t always readily available. Sometimes you have to go to great lengths to find it.” said Leah as she stroked Jody’s wet face. She continued with, “Are you sure you want to be here right now? Are you so beyond help that you can’t return to earth to the ones who love you?”

Jody removed Leah’s warm hand from his face and said, “The only ones who love me are the clerks at the liquor store and the dealers who give me my daily fix. If my mom loved me as much as you say she did, she wouldn’t have let this happen.”

Leah took an entirely different route when she slapped Jody across the face and raised her voice at him. “You think she chose to get raped, Jody?! You think you’re the only one who’s feeling the pain from all of this?! Do you not think your mother would have considered doing the exact same thing you just did a few minutes ago?”

Jody selfishly said, “She’d be doing us both a favor.” Leah went berserk at this point and started throwing openhanded strikes around Jody’s face, arms, and chest. The victim of this attack tightly held Leah’s arms in place in hopes she would eventually calm down. He then did something that proved he belonged anywhere but heaven: he viciously slapped Leah in the face and sent her to the ground.

Jody suddenly realized the error of what he did as his guardian angel held her red face and cried silently. He said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to do that. Look, just send me to the other place. I deserve it. This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, Leah. I’m just a disgusting worm who hurts everything he touches. That’s why I killed myself. When I started stealing and hurting people to buy more drugs, I just…”

Tears were raining down from Jody’s face as he said, “I just couldn’t stop.” He dropped to his knees and tucked his chin once again as his eyeballs refused to dry up. Leah had all but recovered from being slapped and stood over her latest charge with authority.

“You’re right, Jody. You do belong in the other place after what you just did to me. I’m considering sending you there right now. But you know what? I’m not going to do that. You know why? Because I believe in you. I’ve believed in you since you were born and I’m not giving up on you because of a little slap. You do have the power to change. You can go back to your mother’s arms. You can find the woman of your dreams and settle down. So before you make up your mind about burning in hell for all eternity, I want you to look at something first.”

Leah pointed down at the earth below and Jody watched on. The scene he was looking at was him laying in a hospital bed with a tube down his throat and a pulse box counting his seconds away. His extremely young, yet beautiful mother entered the room with a stereo in one hand and a CD in the other. She plugged in the stereo and played a very gorgeous hard rock song for him.

Jody recognized the tune right away. It was coincidentally called “Heaven” and it was performed by a rock band known as Otherwise. The lead singer, Adrian Patrick, unleashed his golden voice with these loving lyrics:

“I never believed that your soul could be stolen from me. Who can save me from the monster that I used to be? So if you hear me now, won’t you just send me a sign? Do I make you proud? Tell me that I’m doing fine. Oh, if I could, I’d fly away. And talk to the angels and beg them to please let me stay. ‘Cause heaven, no heaven, I’ll never see. What can I do to bring you back to me?”

“That’s my favorite song,” said Jody. Leah responded with, “And she wouldn’t be playing that song for you if she didn’t care about you. She let you live for a reason, Jody. It wasn’t because of any political crap she was enduring. It was because she believed she could make the best of a bad situation. With your father in jail for a long, long time, she’s free to teach you what it means to be a normal human being. No, she wasn’t a perfect mom, but she’s the best one for you.”

Jody continued to listen to the song his loving mother was playing for him. He just knelt down on the fluffy cloud completely enchanted by Adrian Patrick and Ashley Costello’s voices. These lyrics held a special meaning to Jody’s heart, so much so that he made his final decision regarding where he was going to spend the rest of his life.

“Take me back to earth. I don’t want to be here anymore,” said Jody. Leah smiled at him through her still stinging face and said, “That’s what I’ve been wanting to hear all along. Hang on tight!” Jody and Leah embraced each other once again and were enveloped in a magical purple energy that made them disappear from heaven for good.

Back down on earth in that hospital room, Miss Rosewood sat over Jody with her hand on his stubbly face and kissed him very lightly on the forehead. The song was nearing its conclusion when a true miracle happened. The once suicidal Jody Rosewood sat up from his hospital bed, yanked the tube out of his mouth and coughed violently before taking deep breaths.

Jody’s mother hugged him tightly and kissed him relentlessly on the face and head as tears poured down her face. Her son was alive and ready to make amends for all the pain he not only put others through, but also put himself through. It was a new day for the very small Rosewood family and no rapist, alcoholic drink, or powdery substance was going to take this beautiful moment away from them.

“I love you, mom,” said Jody. “I love you so much. I’ll never leave you again.”

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I can't choose my FAVORITE song, but for this challenge I'm going to choose either Miracle Mile by Cold War Kids or Cosmic Love by Florence + the Machine. I have lots of ideas for both!

message 18: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Jay wrote: "(cont)

She woke to bright sunshine streaming into the room and a gentle breeze wafting the net curtains. Her eyes flew wide open as she heard her son outside in conversation with a man, a man she’..."

You write with such a beautiful flow. I enjoyed your story.

message 19: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Heaven
GENRE: Modern Drama
RATING: PG-13 for mild violence, mild language, and rape themes

Heaven was everything Jody Rosewood thought it would be..."

Garrison, I liked the dark themes against a backdrop of pink fluffy clouds.

message 20: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Thanks, Lauri :)

message 21: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Thanks, Lauri! You're awesome. :)

message 22: by Nicky (last edited Feb 16, 2014 11:35PM) (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Lauri wrote: "Here's my short story – critique welcome! :)

For You, Eliza
(Inspiration: Yellow by Coldplay)
PG -13

Hi Lauri,

I thought your story was very clever and well planned out with lots of intriguing elements. I know we have a word limit for these contests which makes things a bit tricky, but for me I felt some of the story was a little hurried. Some fairly significant aspects of your story are dealt within a few lines and for me I would have liked to know a bit more about those moments.

message 23: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Jay wrote: "(cont)

She woke to bright sunshine streaming into the room and a gentle breeze wafting the net curtains. Her eyes flew wide open as she heard her son outside in conversation with a man, a man she’..."

Hi Jay,

That was beautifully written, I really enjoyed it. After your white-out story though and all the references to being careful I was feeling a bit anxious in-case something awful happened! I was relieved when it didn't, it's nice just to enjoy the story sometimes.

message 24: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Heaven
GENRE: Modern Drama
RATING: PG-13 for mild violence, mild language, and rape themes

Hi Garrison,

As usual a very unusual and challenging story! I loved the opening paragraph: I quite liked it's voice - it reminded me a bit of one of those 1950's detective books which I thought was interesting. I felt though, that through the body of the story the voice of the narrator got a bit lost, the slightly world weary tone didn't seemed as clear. I liked the the concept and the image of the mother playing the track for Jody in hospital was a nice use of the topic, I thought, one we could all recognise.

message 25: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments I appreciate the wonderful feedback as usual, Nicky. Thank you so much. :)

message 26: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Reka, beautifully written, as always. Your simple moments explode like fireworks and sunrise. Your stories always transport me somewhere else entirely. Your dialogue is crisp and clever and riddled with nuances that speak of a deep and understanding love.

'An artist must have tactics for achieving the understood. The fabled light in the morning, the unwieldy moon at night, and my husband, my sweet husband, intermittent seasoning sprinkled throughout both. Our song is a fine one; our art, an art or patchwork of interuptions.' Wow! What a paragraph!

Thank you, that was completely absorbing and totally wonderful.

message 27: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Lauri, what a great story! Your pacing was excellent and I think you dealt with the rapid changes very well - I never lost my place and found it easy to pick up each piece of backstory as you presented it. I'm a big Coldplay fan to begin with and you've certainly done the song and lyric justice. I agree with Nicky's comment above - you've done a fantastic job of condensing so much into the word limit but this would make a really interesting longer story. There are so many elements you could expand and I'd really like to get to know each of your characters further, they are all intriguing in very different ways. That was a great read, thank you.

message 28: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Thanks, Nicky :)
I thought with the date and all the talk of love I'd go with a more hopeful theme.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Gary wrote: "Good work, Reka! That was very descriptive."

Why thank you, Gary! I am good at description. Finding a plot to sink my teeth into - well, that is another story! :)

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Heaven
GENRE: Modern Drama
RATING: PG-13 for mild violence, mild language, and rape themes

Nice story, Garrison. Quite unique. :)

Heaven was everything Jody Rosewood thought it would be..."

message 31: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Nicky and Ryan,

Thanks for reading my story and for your thoughtful feedback! More than the word count, my fear was losing the reader's interest. I'll try letting go of that a bit and take the time I need to develop the plot points and characters some more.

Thanks again!

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Ryan wrote: "Reka, beautifully written, as always. Your simple moments explode like fireworks and sunrise. Your stories always transport me somewhere else entirely. Your dialogue is crisp and clever and ridd..."

You are so sweet, Ryan. Thank you for your kind words. I always appreciate your reflections and criticisms. Have a good day!

message 33: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments I've had a 2nd read - it's going to be tough choosing what to vote for this week...

Reka – Our song
This was well worth reading a couple of times to absorb the full flavour. It is a vivid view into the artistic mind. There are so many vibrant phrases here: I particularly like ‘the day’s harvest of colors’ and ‘rivers of wind’. I am also jealous of their relationship! Food is bland without seasoning so I loved the idea of one’s partner being life’s seasoning. Plus you taught me 3 new words – ‘embowed’ (lovely word), ‘papilionaceous’ and ‘papillote’ (although you mis-spelled the last 2). Excellent job.

Lauri – For you, Eliza
You tell a great deal of story in a short time, and tell it very fluently. I could feel the fear, the pain and anguish. And that was a lovely twist in the tale. Excellent work. It would make a fabulous longer story. I can easily imagine it as a full novel, so goodness knows how you achieved it all within the word limit.

Garrison – Heaven
This is a good portrayal of suicide as the cowardly, easy way out from the consequences of our own poor decisions, a way that will hurt the people who care about us. It’s so true that life presents us with challenges and it’s how we choose to react to those situations that make our lives what they are. Your story struck me as a bit of a parable about second chances. In reality we need someone here on earth to show us there is a better way, someone who loves us talking to us, or someone writing lyrics to a song that speaks to us. I wasn't totally convinced at the point of switching between hugging to slapping, but overall very well done.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Jay, thank you for your wonderful compliments :) I did misspell those words, by goodness. I need a *parasol to hide my blush!
Have a good day!

message 35: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Reka wrote: "Jay, thank you for your wonderful compliments :) I did misspell those words, by goodness. I need a *parasol to hide my blush!
Have a good day!

What's a typo between friends? Just keep teaching me lovely new words :)

message 36: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments That was quite the critique you gave me, Jay. I also had some doubts about the slapping scene, so maybe this is something to look out for in future projects. Thank you so much. :)

message 37: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments And thank you as well, Reka. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

message 38: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Garrison wrote: "That was quite the critique you gave me, Jay. I also had some doubts about the slapping scene, so maybe this is something to look out for in future projects. Thank you so much. :)"

Don't get me wrong - excellent story, and the slapping was a good reaction, but I just wasn't convinced by the transition of one to the other.

message 39: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Gotcha. Again, thank you so much, Jay, for your kind words and thoughtful advice. :)

message 40: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Hi, Jay! Thank you, that was a thoroughly enjoyable story. Thankfully I read Nicky's comment before I started so I was able to sit back and enjoy without having to be on my guard. There are some powerful themes contained in your story - love, betrayal, devotion, forgiveness and, above all, hope. You've done a fantastic job of showing rather than telling and that's what makes your story so wonderful for me. To be able to experience the emotions as the characters feel them allows me to fully immerse myself in the story and you have achieved this beautifully. I love the sense of possibility that begins and then grows to leave a powerful feeling of hope at the conclusion. I also thought that buying Meredith's paintings anonymously throughout the years was a nice touch and made Aidan a much more sensitive and forgivable character. Again, the showing works so well. Another stunning story, Jay, and a big thumbs up once again for your tight editing and presentation.

message 41: by Jay (last edited Feb 18, 2014 06:00AM) (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments Aw, shucks, you have me blushing now, Ryan!

I'm really glad you approve of this one as I'm considering using it in the WaterAid anthology:

And OK, I'll admit it, I'm a bit OCD with editing. I can't bear to spot an error in my writing and just write on with the intention of going back later for editing. It makes the writing of a story very slow - but the final editing much faster.

message 42: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments BTW - a tip if you normally use paragraph indents in Word and then lose that formatting when pasting here...

Do a Find and Replace for the whole MS. Find ^p and replace with ^p^p which will give you a blank line between paragraphs instead of the lost indents.

message 43: by Isabel (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments IN THE WORDS OF A SONG....
A story

The words fill my mind- at first it was merely a whisper at the back of my mind. Now it has become a resounding chorus:

“Do you know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear? What if He’s speaking through it all. Who knows how He’ll get a hold of us, get our attention to prove He is enough. He’ll do and He’ll use whatever He wants to, to tell us I love you.” I haven’t heard the song in at least a year, but it won’t leave my thoughts.

Yes. I think I do know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear. My mind races over the past few weeks. As my feet fall, one in front of the other, I continue down the driveway.

Two Weeks Ago:

It was an ordinary night. Ellen and George were out for the evening, attending another one of their meetings. They would be gone for hours yet. My sister and I were watching TV. I was folding laundry. My older sort-of-brother came in the room, commanding our attention. We refused to comply. He threw all of my carefully folded laundry onto the floor. I began throwing laundry at him. Before I knew it, I would be pinned to the wall in the kitchen, away from the sight of my sister. Before I knew it, playfulness would give way to fear, the kind that tangles one up and takes a lifetime to reverse.

I cried myself into a fitful sleep that night, tangled up tightly, my stomach clenched and in pain. No one seemed to care.

Three Days Later:

We came home from school to an empty house. I’d been avoiding him since that night (even though nothing had really happened, I didn’t want the “nothing” to become “something”). There was no one else around. Ellen must have been out shopping. George would have been at work. My sister Jennie was still at school. Realizing the house was empty, he turned on me. There was a lustful glint in his eye, one that caused my heart to shudder in fear.

“I-I’m going to go check on the chickens- I’m going to check for eggs.” I scrambled out the door before he could stop me. There were two eggs in the chicken house. I stayed there a moment with the chickens, finding them better companions than my sort-of-brother. Eventually, I knew it was time to go inside. I couldn’t hide forever.

He was waiting for me, just inside the back door. I can still feel the bile rise in my throat. He pushed me into a corner, his one hand against the door so I couldn’t escape, his body in front of me blocking all else. I watched him carefully, considering how to free myself. I saw the eggs in my hand.

“What about the eggs?” I finally stammered. He put out his hand to take them from me. Mutely I handed them over, hoping that in his distraction, I would be able to flee. He set the eggs on the couch that was just two feet away. As fast as I could, I reacted, sprinting toward the kitchen, in hopes of reaching the bathroom, in hopes of locking the door, in hopes of keeping him away.

My ankles were pulled out from under me and I flew through the air. I landed in his arms and he carried me to the couch. Instead of setting me down on it and leaving me alone, he sat down, spreading me out across his lap. I felt his hands, with a path set, their destination grew closer and closer. I twisted and squirmed, and out of the corner of my eye, caught sight of the eggs.

“I’ve gotta put the eggs in the fridge!” I gasped, rolling from his lap, and grabbing the eggs before rushing to the kitchen. I set them in the fridge and rushed to the bathroom. After looking the door, I dropped to my knees before the toilet and threw up all of the bile that had been building. Then, I threw myself against the door and sobbed. I couldn’t make myself stop.

I remember hearing the side door open, and Ellen’s footfalls.

“What’s wrong with her?” I heard her muffled voice asking her son.

“She came home from school like that, all emotional and such. It must be one of her friends.”

I heard Ellen’s exasperated sigh. “I’ll have to talk to her, about it.”

“Or I can, maybe she’d talk to me more, ‘cause we’re closer in age.” I assume Ellen nodded.

“I’ll have to get her out of the bathroom though, that’s unacceptable.”

“Yeah.” I could see him in my mind’s eye nodding. I heard Ellen’s phone ring, and took the opportunity to leave the bathroom and head outside. I sat there, talking to the chickens for hours. No one found me; maybe they didn’t even bother to look. The chickens saw my tears, and they didn’t judge. They, at least, seemed to understand fear.

Four Days Later:

I sat in my room, homework spread out around me. I was researching for a project. Alone in the quiet, I blocked out all else.

“Hey,” The mattress bounced beneath me, but I refuse to look at the culprit. “You don’t have to ignore me.” His filthy fingers brushed my shoulder.

“Get your hands off of me,” I spoke firmly.

“I just wanted to apologize. There’s no point in you hating me forever.” I glared at him for minute.

“I don’t hate you- I’ve never hated anyone.” Even as I said it, thoughts raced through my head. I was constantly struggling, and weak from trying. He made himself comfortable beside me.

“You don’t hate me?” He gave me the look that said he knew I was lying.

“No!” I said, emphatically, trying to convince him. “I love you.” I thought of God’s love, and how He told us to love everyone. That is what I was thinking as the words escaped my lips.

He leaned closer- too closer- and brushed his lips against my cheek. I wanted him to stop, but at the same time, I wanted to make peace. I wanted everything to be right between us. I kissed him on the cheek.

“I forgive you. Now let me do my homework.” His eyes caught the glint from the light over head. He took the computer off of my lap.

“You can do school later, now, it’s just you and me.” He took each of my hands in his, and I began to shake. My heart raced uncontrollably, faster and faster. I tried to take deep breaths, but I couldn’t seem to find enough air. As he came closer upon me, dark faces danced just behind my eyes. They multiplied and continued their dance, through what became nightmarish dreams.

The Following Day:

I sat up. My alarm was beeping incessantly. It was time to wake up and head off to school. I couldn’t remember what had happened last night. After the black spots, everything was swallowed into nothingness. My head begged me to stay in bed. My heart begged me to run and never return. I did neither. I continued on with my routine. I told no one. Even in my prayers, I did nothing but scream out to God, asking why He had let me stray so far from Him that this could happen. I continued to wake up and go to sleep. I continued to cry by night, and I never spoke with my sort-of-brother again in daylight. By night, I screamed at him and yelled words he would never hear, curses that would never reach him; things I didn’t truly mean, but wanted to release. Somehow I wanted the pressure to release.


I reach the end of the driveway.

“Do you know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear? What if He’s speaking through it all? Who knows how He’ll get a hold of us, get our attention to prove He is enough. He’ll do and He’ll use whatever He wants to, to tell us I love you.”

Yes. I think, I do know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear, but I’ll be okay. I know in my heart, that it didn’t happen because I’m a terrible sinner. Rather it happened so that next time I would be prepared. Next time I would know to watch for the wolf in sheep’s clothing; to be aware of the lie beneath the truth; the truth beneath the lie. Every day, I remind myself, that I am living, not because of the desire of a man and woman, but because God loves me, and He wants me to always remember that.

I walk back to the house from the mailbox. As I do so, I know that these hardships aren’t sent by God, but if we’ll trust Him, they will be turned to good in His hands. I know that every fear that so entangled me, has been transformed to a faith and love for God that cannot be shaken by man.

My favorite song races through my mind. In the words of Mandisa, “God is speaking, ‘I love you.’”.

message 44: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 128 comments OMG
What can I say, Isabel? How brave of you to tackle such a horrendous situation. How well you've empathised with that young schoolgirl, really getting into her head. Her reactions are so believable. Amazing skill.

message 45: by Lauri (new)

Lauri | 17 comments Isabel, I couldn't read your story fast enough, you had me tangled up in fear! Well done :)

message 46: by Ryan (last edited Feb 18, 2014 06:28PM) (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Garrison! Easily my favorite story from you, mate. Your first paragraph is really good. Such a strong way to start the story. I like the concept and the dialogue between Leah and Jody and any story with Otherwise in it is an instant winner for me. I think you've done an excellent job with Jody's progression from a suicide attempt, through anger, through despair, through realisation and into hope. It worked really well for me. If I can offer a suggestion (and, once again, it is only my own personal preference) I would replace the slapping scene with an argument. I can't imagine a guardian angel slapping someone or being slapped back. I can see why you did it, as an anger stage is definitely needed but I think that if you replaced it with a heated argument from Jody versus calm reassurance from Leah it would have much greater effect. Just my thoughts for what they're worth. I really enjoyed your story and I thought your final scene was a really positive way to finish. Well done.

message 47: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments I could listen to your feedback all day long, Ryan. Thank you so much. You're one of a kind. :)

message 48: by Isabel (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments Love the story, Jay!

message 49: by Isabel (new)

Isabel (creatuvewriter) | 49 comments Jay wrote: "OMG
What can I say, Isabel? How brave of you to tackle such a horrendous situation. How well you've empathised with that young schoolgirl, really getting into her head. Her reactions are so believa..."

Thank you so much for the encouragement!

message 50: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Isabel! What a mesmerising story. The emotion and feeling you've put into it are very strong. You had me holding my breath at one point. Your narrator has so much strength and faith, she is wonderful. I love the style you've chosen to write this in, it really suits the fast pace of the narrative. You've managed to create such a feeling of fear by hinting at things but leaving the reader to fill in the blanks and I found this incredibly effective. Such a horrible story yet still with a glimmer of strength and hope and so very well told. Excellent!

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