Photo by Owl Sisters Photography
Her hand trails across the empty pillow beside her; the ghost of his warmth seeps into her hand as the memories of nights past fade like a mist from her mind. She huddles in the comforter a few minutes more, clinging to the last wisps of her dream, longing for the day it would be so much more.
Someday it will be.
The alarm blares and she groans, cursing the morning while praising the automatic timer on her coffee pot. The scent dragging her from the warmth of her bed. Eyes half-lidded, she shuffles to the kitchen and fills the first of what is sure to be a dozen cups it will take to make it through this day.
Cartoon laughter beckons her to the living room where her son must be planted in front of the television already. A glance at the clock tells her she has enough time to curl up on the couch with her first mug before heading out to another shift. A low chuckle sends a shiver down her spine. Peering around the corner, she sees the boys erupt in laughter at something on the screen.
A smile lifts the corners of her mouth as the reality of her dream-come-true sinks in.
This is the happy ever after for a story that’s been years in the making. You can see the other installments here: Waiting and here: Finally. They may not be a traditional family, but they’re making traditions of their own now. And the story continues….
I love you guys!
Even though NaNoWriMo isn’t until next month, I’m getting searches for it, so I guess it’s time to repost my Ode to NaNoWriMo. I’m excited to say that I will be participating this year. Woohoo! It’s been a few years, but I’m ready to tackle it again. For any of those who are interested, you can find me here: Dannigrrl
An Ode to NaNo
By Clement Clark Moore and Danielle La Paglia
Twas the night before NaNo when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for this louse;
NaNo badges were stuck to my corkboard with care,
In hopes that midnight would not soon be there.
The family was nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of word counts danced in my head;
My family in bed without so much as a gripe
And I’d just settled my fingers for a long winter’s type,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tripped over the cat, hit my head on the glass
The moon on the breast of the newly cut lawn
Gave the luster of midday as I stifled a yawn,
When what to my blood shot eyes should appear,
But a noveling machine and eight volunteers,
With a lightening novelist, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Chris.
More rapid than deadlines his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called us by name:
“Now Writers! Now, Poets! Now, Creators of Fiction!
On, Authors! On, Critics! On Masters of Diction!
To the depths of your caves! Or your desk in the hall!
Now type away! Type away! Type away all!”
As fresh ideas that before a blank page fly,
When they meet inspiration and mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,
The machine full of plots, and St. Christopher, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard, it’s no joke
The clicking and clacking of each tiny keystroke.
As I rubbed my sore head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Chris Baty came with a bound.
He was dressed all in NaNo gear, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all covered with toner and soot;
A bundle of plots he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a student just opening his pack.
His eyes – how they twinkled! So shiny and blue!
A fanatic at heart, from that look, I just knew!
His thin lipped mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the shine on his head gave off a soft glow;
An “All Star” sticker held tight in his teeth,
A golden halo encircled his head like a wreath;
By his side Chris Angotti and even Ms. Lindsey
Who help with young writers, as well as Script Frenzy.
No Plot? No Problem! tucked under his arm,
But the thermos of coffee is what gave him his charm.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And filled up my pages; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney they rose;
He sprang to his plot machine, to his team gave a shout,
And away they all flew to help more NaNos no doubt.
But I heard him exclaim, as they flew like a shot,
“Happy NaNo to all, and to all a good plot.”
Photo by Ian O’Neill
She leaned over the sink, the last of the towels draped across the edge to dry. Rust colored drops trickled down the white porcelain reminding her she wasn’t finished yet. She arched her back, stretching out her muscles and cracking the last few vertebrae, but it offered little relief.
She couldn’t relax, couldn’t slow down, not until the job was done or she knew she’d never have the strength to finish. Anxiety and adrenaline pricked every nerve, spurring her forward. She rinsed the rag again and grabbed the bottle of bleach. The fumes seared her throat, scorching her lungs, but she slopped it over another section and scrubbed and wiped and poured and scrubbed and wiped.
It would eventually be enough.
It had to be.
Every splash, every swipe of the rag, burned a little more of him from her mind. There may never be enough solvents to erase the stains he’d left on her; there weren’t enough rags in the world for that mess. But his memory would be wiped clean of this house, of this floor, of this rag.
No one would ever understand. No one would ever know.
No one but her.
Moonlight shimmers in the glass scattered across the hardwood floor.
It wasn’t going to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all.
She blinks back tears. There’s no time for that now. Maybe later. Maybe never. But not now.
The pool of blood grows, spreading across the floor like some evil tide, setting the shards afloat; ships of light shifting on a deadly sea. The tide reaches her feet, soaking into her white socks, staining the tips.
And still she stares.
It’s only the wine. She lies to herself. But the truth hangs heavy from her hand—the unopened bottle with a stained label. The shattered glasses on the floor. The unnatural crater in his skull.
It wasn’t going to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all.
* * *
This was based on a tweet from Tony Noland. Thanks for the inspiration this week!
“I never heard you bitch about the length of her skirt.”
“Manipulation, my ass. That would imply an unwillingness on your part.”
between the lies
“I want an admission of guilt, not a list of justifications.”
“Apologies don’t end with ‘but she…’”
”You didn’t lose a goddamn thing you didn’t throw away.”
by impotence and fear
”Yeah, well, Kharma’s a bitch ain’t she?”
but now I’m strong
“Your actions drowned out every word you ever spoke.”
even in my silence
“I hope it was worth it.”
because it takes no words
to walk away
A life’s reflections flash by in the rearview mirror. Mile by mile, they fade into my past and out of my life as I fly down two lanes to anywhere. Mile markers keep time in this countdown to the end.
The end of her or of me remains to be seen.
Parched for truth, I cross a desert of deceit, chasing a mirage of compassion that shimmers in the distance, forever out of reach and out of touch. I burn across the asphalt, racing against the night, before the moon’s frigid hand takes grip. A blanket of shadows stretches out beside me as I cling to that last touch of the mourning sun before it fades for good.
This week I am pleased to host the fabulous Lola Drake, a fellow writing group member. In addition to hosting her #fridayflash this week, I’m also excited to announce the release of her first novella, Pursuit of a Kiss (Evernight Publishing)–a page-turning suspense with a sexy blend of romance (but more about that later).
First, Lola’s debut #fridayflash….
Spotted sunlight trickled through the dusty attic windows, dancing along the floor as though playing a game. Sophie wiped her hands on her jeans, then used her already filthy t-shirt to wipe droplets of sweat from her face. A scrap of paper stuck out from a book in the last box. Curious, she pulled it out, to find one of her I’m-depressed-enough-to-actually-attempt-to-write-poetry-even-though-i-know-it-will-suck poems:
Haunting as the last song before sleep
You repeat in my mind
Unrecognized last kiss
Voices across telephone wires
The page has ended
It’s ready to turn
Even though I am not
With a wry smile, she placed it back in the book before taping the box closed. Perhaps that poem had some magic to it after all, though, because a voice broke the silence behind her.
“You’re really leaving?”
Brian leaned against the doorframe, affecting a pose of nonchalance as Sophie got to her feet to face him.
“Is there any point in me staying?”
He stalked forward, his body moving like a panther as it skulked after its prey. Determined, relentless, needing her in spite of how hard he strove not to. Sophie had understood that resistance within him for a long time. Still, she closed her eyes as his hand lifted to wipe some dust from her cheek. He lingered there, letting his thumb drop lower to stroke her lips.
“I can’t do this. I’m with someone.” Brian choked out, his hands still upon her.
Sophie opened her eyes to meet his tortured gaze. She couldn’t help it, the longing she saw there always made her knees weak. “So walk away.”
With a groan, he lowered his hand to her throat, gripping it to press her backwards against the wall. Before she could react, he scooped her up, slamming her against the timeworn wood. Her legs came up to wrap around his waist as his mouth fastened itself to hers.
“You have no idea how much I want you.” He whispered as he came up for air.
Before he could kiss her again, she lifted a hand to stop him. “Not enough.”
She pushed back gently, lowering her legs to the floor. Brian gripped her hips to keep her in place, his knuckles turning white as he fought himself over whether to release her.
“I care about you, you know that.”
“Yes, but you picked her. You said it yourself, you’re with someone. You can’t have it both ways.”
“One last time?”
Sophie sighed, wanting so badly to give in. He fired her up like no one else ever had, and she feared like no one else ever would. If she didn’t walk away on her own terms, with her dignity intact, then what would she have? She would never regret him, she couldn’t, but this time she had to stay strong for both their sake’s. He needed to learn this lesson once and for all.
“I love you, Brian. I always have. So I hope she makes you very happy.”
He froze, as she’d expected. They didn’t use the word love. Lust, caring, passion, friendship, but never love. Knowing she couldn’t stay in the attic a moment longer without losing her resolve, she hurried downstairs and out the front door, leaving him alone in her house. She’d been broken before, but this time she would leave whole. And she could be a bit smug knowing how much Brian would miss her.
* * *
Ousted from Olympus until he can restore true love to
the world, Eros stumbles upon a match made in
heaven – if they can survive hell first.
Juliet doesn’t have much in common with her
namesake. Her career-centric life sorely lacks
romance. Then one night everything changes when
she witnesses a gang shooting, and she ends up a
FBI Agent Jake Parker has known Juliet for years, but
only as the baby sister of his best friend. He still
imagines her as the awkward teenager she used to
be. When Jake must protect Juliet from the gang
determined to eliminate the only witness who can
testify against them, he discovers that he’s not the
only one who’s changed in the last ten years.
As sparks fly and the danger mounts, Juliet and Jake
must decide what they’re willing to risk in the pursuit
of what’s possibly true love’s kiss.
* * *