Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Prompt: painting with a curse on it, pink panties, chicken bones, several bottles of booze, a fake I.D., a bunch of matches

Cheryl stood in the center of the red design painted on the studio floor, considering the place where she’d devoted so much time and energy over the past two years. Looking down at the carrier tube under her arm, she thought about the painting rolled inside. Was it enough? It had to be. It was time to cast the curse.

With a shrug, she held the bottle of turpentine at arm’s length and tilted it upside down, walking toward the door. When the bottle was empty, she dropped it behind her without a backward glance.

Stepping over empty beer and liquor bottles, and an almost-artistic array of red Solo cups, she stopped next to the living room table and tipped over the last standing vodka bottle, watching the scant remains dribble across the table and drip onto the stained carpet. Empty pizza boxes and a KFC carton overflowing with bare chicken bones covered the low table.

Cheryl reached down and picked up a handful of bones, dropping them on the table and nodding as she studied them. She glanced up at Jonathan, sprawled motionless on the couch, and Carolyn, curled in the La-Z-Boy. “You really should have known,” she admonished them. “It’s all there in the bones.”

At the door, she picked up the fake ID Jonathan had delivered this afternoon. Studying it, she smiled. Looking back at him, she said with a laugh, “Really? Cherry Cotton? Funny, Jonathan. Hilarious.”

The name didn’t matter, only the coding on the magnetic strip. Magic didn’t work well on technology. Tucking it into her bra strap, she frowned. Her mother’s voice whispered in her ear, “The day always goes better with a matching bra and panties.” Black bra, pink panties. She hadn’t bothered with laundry this week. Sorry, Maman. I’ll have to take my chances.

She struck a wooden match on the side of the little box. Leaning down, she tucked it upright into the box as it sputtered down and set it in a puddle of vodka that stretched over from the living room carpet. Shouldering the art canister, she picked up her keys and swung them around.

Waiting to make sure the match did its job, she considered Jonathan and Carolyn once more. “Thanks, you guys. You’ve been a big help. Sorry I can’t stay. Places to go, masterpieces to steal, curses to cast, and all that.”

She shrugged as the matches sputtered and burst into flame. Turning on her worn heel, she pulled open the door, carefully locking it behind her. Looking down the hallway, she heard voices on the landing. Collateral damage?

She cocked her head to the side, considering. No, she could pass by them without being seen. She waved her hands from her head down to her feet, erasing herself from sight, and walked toward the stairs.

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
Too long!

April word count

Prompt: A different kind of delivery

Rachel sipped her coffee, leaning against Nazu and watching the hotshot OB surgeon in the operating theater below. She kept trying to refocus Nazu’s attention away from her neck and back to the doctor they had come to observe.

A trio of interns interrupted his exploration of her neck and ear when they burst into the darkened observation deck. In the sudden bright light, Rachel knew without looking that Nazu’s eyes would blaze gold, his inner light revealed. He glowered without speaking at the young doctors. They stared for a split second, then looked away and shuffled out the door with mumbled apologies. Nazu waved his hand as the door closed, and Rachel heard the lock thud into place.

“A little late for that, isn’t it?” she teased.

“Better late than never,” he mumbled, returning his attention to the curls at the back of her neck.

“Nazu, really, you should watch this guy. I think we should recruit him. What do you think?”

“If you think so, I am sure we should,” he mumbled against her skin.

“Seriously, Nazu. Watch him.”

“I don’t have to. I already know he’s the right one. I’d much rather watch you.”

Rachel pushed him away with a laugh. “Come on. They’re closing up. Let’s catch him before he leaves.”

As they approached John McNamara in the hall outside the OB unit, Rachel realized she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by the thought of meeting one of the top-ranked OB surgeons in the country – the newest star in Mercy Hospital’s roster. The butterflies she would have felt just a year ago, as a newly minted nurse transplanted from Boston, had completely flown from her stomach. Apparently dealing with demons made human doctors less intimidating.

She smiled at the thought as they neared McNamara. Nazu, ever attuned to her, turned to catch her smile and arched a brow. She laughed aloud, and McNamara looked up at them. The smile on Rachel’s face was replaced by surprise, and she shot her own glance toward Nazu, in time to catch his own smug smile. She turned back to McNamara and held out her hand.

As she made introductions and he started talking with Nazu, she stared at his eyes. His pupils weren’t black. They were dark purple. Most people would dismiss it as a trick of the light. Rachel knew better. She’d seen eyes like that before. McNamara had demon blood.

Rachel surreptitiously searched McNamara’s neck and wrists for any sign of silver. She felt the frisson down her back. She knew why Nazu wanted to recruit McNamara. More than their need for help in the neonatal unit. McNamara didn’t know what he was. Had he ever seen any signs? A full-grown poltok demon rampaging through Mercy would be a Very. Bad. Thing.


Here’s the growing collection of stories set in Rachel’s world(s):

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
45 minutes

April word count

Monday, April 28, 2014

Prompt: Consequences, or Life changes in an instant

I’ve had the same dream every night for the past 2,692 nights. Leaving the bar, high fives and fist bumps and chest hugs, grabbing the keys back from Alex. Swerving from the construction cones that veered in from the left. I never saw the car. Just felt the impact, heard the scream of metal, smelled the burning tires. Spinning, spinning, until my eyes focus on her face. Her forehead against the glass. Her eyes closed. No blood. She could be resting. Waiting. Sleeping.

But she’s not the one I think of when I’m awake. Sometime between the dream and waking, the baby cries. By the time they pulled me out of my car, there were sirens and staticky speakers. I had stared at the woman’s face until they peeled open my door, crumpled and frozen in place during my car’s determined effort to occupy the same space as hers. I didn’t hear the baby that night. I didn’t know about her until the first day in court.

When I’m asleep, I dream about her momma. When I’m awake, I think about her. All the things she won’t have that I did. After that night. My family abandoned me. I made her momma abandon her.

It’s not hard to stay sober in prison. I’m in AA just the same. I’m still trying to wrap my head around restitution. What can I ever do to make it right for that baby?


I guess that’s all I’ve got tonight. A coworker had a shocking day – a childhood friend’s mother was killed by a drunk driver on her way home from work yesterday. And in the middle of thinking how awful for that family and friends, I can’t help thinking what it must be like for the person who has to live with that for the rest of their life.

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
15 minutes

April word count

Prompt: Reluctant Mind Reader

Jarram sat cross-legged beside the throne, the queen’s hand resting on his fool’s cap. He never looked up at her or spoke. She felt the slightest nod of his head, up and down, or side to side. She never acknowledged his, his presence, his counsel. But he knew. He saw her decisions, choices, actions.

He’d been there so long, some might think he didn’t remember. Some might wonder why her fool was always present. He knew. He remembered.

“Jarram?” The beautiful woman on the throne leaned forward and motioned with her fingers. His grandmother pushed him toward the throne. He clutched her hand, but she tugged it away and touched his chin, encouraging him without words to be brave and strong.

He climbed up the steps and stood in front of the throne. The woman leaned down to look him in the eyes. “You have a special gift, don’t you, Jarram? I’d like you to share that gift with me.”

He frowned and started to turn back to his grandmother. Then he remembered what she had said about this woman, this queen, and he stood as tall he could, facing her. “Why?”

She laughed once and leaned back in the chair. “Because I asked you to. You never need another reason. But if you do, here is a very important one I want you to always remember.”

She leaned forward and gripped his shoulder, spinning him around. A soldier stepped behind his grandmother and thrust his short sword through her back, until the blade shone and glinted red in front of her. She kept her eyes on Jarram and made no sound as she fell. The soldier pulled out his blade and wiped it on her cloak before sheathing it and stepping away.

“If you need another reason, Jarram,” the queen said in his ear, “my soldiers can go back to your village and bring all of your family here.”

He shook his head side to side, hating her more than anything he could imagine. It kept the grief at bay.

Her hand on his shoulder turned him around. “Clever boy. Now, come and sit beside me. We have work to do.”

Jarram sat cross-legged on the stone floor beside her. He watched the people walking toward them. As they came closer, he dropped his head forward, listening to their thoughts. She rested her hand on his head…

Dogs in House

Time writing
15 minutes

April word count