Fiction Friday: [Lost Time]

Draped in all her favorite colors, it was the book cover that drew Rada in. The fact that the main character shared her unusual name was what made her buy it. After cracking the spine, the story pulled her in with how eerily it mirrored her own life. Page after page riddled with details that even those closest to her could never have known. Private thoughts and embarrassing moments captured and preserved in black and white.

Rada grew increasingly paranoid with each chapter read. Once outgoing and vibrant, she now spent her days scouring the apartment for spyware and obsessing over the author, Peter Jacobs. Details didn't seem to exist to explain their connection. Web searches only served to frustrate as every link led only to his sole published work, Lost Time.

She read the book slowly knowing this moment would come. Her fingers drummed over the words about the dread that filled her. About the fear that coursed through her veins as she stood on the precipice of her future. She had no doubt that the pages ahead held as much truth as those that had come before.

She wasn't ready to know what the future held.

Tossing the book on the floor, it landed splayed out on the hardwood. Hints of looped red ink peeked at her from between the pages. She had never written in it and the sight of it sent her mind racing. When curiosity trumped all else, she reached for it as she struggled to steady her hands.

You are my greatest inspiration.

She sunk into the nearest chair and tried to slow her breathing. The beat of her heart pulsed between her finger and the page as she traced the letters over and over. She'd never seen the handwriting before, but it felt oddly familiar.

There was only one way to sate the question pounding against her skull demanding an answer. She found where she'd left off and her entire body trembled as she turned the page. The room spun as she stared at the two photographs that filled it. One of a slight man hunched over a laptop tagged Peter Jacobs and the other was of her.

She frantically flipped through the pages finding more photos. Every time the same thing, one of him and one of her. She stared at the only image of Peter facing the camera. Looking into his eyes chilled Rada to the core as she realized it was her own eyes staring back.  


Fiction Friday: [The Kettle]

Swallows gathered and swirled around one another near the tree line. I knew they were swallows from their double pointed tails and white chests. It was the only thing I learned yesterday. It may be the only thing I’ve learned since I’ve been here.

Camp. I didn’t know why they called it that. No one here was under the delusion that it was anything less than a prison. The counselors walked around with smiles, filled their sentences with rising tones and had a limitless list of outdoor activities to pack our days, but it was a prison nonetheless. One of them overheard me tell my bunk mate that, when you surround damaged city kids with endless miles of trees, there was no need for bars. Her eyes weren’t filled with the anger I’d expected, but even worse, it was pity. I hated when other people realized I was too smart for my circumstances, so I’ve avoided her ever since.

The cyclonic frenzy continued to grow and, at first, it made me a little nervous. Animals could sense things. Like impending doom. I scanned the trees for stumbling zombies and the sky for hovering giant silver discs that shot green lasers. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed when neither came to pass. It only took three weeks at this boring camp to make me miserable when odd bird activity wasn’t a precursor to the world ending.

In five minutes I’ll have to climb down off the bunk bed and head to a group session. If vampires or werewolves wanted to swarm the place, now would be the time. The group sessions were worse than the hikes and the canoeing. I didn’t understand why they thought talking would fix things. It wasn’t going to get my mom a job or keep the pipe out of my dad’s hand. It certainly wasn’t going to soften the war zone that was my walk to school. When one of the other kids actually spoke, the counselor’s faces would light up and I could see them banking their do-gooder points. Like they could redeem them for fancy coffees or something.

As if swept up by a gust of wind, the flurry of feathers rose above the tree tops in one cohesive, circling unit. It was so sudden I held my breath, believing this could be it. That whatever was going to go down was about to happen now. But, just as suddenly as they had gathered, they dispersed filling the sky with black and white confetti as they flew in every direction.

Watching as they grew smaller and smaller, an emptiness filled their void. And a tinge of jealousy. Of their community. Of their freedom. My chest felt like the birds had regrouped and gathered there. The flap of their wings threatening to dislodge emotions that I’d buried long ago.

Luckily, there was a rattled knock on the screen door to snap me back. It was time for group. I jumped down off the bunk and walked out under the blazing sun with the dizzying swirl still pounding in my chest.

Fiction Friday: [Up From The Shallows]


[This week's Fiction Friday was my submission for Scene Stealers #24. Scene Stealers is a fun writing prompt from Write to Done. For this prompt, we had to use the sentence they provided to open the story (as written) and it couldn't be longer than 350 words. Click the link above if you want to give it a try. In the meantime...enjoy!]


She settled herself in the shallow water and looked at him, waiting to be amazed.

It was a gorgeous day. A day rife with possibilities. But, he’d never been one to seek out the possible. No, he’d always been content to sit safely by as the rest of the world took chances around him. Staring at the sand sparkling around his firmly planted feet, she wondered if he would ever aspire to anything greater than just existing.

She turned her attention to the water and marveled at how the sun danced along the ocean’s peaks. She inhaled the salty air and lavished under the sun’s kisses. She wished for him to truly see how beautiful it all was. 

From the corner of her eye, he came into view as he took one tentative step followed by another.  She held her breath when he paused, his toes touching the craggy edge of the darkened sand where the ocean had met the earth. His toes seemed to dance in rhythm with her heartbeat before disappearing under the frothy edges of the crystal blue water crashing into the beach.  

The sound of the surf faded under his giggles and the sun seemed to dim in comparison to the sparkle in his eyes.

“I did it, mommy! I did it!”

The calls of the seagulls circling above were no match for his squeals of delight. The rays of the sun no match for the heat of pride swelling in her bosom. 

Today was a gorgeous day. It was a day rife with possibilities.

Fiction Friday: [The Last First Date]

Mired in the most awkward silence of my life, I regret not concocting some sort of contingency plan. I wanted to. I really did, but my friend, Michelle, talked me out of it by telling me how ridiculous I was being. It’ll be interesting to see if we’re still friends by the end of the night.

After clearing his throat, in the phlegmiest, most disgusting way, my date starts to tell me a story about the time he got struck by lightning. How had he not led with that? In just a few sentences, the question’s answered. For the love of God…how does he make getting struck by lightning sound boring? I feel bad for a second, wondering if the jolt of electricity was what zapped his personality.

Tuning him out, I think about how I should have trusted my instincts and stuck to my ‘no blind dates’ rule. Then, I start to wonder how often LoveMatch gets sued for their misleading commercials. The ones that supposedly feature actual members of their site. This date is the polar opposite of the happy, beautiful people they feature. The ones that lean in toward one another while laughing at each other’s jokes. That stare at each other with googly eyes. Blech. There will most definitely not be a moment where I use any excuse to reach over and touch him.

The only thing getting me through is constantly reminding myself that, this isn’t just my first blind date, it’ll also be my last.

Ugh, I suppose I should try and pay attention…

“…so they said I was lucky to be alive and I told them to go get struck by lightning and then tell me how lucky they feel.”

No one’s more surprised than I am when I laugh. And, despite the fact that I know he hadn’t meant to be funny, he laughs, too. Then, after taking a considerable gulp of wine, he looks directly at me for the first time all night.

Wait, what’s happening?

 Staring into his eyes, I have to admit that they’re beautiful. The nervousness they reflect is actually endearing. I catch a hint of a sparkle as his smile grows. Maybe the commercials were more accurate than I gave them credit for. Maybe it’s just been my bad attitude ruining the date.

Looks like Michelle and I can still be friends.

Then, he clears his throat again.

Nope, friendship’s over.

Fiction Friday: [I'm Still Here]

I hate the beeping.
I know I shouldn’t
since it’s a
constant reminder
that I’m alive.

But I do.
I do because
it also reminds me
that no one believes
I’m still here.

My mother visits.
She holds my hand,
but I know.
I know she thinks
I’m just a shell.

The lifeless body
of the daughter
she doesn’t know,
doesn’t realize,
is still here.

If she knew,
she wouldn’t
talk about
how close she is
to giving up hope.

She wouldn’t lament
over all the things
she never
had a chance
to tell me.

She would know
I heard her.
Every word. Every time.
Even over
the relentless beeping.

Fiction Friday: [One Tough Job]


Neil couldn’t stop staring at her tiny fingers. Nimble they were not, but he marveled at her determination. Her little hand was like a carnival claw as she tried again and again to grab a Cheerio off the tray. There were no signs of excitement when she finally succeeded—clutching the crunchy ring in her fist. She stubbornly kept her mouth open while her hand hovered drunkenly, less than an inch away from it. When the treat reached its goal, he couldn’t help but cheer a little inside.

It had been difficult in the beginning. All she seemed to do was cry. Cry and poop. But now he could see that she was a little person. He was fascinated by her clumsy hands and chipmunk cheeks. Her bright, inquisitive eyes and fat smooshy thighs. He found that when she smiled, he smiled. When she laughed, he laughed.

He watched as she mindlessly gummed the treat—her focus returned to the circles still on the tray. Staring at the déjà vu of it all, he couldn’t help but wonder who she would become. What she would grow up to be.

He imagined her as a doctor, or a lawyer, or President of the United States. He wished for her to find love, to get married and have a family. Ultimately, he just wanted her to grow up to be happy and kind and loved.

She wiggled back and forth, clapping her hands, pleased with herself as another Cheerio reached her mouth. She looked up at him, revealing her two tiny teeth as she smiled. Heart melting, Neil clapped his hands and smiled back. By the time Stu came into the room they were laughing.

“Hate to break up playtime,” he said sarcastically, “But the parents called—they have the ransom. Get her ready to go.”

“Alright,” Neil said.

He tried his best to hide the overwhelming sadness that suddenly gripped him. Stu wouldn’t understand.

Then, he thought about her going home and imagined her graduating from high school, then college. He imagined her curing cancer and mediating peace talks. He imagined her happy and then, just like when she smiled, or when she laughed, he was happy, too.

He pulled her from the highchair and she kicked her legs with excitement as if she understood.

“Looks like you’re going home, sweetie,” he said as he handed her one last Cheerio.


Fiction Friday: [The Reckoning]

Head full of fog I try to open my eyes, but it’s harder than it should be. Slowly and with full effort I finally succeed. My vision is as cloudy as my thoughts, but I am acutely aware that I am not at home.

As my eyes come into focus panic riddles my body so swiftly that I grow dizzy.

I was right, this is not my home.

In front of me is a door, but hope fades before it has a chance to flare. No knob, no handle. Not even hinges to try to unscrew. Above, below and side to side, nothing but concrete.

I’m in a concrete box.

I try to stand up. My legs are tingly and weak.

What the hell?

I gingerly shake them before attempting to rise again. Wobbly, but successful I stand and get my bearings.

Turning to face the back of the room I see a security camera in the corner, red light glowing. I stare at it wondering who is on the other side. I want to ask as much, but for the first time I realize how dry my throat is.

I swallow hard as my eyes drift over to the back wall. The fear induced gasp causes spittle to catch in my throat. A coughing fit doubles me over, hands on knees until it finally dislodges from my throat and splats onto the concrete floor.

I take a deep breath to gather my courage before looking up at the wall again.

You know what you did. Repent or die.

The words are painted across the wall. Fresh enough for beads of dark crimson to run from each letter toward the floor. My sense of smell kicks in and I choke on the metallic, coppery scent in the air.

It’s written in blood.

My brain pounds against my skull, palms grow sweaty as my body temperature skyrockets.

Backing away from the wall, the creak of the door opening stops me in my tracks. Panic sends my heart racing and I breathe so quickly I think I’m going to faint.

“Don’t turn around.”

The voice is disguised, robotic, but it is terror inducing nonetheless. I do as I’m told—solely because I am paralyzed with fear.

“You have forty-eight hours to figure out which of your sins has sent you here to your reckoning. If you succeed and repent you will be set free. If not…you will die.”

My brain goes into overdrive searching for the right words, for sins I’ve committed, a primer on how to speak, but then he is behind me and all thoughts fade away. Except one.

I don’t want to die.

Tears flow freely as I hold my breath in anticipation. That’s when I feel the pin prick of a needle sink into my neck.


An unbearable screeching pushes on my brain. My eyes shoot open and I sit up--heart racing. I look around to discover that I'm in my room. Relief sweeps over me knowing that my nightmare was just that. A nightmare.

Reaching over I hit snooze before closing my eyes and laying back down. I must have drifted off again because the alarm wakes me. I stretch my arms wide and let out a little morning roar before shutting if off and taking a moment to savor the quiet.

I open my eyes ready to start the day, but instead prickly bumps rapidly spread all over my body and my breathing grows shallow. In my periphery I can see the exaggerated rise and fall of my chest. I lay frozen staring at the red letters that stain my ceiling:

See you in 48 hours.