Category Archives: Fiction
Lindsey slipped an arm through Kate’s, then said with a huge smile, “I have something in my van that you need to see.” Kate walked beside her, trying to guess whether they had acquired a new pup. Knowing Lindsey’s penchant for taking in strays, it could any number of other animals, and being June…it might be a fawn. A fawn would be phenomenal. Kate turned her head. “Is it,” she began, as Lindsey threw the doors open. “Look,” said Lindsey.
The fifteen passenger van was dark and cool. As her eyes adjusted, Kate saw. No pup. No fawn. Two very small children, undernourished and frightened. “Hi,” Kate waved quietly. The girl waved back, but the boy was very still. Kate heard a man’s deep voice behind her. “That’s your daughter.” She whirled around. No one was there.
So, I’m taking the NaNoWriMo challenge…I feel sort of weird about it, because this idea has been in my head for three years. Putting it on a page is like having a baby. I think. Since we adopted, it’s hard to make a definite comparison. I’ll be attempting to write 50,000 words in a month, so my Adoption = posts might be fewer than usual. Here’s a snippet, in case you’re interested. (Ha, snippet. I’ve always wanted to say that.)
Detective Bo Franklin kicked a clod of loose dirt away from the edge of the site in frustration. It skittered across the frozen ground. They weren’t going to get anywhere in this weather. It hadn’t dropped below fifty degrees all winter, but now, in February, the temperature had plummeted and everything was frozen solid. Just when he had his first lead. Thank you, Virginia, for officially having the weirdest weather on the east coast. He headed back to his truck, still trying to make sense of what the kid had said. Was this even a lead, or just an attention-starved child? How could a five-year-old boy possibly have information about missing kids?
The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years. Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
It’s hot. Hotter than most days I can remember. I remember most days.
Wish I had a chair. The steaming sidewalk concrete grits my bare legs. I press my hand down for 1, 1, 2, 3 seconds. I inspect the peaks and valleys left in my skin, the red indentations. Funny how skin molds around what you touch. Legos are best; if I press carefully, sometimes I can even see tiny letters on my fingertip. I brush the sandy bits on my shorts. Sand off, clean hands. That’s better.
I heard Mrs.Pauley tell mama she’ll probably be leaving. She doesn’t pat me on the head or look at me, so I know she likes me. She never tries to hug me. All mama’s other friends hug me. Mrs. Pauley just sits next to me sometimes to talk about the yard, or the flowers, or something else she thinks about. I like that. Mama said Mrs. Pauley lost Mr. Pauley. I don’t understand this. How do you lose a grown man? I don’t know. I am only twelve. I will probably know more when I turn thirteen.
Most of the time, adults make no sense. But mama says since Mr. Pauley is lost, he can’t go to work, and Mrs. Pauley can’t pay the piper. Don’t know about any pipers. We had a man come to our house about the pipes under the sink, once. I watched him until mama made me stop. His breath smelled like coffee and burritos. I like burritos except for the mushy part. The rice is good, and the meat. I wonder why he wants Mrs. Pauley’s money. I don’t know why she has to leave. I like her.
I don’t like the man on her front porch. He has weird eyes. They will probably burn a soul to nothing, so I stop looking. Police men stand in the yard, but they seem okay. Mama says people in uniform are here to help. Robbie one time called them the Po-Po but mama said no that’s not polite and how would Robbie like it if the police called him Ro-Ro. I try to be polite, so I always think “police men” about the police.
I sit back against the handrail post. White paint flakes down my collar. Yesterday, Daddy said the rails need a new coat. I never saw a coat on this rail once, even in winter. I don’t think a new coat will do any good, but it might make the post a little softer to lean on. Maybe we can get one of those puffy ones. I squirm, but I got sweaty and now the flakes are sticky. I want to go inside, but mama said wait here for a few minutes. I don’t know how many is a few, but I tick off seconds in my mind. I’ve been here for six minutes and thirty-two seconds. Thirty-three. Thirty-four. So I think it’s almost a few. Maybe.
The man is too loud. He banged on her front door, then tramped around back and pounded. Now he’s back out front, and I think the police men want to tell him to shut up but they don’t because they probably think it’s not polite. If he keeps being loud I want to call him a name that is not polite. Like Dum-Dum. Robbie called me that and mama said that name is in a propriate. I don’t know what a propriate is or how you put a name in one, but he stopped. I want to put Dum-Dum across the street in a propriate and lock the door. Loud. He hurts my ears. Earmuffs would help but mama says it’s not winter. No earmuffs. People think that’s weird.
Mrs. Pauley finally is on the porch. Her face is wet. I don’t like it. She waves at me and says, “It’s okay, Joey.” She doesn’t look at me because she likes me. I don’t think it is okay. Maybe I should find mama, but mama said wait. Seven minutes and fifty-four seconds. Fifty-five. The loud man says get out and I told you and too bad lady but you gotta pay like everyone else. This is not the piper man, so I don’t know why he wants her to pay. I think he might hurt Mrs. Pauley. I have to help. I have to protect her. I know mama said wait but I get up and walk over. The man’s boots are dirty. I think he stepped in dog poo. I look closer. Yes. Definitely poo.
“Get away from me, kid!” The loud man pushes me. I scream and lunge for his knees. If I can’t see his eyes, he can’t hurt me. Mrs. Pauley screams, too, “Get your hands off Joey!” The man grabs my middle. Pain sears everywhere he touches. He must be from that place the preacher talked about. He tosses me into Mrs. Pauley. I think he is really going to hurt her. That’s it. I have no choice. I brace myself, then look straight into the loud man’s eyes. My stare will destroy his soul. I count, waiting. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…nothing happens.
“That kid is creepy,” he says. “What is he doing?” I don’t understand. This is killing me. My eyes are burning, but he just stands, facing us. “Mrs. Pauley, get your stuff out of the house. Now. And get rid of the retard.” Retard? Robbie called me that, too, and mama said that one was in the same propriate as Dum-Dum. Now the police men are walking over. I think one of them is going to touch me, but Mrs. Pauley stops them.
“Wait. Let me call his mother. Please don’t put your hands on him. Joey has sensory issues; it’s very painful when others touch him. He functions at a three-year-old level. I’ve never seen him make eye contact before today, and he’s non-verbal. We’re not really sure how much he understands. Most people think he has nothing in his head, but I’m convinced he’s locked away somewhere in there.” She smiles at my shoes. “Someday, we hope Joey’s family can afford a special computer to help him communicate, but their insurance isn’t good and it’s very expensive. He understands simple directions.” She tilts her head toward me and holds out her hand gently next to my arm, not touching me. “Joey, please get your mama.”
I turn toward my house. Behind me, I hear Mrs. Pauley again. “I’ll get my things. You don’t need police. Everything is packed; I was just hoping something would work out. I hate to leave him.”
I wonder who she will leave. She already lost Mr. Pauley, so she can’t leave him. Maybe she wants to lose someone else. I look for mama and hope the loud man is gone when we get there. I want to sit by Mrs. Pauley. She likes me.
Writing101: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene. Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.
Fun fact: I’d already written this piece, then went looking for a real serial killer. Nannie fit perfectly, so a few details changed and the story came to life. Check the link below for more on Nannie.
Finally. I thought I’d never find a job. You’d think a medical degree would open doors, but evidently there’s little need for male nurses in the great state of Oklahoma. Granted, the State Pen isn’t where I imagined beginning my grand career. On the other hand, you’d be surprised at the number of fine women working in the OSP hospital ward. Miss Molly Ames is my favorite; with that shining blonde hair and those pretty blue eyes…okay, you caught me. Mostly I like the fact that if it rains, her shoes won’t get wet in the front or the back. And that’s without an umbrella.
She’s assigned to “show me the ropes,” and since prison is heavy on protocol, we’ve been spending a lot of time together. I definitely won’t complain. “Let’s take the outdoor tour today,” she says. “That’s usually scheduled on day four of orientation, but I heard it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” My snicker almost escapes, and I cough to cover. “Sounds great,” I say, following her through the heavy doors.
We angle across the yard toward a concrete bench. Female inmates fascinate me; I can’t imagine how this innocuous woman landed in prison. She knits a small red sweater, looking up as we approach. Her round, sweet face brightens. “She reminds me of my Nana.” I look over at Molly. “How in the world did she end up here?” I stumble, and Molly snatches my hand to steady me. She doesn’t let go. “They say she poisoned some people, but I don’t think it’s possible. Nannie’s just so sweet. Even if she’s not guilty, Nannie won’t live long. Leukemia.” Molly grimaces and looks away, eyelashes wet.
“Nana had cancer, too. I miss her.” I stumble again; this time tears blur my vision. Molly squeezes my hand. “You have a warm heart. I like that. Come over for dinner tonight.” I agree, spirits lifting. This time, I’d angled a date in less than three days. The “Nana” bit works every time. I smile at Nannie, glad for her unwitting collaboration. She waves with a little giggle. Adorable, just like Nana.
We walk toward Nannie, holding hands. I still don’t see how they could lock this sweet woman up. Say what you will about her, but I’ll never believe this woman belongs in this prison. Those horrible men deserved to be poisoned. It’s sad that the kids died but they were probably sneaking food, like all kids do, and picked the wrong container. Then again, they shouldn’t have been stealing her signature stewed prunes, so I guess they deserved it, too.
“Good morning,” I say. “Roger was just hired to the hospital ward. I think you’re going to like him.” Nannie tips her face to Roger with a quiet laugh. “Just in time. Help me to my feet?” Roger, eager to help, almost trips again. “He’s very graceful,” I laugh, “don’t you agree?” Nanny smiles at me. “No, but it’s a good enough reason to hold his hand. Don’t want that handsome face planted on the ground. I’ve changed my mind. Roger, would you fetch some water?” Roger nods and heads back the way we came. I sit next to Nannie, and as we watch him lope away, he trips twice. Ugh.
“He’s sorta gawky, but he’s easy on the eyes. So, you like him, do you?” Nannie asks. My face burns. “We’ve only just met.” She giggles again, and we are two schoolgirls, heads bent together, speculating about the new boy. “You should invite him to supper.”
I beam. “I already asked, and he said yes!” We squeal, sisters in delight. She’s old enough to be my mother, but the years disappear when we discuss love, passion or our favorite romance novels.
“You put me in mind of my younger self,” she says, setting aside the sweater and wrapping an arm around my shoulders. I lean into her embrace, thrilled with the affirmation. Six months of conversations with Nannie have healed my broken heart and given me a purpose. I finally know what it is to be loved and supported. She believes in me. She sees my potential. She even gave me some of her family recipes. I will find the perfect guy, settle down and make her proud of me. I know true love is real, and Nannie will help me find it.
I already know Roger isn’t the one; he can barely walk. But hey, a little fun never hurts. Not usually, anyway.
Molly is the daughter I never had. Well, now, I do have one, but she won’t visit her poor dying mother in prison. I just don’t understand. I never killed anyone unjustified; I explained my reasons a dozen times over. Some of my husbands died sooner than others; they deserved it. I only ever served my stewed prunes and special almond coffee to the ones as deserved it.
See, here’s proof. I never killed Charley, because we were just kids. Our parents encouraged the marriage, but neither one of us really knew what we was doing, so I sent him on his way. See, I was fair. And of course Melvina—that’s the one who don’t visit—is happy and healthy. She was a wonderful child; she never needed no stewed prunes.
Molly, now, she’s my joy. Mirror image of the young Nannie, she is. Except she’s smarter than I ever was, so I’m sure she’ll stay out of the pen. Poor thing never had any mama to speak of, but she’s done real well for herself. If I could adopt her legally, I would. It just makes me giggle, no end, knowing she’s carrying on with the family recipes. And we love the same books, imagine.
That young man she’s sweet on, now, he’s not too bright, but he sure is handsome. I wonder if she’ll keep him around.
“Well, now, Molly, what about Roger?” I ask. “Oh, I haven’t decided, yet.” She says. “I think he might be nice to have around. We’ll probably just drink iced tea and sit on the porch.” Roger appears with my water. “Sorry I took so long.”
I take a long sip as Molly continues. “Maybe I’ll invite him in for dessert. And if he’s lucky, we’ll even have my special almond coffee. But only if he deserves it.” She grins wickedly at the young man. Startled, he reddens, then recovers, flashing a conspiratorial smile. “Oh, don’t you worry. I’ll deserve it.”
As they walk away, hand in hand, I just can’t help it. I giggle and giggle.