Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Liebster Blog Award

Even though I have been very, very absent from the blogosphere lately, a couple of wonderful people have nominated my blog for the "Liebster Blog Award" and I couldn't be more thrilled!  The Liebster Blog award is a way to recognize the hard work of bloggers and the outstanding value of blogs that may not have a large following.  After being nominated twice by Squid McFinnigan and Glendon Perkins, I decided I'd better kick it into gear and accept the darn thing.

Here are the rules for accepting the Liebster Blog Award:

  1. List eleven random facts about yourself
  2. Nominate eleven other bloggers
  3. Notify said bloggers
  4. Ask eleven questions of the eleven bloggers that must be answered upon acceptance
  5. Answer the eleven questions that were asked of you upon your nomination
  6. Link back to the person that nominated you

And so, without further ado, here are eleven random facts about me:

  1. I cannot sleep in silence at night.
  2. I was a long and triple jumper in high school.
  3. I love the smell of freshly cut grass.
  4. I would rather stay in and read a book than go out.
  5. I have never broken a bone.
  6. My favorite alcoholic drink is gin & tonic (with lots o' lime).
  7. I never understood the purpose of Dopey the Dwarf.
  8. My favorite season is Fall.
  9. I love movies that make me think.
  10. I am a grammar enthusiast.
  11. I am deathly afraid of snakes.

These are the eleven bloggers/blogs that I would like to nominate.  Some of them actually have large followings, so I might be bending the rules a bit, but these are the blogs I have found to be amazing and invaluable and feel deserve recognition:

Please take the time to check them all out- they are amazing in so many ways!  There are many other bloggers and blogs that deserve recognition, but I tried to pick some that haven't yet been nominated.

Onto the eleven questions!  If all of you nominees would like to accept, you must answer these questions:

  1. What is the blog post you are most proud of and why?
  2. Name three of your favorite authors.
  3. What do you feel you gain from blogging?
  4. If you could visit anywhere in the world for free for only a day, where would you choose?
  5. What is the fondest memory you have?
  6. What is your greatest fear?
  7. Who has been the most influential person in your writing life?
  8. What is your favorite genre to read?
  9. What is your guilty pleasure?
  10. Name one strength and one weakness you possess.
  11. What song do you put on for a road trip?

And finally, the answers to the eleven questions I was asked by Mr. Squid McFinnigan:

  1. Where were you when you had your first kiss?  On the elementary school playground.
  2. Your house is on fire; what 3 things would you save? (people excluded)   A flashdrive of family photos, my laptop, and as many books as I could fit under one arm.
  3. What is your favorite blog post of your own blog?   10 Reasons Your Non-Writer Friends and Family Think You're Crazy
  4. If you could switch with one person for 24 hours, who would you pick?   I have always wanted to be Indiana Jones...
  5. What 4 famous people would you invite round to your house for dinner? (alive or dead)   Stephen King, Johnny Depp, Dorothy Parker, and Marilyn Monroe.
  6. Your guilty pleasure...    Dipping Oreos in peanut butter.
  7. Nicest thing another person has ever done for you?   Accepted me for exactly who and what I was and stuck by me through some very rough times.
  8. Nicest thing you have done for a stranger?   I gave a homeless person a spendy dinner to go outside a restaurant in Boulder.
  9. What is your partner's (present or past) most annoying trait?   Not picking up after himself.
  10. Greatest fear?   Failure.
  11. Your New Year's resolution from last year?   I didn't make any!  Low expectations...

And there you have it!  I am looking forward to hearing all the nominees' answers.  Thanks to Squid McFinnigan and Glendon Perkins for nominating me and thanks to all you bloggers and readers for making the interweb an incredible place!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Short Story Sunday: The Reaping

I am hereby implementing "Short Story Sunday."  I did another twelve hour challenge today, and the result is a spooky short story and nostalgic poem.  Enjoy the read...

The Reaping

The bitter cold of a looming winter bit at his cheeks and froze the snot that dripped from his nose.  He wiped it with his sleeve again and swayed on the swing, his feet making circles in the leaves beneath him.  Though it was dark, the moon lit the fiery trees aglow.  They looked like torches lining the path that stretched around the lake.  He had no memory of walking the three miles from his house to this spot, barefoot and completely underdressed for the crisp autumn night.  But there he was, swinging from the tallest maple, same as the last six nights.  

A girl appeared through the torch lit trees.  Her pigtails bounced as she skipped along the path toward him and as she neared, her patent leather shoes caught the moonlight and threw it back into his eyes.  He dug his toes into the ground and stopped swaying.  A chill crawled up his back and made him shiver, whether from the ghostly girl or the breeze, he couldn’t be sure.

The girl stopped in front of him, a coy smile playing on her pink lips.  She eyed the swing with a mixture of admiration and unease.

“Would you like to swing?” he asked as he rose from the hard wooden seat.  She would, he knew.  It was the same every night.

The girl nodded and waited for him to clear the way.  When he did, she rushed forward and immediately began pumping her little legs, rising higher and higher into the night.  Her white dress fluttered in the breeze behind her, like a pair of ethereal wings.

“Tonight’s the last night, isn’t it?” he asked.


“Can I at least see the sunrise?”

“If that is your desire,” she replied as she sailed through the air. 

He looked out over the lake, where the sun would rise just a few hours from now, and shivered again.  The water was a dark mirror bearing the moon’s reflection.  He imagined the shimmering sun dancing on the surface and wished he had not taken all the sunrises of his life for granted.  An expiration date made it all so much more precious, and he wished he could go back and savor each one he had slept through or ignored in the mundane motions.  The collar of his pajamas felt as though it was contracting, stifling what little life he had left, and he pulled it away from his neck with a numb finger.

“Isn’t there some other way?  Some kind of mistake or something?” he asked, still staring over the glassy lake.

She waited until she reached the highest point of the swinging arc and then leapt from the seat into the air.  Her body soared, a white blur against the darkness.  She stretched her arms out in front of her and closed her eyes in sheer joy.  But then she began to descend, her eyes still closed to the world.  He opened his mouth to cry out to her, fearful she was about to hit the ground on her stomach, but just as she should have made contact, her form disappeared completely.

“This is the way, Bill.  You were warned of your last week in this life.  You had seven days to prepare for your departure.  There are no mistakes in death.”

She was beside him, looking out to the moon’s twin on the lake.  He could feel the nearness of her like a black hole next to him, sucking the life from everything she was close to.  His breaths were shallow, as if she was reaching in and stealing the air from his lungs.

“I know, I just… it’s a lot to take in.”

She reached out a hand and he noticed the gleam of glass in the soft moonlight.  He took the bottle and unscrewed the top.  Jameson.  How did she know? he thought.  She smiled her coy smile and returned to the swing.  The whiskey burned its way down his throat.  But it was a welcome burn. 

“Will it be painful?” he asked in between swigs.

“For you, yes.  Your artery will clot off, your heart tissue will die and your lungs will fill with stagnant fluid.  The pain will be intense, but short-lived.  Your heart will stop beating and your brain cells will die in six minutes.”


“Why does everyone always call me that?” she asked, shaking her head.  She was pumping her legs again, rising close to the lowest branches of the tree.

“What if I’m not alone? I’ll ask someone to stay with me.”

She looked down into her lap, frowning as though she were concentrating hard on something.  “You won’t reach the hospital in time.  An accident will happen twelve minutes before on the highway, blocking traffic.  There is no scenario we have not prepared for.  Make no mistake, Bill.  Tomorrow is the end.”

“But there are so many things I never got to do.  So many places I never got to see.  And my family…”

“Your family disowned you a long time ago.  Don’t pretend to mourn them.  And the choices you made were your own; you have only yourself to blame.”

‘You made your choices.’  The exact words his wife had said on her way out the door three years ago.  Ex-wife, now.  But he wasn’t blaming anyone.  He was lamenting a life that didn’t feel lived.  He drained the bottle and threw it into the lake.  It cracked the serene surface of the water, rippling across the image of the white orb.

“Would you like to go home now?” she asked as she came to a stop on the swing.

“No.  I’d like to watch the sunrise.  From here.  You can go if you’d like.”

“You know I can’t.”

He took a deep breath in, letting the cold air rip through him, and let it out in a sigh.  She was beside him again, drawing from the short supply of life he had left.  He turned and looked at her, really looked at her, for the first time.  She was silver in the moonlight and everything about her was sweet and lovely.  Everything except her eyeless sockets that seemed as bottomless and horrible as black pits on her adorable face.  She smiled up at him, an idea lighting her porcelain face.

“Would you like to swing?” she asked.

“Yes, I think I would.”

Autumn Nostalgia

I walked along
the maples, set ablaze,
trampling the fallen flames

and stopped at one;
a swing that hung
barren in the breeze.

The image
of a child, inverted-
feet clambering for Heaven-

flourished, like a ghost.
The memory played
its haunting game

deep within
my mind’s eye;
more truth than illusion.

I began again
among the seasonal

the girl swung on, emblazoned.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Short Story For You...

This is a short story I wrote over the weekend.  It was based on a prompt for a twelve hour challenge.  Enjoy...

Roses Are Red
a short story

The thorns of the roses snagged at my sleeves as I pruned, biting the soft skin beneath.  I hacked at the stems, cutting just enough for a bouquet before the chill of an early winter could steal their beauty.  Mother always loved roses.  Perhaps she would brighten at the bouquet, smile even.  That was something none of us had seen in a very long time.  Scraped and satisfied, I took up the basket of roses and set off back down the path home.  The sun had just dipped below the tree line, causing purple shadows to elongate as though they were reaching out to me.  I had lingered longer than I thought at the meadow; darkness was setting in.  And with darkness, came the Abysmal.  I only hoped the gate would still be open when I returned.

The village loomed up ahead, the orange glow of the watch tower like a beacon against the foreboding twilight.  My pace had quickened to a run, the basket bouncing against my heavy cloak.  I felt the steady beating of my heart hasten.  I had never been on the path at such a late hour and the trees, their branches bare from the greedy wind, seemed to be clutching at whatever was within their reach.  As I pulled the cloak tighter over my chest, a single red rose slid out of the basket and fell to the ground in the middle of the path.  I stopped to pick it up but then thought better of it and continued.  The hour was already much too late.

I had just arrived at the steps and sighed in relief at the open gate when the Commander appeared around the fence post and raised his arm to signal the guards.  I heard the creaking of the gate as it swung inward and my heart leapt up into my mouth. 

“No!” I gasped and took the steps two at a time until I reached the top.

The guards wrapped the chain around the posts and swung the lock in place.  Its resounding clank echoed in my ears. 

“Wait!  Please, let me in,” I cried.  I dropped the basket to the ground, sending roses scattering over the dais.

“My apologies, miss.  The gate does not open until sunrise.  Even for pretty girls like you,” the 
 Commander jeered through the heavy iron bars.  Around him, the guards looked right past me to the meadow beyond in anticipation. 

I pulled hard on the bars, but they did not budge.  I searched the faces on the other side, desperate for a familiar one that would listen.  There were none.

“Please,” I begged, “send for my mother.  She will vouch for me.”

“Your mother has not left the house in years, child.  You are damned now, just as your brother was.”

I couldn’t help the anger that rose in my throat, boiling on my tongue.  “Curse you!” I yelled, and spat at his face.

He laughed as he wiped his cheek, then turned and disappeared into the tower.  The wind had risen to a sharp gust and on it were carried the sounds of night, fast approaching.  A howl pierced the silence and I spun around to peer into the growing darkness. 

My fear was playing tricks on me, bending trees to look like figures and molding shadows into shapes.  I took a deep breath and let it out through my nose.  I am not afraid, I thought.  They will not come this close to the gate.  The snap of a twig in the distance pulled me out of my imposed bravery.  On the path, near the edge of the meadow, was a deer.  It stood stock still, its ears perked up to the unsettling quiet.

I glanced behind me, wondering if any of the guards had noticed the animal, but no one remained.  They had all gone back to their posts.  I pulled my hood up over my head and descended the steps, anxious to get a closer look at the deer.  It was still as a painting in the middle of the swaying trees and I could not help my own reverence toward it.  As I took to the path again, I noticed heavy wet flakes falling around me.  They were luminescent, catching the last of daylight’s luster.  The whole scene felt like a dream and I was sleepwalking through it.

As I neared the deer, I slowed, taking deliberate steps.  The snow was sticking in the grass on either side of the path and I saw the red rose I had dropped earlier.  I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to pick it up.  It looked so lonesome underneath the thin layer of snow.  Surely it would like to be with the others, safely tucked inside the bouquet I had planned.  No one wants to be left out in the cold.  I bent to pick it up and the deer bolted out of its trance.  Its head snapped toward me and I saw, for the first time, its eyes were sallow and crusted with disease.  It looked straight at me in a glazed sort of terror and then leapt into the grass and darted out of sight.  Before it disappeared, the stark reddish tinge of blood was visible on its side, dripping onto the white snow below as it ran.  A chill slid through the wool of my cloak and onto my skin, raising hairs and leaving goose bumps in its wake. 

I heard the horn blow long and loud, a call to arms, and froze in place.  The thorns on the stem of the rose dug into my fist as it closed tighter, but I felt no pain; only numbness.  There was a sickening crunch that sounded very much like crushing bones and then I saw it.

A boy, younger than I, materialized out of the shadow and limped onto the path, dragging one foot that seemed to be bent sideways through the snow.  He stopped where the deer had stood and lifted his head, cocking it to one side.  I recognized the shock of coppery hair, though it was dingy and clumped on his head.  Even in the darkness, his freckles scrunched together as he appeared to sniff the air.  Something about his eyes, glowing yellow in the dim light, seemed wrong and I was suddenly aware of the blood trickling down my fist and onto the snowy ground.

“Thomas?” I whispered, backing away.  My head began to shake in disbelief.

The boy grunted, wiped the smear of blood from his chin, and lurched toward me.  I felt his hands on my arms as he tackled me to the ground, his sharp nails digging into my skin through the cloak.  He smelled of rancid meat and I felt the sudden urge to retch.  The pain in my shoulder was sharp and sudden as his razor-like teeth dug into it, tearing the flesh away, but dulled as the blackness crept around the edges of my vision.  The last thing I saw before the shadows swallowed me was the rose, its red shade deepened by the spatters of my own blood.

I also wrote a poem based on the same prompt:

 A Rose For Winter

I let it fall;
it slipped from cold fingers
and lingered, emboldened
on the snow.

A frozen memory
of stolen glances, coveted
chances; its crimson heat
as bittersweet as ice.

I must leave
it behind, for someone else
to find; for its warmth has
died upon my lips.

Look away
from nameless petals;
shameless revelries
will freeze in time.

It’s richness won’t
appeal to you; colorblind eyes
will hide behind thorns,
forlorn as the wintry twilight.