When she leaned down to retrieve her bag from the passenger floorboard she caught a glimpse of movement in the side mirror. She smiled crookedly as she opened the door, waiting for him to wrap his arms around her, holding her close in that special way that kept her warm in the cold northern nights.
He didn’t, and she turned around, a question on her face. He wasn’t there at all. The movement must have been more of the falling leaves that blanketed the ground as far as she could see, except for her pair of tire tracks weaving among the trees.
She swallowed the lump in her throat and slammed the car door. A tear tracked its way down her left cheek as she stepped carefully around to the back of the truck to gather the grocery bags. Some days, it felt like he’d been gone at least a hundred years, and some days like he had just stepped outside for a quick smoke.
Two bags swinging softly in each hand, she trekked through the yard and onto the front porch, where she spun once, scanning the acres between her steps and the long dirt road to nowhere.
Not a soul.
She sniffed, and rubbed the tear from her face with the back of her hand.
As she unpacked the groceries she realized that she’d bought his favorites once again: mac and cheese and those stupidly expensive all-beef bun-length hot dogs. She left everything where it was on the kitchen counter and walked, head down, to their–her–bedroom to throw herself down on the mattress and sob and sob and sob until she was red and puffy.
It was the next morning when she woke with swollen eyes and a throbbing headache. She opened her eyes and stared at the thin strip of sunlight tapering across the wallpaper next to the bathroom door.
His voice echoed in her head, “just where it gets in my eyes when I try to shave.”
She closed her own eyes again, squeezing them until all she saw was the brilliant kaleidoscope of pressure on her optic nerves. This time, when she opened her eyes, his presence was completely gone.
She kicked off her shoes and went downstairs to finish putting the food away, but had to stop and laugh at the wreck the neighbor’s dog had made of her kitchen. She knew it was old Rider; the devil was lying underneath her kitchen table, tongue hanging out on the floor, shreds of fancy hot dog wrapper scattered around his swollen gut.
“I didn’t give the front door that extra push, did I, boy?” She laughed again, louder. “I forgot how poorly you resist temptation.”
Rider startled awake at the sound of her voice, and began to scramble guiltily to his feet, but she knelt to scratch behind his ears.
“Good boy, Rider. Good boy.”
Today kicks off NaNoWriMo, and I’m participating this year because I have waaay too much stuff going on in my life to not take on a major project to distract myself.
I tell you what, I’m super sick of doctors and specialists.
Anyway, I asked Ian for an idea yesterday because I couldn’t make up my mind between the two ideas I had for this year’s NaNo.
So quick survey, should I write it offline, or should I make a new blog for Norman the Mole Boy and his adventures in life, love, and the underground?
P.S. I’m aprilvak on NaNo’s website if anyone needs another buddy.
I sat on the old brown leather couch and tried not to move, as the poor thing creaked and squealed with the slightest twitch. I’d never been to Peter’s apartment before; it was the kind of place that girls ‘like me’ didn’t frequent. Peter was more…dirty than that. As in with filth, not just pervy.
I could hear him in the kitchen talking to his roommate, sharing a recipe for butter noodles or splitting up a bag of potato chips, who fucking knew. When I’d met the roommate, he winked at me and told me to call him ‘Vegas’ for some ungodly reason. Vegas was fifty if he was a day. I had no idea what his real name was, but I didn’t really care to know.
I still don’t know why I agreed to go home with Peter that night. Maybe because it felt like an adventure. Maybe because it felt new and different. Maybe just because he was a dirty old man who may or may not have more than enough drugs for both of us.
I shuddered, and the crusty old couch echoed my sentiments.
I remembered the camping trip my father took me on when I was ten. The one where we found a body in the desert, his intestines pulled from a hole in his stomach and tied to the branch of a creosote bush. I’m pretty sure that was the day that I changed from a normal kid with normal potential to something fortunately rarer, something darker.
But back to Peter. He had cheap whiskey, but he had expensive coke. I’m fine either way, but Peter wasn’t. We retired to his bedroom as Vegas retired to his own, and commenced to getting shitfaced. Peter didn’t even finish the whiskey, from a bottle shaped like a human skull, before passing out. More of a gentleman than I’d expected, though: he didn’t even try to cop a feel once he got me in his bedroom. He actually just wanted to talk.
I don’t care about talking, but I’ll listen to you if that’s what you want, if what you’ve got is good enough for me. Anyway, I said Peter was an old man, but I guess he was thirty or so. Not really old in the grand scale of things, but he’d been rode hard and put up wet, so ‘old man’ suited him.
I listened to him snore for about five minutes before I gathered up all the coke and the money that I’d seen stashed in his underwear drawer, of all places. Jeez, Peter, can’t you be a tiny bit original? I shrugged, not really caring.
I listened at the door for any noises that might tell me what Vegas was doing and whether or not he was going to prevent me making a clean getaway. When I couldn’t hear anything, I opened the door and gently closed it behind me. I snagged my jacket from the back of the couch on my way to the front door, and that’s when the yelling started.
I jumped, fearing the worst, but it turned out to be your everyday smidgen of domestic violence in the apartment down the hall. None of my business. Two flights of stairs and I was clean gone, free to live another night doing whatever the fuck I wanted.
When she returned to her room from the bathroom, Claire left her door open just a hair, barely enough for her cat, Caroline, to nudge it the rest of the way open. Caroline moseyed in and made her way to Claire at her desk, where she rubbed her side against Claire’s leg until she reached down to pick her up and nuzzle her face into Caroline’s soft gray fur.
“You’re right, sweetie, it’s time for a break,” Claire said. She softly closed her laptop and scooted her chair back, hugging the cat closer as she stood. Once on the stairs, Caroline struggled for freedom, so Claire let her leap to the landing and continued down on her own.
Her sister Melissa was in the kitchen, mixing something foul in the blender. “Mom needs more sugar if you’re going to the store today,” she announced.
“I’ll go to the store if you stop with the stupid smoothie diet,” answered Claire.
Melissa shrugged. “I’ve lost three pounds this month AND my hair has never been healthier. Pick me up some bananas and kale?”
Claire shook her head and trudged to the fridge, where she perused for long enough to let her stomach growl Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. She finally selected the last slice of leftover pizza and decided against microwaving it. Caroline trotted in to see if Claire was eating anything good, but since she was not a fan of veggie pizza, she continued on to her food bowl.
Wiping the crumbs from her hands, Claire grabbed her purse from the kitchen counter and checked her front pocket for her phone. She slid into a pair of flip flops by the front door and snagged her keys from the hook and was out the door before she could talk herself into giving Melissa a piece of her mind.
“Kale, bananas, sugar,” she muttered to herself as she started her car. She wondered if she herself needed anything, but came up with nothing. Claire shrugged. At least the grocery store was only a few blocks away, and she could browse until she figured out what she was cooking for dinner. Tonight was her night to cook for the three of them.
Well, I guess it’s about time to get back into this. OLWG #68 You wanna know something even weirder? Today is exactly one year since I participated. Spooky.
Isn’t it funny that the day I decide to come back and tell you all that I’m alive is the day I log in and WordPress tells me happy seventh blogoversary? Anyway, I’m alive.
What’s the earliest thing you remember?
I don’t remember much of my early life. My sister was born when I was three years and eight months old, and I don’t remember anything before her. I think I only remember one thing before kindergarten, and that was moving to our first new house in Oklahoma, something that seems pretty dang memorable.
I remember bits and pieces before I was ten. After that I can remember whole days and weeks, and the months and years have a story flow to them.
The summer I was nine years old, my grandmother gave me a copy of Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales. I dreamed about it last night, about the sound of my aunt Jurate’s voice as she read The Happy Prince aloud to me.
“Swallow, swallow, little swallow…”
I remember her slapping my hand as I sat on the couch next to her, snapping at me not to pick at my toenails, and then returning to the story as though nothing had happened.
I woke up too early this morning, and I knew exactly where the book was. I tried to retrieve it from the shelf as quietly as possible so as not to wake Ian, even though it had an RC helicopter sitting atop it and another knickknack sitting in front of it. I thought I did well until he rolled over. I apologized and read half the book before setting it on the stack on my nightstand to contemplate.
I read The Happy Prince in my aunt’s voice, and I remembered the tears I shed for The Nightingale. I traced the illustrations and remembered how the Charles Mozley influenced my style at the time.
I’m going to go finish reading it now, and to think about how many of my memories revolve around the printed word.
And picking at my nails.
In my mission to post more in 2018, I grabbed three pages of handwritten who-knows-what from the dresser to see if I’d already published any or all of it.
I have, but oddly enough, it’s been exactly two years to the day since I posted the last page of what I picked up, Character Sketch #5. That one also has the email for Human Resources jotted on the back, the one I had to send my statement to a while ago.
Gosh golly, y’all, I gotta get back into this blogging thing. And seriously take a time out and email someone about why I’m not getting emails. I just spent way too much time reading old post and not writing this one.
Anyway, here’s Transient, acrylic on 16×20 canvas.