Gateway

This is a continuation of a story I have only written in response to WOE prompts. Here are links to the first three.

Motion

Halt

Intrude

The man did not move a muscle, but Melody sensed it was not because he was afraid of her bullet. His hands were still in the pockets of his trench coat. Locking her hazel eyes with his blue, she said, “Take your hands out of your pockets, and put them on the back of your head.”

He laughed. She almost took a step back in surprise. He did not take his hands from his pockets.

“Your gun cannot hurt me, little soldier,” he said. He then did take his hands from his pockets and gestured wide. “Take your eyes off of me for a moment and look around.”

At this point, Melody did what any good soldier would. She deferred to a superior. “General?” She got no answer. Finally, she took her eyes from the stranger for a quick glance at her commander.

He stood stock still, eyes glazed over, his arms at his side, completely unresponsive.

At this point even Melody’s training couldn’t stop her human response. She dropped her gun to her side and ran over to him. She shook him and yelled his name. Still no response. She moved to the tent’s flap and looked outside. Everyone in view was in the same state.

She whirled around to the stranger, her gun back in her hand and pointed at his forehead.

“What have you done to them?” She barked out.

He sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Nothing permanent. But they all would have reacted just as poorly to my presence as you did, and that would have been more of a fuss than I need at the moment.”

“Since I am the one with the gun, I think my needs are more relevant,” she replied. “Fix them.”

“No.”

They stood eyeing each other, the impasse thick between them.

Melody fired her gun, not at his head, but at his shoulder. The man simply held up his hand. In the middle of his palm was a metal disc. It glowed purple and a beam of light shot out towards the bullet which disappeared.

“I told you,” he smirked.

Melody moved in to hit him with the butt of her weapon. He just aimed the disc at her, and she disappeared.

Melody was aware of colors and lights and sounds moving past her. Or was she moving past them? The speed seemed great enough to crush her. Yet she did not feel the effects of movement. There was no air to whip her hair or coat about.

She was back on the subway platform, in a dark corner behind a support pillar.

It was chaos. Everything seemed to be burning. Heatwaves filled the air. People were everywhere, in every state of helping, hurting, dying imaginable.

Melody’s eyes fell on a small boy. He was cradled in the crook of his mother’s arm as he sucked his thumb. His mother’s eyes were empty, unblinking.

A paramedic noticed the boy and gently pulled him from his mother’s last embrace, walking toward the light from the stairs.

“You opened a gateway to Hell,” the man’s voice said in her ear. “You unleashed demons on these people.”

Melody fought back tears. She choked out, “I did it to fight the demons. The greater good.”

He laughed a mirthless chuckle. “The rallying cry of the thoughtless and obsessed.”

 

Memories Have to Begin Somewhere

John and I like to camp. We have taken the kids camping twice. We both blogged about it. John’s account. My account.

Last weekend while John was playing in the pit for Batboy: The Musical, I had the opportunity to take the kids to my cousin’s family cabin in the mountains just above Carlisle. And I jumped at it because I couldn’t take another night at home alone with the kids camping! Now this camping is not tent camping. I mean there were mani/pedis. IMGP9921 IMGP9920

Really the only camping element was the campfire, but that is the best part as it cooks the hot dogs and the marshmallows.

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We ended up spending the night because so much fun! My cousin kept saying it was the first of many sleepovers at Tee Tee’s cabin. And I hope so. We often don’t realize we are making memories until we flip through old photo albums or scroll through our facebook timeline. But sitting at the fire, laughing and chatting and watching CJ be a little pyro and Leila jump on the trampoline…

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…I knew these were moments that are meant to last, maybe not in vivid detail, as each visit blurs into the rest, but the feelings, the warmth of the fire and love will live on. Plus, there is this blog post. I do hope it pays testament to the beginning of many years of cabin visits, campfires, and cousin sleepovers.

Write on Edge

I am not currently working on any fiction because I want to use all of my “writing” time to work on revising and editing my rough draft of “Oops,” Said God. But I miss writing. So I am trying to give this here blog a little more attention. An easy way to do that is to use online writing prompts and link ups. Thank you, Write on Edge Ladies!

Anladele secured the image of home in her mind as she entered the portal. When she emerged, she was looking up at the dome of the portal center. The rough dress and pinching shoes had disappeared. She stretched out her arms and her pebbles came rolling from the pile where she had left them. They spread over her body like armor made of tiny, flat, thin rocks, leaving enough space in between so movement was easy. Anladele relaxed under the reassuring weight though they were lighter than they might look.

At the base of her neck, where her collar bones met, she placed the two stones, the prison and the guard. With quick steps, she left the entry hall and made straight for the cleansing chamber.

The guard at the opening put a spear across her path. Anladele stood silently and still as the guard held a hand over her chest and closed his eyes. Then he turned to a large, flat rock on the wall and place the same hand on it as he hummed deeply from the chest. After a moment, he turned back to Anladele and said, “They have prepared. They are waiting and ready.”

Anladele nodded and walked through the sheet of water that curtained the archway.

On the other side, she was greeted with the expected sight; three elders stood at three points of the compass. In the middle was a delicate pedestal made of coral. The fingers of coral formed a shallow bowl on top of the thin spiral base. Anladele walked forward and placed the prison stone in the shallow bowl. The glow from within pulsed and an amber mist started emanating from it. Anladele crooned quietly as the stone still on her breast grew warm. The glow quieted, and the mist was pulled into the stone.

Anladele turned and took her place at the south point, closing the circle. As soon as she was in place, the four fey started humming, East and West weaving a melody around the strong harmony from North and South. As their voices reach the high top of the dome, a single translucent pebble at the apex slide aside allowing a thin stream of salt water to enter. The music of the fey voices encircled it, keeping it a stream, not allowing it to disperse. It flowed onto the stone in the coral basin. There was a loud screech from the stone. The honey colored mist started to appear again, moving like it was trying to dodge the water, but there was nowhere dry for it to go. The feys changed their counterpoint, willing the minerals and deposits in the water to enter the microscopic spaces between the stone’s atoms, pushing the gelatinous prisoner out of the water’s way. It fought but weakly. The mist became a heavy miasma dripping from the stone and through the porous coral, all the time being dispersed by the water’s flow. It grew less and less until nothing but clear water ran.

The elder fey at north point spoke. “The evil is dispersed.”

This is a continuation of this story.

Santa, The Easter Bunny, and Leprechauns, Oh My!

I got into a short discussion on Twitter about lying to kids in reference to imaginary beings who infiltrate our homes to do weird things like leave presents, hide eggs, steal teeth, or just make a mess.

I have to say I have never understood the idea that it is lying to kids. To me, it is just a way to incorporate some magic and imagination into childhood. I mean, my kids think the Muppets are real, why not Santa and his crew?

The make believe of the holidays is such an ingrained part of my memories of growing up. I remember being sure I hear reindeer on my roof. Santa called us at Christmas time. (My uncle does a great Santa and reindeer fart impressions.) We giggled forever over the sheer audacity of the leprechauns who wrecked havoc on our second grade classroom. We had to make sure the dogs were locked inside on Easter because they ate the eggs otherwise. I got a treasured teddy bear pin under my pillow because the tooth fairy forgot my tooth three days in a row and felt bad. I want the same fun in my kids’ lives.

Maybe I am inclined to keep the myths alive because my discovery of the truth was not traumatic. No one burst my bubble too early. I didn’t have a schoolmate or a relative slap me in the face with the knowledge that parents are conniving. Somewhere between third grade when I wrote an eloquent persuasion piece about Santa and the reindeer on my room, and fifth grade when we got to write responses to the second graders’ letters to Santa, I stopped believing. But I have never felt like I was duped or lied to. The fun was worth it. The magic was worth it.

Kids have so much access to information today, good or bad. The world is open to them in ways each previous generation cannot comprehend. It’s a lot of truth and a lot of facts but not much magic.

I want my kids to have as much magic as possible for as long as it lasts.

My Writing Process

OK, first, everyone (or probably just John), Mandy thinks I am a writer! Yes, I write, but there is totally a difference between a writer and someone who writes sometimes. And Mandy? Is a Writer. Not only has she had a blog for over ten years, but she’s getting published. For realsies. Like a publisher is going to put her words on pages, add a cover, and sell a book with her name on the cover. So I am honored. And should probably do more to earn the title. Ahem. Especially on this poor lonely blog that’s, despite what it may look like, purpose is not to celebrate birthdays. Those that is one of the purposes. Just not the sole purpose.

Anyway, Mandy tagged me in a blog tour about writing process. There are four question. Here are my answers.

1) What am I working on?

I am trying to revise and edit my very first completed manuscript titled “Oops,” Said God. Finishing it took over ten years, mostly because there were whole years when I never even opened the file. It is a story that I started from just an idea. I had no real notion of plot. So I would get brainstorms for the plot that would lead to energetic writing sessions that would inevitably fizzle because you need more than one plot point. Finally, in and around 2009, I managed to write an outline for the entire plot. Then I became a mom. Then I had to finish my masters and be a mom. So it took another four years to finally finish writing it.

I am stymied in the revision. First, my voice as a writer has changed, naturally, over ten years. Those are really the easier fixes to make, but I was really pounding my head against the exposition. There was a lot of it in just the first ten pages, and while I think it is important stuff for the reader to know, it was boring. I was telling. I wasn’t showing. I didn’t know how to fix it. Last week, I think I stumbled onto the fix. Now I just need to find another brain to tell me if I did, indeed, fix it. I just contacted an online writers’ group, I am hoping will help. That and whining to friends about it. Friends like Mandy who are patient.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This has proven a hard question for my predecessors, and I concur. Genre can be tough to pin down. When someone reads “Oops,” Said God, my hope is that they will laugh and get drawn into the adventure. So comic adventure? Some who have read piece of the whole have likened it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so whatever genre that is in. My story is not quite so far flung or farcical. I like to think it is on level imagination-wise though.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I tend to write what I like to read which is fantasy. My manuscript does not really fit that genre, but most of the other ideas I have and the few short stories I have written fall into that category. I like that anything is possible in fantasy and that it can often incorporate aspects of a lot of other genres like romance or mystery.

4) How does your writing process work?

It usually ends up something like this….

In the shower in the morning, I think, “Tonight, after the kids go to bed I am going to make myself write 1,000 words no matter what.”

Fast forward to 10:30 PM when my son has FINALLY fallen asleep. I open the laptop. I open Google docs. I open the doc. I sit with my hands on the keyboard while I watch Buffy or Doctor Who on Netflix because I no longer can remember how to write a sentence let alone make them string together.

What I finally did to finish my manuscript was to take my sleek little Chromebook (Thank you, Honey.) everywhere. Waiting rooms were writing time. Kid TV time was Mom writing time. If I found myself scrolling Facebook or Twitter, I would make myself write instead.

It is all about the willpower of which I have little. (Proven by the cinnamon sugar doughnut I just owned.)

So next up is Tricia who is one of my favorite bloggers. Her sense of humor in the face of mothering her twins, Search and Destroy, is truly wonderful. And she will also be a published author in the near future when her children’s book, The Little Boy Who Was Afraid of the Dark is released. Thanks for taking part, Tricia.

My Weird Butt

So my butt is weird. It’s because I am short-waisted, so there is only an inch between my waist and my butt. This makes it look like my butt starts like a foot higher than my crotch, so from the side, I perpetually look like I am sticking my belly out, ie pregnant.

Only, it doesn’t.

Because I am the only one in the whole wide world who has ever looked at my body long enough to see this. And because I have seen it, I have obsessed over it. That obsession has convinced me that everyone else must see this flaw the moment they gaze upon me.

Thus, I desperately want to lose 20 pounds around my middle to compensate for the disproportion and suck in my stomach if anything like a camera comes close to me.

Only no one sees this when they look at me because they have not obsessed about my body flaws since my boobs showed up at the ripe old age of nine. Just like I don’t see the flaws that they obsess over in the mirror.

Our flaws are our own. Our friends, family, potential mates, all men, ALL OTHER WOMEN, do not see these things like we believe. Our loved ones see a smile, feel a hug, share a laugh. They see how the color of the sweater sets off our eyes while we obsess about if it covers up our back fat. Strangers barely register more than enough to make sure they don’t walk into us. It’s the nature of the observation-less human.

But to sell stuff, companies have told us the opposite. Everyone sees all your flaws! If you use our product you can totally hide them or even rid yourself of them. Then everyone will think you are beautiful and you will be happy just like this perfect human specimen in our advertisement. We should rue the day the air brush was invented. Because that specimen? She/he has some flaw obsession too. And I get their levels of happy go up and down just like everyone else’s.

You can’t fault the ad guys because we eat it up. We buy this stuff frantically, hopefully, with religious fervor. Our society has built an altar to it, the industry of beauty. The god that wants all the flaws hidden behind a mask of make up and beneath Spanks.

And that is not all a bad thing. We do live in a society. Rules about how we present our outer selves to the world are going to be made. It’s part of life if you don’t want to live like the Uni-bomber. Styling our hair, wearing make-up, finding the right outfit, makes us feel good. It can make us feel more confident and ready for the world. Social norms and situation, by nature, will dictate our appearance choices. Even if the choice is to go against the social cues.

Only those choices should not be the only way we are judged. And too often they are. We have put an importance on appearance that makes each of us feel that we are not worthy of anything good because of the flaws we have on the outside. The flaws that most other people don’t even seen, but the ones we have been taught to give a level of importance great than our intelligence, our sense of humor, our capacity to love.

We talk against it. We like, share and retweet the viral videos and letters from dads to daughters that say all the right things against the impossible standards.

And we still spend billions a year on beauty products.

Which, again, fine. I don’t wear make up. But I do go to the gym. I do want to lose 20 pounds. I can pretend that it is only because I want to be healthy, but really, I want to look better. I want to wear a smaller size. I feel better and healthier. I want to look better too.

And, really, that’s OK too.

But I need to cut myself a break. Because my butt is not that weird. It is a butt that I have inherited from some pretty amazing women who I am sure didn’t have time to obsess over it. They used it to work and survive and live in the mountains of Greece.

We should all cut ourselves a break; Own our flaws that aren’t anything but our imagination running on product placement.

In fact, I like my butt.

Challenge Partially Accepted

So there seems to be a challenge making its way around the blogosphere. It has apparently made its way to the third world blogs because I have been challenged by my darling husband from the second world. (That exists in the blogosphere.)

Here are the rules.

The rules of said challenge:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

I have no problem with any of them except the nominating because John pretty much nominated most of the people I would nominate. The other blogs I read are way to first world for me to challenge. But I will do my best.

Let’s go in order, shall we? Number one is done. Check (Always have a list, right, Marc?)

Number 2 begins now….

Fact #1 Wonder Woman Underoos were the highlight of my fourth to fifth years on this planet. I would roll on my red, white, and blue skates back and forth on our porch wearing nothing but those Underoos and pulling myself along with my jump rope magic lasso. If only I could have held on to that level of body image confidence against the societal onslaught of later years.

Fact #2 I was a teenager before I realized Cookie Monster never ate a cookie. I mean I knew he didn’t “eat” them. I thought there was a hole in the puppet in which some of the cookie went. I thought that as a kid and never pondered it long enough after I stopped watching Sesame Street regularly until I was babysitting while in high school. It was a big moment.

Fact #3 The viewing of Pet Cemetery and Child’s Play at a sleepover caused me to do two things for a number of years (read until this day). First, I would jump out of bed in the middle of the night if I had to get up. Like I needed to clear at least three feet between me and the bed. (Oh! And even before Gage and his scalpel, my bed always had to be against a wall, so I could see everywhere at once.) And I will always check my entire car even under the seats if I am getting in it alone. Having kids has made this much less weird as the car seat maneuvers are a good cover.

Fact #4 I would never be without covers as a kid. And they would always be up to my chin as I thought a vampire wouldn’t waste time on just a head.

Fact #5 The house my father lived in after my parents’ divorce was not in the best of neighborhoods. My siblings and I shared a bedroom that was at the top of the stairs. You could stand in our room and look down at the front door. In other words, if a psycho killer broke in, our room was his first stop. So I had a plan. I made my sister sleep next to the wall, so if I heard the front door crash in, I could just roll her over and down the crack between the bed and the wall, effectively hiding her under the bed. My brother had a single bed just across from our bed. I figured I had enough time to roll him out of it and under the bed with me right after him.

I guess I had a lot of bed time issues…… this challenge may be leading to therapy….

Fact #6 In my postpartum  hormonal haze my internal thoughts kept referring to my daughter as Charlotte. This is, of course, not her name. I was panicked for about three days because I thought we had given her the wrong name. Then the hormones chilled out.

Yep, looking up therapists who take our insurance right….. now.

Fact #7 I wanted to play the piccolo as a kid. I mean, really, it’s the instrument equivalent of me. But they wouldn’t let you play the piccolo. You had to take flute which I did and liked. I wasn’t allowed to play the piccolo until junior year. (I mean, you’d think they had something against little, shrill instruments,except that they gave rooms fulls of fourth and fifth graders recorders.) I started the flute in fourth grade. That is the most perseverance and patience I have ever shown.

Fact #8 My first published work was “Silver: The Flying Unicorn”. I wrote it one day when I was sick, and I brought it into my first grade teacher to show her. She was so impressed that she let me sit in the library through all of reading to copy it neatly on large pieces of lined yellow paper in INK. I even illustrated it. Then she stapled the pages between two wallpaper samples, and in her best teacher writing added the title and my name in permanent ink.

Fact #9 Before sex ed. I thought that rape was a man holding down a woman and cutting off all of her hair. I have two theories about how I got this idea. 1) I was watching a soap opera with my grandmother on which a character was raped around the same time she cut her hair or 2) This was something told to me by my grandmother who had let me watch a soap opera.

Fact #10 For most of my life, I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I took chemistry my first semester at college. By the end of the semester, I was a Comparative Literature major.

Fact #11 I really want to get my manuscript revised and edited, so I can think about getting it published/self publishing, but reading through it is making me feel like I am drowning in a sea of words. I have absolutely no idea what to rework or leave alone. Thus I am avoiding it. It is my biggest long term frustration right now. I mean it has edged out my weight.

Number 3 – Oh God, my husband has asked the most convoluted questions. He revels in them. I love him.

  1. If you could have the ability to fly or the ability to turn invisible, which would you choose? And how quickly would you visit a locker room of your preferred-to-look-at sex once you became invisible? I had to clarify with John that I can’t carry other people or heavy stuff when flying. The effort of flying is the same as walking, and I can go 55 mph. To me, that makes flying the desirable choice as a time saver. (Brace yourselves for number two.)
  2. If someone invented a TARDIS-like machine, allowing you to travel to any place/time, but there was only a 50% chance that you could return to the present time/place (there is 100% assuredness that you’ll be transported to your intended time/place, but if you could not return, you would be forced to live in your new time/place from that point forward, unless someone were to show up with another space/timey-wimey machine – but now we’re getting into the absurd), would you take a trip? If so, to where/when would you travel? There are way too many percentages for me in this question. OK, I would have to say as a responsible and loving wife and mother, that no, I would not take that trip if I could not get back to my family. Do I still have to choose a time and place? Because I seriously can’t. Like ancient Greece would be cool to see, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck there. I wouldn’t want to be stuck any when that didn’t have antibiotics, and no time after antibiotics that would be interesting would also be a war.
  3. Would you rather be famous for a life’s work, but have said work be lost to time (here, I’m thinking of something like performing the Macarena or Who Let the Dogs Out), or to complete a work that would receive little notice during your lifetime, but live on for the ages as a masterpiece? I gotta go materialistic here and say the former. If I was smart about it, I could live comfortably on the money made from one of those songs.
  4. If a kind benefactor were to show up & offer to cover your current bills and fund your education to provide you a new line of work, would you take the benefactor up on the offer? What would you study to become? This is a tough one. I like the education I have now. I would like to have an awesome library job. And I don’t relish the idea of going back to school at all. Maybe I would go back for creative writing. That might be the only thing that would entice me.
  5. If you could offer one piece of advice to your 16-year-old self, what would that be? Get your rich relatives to buy Apple AND Google stock.
  6. If you could deliver one message to your 87-year-old self, what would that be? No idea. Shouldn’t she be giving me a message? She’s got all the info.
  7. It turns out that someone managed to tap into your mind & recorded your dirtiest daydream, selling the rights to said daydream to a pornographic movie producer. That person will be filming a pornographic movie from it. Only you & the daydream recorder will be able to trace you as the content-provider of your daydream. However, you must provide a name for the writing credits – what name do you provide? Really, honey? You couldn’t just go with, “What would your porn writer’s name be?” I’d probably just use my real name. Who watches the credits of porns? Especially for the “writer”. Plus, I would do anything for a writing credit.
  8. If you won the showcase showdown on the Price Is Right, and it included an “all expenses paid” trip, to where would you prefer that trip be? I would really like to go to Ireland for all the beers views. The dream is that John and I do a bike tour. The company hands you a bike and a map and makes inn reservations along the route for you and delivers your bags.
  9. Your receive a fancy, wax-sealed, parchment envelope where your eldest child’s name and description of the location of his/her bedroom in relation to the house is written on said child’s eleventh birthday. What thoughts run through your mind?  The first spell that kid is learning is Surgify! Second, are house elves real? Also the look on CJ’s face would be priceless. Best instagram ever!
  10. If you could magically sculpt your body to match someone else’s, while retaining your face, who would you chose as your new physique? Answer in the form of a haiku. Robes of flowing white/Jedi is her only hope/No gold bikini
  11. The Earth receives word that an alien race is coming and anticipates making contact on March 1, 2021. There is no hint as to the intentions of the visit, and the visitors made it clear that they would not be able to submit another transmission prior to arrival. Does this news change the way you live your life? How so? Probably because there are nimrods who would go all commando and crap and cause headaches for the rest of us. I myself would probably be awaiting the day, but really, what prepping is going to make a difference either way? I would probably be on the optimistic side though. Invaders aren’t known for announce their invasion.

Number 4 – This is my problem area. I think to solve it, when I post this to Facebook, I am going to tag some people I know who blog and might want to potential participate. If you do the challenge, leave a link t your blog in the comments.

Number 5

1. Would you rather be a famous actor, director, or musician and why?

2. If you could go anywhere in the world and in time on an adult vacation where and when?

3. Same question for a kid vacation.

4. If you could wipe out one thing (or kind of thing) to extinction so people didn’t even know it ever existed, what would it be and why?

5. If you could have just one kind of food for the rest of your life what would you choose? (Note: It doesn’t have to be exactly the same every day. You can get it from different restaurants, use different preparations, etc)

6. What is your favorite genre of movies and why? Does it differ if it is television? How about books? (I know that is three questions, but I thought it would be cheating to make it three questions.)

7. If you could be another person who exists for just one day, who would you be and why?

8. Lemon or lime?

9. Which is your favorite Indiana Jones movie and why?

10. If challenged to give up electronic devices for a year, do you think you could do it? Would the incentive matter?

11. What is the first memory that comes to your mind when you read the word funny?