Posted in Blogfest Entries, Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Exploding Words for #StoryADay May; Day Fourteen

The Prompt:

  • I had a nightmare last night. I woke up and started writing….

Exploding Words:

Nightmare fades into wakefulness. Marilyn tears at the head of the ragdoll she named Mrs. Fixit, finds the pipe and the lighter. She thanks herself for having the foresight to have made a stash – even when things were tight, she’s always tucked some away from every score, so she’ll never run out – at least, not so long as no one suspects about her little rag friends.

Which means she needs to fix up Mrs. Fixit. But not just yet – there’s Ophelia, sound asleep on the floor. She won’t see anything or know. Marilyn will be all done, everything put away, secrets hidden, before her sister wakes up.

She lights, inhales. And again. And again.

Then once more.

She should take care of the evidence right now, before she forgets. But there are words in her – that was the dream, wasn’t it? She was full of words, exploding words that were held under too much pressure….

And now she feels them again. Filling her up, crushing each other. Crushing her internal organs and her brain and her breath. She has to get them out, or they’ll crush and suffocate and drown her, all at once.

She needs a pen. She scootches around Ophelia, goes to her study. Yes. There’s a brand new pack of colored markers, just right. She can give the words colors, beauty, power.

She starts with her arms and legs. She strips off all her clothes, writes everywhere she can reach. The words come and come – they’re breeding faster than rabbits inside her; she can’t write fast enough. She goes back to the pipe, twice more, and that helps.

Now she’s out of skin, so she starts with the white bodies of the dolls. But even that’s not enough….too many words, too few dolls. So she goes to the sheet, the quilt, and the walls. But even that’s not right.

She needs to put the words with their friends, give them a real home. She remembers the fat volume of Shakespeare. There couldn’t be a better place, could there?

She’s humming, feeling loose and light and free as she decorates the book, gives the words inside her back to it.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

Ophelia is standing there, arms on narrow hips, staring at her.

“I had a nightmare last night. When I woke up, I started writing.”

What is Marilyn writing?

Has she given away her secrets?

Will Ophelia see Mrs. Fixit?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Blogfest Entries, Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

“So Many Secrets” for Story A Day May; Day Thirteen

“So Many Secrets”

Ophelia watches her half-sister nodding off in a pile of dolls on her own daybed. That’s a phrase she’d never thought of, this way.

When she first met Marilyn, she’d never suspected the bubbly, colorful girl would be the one to show her the darker meaning of that expression. She’d been a happy-go-lucky free spirit, coming to find her father’s “poor bastard daughter”, and never letting on that she had so many demons about it.

“Why do you keep so many secrets, Marilyn?”

Not even a moan from Marilyn. Her eyes are closed, and she looks asleep – but her needle is lying on the floor beside her, and her arm is hanging down, a fresh track mark clearly evident, indicting her.

No sense talking to Marilyn. No use asking where the hell she got the heroin, when she couldn’t have been out of rehab more than an hour or so. Those questions will have to wait until Marilyn is in some kind of state to answer – even though she’s not likely to, even then.

Ophelia’s learned a lot, in the three months she’s been here.

She’s learned a hell of a lot about things she never wanted to learn about, or be close to. Things she doesn’t want tormenting anyone, and certainly not her sister.

She’s learned about a thousand things she was mistaken about.

She wishes she wasn’t sure that her very existence is the reason she’s learned all these things, or why Marilyn is so broken.

Ophelia sinks down on the floor, and stares at the tip of the needle, which is pointing straight at her.

Is Ophelia right about being to blame?

How close to the truth is she?

Will Marilyn’s secrets destroy them both?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Hollow Laughter for Story A Day May; Day Twelve

The Prompt:

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlookt for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye;
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glorie die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil’d,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.”
– William Shakespeare
Sonnet 25

Hollow Laughter

Marilyn looks around her, hugging herself tightly. The overarching trees lean in too close, breathing on her while they scratch and claw at the sky.

What the hell do they want from her?

But she knows. They want her to go back to that damned rehab she just walked out the front door of. Or they want her to go back to that damned house, with its empty, hollow embrace that feels just like Mom’s laugh….never any joy in either one of them.

Whatever the hell they want from her, she’s not giving it to them.

“Not tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….” The trees leered at her, scratching and clawing. Those words were from something, but she couldn’t remember, and it didn’t matter.

She had to get away from these trees. That house.

Mom’s ghost.

Foul and pestilent congregations of vapor.

The circles her own head ran around in.

She didn’t know where to go. She didn’t know where any of her dealers lived; they came to her for sex, and she took them in Mom and Dad’s bed, pretending it was her own – but it never had been, and it never would be.

That bed was empty – even when she brought a whole orgy in, or all her dolls, there was still nothing really for her there.

That bed, what she did there – all so that she could get what she wanted from them – the only thing that mattered.

Ways to hide from things like pestilent vapors, hollow laughter, empty houses.

When had she decided to come here, to Ophelia’s tiny little place? She’d only been here once, but she remembered that it was a place that was full- like a womb.

Her hands rolled over her belly. It was full; too full. Overflowing with life that didn’t make her feel any more alive, or full.

She was empty.

Wanting.

She tried the door. It wasn’t locked, so she slipped in.

And there were her precious dolls, all piled together in a garbage bag, waiting for her, because she’d asked her sister to keep them for her. She didn’t want them in the vapors or the empty house with its memories of hollow laughter.

She ran to the dolls, dumped them on the bed, found Raggedy And by the secret threads in her hair.

Yes, yes, yes!

She tears the doll’s scalp, brings out her kit, and shoots up. She wants to rest now, surrounded by the mound of dolls who are her only friends. But she can’t let Ophelia know about their secret treasures, and there are trees outside the window; trees that might spy.

She hides the evidence.

But she can’t lay down…not yet. Can’t, because of the scratching, spying trees.

She has to get away from them.

Into Ophelia’s office – to find a huge leather-bound book with gold-edged letters. Filled with words – a vast wealth or words….Ophelia was rich!

But even that wasn’t enough for her greedy sister, who had already stolen so much from her.

All those words, all that wealth, pouring out and out onto fresh pages in small flowy letters that made words that danced and sang and laughed rich, full laughs.

What will Marilyn do with Ophelia’s book?

Will the trees betray her secrets?

Will she be discovered?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2017, Blogfest Entries, Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Round Two 2017, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

“The End” for Story A Day May; Day Eleven

  • For Story A Day May, Day Eleven (click the heading to see the full post with prompt by Bea a bilingual writer and freelancer currently living near Venice, in Italy. She blogs and helps writers with their writing and creativity at  The Busy Muse

“The End”

“What’s wrong, Marilyn?”

Her sister doesn’t answer, but Ophelia thinks she knows.

It’s something about the story. Did Marilyn know that it was real – her own mother’s account of her first meeting with their father? No. How could she know that was the night her mother claimed Ophelia had been conceived, by the incoming tide on a magical Hawaiian spring night?

“I’m going to tell you a story now.” She sticks her bottom lip out like a pouty child. “I don’t like yours.” She waggles a finger at Ophelia. “But first, I have to pee.”

Ophelia knows Marilyn well enough to be suspicious. Her sister won’t let her use that bathroom, and, every time she comes out of it, she’s high on something. She wants to sneak in there and clean it up, but Marilyn guards it fiercely.

She’d done it once, while Marilyn was in rehab, but Marilyn had walked out, found herself a few men – even with her obvious pregnancy, the men she propositioned didn’t seem to have any trouble trading sex for drugs.

And now the bathroom is locked, and Marilyn won’t say where she’s hidden the key.

So Ophelia waits, knowing that her sister is poisoning herself again in there, and, even worse, poisoning that innocent baby inside her who maybe never had a chance.

It’s twenty minutes before Marilyn appears again. She’s moving slowly, almost zen-dancing her way back to the couch she seems to love, and the pile of rag dolls, who seem to be the only friends she has, unless Ophelia can count herself –

But would she ever be friends with Marilyn, if they didn’t share a genetic history?

Honestly, she doesn’t think so.

And she’s not sure why she doesn’t just leave. This mess is too big for her. It’s too big even for the people at rehab, and they’re trained for this kind of thing. She’s just a kid.

But she’s all Marilyn has.

The older girl – really, she’s not a woman yet, either, even if she’s biologically ready to reproduce herself – sinks onto the couch, leaning back, her eyes drooping.

“Story, Marilyn. You were going to tell me a story.”

“Huh. Oh. Right.” She doesn’t move for so long Ophelia’s sure she’s going to sleep. Then, she says, her voice slow and slurry, “You’re an accountant.” She picks up one of her dolls, the movements heavy and in slow-mo. “See? This is you.” She smiles, but it’s not a friendly smile. “You just started a new job. Your company sent you to this house. It’s in a nice place – good neighborhood, like this one. Maybe it’s this house.”

She pauses. “What’s next?” Ophelia asks, even though she doesn’t really want to know. There’s something almost menacing about Marilyn’s manner, even with her languor.

Marilyn laughs ominously. “The door’s half open. Your ring the bell again and again, cause you’re so polite.” She’s sneering now. “You go in, calling. Nobody answers, but there’s a big banana plant in a pot, and it’s tipped over – wet dirt all over the fancy rug…and footsteps. Big ones, tracking the dirt all over the floor. And then the door closes and clicks locked behind you.”

Marilyn stops talking, but she’s staring at Ophelia.

“Then what happens?” She doesn’t really want to know, but –

“That’s the end. Like the title of the story. It’s called “The End of Ophelia.”

Her smile is so chilling, Ophelia shudders.

Is Marilyn actually threatening Ophelia’?

What did she do in the bathroom?

What happens next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Parenting, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Rainbow Sprinkles for Story A Day May; Day Ten

Public Courtesy Warning: This story has some adult language and references, and might not be suitable for work or reading where younger kids might peek over your shoulder.

“Rainbow Sprinkles”

“Tell me a story.”

Marilyn knows she’s begging. She knows she’s acting like a child, making her own sister – her younger sister – take care of her.

And it wasn’t even like Ophelia is really and truly her sister. She’s only half – because Dear Old Daddy couldn’t keep it the hell in his pants or boardshorts, or whatever the hell it was they wore in fucking Hawaii, where he’d told Mom he had “business” – but the “business” turned out to be putting his into Ophelia’s Mom’s, even though he was already married and had a little girl he pretty much ignored…

Maybe Ophelia needs to pay for that. Maybe it’s only fair.

Maybe Marilyn doesn’t even care.

“Tell me a story!” She demands it this time.

“What kind of story?” Ophelia sounds so damned sweet, but it was her who took Dear Old Dad away from her. And Mom, too. What Marilyn is now – that’s her fault. If she’d never been born, Mom never would have known.

Life would be perfect.

“One that’s sweet and romantic and has a happy ending.” If she can’t get perfect one way, she’ll get it another.

“All right….let me think….okay, there’s this girl on the beach. She’s young – your age, I guess. Maybe a little younger. Say between you and me. She’s happy – she’s just out of school for the summer, and she got really good grades. She’s got two weeks off before she starts her summer job, and she’s going to meet a friend on the beach for ice cream cones, something they do the last day every year.”

Ophelia stops, her eyes closed. Marilyn can’t tell if she’s making it up, remembering something she’s heard about, telling her own story, or even if she’s fallen asleep. She nudges the other girl with her foot. “What comes next?”

“Oh – sorry. I got distracted. Okay, where were we? Well, her friend was late. She’d just gotten her license, see, and she had a minor accident. Nobody was hurt, and she just dinged her bumper, but it made her late enough to get stuck in traffic – lots of other people had the same idea about that beach that day.

“So this girl was alone. Her friend said she should go ahead and have ice cream; she wasn’t going to feel like company once she got out of this mess. She was disappointed, but that’s what she did, because her friend said that’s what would make her happiest.

“She’s just gotten a double scoop pistachio – her favorite – with extra rainbow sprinkles. Those aren’t her favorite – but they are her best friend’s, and it feels like a nice way to include her and brighten up the day.”

“She’s had exactly three licks and one nibble before someone bumps her from behind – a little boy in a hurry to get his own end-of-school-year treat.”

Ophelia goes quiet again – Marilyn jumps a little. She forgot it was just a story – her sister is a really good storyteller. She can taste the ice cream cold and smooth, the pistachios natural and an earthy counterpoint to the mild sweet, and the strangeness of the rainbow sprinkles that would of course go everywhere…

“Then what happpens?”

“The little boy bumps her, and her cone jolts right out of her hand – and lands upside down on the foot of a sandaled boy. She’s so embarrassed, she wants to run away, but she’s too polite to do that while he’s wearing her ice cream. So she looks up at him – and he’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen. And he’s smiling at her. She manages to mumble that she’s sorry, but he just laughs, and bends down to help her clean up the mess of ice cream. The rainbow sprinkles are everywhere – and, when their hands touch, it’s magic.

“Once they’ve cleaned up as much as they can, he buys her a new cone, and they talk and talk and talk – all night, and into the next morning, without ever leaving the beach.” Ophelia makes a little swipe at her eye. “He calls her ‘The Pot of Gold at the End of The Rainbow Sprinkles.”

“And did they live happily ever after?”

Ophelia sighs. She opens her eyes, but they’re still faraway, on a beach somewhere. “Let’s say they did. That every day was as sweet as that ice cream, and the nickname.”

That’s when Marilyn knows.

Her sister’s not making up a story.

That’s how Ophelia’s Mom met Dear Old Dad.

Is Marilyn right about Ophelia’s story?

How close to the truth is the story?

What happens next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Playing With Her Dolls for Story A Day May; Day Nine

Public Courtesy Warning: This story edges into adult territory, and might not be suitable for work or reading where younger kids might peek over your shoulder.

Playing With Her Dolls

Marilyn is playing with her dolls again.

“There’s our nun in her wimple. Doesn’t she look stunning?”

She looks at Ophelia, and seems to need some kind of answer, so Ophelia plays along. “Is a nun supposed to look stunning?”

No answer from Marilyn. She dances the naked, wimpleless nun toward another doll. “And this one’s a man in a cowboy hat, and boots – and nothing else. He works at a strip club, and the nun in the wimple – she’s Sister Sarah, see? – she can’t decide if she wants him or wants to save him. What do you think?”

Ophelia thinks maybe her sister is more than a little crazy, and that maybe she shouldn’t be here all alone, trying to handle the seemingly endless succession of trips – Marilyn will take anything, anytime, and she seems to always have something. Ophelia’s in over her head, here, and she knows it.

But she can’t say that to Marilyn.

“I think it depends.”

“On what?”

“Lots of things. Whether she’s into men. Whether she’s into God more than men. Whether she’s worried that she will go to hell if she’s with him.”

It’s usually best to play along, at least so long as Marilyn isn’t hurting herself. That’s what they said when she refused to stay in rehab, anyway.

It works, this time. Marilyn smiles. “She’s into men. Really, really into them. Waaay more than she’s into God, matter of fact. And she wants him – because she can see right off what he’s packing down south. And she makes him point it due north.” She giggles and mimes an erection as tall as the “man.”
Ophelia wants to get her into psychiatric care, or, if that won’t work, maybe even have her arrested – that’s what’s best for the baby, maybe.

Except that it’s already too late for the baby. That’s what the doctors say, anyway. “No chance of a normal life.”

Not that Marilyn’s life has been normal.

“And it’s a rainy night.” Her sister mimes a downpour now. She’s sitting cross-legged on the bed, her face totally earnest, like she’s a little girl of maybe four years old – a little girl with a very dirty mind. “So, they’re at this tavern, where the barkeep has a handlebar mustache with a red and white polka-dotted tie.”

“And then what happens?” The baby is a lost cause – but Marilyn won’t even talk about the baby, or being pregnant. It’s like she’s getting younger as her belly grows rounder and rounder.

“Don’t you know?” She grins mischievously at Ophelia.

“Nope.”

“The two of them sneak of to a corner booth. See? It’s really dark, and the booth is big.” The two dolls go off to a corner of the bed, and then the “cowboy” climbs on top of the “nun in the wimple” – who certainly doesn’t seem to be taking her vows seriously. “And then they get busy.”

“And what about the barkeep?” Ophelia tries not to focus on the ragdoll love, but Marilyn’s doing all the sound effects, and that makes it all but impossible.

“Oh. Him. Well, he’s not really in this story.”

Ophelia sits and watches as Marilyn plays her little-girl games with the libido of a grown woman – and a part of her wishes that she wasn’t really in this story, either.

What’s wrong with the baby?

Why doesn’t Ophelia have any help with her?

What’s next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Secret in a Box for Story A Day May; Day Eight


Secret in a Box (in its 66 word entirety):

Marilyn keeps her secret in its box, tucked under the cushion of her couch. None of the housekeepers ever come in here; she makes sure they won’t ever want to.

Her secret is safe as safe can be – until a week later, when Anna serves eggplant parmesan. Though it’s her very favorite, Marilyn can’t eat. Before she can leave the table, she vomits out her secret.

What is Marilyn’s secret?

What happens next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!