Category Archives: Short Stories & Poetry

Clowning Around ~ A story for @RBwood’s HALLOWEEN Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #43 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast was to use these three words in the story: Cloak. Knife. Blood.

*  *  *  *

I hate Halloween—with a passion. And every year it rolls around, even in this godforsaken hellhole, I am reminded of why I hate it.

“Ooooh…you’re the clown, you’re the crazy clown!”

I curl up tighter in my corner.

“Clowns! Clowns! The clowns are going to get you!”

And the taunts continue until someone yells for them to shut up. When my back hurts and my bum is sore from sitting on the cold, hard floor, I drag myself to bed and plug my ears with the corners of my thin blanket. There’s no use fighting it. The dream will come, as it has every year for the past ten years.

***

The teacher asked us to dress up for Halloween. There’d be a competition to see who had the best costume. Everyone in the class would get a vote to choose the winner—twenty-three votes, not counting my own. Miss Drage, our homely grade five teacher would also get a vote. I fretted. I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. I was already an outsider, and if I didn’t participate, it would only draw more attention to me. That was the only reason for doing it, as the prize of a basket of candies certainly didn’t entice me. I hated candy, which was another reason the kids in the class considered me strange.

I stressed the entire week leading up to the competition. I threw temper tantrums and snapped at my mom every time she asked me what was wrong. Finally, two days before I had to have a costume, she’d had enough.

“Young lady,” she said, “I’m tired of your sulky behavior. Tell me what’s wrong or I’m not buying you another book this month.”

“No!” I screamed. Books were my only refuge, and her threat was akin to death for me. It didn’t take much coaxing from her before I spilled the story of needing a costume.

“Damn it,” she said, “as if we don’t have better things to spend our money on.”

“I know, Mom.” I wiped tears from my face. “I know we can’t afford to buy a costume. I don’t know what to do.”

Somehow, Mom must have known this meant something to me, because aside from one Scholastic book a month, I never asked for much. Even as a kid, I understood her job as a factory piece-maker afforded us few luxuries.

That night, I went to bed with my tattered copy of Stephen King’s Carrie and reread parts of the book under the covers with a flashlight. “It’s okay to be different,” I whispered as I fell asleep. “It’s okay if I don’t have a costume.” I tried hard to convince myself that I didn’t care about some stupid competition.

***

“I’m making you a clown suit,” Mom said when I came home from school the next day. She held up flannel material that alternated red, green, blue, and yellow stripes, cut in the shape of a small body. “Come here and let me see if this fits before I sew the pieces together.”

“Oh Mom!” I rushed over and gave her a hug.

Mom wrapped the fabric around me, pinning key areas. “I’ll leave the legs a bit baggy,” she said, marking off the length of the sleeves with chalk. “How does that feel?”

“I love it!” I squealed.

Mom sewed late into the night, so I could bring the costume to school the next day. The intermittent chug-chug-chug of her Singer sewing machine, like an old steam engine, lulled me to sleep. I had a good feeling I was going to win the competition.

And I should have won.

My costume was the best, the most authentic, the one that looked like it cost at least fifteen dollars off the rack of a department store.

When all the kids stood in a circle awaiting Miss Drage’s count of the votes, my confidence quickly diminished. I received one vote, and that was the one I had put in for myself.

Lizzy Kemp won with fifteen votes—the popular girl, the one everyone liked because they were too afraid not to like her. She had a nothing costume cut from a black garbage bag, draped around her neck and secured with a clothespin. Some red food coloring streaked down the corners of her mouth. Countess Dracula, she called herself, flapping her plastic cloak when she won. She pranced around the circle with her winning basket of candies.

“I always knew you were a clown!” she said when she passed me, sticking out her tongue in my face. “Now we all know it’s true!” Some of the kids laughed. Miss Drage uttered a feeble “Now, now kids … be nice.”

Next to me stood Tim Sheppard. He tried to dress up as a pirate, but his costume consisted of a badly constructed eye-patch and rolled up pants. He didn’t have a sword, so he carried a knife—a steak knife. Lizzy made fun of him too, so I thought I’d do us both a favor. I grabbed his knife and stabbed Lizzy in the neck.

Her blood gushed dark and thick. That’s what I remember the most, how dark the blood was, so much darker than the fake blood on her face.

Thank you for reading ♥ and Happy Halloween! 

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

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The Final Countdown ~ My story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #40 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt asked that we use THREE words in our stories: 

Glass | Bed | Bow

Special acknowledgement to David Bowie for inspiring my tale.

*  *  *  *

My eyes click open mechanically like a ventroliquist’s dummy, like a cheap plastic doll you win at an amusement park. They stay open, staring at the ceiling. That god awful beige, the same color as the walls, the color of sick, which I am.

Wait. I’m not sick. I’m dying. Let’s not mince words here. I prefer not to delude myself.

I’m in bed. It’s probably nine, ten in the morning. I can tell James has been in the room. The curtain has moved. A fringe is in a different place from yesterday before I fell asleep—my marker. I know every tiny movement of everything in this room. That’s all I can do—look around and take note of minute changes.

Time drags, but that’s okay. It should slow down at this stage. We rush our whole lives to get here, and when the end comes, we’re not ready.

Not me. I’m ready.

It takes all my strength to lift my body enough to elevate my head. The room spins, so I shut my eyes. Behind the lids, silver lightning bolts pinwheel and shoot out in different directions like fireworks.

Zing! Boom! Bang!

I scrunch my face and squeeze my eyes tighter. I wait for the noise to quiet down, for the lights to stop flashing, and for the time bomb in my head to stop ticking. It only ticks to tease me because it has yet to explode. I’ve waited for it to explode, even sat in front of the mirror, (when I was still able to sit up), staring at my reflection, eyes bulged, pressure building in my head, counting down my time like … like …

10-9-8 … Ground control to Major Tom … 7-6-5-4 … Commencing countdown engines on … 3-2-1… Check ignition and may God’s love be with you … Lift off …

No. No lift for me.

The pressure builds and builds and then it’s like someone pricks a pinhole in my balloon of a head and the pressure eases.

I think it would be great to see my head explode. If the last part to burst could be my eyes so I can see that final image of myself intact, that would be great—one hell of a way to blast off.

That’s what I thought last month anyway. Now … I’m not so sure. I can’t even get out of bed anymore. Oh god, a different sensation, rising from my stomach.

I roll to my side and say hello to my bed companion.

“Hello, spit bowl. Don’t you look shiny today? Are you ready for me?”

I pull the glass dish toward me and drop my head over it.

“I have something for you. It’s coming, I feel it coming up.”

A few seconds later, I hork up a phlegmy gob and immediately feel some kind of relief.

A teaspoon size dollop jiggles like lime-green silly putty in the bowl.

Lime green, better than beige anyway. Must be an infection.

My time is near.

To know this, to have the luxury of feeling death take hold of me is a gift really. I’ve had time to reflect, to have the choice to die at home.

I’m a lucky man.

Uh oh. Queasiness.

The bile rises quickly. I can’t catch my breath. I grab the bowl again (thank god it’s a deep dish) and gasp air in short, quick breaths. The first expulsion jettisons liquid into the bowl and up its sides. There’s a bit of splash-back on my face, but not much.

No lumpy pieces this time. No surprise. I haven’t eaten anything solid in days.

A second hurl (there’s always a second) ratchets up my abdomen. Another splash into the bowl, though not has plentiful as the first one. My heart beats like a jackhammer. My empty gut gurgles.

The stench of stomach acid curls my nose. I push away the bowl and flop on my back. I suppose I’m one of those crazy people who enjoys vomiting. It feels so good when you stop, and you can’t know that good feeling without the agony before it.

Yeah, the logic is a bit twisted, but blame that on the brain tumor.

A packet of cough drops lay by my pillow. I pop a cherry-flavored lozenge and suck it against the roof of my mouth. Useless things. It gets rid of the awful taste in my mouth anyway.

A knock on the door. James, my trusted servant of more than a decade walks in to greet me. He bends at the waist in his usual gesture of reverence.

“James, I can’t believe you still bow down to me after all these years.”

He sits on the edge of my bed and adjusts my pillow. “Until the day you die, Mr. Chancellor.” With a wet cloth, he wipes around my face and mouth.

“That could be today, you know,” I say.

“Yes sir. That could very well be.”

“By the way James, you know I’m leaving you everything I own.”

He applies a warm compress to my forehead. “Yes sir, and I’m forever grateful. I will miss you, Mr. Chancellor.”

I close my eyes. It’s time. “I’m going to sleep again, James.”

“Sweet dreams, Mr. Chancellor.”

I hear him walk around the bed and pick up the bowl on his way out. In my head, the countdown begins again, for what I hope is the last time.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

You can find more stories in my book of flash fiction and poetry, Hot Flash. 

My mystery novel is due out Summer 2014, and I will announce all details leading up to it here.

To make sure you don’t miss the details, please subscribe to my blog (by email or via RSS feed).

Thank you. ;)

~eden

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The Locket ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #39 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is “I was walking on the white sands at Magens Bay in St Thomas when…”

*  *  *  *

I was walking on the white sands at Magens Bay in St Thomas when an object about fifty feet away caught my eye. Reflecting the setting sun’s rays, the shiny surface of the mystery item lured me toward it. Looking to the ocean, I saw the next wave rolling in. I quickened my pace, then sprinted, dropping my flip-flops along the way, swishing up sand between my toes.

I snatched the object from the beach just as a wave rushed over my feet. Foamy salt water and seaweed swirled around my ankles. The crimson orb was dipping below the horizon. Soon night would drape over the Bay like a wizard’s cape.

I examined the silver locket while walking back to where I left my sandals. No bigger than the size of a quarter, it sat with the weight of a heavy stone in my palm. Fine swirls of engraving adorned the border of the heart-shaped pendant. The ornament’s front featured a single letter in cursive font—the initial “S.” I turned over the locket and brushed away sand residue, saw three rows of text. Some of the etching had faded, but it was still legible.

The lines read:

Forever near
Forever young
Forever in my heart

The deserted beach offered privacy as I walked back to my hotel with only my thoughts to keep me company. Somebody had lost a person precious to them. Now it seemed, this keepsake was lost as well.

The “S” probably stood for the name of the person who died. Was it a husband or a wife? A lover? A child?

I inserted my round fingertip into the indent of the locket, wished I had not clipped my fingernails this morning. I struggled to open it, even tried jamming the corner of my pinky into it. No luck. I would have to wait until I returned to my hotel room before I discovered what was inside.

The locket reminded me of my own tragedy. Steve and I were married here in St. Thomas a year ago. It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, and it was. With twenty of our closest friends and family, we celebrated until the morning hours. The weather could not have been more perfect.

Along with Steve’s best man and his wife, and my maid of honor and her boyfriend, we rented a three-bedroom villa. Our private bedroom was on the second floor with a huge wrap-around patio that overlooked the ocean. On our second night together, we watched the sunset on the deck. I was with the man of my dreams. We were the happiest couple in the world. Who could have predicted it would end only two hours later?

It was dinnertime. Steve was hamming it up. That was my husband. I married him because he taught me not to be so serious. He promised he would make me laugh everyday of our lives, and he would have. I know it. That’s why no one took particular notice when he fell off his chair and thrashed about on the floor.

Oh … that’s just Steve, we thought. He was joking again … but no.

A jagged chicken bone had lodged in his throat. Chaos ensued before the ambulance arrived, but in my heart, I already knew he was gone. The doctor later told me he died from a punctured esophagus. It was a horrible accident.

In two days, I had gone from being a happy bride to a distraught widow.

And so here I was, back in St. Thomas. I returned to try and recapture the joy Steve had taught me. He would have hated to know I had been grieving the past year, not even cracked a smile since he died.

Finding the locket did not help either. I had hoped instead for a happy sign.

Upon entering my room, I rummaged in my luggage for my multi-tool Swiss Army Knife, the one I always packed for emergencies, but never had to use.

Sitting cross-legged on the bed, I turned on the table lamp to its brightest setting. I retrieved the pendant from the side pocket of my beach bag. Holding the smooth red handle of my knife, I flipped out the small blade, inserted the tip into the space between the two halves of the locket. A gentle twist popped the hinge of the ornamental case.

I cracked open the locket and saw a man’s face staring back at me. He looked in his mid-thirties, kind eyes, a huge smile. He even reminded me of Steve, which only caused me greater sadness. Tears welled up behind my eyes.

What happened to this man? Had he died some tragic death like my husband? Was his young widow as unhappy as I was?

I ran the blade along the border of the picture to catch an edge. After several unsuccessful tries, I plucked out a small piece of the picture from under the ridge. I pressed the blade back into the handle and pried out the tweezers. Holding my breath, I gently pulled out the picture. The photograph lifted easily.

I turned it over to see if anything was written on the back, something sentimental, a date perhaps, any clue that could lead me to who this man was.

With my heart in my throat, I read the words, and then I burst out laughing.

Oh, Steve … you did send me sign after all.

The words read: Sample only. Not for resale.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

You can find more stories in my book of flash fiction and poetry, Hot Flash. 

My mystery novel is due out Summer 2014, and I will announce all details leading up to it here.

To make sure you don’t miss the details, please subscribe to my blog (by email or via RSS feed).

Thank you. ;)

~eden

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Wild World ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #37 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is  “I was out for an early morning stroll when…” There was also a photograph by fellow writer, Matthew Munson that spurred the prompt. You can see it here.

*  *  *  *

I walk briskly pulling my suitcase behind me when a clicking noise halts my steps. A shiver runs through me, the kind that lingers until you discover the source of the sound. I turn around and see no one. The empty street is dark and foggy. I lower the volume on my Sony Walkman, maybe it’s the faulty cassette inside. I breathe a bit easier.

Cat Stevens singing “Wild World” was my theme song while I traveled Asia and discovered the world he sung about. The lyrics rang in my ears …

“ … Oh baby, baby, it’s a wild world

I’ll always remember you like a child, girl …”

I was a child really, nineteen, uncultured, naïve.

I bought the tape at an outdoor market in Bali. The quality wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible, considering it was a knock-off. Besides, what could I expect for less than 1500 Rupiah—the equivalent of ten cents Canadian.

Now, here I was—six months later, leaving Rotterdam to fly back home. It’s February and it’s cold, and my skin still thirsts for the humidity of the tropics.

* * * *

I met Elise in Bali at an open market, which sold everything from scarves to kites to kitchenware. I was looking for music, and she was browsing for souvenirs on her last day before returning home.

We hit it off immediately. She was older then me, at least twenty years older, but that didn’t matter. I liked her candor, her experience, her accent. She was talented with languages, speaking five of them fluently, even though she said English was not her best. Before she left to catch her plane, she made me promise to visit her in Rotterdam if I stopped in Europe before returning home. I did promise her, though I had no intention of going to Europe.

How things changed.

I met a Dutch businessman shortly thereafter in Thailand, fell hard for him. He was married, but that didn’t stop me. The brief affair lasted less than two days, but I promised to meet him on the way home. Of course, I could not stay with him, so I thought of Elise, discovered Rotterdam wasn’t that far by train from Amsterdam. I could use her home as my base for seeing the sights and planning meetings with my Dutchman. It seemed a good idea, selfish as it was, but I didn’t have money for a hotel. I convinced myself Elise was happy to offer her home to me, and she was.

I didn’t know why at the time, now I do.

Today, I leave Elise because I cannot reciprocate her feelings. She made her intentions known by joining me in the shower the third night I stayed with her. It shocked me, not in the way it would if a man did it. It wasn’t fear or repulsion, but indifference. As much as I wanted to experience the wild world, it did not extend to my sexuality.

“But how do you know if you don’t try?” she asked me.

“I like you Elise, but I’m not attracted to you,” I said, in as reassuring a tone as I could, with both of us lying naked next to one another.

“You are so young, you know so little,” she said.

“I like men,” I said.

She stroked my face. “Then you must leave,” she said. “I cannot have you here anymore.”

I pleaded with my eyes. “May I at least stay until morning?”

“Yes, but I want you gone by the time I wake up.”

She left me without saying another word. A part of me almost wanted to change my mind … but no. I got up and checked the schedule for the earliest train heading into Amsterdam.

* * * *

I rewind the tape and start listening to “Wild World” again. I think about how nice it will be to see my family after traveling for almost two years. Mom will be surprised to see me, especially since she wasn’t expecting me for another two weeks.

I hear the rumble of my suitcase wheels as they roll over the cobblestones. I adjust my headphones and turn the volume up.

The hazy darkness of dawn makes it difficult to see the street names. I see none of the familiar markers from the last couple of days of walking in this neighborhood. Where was the coffee shop? I must have made a wrong turn. I stop to fumble in my backpack for a map. Maybe I can make my way to a well-lit area and get my bearings.

There’s that clicking sound again, only now it’s getting louder, more like clackety clack, clackety clack, clackety clack. I look down at my feet and realize I’m standing on tracks.

What?

Where am I?

The horn blows. I turn around and the bright light of the train blinds me.

“… Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
I’ll always remember you like a child, girl.”

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

You can find more stories here, as well as in my book of flash fiction and poetry, Hot Flash.

~eden

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The Last Refuge ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #36 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is  “The snow drifts covered the door and the windows of the cabin…”

*  *  *  *

On that cloudless day, the sun shone brightly in the sky. Flecks of white flew off the tops of evergreens and landed on the part of my hair not covered by my hat. My goose-feathered coat kept me warm, but I had forgotten to wear a scarf. I curled up my shoulders and tucked my hands under my chin, pulling the collar tighter around my neck. It was magical here compared to civilization, if you considered where I parked my car by the service road to be civilization.

Like a dragon puffing smoke, I walked into a fog of my breath with each step. All I heard was the sound of my breathing and the crunch of hard-packed snow beneath my boots.

My sense of direction was poor, so I had started the day early. The sun was my compass, and for whatever reason, I had no fear of being lost. I stopped after walking for nearly half an hour at a brisk pace. With my hands shielding my eyes from the sun, I surveyed the area and looked for the marker. According to the diary, the first thing to look for was a lone pine tree with two hearts carved into the trunk. I stood in the middle of a heavily forested area. How could there be a lone tree here?

I pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it. The map I sketched had no indicators for distance, but this first stretch from the road was supposed to last at least forty minutes if walking at a steady pace. I returned the map to my pocket and ventured forward, trying hard not to let doubt enter my mind. After proceeding with greater awareness for another couple of minutes, I saw the pine tree with the hearts.

It stood on its own, with a circumference of twenty feet or more around it where nothing else grew. I approached the tree and brushed away the snow on the trunk, uncovered the hearts, etched side by side, overlapping in the middle. The initials HL and EY occupied the area where the hearts joined. My heart leapt at finding this first marker. From here, it would be trickier.

Veering off the beaten path heading eastward, I walked in a densely treed section. The path was difficult to enter at some points, with low hanging branches and sections that had no footing. At one point, I had to sit on my bum and slide down a patch of ice to move ahead. The question of how I would climb up the slippery incline when coming back crossed my mind, but it did not stop me.

I had come too far.

Five minutes later, I walked in a clearing where the forest split like the parting of the Red Sea. In the middle sprawled a frozen pond. It reminded me of a rink I used to visit as a child, a rink where Elaine and I learned how to skate. We were not even ten at the time. God, she was so beautiful, even then. This second marker brought tears to my eyes. I knew it would lead me to what I came for, and yet, a part of me almost wanted to turn back.

Elaine had stipulated in her will that I get her diaries. In them, I discovered my best friend had a secret I never knew. The pain of not knowing was almost as traumatic as her death. I took it personally that she never confided in me. Why did she keep this a secret? It took me sometime to get over my self-pity, to realize she had lived the life she wanted in those final years. Perhaps, I would have judged her, and maybe she knew that.

Snowflakes floated like feathers toward me. The warm air brushed my face as noontime approached. I slowed my pace, unsure of what I might find, not even sure if I wanted to find it. This was the shortest part of the journey. From the pond, I had made a right, which connected me to the curvy trail that led to my destination.

Set back in an enclave of trees, an ordinary structure stood. Snowdrifts covered the door and windows of the lonely, abandoned log cabin. Nothing about it stood out, except for the fact that I now knew about it.

After I swept away the snow from the door to expose the handle, I unzipped my jacket and pulled out the key nestled in the breast pocket. It took several tries of jiggling the lock but it finally opened. I pushed the door ajar to a faint smell of cinnamon and burnt firewood. I choked up from the scene inside, knowing that at one time, Elaine was happy here, that she breathed, and laughed, and loved here.

Yes, she loved here, which is something I never knew about her.

She met her lover and spent the winters here. She never spoke of it to me, but theirs was a forbidden love. This was their sanctuary together, not one she could share with anyone else.

Her final entry in her diary before she said good-bye to the world read:

“I could not breathe in the outside world anymore. There were too many things that kept us apart. I needed a place to escape, a refuge. I ask forgiveness for ending it this way, but as much as I love you, my friends and family, I cannot go on. The sanctuary I knew is gone, and I will never be the same. It’s time for us to be together.”

I searched everywhere in the cabin, but could not find any hint of who HL was.

Perhaps, it was better left unknown.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

You can find more stories here, as well as in my book of flash fiction and poetry, Hot Flash.

~eden

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Awaiting my Religion ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #34 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is  “The Oracle smiled and said “Ah. I have been waiting for you…”

*  *  *  *

He stood larger than life in a white robe, his long, dark hair and beard contrasted pale blue eyes. A thick leather strap around his neck supported his instrument of love. I made out the details of the ring on his finger as he quietly stroked his massive tool.

I licked my lips, my forehead beaded in perspiration. Jesus, I thought.

No … I mean really, he looked like Jesus with an otherworldly presence about him.

I could not take my eyes off him as he magically floated over a glass surface, which sealed off the ocean-like floor beneath it.

Impressive, probably the best entrance I’ve ever seen given its elaborate design. I had only witnessed one other entry that compared, one with spectacular use of illumination. Flashing colors that spun so quickly, they made me dizzy. I had to close my eyes the entire time so the light would not blind me.

Anyway, back to Jesus.

I swallowed my jitters and breathed heavily—in and out, in and out, in and out, willed myself to relax and get ready, shook with anticipation.

I heard women screaming. I even heard men screaming. Desperate and impatient bodies crashed against one another, exchanging sweat and possibly other bodily fluids. How would I know? I could barely turn my head to see beside me. What if a riot broke out and I was trampled to death? Who would find me? Who would feed my fish?

Then suddenly, from up above, Jesus looked at me and smiled, or perhaps he looked at the girl beside me. It didn’t matter. In my mind, it was me he spoke to.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. I heard him loud and clear, and so did everyone else because all hell broke loose around me. The mob pushed me forward. I no longer cared about my safety or my fish. I jumped up and down with hands flailing in the air, my body squeezed on all sides by hysterical and devoted followers.

He launched into his hit song with an ear-splitting power chord. The notes reverberated off the stadium’s ceiling and fell upon the masses.

My Guitar God – he spoke to me, only me … me, me, me.

Rock on baby.

REMINDER: The ebook of Spring into Summer is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon, but only until the end of summer.

BUY it now!

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****

 

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The Power of Being Human ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #33 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is  “You’ve discovered you have a superpower…”

*  *  *  *

I’ve never been one for super heroes, the stuff of fiction and cartoons—shape-shifting, costume-wearing, web-wielding characters. They’re the only ones who possess super powers. I find it difficult to believe that being human is not enough, and so we strive to become super human.

Perhaps it’s our nature to want more.

I thought hard about this writing prompt, and I could not come up with more. Unlike R.B. Wood, the host of this podcast who is an incredible writer of the fantasy genre, I do not possess imagination for powers that go beyond what is humanly possible.

My mind is too steeped in reality and what I perceive as its confines. This is not going to be a warm and fuzzy story, or an erotic story, or even a story with a twist ending as per many of my previous podcast submissions.

Prepare yourself for someone who’s a non-believer of heroes and super powers because this is a non-fiction story.

****

Fantasy, daydreaming, and play were discouraged. Considered idle and pointless activity that could not possibly lead to success, all games and toys needed a purpose; otherwise they served only to squander time.

These are not my words, but a summary of my upbringing.

Today’s standards are different, of course. How my parents raised me would probably be criticized, seen as an enormous burden for any child not to have fun just for fun’s sake, especially during those formative years prior to schooling. My parents brought me up in a country where they were not raised. The cultural unknowns made them cautious, even fearful. They were too busy earning a living, discovering how to cope in a foreign land to pay attention to having fun themselves, let alone create it for their children. Fun was incorporated into domestic chores, family time, and learning new things.

My grandfather, who was the head of the household, taught me carpentry. I used power tools and swung a hammer before I was ten. I helped him build cabinets and stools. That was both fun and purposeful—a winning combination. The expectation was I should behave and obey my elders, contribute to the family as much as I could. I really don’t remember not having fun while growing up.

In my early twenties, I started traveling and visited museums and galleries in Europe, a way of exposing myself to art, an area of my education lacking at the time. My strongest recollection involved how children were depicted during the Renaissance era. Artists like Raphael, Boticelli, and Da Vinci painted them as small adults with tiny bodies out of proportion, some with severe and aged faces.

As impressed as I was with the magnificence of the paintings, it shocked me that so many of these works distorted the appearance of children. I researched it further, and through it, I discovered something about my own childhood.

My parents always considered me a miniature adult and treated me like one, especially since I was the oldest of three kids. In looking  through old photo albums, I confirmed as much. I saw numerous pictures of myself posed like the strange-looking children in the Renaissance paintings.

BW me

Me at three

Perhaps I missed some fun in those early years of my life. I don’t remember really, and I wasn’t an unhappy child. I’d like to think I was a serious child who grew up not taking myself too seriously.

Super powers may have been too fantastical for me to believe in, even if my parents had brought me up differently. What I do believe in is the wonderment of being human and all it entails. I’m no scholar, but I know I have powers that are uniquely human. We’re the only species known to blush, revealing our innermost emotions. We’re able to reason, to possess self-awareness.

As an adult, my dreams are not unlike those of a child who still believes in super powers, only mine are tempered with real-life experience, a dash of pragmatism, and a heavy dose of optimism. For me, that’s pretty damn powerful.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash. 

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

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Blessings of Life and Death ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #32 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is  “Being dead can be quite liberating…”

*  *  *  *

Eyes filled with tears stared back at her, reflecting pain and disbelief. The sum of every line, every wrinkle, and every tiny imperfection on the face belonged to Bill, whom she married fifty years ago. She knew his face as well as her own. They had celebrated the milestone anniversary only six months earlier. At the time, she contemplated how anyone deserved to be as happy as they were. She counted their blessings: four children; ten grandchildren; three great-grandchildren and another on the way. Though the family scattered across the globe, they united often for celebrations.

Last night was one of those celebrations. Their oldest grandson just graduated from medical school at the top of his class. Hailing from a long line of physicians on her side of the family, she could not be prouder. Both their grandson’s parents were specialists, their daughter a radiologist and their son-in-law a cardiologist. There were so many “o-logists” in the family someone once joked they could open their own hospital.

They were a close-knit family, though it didn’t start out that way. When she first dated Bill, her parents said it would never last. They referred to him as an uneducated laborer and did not even consider their words derogatory, just a statement of fact.

“He won’t be able to match wits with you once you become a doctor,” her mother said. “You’ll have nothing to talk about.”

She didn’t listen to her parents, and married him, not for his witty conversation, but for love. What angered them more was that she got pregnant a few months after their wedding and left school once their son was born. In the eyes of her parents, death may have been a better alternative for her. At least, they could say their daughter wasn’t a failure. For some time, they didn’t even acknowledge their own grandchildren.

The turning point came after Bill’s construction company won a huge contract, and they no longer had to struggle financially. By that time, the kids were older and able to look after each other. She returned to school to become a doctor of general practice. At almost forty, she wanted to prove to herself that she could do it, and she did.

All the more ironic, somehow, that she and Bill ended up in this predicament together. With little feeling on her left side, she cradled her husband’s head where it had fallen against her and wiped the tears rolling down his face. Her tiny palm cupped his cheek.

His lips parted to say something, but blood trickled out the corner of his mouth.

“Shhh… don’t speak.” Her voice trembled. “You’ve just bitten your tongue, nothing serious, my darling.”

The amount of blood flowing from his mouth suggested something else. Her words were a lie, like the many comforting words she’d said to patients before they went into shock. The difference on those occasions was she had the power to try and save them. Years of being an emergency triage doctor had sharpened her diagnostic skills. In her husband’s case, she suspected internal bleeding caused by trauma to at least one major organ.

She stroked his cheek and her face lightened with compassion. The corners of her lips turned upward despite that she wanted to scream. She bent forward and kissed him. “I love you,” she said. More tears streamed down his face. He gave an imperceptible nod and squeezed her hand.

She saw him struggle to return the sentiment, but no words escaped from him; his breathing grew labored.

“I know,” she said, bobbing her head in an exaggerated nod. “I know. You don’t have to say it … I know.”

Bill’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body shivered. She gripped him tightly, trying desperately to disregard the signs.

“No … no …” Her face twisted in agony. The pain that seized her body could not match the emotional upheaval. She convulsed with sobs for a long time, cramped in that front seat of their crushed, overturned car. She heard the sound of birds chirping, muted traffic noise, but otherwise, it was quiet. The tiny ray of sunlight, which peeked through the shattered passenger window now brightened the interior of the car. In the distance, sirens blared. She could not tell if they were getting louder.

When the jabbing pain in her arms could no longer be ignored, she gently released her husband.

With eyes closed, she counted her blessings.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash. 

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

 

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In Praise of British Slang ~ A Poem

A short time ago, I had the privilege of speaking to an English author who is also a wonderful poet. During our conversation, he asked if I was still writing poetry. The question caught me off guard. I don’t write poetry regularly and have not done so since working on my current novel.

It got me thinking though, because I adored his English accent and way of speaking. He used words and phrasing I never hear in conversation with friends—which I found both amusing and endearing. As Canadians, we have adopted British words in our day-to-day language, but there are many we don’t use.

It also amazed me to discover how much of British slang sounds vulgar, even when the words are not. Some of the words in my poem may be regional or outdated, but they entertained me nonetheless. Brits can comment and tell me if I’ve made a twit of myself.

I hope you enjoy this short poem inspired by a special Englishman. I know he fancies wordplay and has a healthy sense of humour (that’s humour with a second ‘u’ since I’m being British and all). ;)

eden

****

In Praise of British Slang

The dog’s bollocks is the best
But bollocks alone is rubbish
And rubbish is actually garbage
Don’t speak it; throw it in a bin

If you spend a penny in England
Expect to be in the loo
But if you get diddled while in there
Check that you still have all your pennies

No point fannying around
As the arse is the ass
And the fanny is not the arse
It’s the female naughty bits

And what of the John Thomas or Todger?
Found on a mate, a bloke, or a codger
So many names to describe a plonker
There should be as many words for a lughole

You may think I’m barmy or bladdered
I’m neither, just a wee bit knackered
In need of a good eight hours
And I’ll be full of beans again

Yes I do love many things British
The language, the slang, the humour
A dry cocktail of irony and wit
Perfect for taking the piss

flourish

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One Stolen Night ~ A story written and read for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #31 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is The Thief. 

*  *  *  *

Brenda and David had a Thursday night ritual triggered by a series of signals. The first came when Brenda put on her black satin negligee after a regime of skin care and grooming. She slathered her arms and legs in Jergens lotion and brushed her hair—one hundred strokes before twisting it in a bun atop her head. After crawling into bed, she switched the lamp to the dimmest setting. David, upon entering the bedroom from brushing his teeth, pulled down his gingham boxers and slipped under the covers. The second signal involved Brenda draping a leg over David’s torso, gently brushing his penis. In the ensuing silence, foreplay consisted of light groping and kissing with no tongue until Brenda mounted David and rode him. As she neared climax, she reached behind and stroked his balls. This final signal was the cue for David to squeeze her nipples—which set off her orgasm. David’s muted grunts followed only seconds later.

After dismounting, Brenda got out of bed and opened the dresser drawer to retrieve a face towel, one of many neatly folded inside. She went for a pee and then soaked the towel under hot water, wringing it dry. Brenda held it between her crotch and jumped up and down to expel David’s semen. She rinsed the towel and repeated the process twice more.

****

David was a man who liked predictability. It’s what drew him to the actuarial sciences to begin with. Statistics and numbers made sense to him. This morning, however, as he sat in his office and stared at the framed image on his desk—something no longer made sense. The picture showed him with Brenda on their wedding day eleven years ago. Only moments prior to that shot, Brenda whispered in his ear, told him how sexy he looked, and how she couldn’t wait to leave the party and have him all to herself. Just as the photographer snapped the picture, she grabbed his ass and squeezed. The expression on his face in the photo conjured up memories of why he married Brenda—spontaneous, exciting, and unlike him—unpredictable.

David didn’t even like Brenda on top. He was an ass-man, always had been, and he couldn’t see Brenda’s ass in that position. Last night when Brenda returned to the bedroom, he pretended to be asleep curled in a fetal position facing away from her side of the bed. He wasn’t in the mood to have her wipe down his private parts with a scorching hot towel. For added insurance, he even faked snoring though he hated himself for deceiving her.

The more David thought about it, the more annoyed he became that they had fallen into this rut. He adored Brenda and he was certain she felt the same for him. What happened to the David and Brenda of their wedding day?

To increase the probability of their marriage’s long-term success, he resolved he had to change, and he wasn’t going to wait until next Thursday to do it.

****

Brenda entered the bedroom to find David lying on top of the covers, naked.

“What are you doing?” she said, her teeth brushed, her lithe frame in a tattered flannel nightie, and in her hand, a glass of water.

“I’m stealing some time with my wife,” David said, sitting up.

Brenda furrowed her brow and walked tentatively to the bed. She placed the glass on the night table. “But … but it’s Friday.”

David extended his arm and pulled Brenda into bed with him. “You mean it’s not Thursday, our usual night.”

“What’s gotten into you?” she asked.

David stared into his wife’s eyes and leaned in to kiss her. Brenda did not respond at first, but then she opened up and accepted his probing tongue. After several seconds, David reluctantly pulled away.

“Brenda, our life has been on a merry-go-round lately. Are you happy?”

“I … of course I am …” She averted his gaze. “Why … are you unhappy?”

“Brenda, I’m not unhappy, but I want the carefree woman I once knew. I want the us we used to be.”

Brenda looked at her husband, confusion written across her face. “But I thought you liked routine?”

“I do,” he said, “just not in the bedroom.” David reached over and pulled the pin out of Brenda’s hair. “I prefer it down.”

Brenda shook her long tresses and brushed it forward with her fingers. “What do you have in mind?”

“I want you on your hands and knees. I’ve missed seeing that gorgeous ass of yours.”

Brenda’s eyes widened and her lips parted as if to say something, but nothing came out.

David’s words sounded foreign to his own ears, but he’d calculated the odds of being rejected, and it was low. He received his confirmation when he saw the twinkle in Brenda’s eyes.

After David and Brenda made love like they hadn’t made love in years, they clutched one another and fell asleep in each other’s arms.

In one stolen night of intimacy, they changed the course of their relationship.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic stories too.

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

 

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From Every Angle ~ A story written and read for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #29 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is That’s when the cameras all turned toward me…

*  *  *  *

She slowly pulled herself up off her knees. His penis now appeared like a shriveled earthworm nestled against his scrotum. She crouched on his lap facing him, spreading her thighs on either side of his and looked into his face. When he didn’t respond, she brushed her index finger lightly across the lashes of his closed eyes until he took an audible breath and sighed. With the taste of him still fresh in her mouth, she licked her lips and felt the skin tighten around her chin from the caked semen.

“Did you notice anything?” he asked, opening his eyes to stare at her.

“About what?”

“That mouthful you just swallowed. Did it taste … different?”

She wondered how to answer, not really paying attention to that aspect of him. “Hmm…” She pressed her lips together and thought fast before responding, “Sweet, you tasted really sweet.”

“Good,” he said. “That’s exactly what I was hoping for.”

A smile slowly crossed her face. “Really? What did you do?”

Pineapple, he said. He’d read it improved the taste of a man’s ejaculate and could provide a stronger orgasm. He’d eaten three tins of it in the past week.

“Yes…now that you mention it, it was intense, almost too much for me to swallow.” She lied; he grinned like a ten-year-old boy.

In so many ways he was still a boy—only twenty-two. Theirs was a business arrangement, though she suspected he’d grown rather fond of her in the process. Seeing each other every Thursday for the past two months, he was not only a regular, but her best paying client as well.

He intrigued her with his expensive taste, living in an artist’s loft filled with gadgets. When asked what he did for a living, he said he was trained as a filmmaker but confessed his first loves were gaming and larping, a term she had never heard of before.

“Larping is live action role-playing,” he said. “I’ve always had a love for games, so I’m trying to turn it into a business.”

She admired his creativity but couldn’t understand it as a money-making venture. “Your job would be to play games?”

He shook his head. “No, not play games, develop them.”

The concept was too vague for her and she wasn’t all that interested anyway. She could see he had a talent. Costumes, props, and simulated weaponry including guns, swords, and knives filled his house. As long as he paid her for her hour with him, she didn’t care how he earned a living. For a man who liked the fantasy life, his pedestrian sexual appetite was the only thing that seemed out of character.

He’d sit on his Italian leather couch and watch her undress, clad only in boxer shorts. She’d do a strip tease for him, always wearing the identical pieces of clothing and removing them in the same order—first, her red silk blouse—button by button, then her leather pencil skirt—inch by inch, then her black stiletto heels. Next, she’d slowly roll down her thigh high stockings—starting with the right leg. With only her panties and bra remaining, she’d saunter over to him where he’d fondle her breasts, peel back the cups of her bra, lick the right nipple, suck the left nipple, push her tits together and bury his face in her cleavage. She’d moan—loudly, then pull away to do a painstakingly slow dance where she would fondle herself, remove her panties and bra, and masturbate until she screamed from her orgasm. Not long after, she’d crawl over to him and stare down his erection before taking him deep down her throat.

As with previous visits, today was no different. After she dressed, he paid her in twenty, crisp ten-dollar bills.

“Thank you, Laura for being so wonderful,” he said, walking her to the door.

She looked at him with uncertainty in her eyes. “Anthony, will I be seeing you next week?”

He put his hand on her shoulder and leaned in to kiss her on both cheeks. “I don’t think so. It’s time I move on.”

She wanted to say something, ask him why, but by the time she walked out and turned around, he’d shut the door behind her.

****

Anthony dismantled four tiny cameras strategically mounted in the room. He’d positioned them differently for each of Laura’s visits, ensuring he would capture her performance from every angle.

It was a big job, and he’d be paid handsomely for it. His client was a wealthy man who had specific requirements. Laura had met them to a tee, from her physique to her voice to her technique. Anthony had written the dialogue to elicit certain responses from her, and she had delivered brilliantly. Now, it was time to edit the raw footage of the past two months and turn it into a one-of-a-kind virtual experience.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic stories too.

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

 

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Farewell My Love ~ A story written and read for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #28 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is One. Two. Three. He caressed each bullet in the palm of his hand before slipping it into its chamber…

*  *  *  *

James stopped typing mid-sentence and glanced across his desk to where she sat. Her sweet scent alerted him to her presence. He knew she’d return this morning to continue their conversation of last night. Mesmerized, he watched her put down her writing tablet and unwrap the long, silk scarf from around her neck. Curled up in her favorite chair by the picture window, knees drawn, her face revealed a woman of timeless beauty and infinite wisdom. Torn between his love for her and his work, he re-read the three nonsensical paragraphs on his computer screen. They were the same words he’d been typing for the past several days.

She wanted out; he couldn’t imagine writing without her.

“How can I go on if you leave me?” he said. “You’ve given me the best five years of my life, helped me through the darkest hours when I thought I would never see light again.”

“Oh stop it, James.” She pursed her lips in a manner that showed her annoyance. “You’re being melodramatic, cliché in fact.”

He wiped his brow and sniffled. “I need you Calli—now—more than ever.”

She took a deep breath and let her shoulders drop, as if to unburden herself from the responsibilities she held. “You don’t need me anymore, James. I’ve been your mistress, your lover, your confidante, but lately, I’ve been nothing but a roadblock. It’s time I move on. You know I’m right, and ….”

James cupped his hands over his ears and squeezed his eyes shut. “La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la …” He repeated over and over hoping to drown out Calli’s voice. Surely, she had to understand he couldn’t just let her go. Without her, he would never have written his three best-selling novels.

“James, please, stop being childish. We’ve had an incredible relationship—a true meeting of minds, but it’s time to say good-bye.”

He opened his eyes to see a sunbeam brush Calli’s hair and highlight her face in a colorful prism. She was a goddess, beautiful even when he exasperated her. She was the one who taught him perseverance, listened to him ad nauseam as he cried over missed deadlines and rejection letters. She stuck with him and helped him hammer out hours upon sleepless hours of prose, dialogue, narrative, description, and then one day, her persistence paid off. In exchange, he cast her in a thousand scenes, made love to her, worshipped her, but now … her impatience with him hurt more than anything.

“I can’t say good-bye to you,” he said.

“You must.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “You’ve come to an impasse with your writing, and the only way to move forward is to let me go.”

He pouted and cradled his head in his hands. “Now who’s being cliché?”

Calli released a heavy sigh and slowly rose from her seat. She glided gracefully toward James. When she stood in front of him, she gathered up the skirt of her flowing, purple gown and crouched at his feet, resting her head in his lap.

“You know I love you, James. I always will, but I’ve been around much longer than you have, and it’s not good for us to continue like this. You will grow to hate me when your wellspring of creativity dries up, as it is already beginning to.”

James stroked Calli’s head and unraveled her tightly braided hair. He splayed her long, golden tresses down her back, breathed in her clean and earthy scent that held a hint of roses. He loved her even though he’d felt the past months tinged with boredom and lack of motivation. He wanted to believe the feeling would pass, but it didn’t. Only when confronted by Calli did he realize he was too cowardly to end it himself. Now her permission to do so flooded him with guilt.

“Calli, how can I go on without you?”

“You can, and you will.” She picked herself up and knelt in front of him. “Take this.”

He eyed the revolver she held in her hand. “What? Where did you get this?”

“Never you mind,” she said in her characteristic melodic lilt. You know I’ve lived long enough to have many sources.” She slipped her hand into the folds of her gown and pulled out a handful of metal. “You’ll need these too.”

James stared at the bullets she gently placed in his palm. “Calli … no.”

“You must, my darling. It’s time.”

­James stared into dark, emerald eyes and witnessed centuries of creative inspiration gone by. She was right, after all. He’d have to kill her if he held any hope of ever writing again. Her lips curved in a tiny smile and she closed her eyes, seemingly ready to accept her fate.

His fingers trembled as he caressed each bullet in his palm before slipping them into the gun’s chamber.

“Farewell my love,” he said with tears rolling down his cheeks.

* * *

James awoke in the middle of the night agitated but filled with wild ideas. He jumped out of bed, flipped open his laptop, and pounded away at a fresh, new manuscript.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic stories too.

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

 

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MISTAKEN DOUBLE IDENTITY ~ A story written and read for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #27 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast is “Mistaken identity at the pub…”

*  *  *  *

Kim initially cast a wide net by chatting with nearly a dozen men who responded to her ad. After just two weeks, the field had narrowed to one. His name was Richard. He offered to send his picture early in the relationship. She preferred not to see it, said it wouldn’t change her mind about him.

After weeks of phone chat and texting, she thought he finally understood. “Looks are unimportant to me,” Kim said. “I like you. Let’s not complicate it with physical appearances until we are ready to meet.”

They connected on every level of likes and dislikes, but more importantly, they shared the same family values. He wanted to have children, maybe two or three. He had no clue what she looked like either, yet his willingness to continue their relationship revealed an important character trait in her eyes—he wasn’t fickle.

“I’d be a good provider,” Richard said in one of his emails. “You wouldn’t need to work, unless of course, you wanted to. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way.”

“I like that you’re old-fashioned,” Kim wrote back. “That’s how it was with my parents, and they were happily married for over fifty years.”

Conversation flowed smoothly between them, an effortless union. Following a three-month courtship, they finally agreed to meet at a pub downtown. Kim had dreamt about walking in to the bar, scanning the crowd and seeing a man in a dark suit, a red rose on his lapel to identify him. He’d spot her too, smile, and know she was the one. She’d saunter over and look into his blue, green, or brown eyes. He’d hold her face in his hands and say, “I’ve waited for you all my life, Kim.”

Yes, that was how she envisioned it would happen, but it never did.

On the eve before they were to meet, Kim received an email from Richard, devoid of a subject line. Had he changed his mind? She opened the email in a panic only to stare at a headshot of a male model’s face—large, brown eyes, an aquiline nose, curvaceous lips, all framed by a strong jaw line and flawless skin. Beneath the photograph were two lines:

“Taken last year in San Diego. I can’t wait to see you, Richard.”

I can’t wait to see you. I can’t wait to see you … The line echoed in Kim’s mind. She had thought Richard was different than other men, that looks were not all that important to him. Obviously, she was mistaken.

She shuffled to the bathroom, her heart heavier with each step. The mirror on the medicine cabinet reflected a thirty-year-old woman whose face was perfectly proportioned. “Women would die to have such beautiful eyes as yours,” her mother had said to her all her life.

Kim grabbed a bottle and several large cotton balls from a nearby shelf. She unscrewed the cap and pressed the absorbent fibers to the opening, soaking the cotton balls in clear liquid. She stared at her perfect blue eyes and swabbed her right cheek, wiping away a layer of foundation and blush. She did the same for the other cheek, aware that tears now blurred her vision as she uncovered the hemangioma. No matter how much make-up she applied, she could not conceal the reddish-purple birthmark that blanketed the left side of her face.

Following a good cry, Kim returned to her computer and fired off a note to Richard.

 * * *

Richard had hoped that by sending his picture to Kim, she’d be even more excited to meet him. His handsome face had always attracted women.

After receiving Kim’s terse rejection, he realized he’d made a big mistake, though he couldn’t understand why she never wanted to hear from him again. He turned off his computer and sat for a moment with his head in his hands. Muscle fatigue plagued his weary body. He pushed himself to his feet and reached for his cane. A bout of polio as a child had left him with an atrophied right leg. As he hobbled to the bedroom, a heavy sigh escaped his lips. He wondered if he’d ever find a woman who would love him, in spite of his imperfection.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic stories too.

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to read a sample.

Available at Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Japan | Italy | Spain

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one).

 

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LAST STEPS ~ A story written and read for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #26 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The theme for this podcast is “Those last few steps seemed the most difficult I had ever made in my life.”

*  *  *  *

The phone rang just as I was sitting down to eat. With my feet tender and swollen from a recent attack of gout, the only thing I wanted was to elevate my legs on the La-Z-Boy chair and watch the baseball game. On the fifth ring, I swore under my breath and put down my TV tray. Who the hell would let it ring so many times?

“Hello?” I said in a brusque manner, ready to snap if a telemarketer came on the line.

“Tony?” The woman’s voice vibrated in my ear and immediately sent a shiver up my spine.

“Who’s this?”

“It’s Gina … from Vegas.”

Her name bounced around in my head, and I struggled to match a face to it. “Gina … Frank’s wife?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

I overheard a sigh. Was it relief or something else?

“I’m sorry to call you like this,” she said, “but I didn’t know who else to turn to.” A sniffle, another sigh.

“Does Frank know you’re calling me?”

Silence.

“Gina?”

“No,” she said finally, “Frank doesn’t know.”

I wasn’t surprised. I’d had a thing for Gina once—a big thing, but that was a lifetime ago. She left me and married my cousin Frank about fifteen years back, had a few kids, but the family never liked her. She was French, and her real name wasn’t even Gina. It was Ginnette. To appease Frank’s widowed mother who’d only call her “Gina,” she had her name legally changed.

After a couple of years living under her mother-in-law’s roof, she and Frank moved to Vegas and severed all ties with the family. Not long after, I’d heard rumors Frank beat her, that she deserved it. I didn’t care to know the details. It was all family gossip to me. Gina had made her bed.

Now I listened as she told me the story of the last few years of her life with Frank. She begged me to help her, said she’d always trusted me. She wanted to do the right thing by the kids. I couldn’t believe I’d be the only person she could turn to, but she swore she had no one else.

After I hung up the phone, I turned on the television and sat down with my Hungry Man dinner—roast beef, peas, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler. I stabbed a piece of meat and broke it away from a white fatty film, which had crusted over the gravy. I immediately lost my appetite.

Why me? Couldn’t Gina have called anyone else from the family to do this?

* * * *

I felt no obligation to Gina, but after thinking about her request for a day, I decided to do it. I heard the relief in her voice when I called her back, and at that moment, I knew she really didn’t have anyone else. It upset me somewhat that she’d suffered so long in silence. Maybe a part of me still cared for her, even hoped that after all this was over, I might have a chance with her. Funny how I should be thinking with my dick at a time like this. I had no clue what she looked like anymore, but her voice still tugged at my heart, and her sexy French accent had not completely disappeared.

I arrived in Vegas Friday evening. The flight only worsened my gout. After removing my shoes on the plane, my feet had swollen and were throbbing by the time we landed. Squeezing into a pair of shoes I couldn’t even lace up, I was in agony after I checked into my hotel room off the strip.

Gina had given me directions to where Frank would be the next morning, and the exact time he’d be there. She tried to sound casual about it. “Imagine me asking this favor of you, Tony, after all these years. I never thought it’d come down to this.”

Neither did I.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “It’ll be over soon, and you and the kids can go on with your lives.”

* * * *

I arrived fifteen minutes early in a land of water fountains, palm trees, and immaculate greens. It was dark and overcast, unusual for a Vegas afternoon this time of year. I stood and watched the clouds drift through an empty sky. Quiet like death.

In the distance, I heard the drone of car engines headed my way. I stepped back from the path and leaned against a tree to alleviate the pressure on my right foot. I looked at my watch and saw Frank was right on time, just as Gina had said.

Three cars slowed down and parked by the side of the road twenty feet in front of me. A pause, and then it seemed all the car doors opened at once. I walked slowly toward the first car, one hand in my pocket, the other gripping a curved wooden handle.

To the right of me, I saw Gina exit from the second car followed by three teenagers. A crack of thunder, and the sky opened as she came toward me. I depressed the metal button of my umbrella and shielded her under its canopy.

“Thank you for coming Tony,” she said and leaned in to kiss me on each cheek, as beautiful as the last time I saw her.

“I’m sorry about Frank,” I said.

Gina gave a tiny smile. “He wouldn’t listen, still smoking even as he lay on his deathbed.”

I gave her my umbrella as a man approached and handed me a pair of white gloves. “Put these on,” he said, “and follow me.”

Along with the funeral director and four young, skinny lads who looked like they could use an extra meal, we carried the casket nearly thirty feet to Frank’s final resting place.

Those last steps just about killed me.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic Christmas stories too.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.UK.

No Kindle? No Worries.

There is a Kindle App for just about any electronic device (Click here to get one). If you own a computer, smart phone, iPad, or iPod touch, then you are able to download my e-books.

* * * *

Click on the cover and LOOK INSIDE to learn more.


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“Doing it With the King”

You can also hear me read this story (complete with sound effects ;) ) on: Episode #25 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The theme for this podcast is A scene between you and your favorite fictional character.”

*  *  *  *

The flickering of amber light turns me on. Perhaps it’s the heat, the crackle of wet wood, or the licking of hard wood. Whatever it is, dancing flames hypnotize me. They also remind me of a film—one about a king. No, I’m not talking about Elvis. I’m referring to a different king from my fantasies. I’ve seen most of the movies. I’m sure you have as well. It started in 1933, a classic starring Fay Wray. Since then, numerous sequels have been made about this beast. My favorite though, remains the panned remake with Jessica Lange. For me, she and the king had the best chemistry.

The last time I watched the movie was back in college. I was dating the pitcher of the varsity baseball team, staying over at his apartment following yet, another disappointing romp in the sack. He held the school record for the fastest pitch. Unfortunately, that translated to the bedroom as well. After pumping me like a wild animal and coming in less than five minutes, he fell asleep. I was left to my own devices.

When he started snoring, I got up, went into the other room, and turned on the television. To my delight, King Kong was playing, and the best part was yet to come.

Aroused and unsatisfied, I foraged in the fridge for a suitable dildo. Aside from a jar of relish, a soggy cucumber, and a skinny carrot, there was nothing I could use. I pulled open several drawers, rifled through them, finally settling on an old-fashioned aluminum ice-cream scoop. I stretched out on the couch naked and fingered myself in anticipation of the big scene.

The room was pitch black save for the light coming from the TV. Blaring horns and the pounding of drums transported me into the jungle. The natives had just abducted Jessica Lange’s character, Dwan. I was wet.

Dwan was drugged and tied up, her wrists secured to an altar. She stood weaving in and out of consciousness. I inserted the scoop handle into my pussy. It wasn’t as thick as I would have liked, but it was certainly hard enough. With one hand, I fucked myself using the utensil. With the other, I grabbed my breasts and squeezed my nipples. I closed my eyes and the beating of drums intensified. The natives were restless.

Kong! Kong! Kong!

I masturbated in time with their chant, savagely thrusting the scoop in and out while they hammered their torches on the ground to summon up their god.

In the distance, a huge beast awakened. He stomped his way toward the light, snapping trees in his path like twigs.

Kong! Kong! Kong!

My hands moved faster. My breathing grew shallow. The chanting suddenly stopped. The chirping of cicadas filled the silence. Dwan sensed something large standing in front of her. She raised her head to see a monstrous gorilla thumping his chest. He let out a barbaric roar; she screamed; and I rammed the scoop into myself as deeply as I could. Unlike the orgasm I faked earlier, this time I erupted—for real. My body convulsed, and I wasn’t sure if I had screamed along with Dwan. In the end, it didn’t matter, the snoring from the bedroom would have drowned me out anyway.

After my passion subsided, I turned off the TV. On my way to the bedroom, I passed the kitchen. As I was about to put the ice-cream scoop in the dishwasher, a whimsical change of heart struck me. I thought to myself—oh,  fuck it. I opened the drawer and tossed the scoop back in.

This story is included in a collection called  HOT FLASH, now available 

Amazon US  ~ Amazon UK


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“Cancer – My Story”

You can also hear me read this story on:

Episode #23 of The Word Count podcast. The theme for this podcast is “Beating the Odds.”

This is a special Word Count Podcast dedicated to Joshua Moore, son of friend and author Maxwell Cynn. Joshua is currently fighting leukemia, and the community of authors, filmmakers, and artists have rallied to raise at least $10,000 to help the family with medical expenses. Numerous people are on board helping with the fundraiser by donating their books, services, and time.
This podcast is an example of R.B. Wood’s generosity in using his excellent show to promote the cause.

Please donate what you can at IndieGoGo: Indies Unite for Joshuaand help us spread the word.

Sincerest thanks,
eden

*  *  *  *

Mine is but one of millions of stories about cancer. It is neither more nor less significant than any other story from a survivor or someone who’s been touched by the disease. I don’t usually share it publicly for a few reasons. Firstly, the word “survivor” carries an undertone of achievement. Metaphorically, it’s as if surviving cancer elevates one to a different status as a human being. I’m not comfortable with that, but it’s clearly my issue. I don’t downplay cancer as a formidable opponent, however, it was never an option for me not to survive. Secondly, cancer does not define me even though it was a large part of my life. Lastly, I am now cancer free and have been for almost twelve years. It’s in the past—and as with most things of my past, I’ve made my peace with it and moved on.

I share my story on a personal basis with those who are going through cancer treatment, and I do it because survivors shared their stories with me when I needed it most. I felt empowered by people who had endured so much—multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and countless other treatments and then went on to live their lives fearlessly. For this reason, for Joshua and his family, and in support of R.B. Wood’s special Word Count Podcast, here’s my story.

* * * *

The specialist ignored my request to do a core biopsy. Instead, he did a fine needle aspiration to test for malignancy of the lump I’d found on my breast. It was a test I knew carried a high percentage of inaccuracy. I’d done my homework before I went to see him.

“Look,” he said, annoyed with my questioning him. “I can tell you right now you don’t have cancer. You have no family history of it, you’re Asian, and you’re too young.” His voice was authoritative and dismissive, implying he was doing me a favor by even performing any test. It was obvious to me that I was nothing more to him than a body part to examine. After all, he was the specialist with letters behind his name, and I was just a scared woman who knew my body. Though I considered him a heartless bastard whose practice had long outlasted his compassion, I was relieved when my test results came back showing I didn’t have cancer.

When my lump continued to grow over the next few weeks, I returned to my general practitioner and asked for a referral to a different specialist. I wanted a second opinion.

I got a young female doctor this time. She confirmed that fine needle biopsies carried a high degree of error and recommended I have surgery to remove the lump. Given its aggressive growth, she didn’t want to waste time doing additional tests. I walked out of her office slightly nervous, but relieved that I’d made the decision to have surgery. The thought of a scar didn’t appeal to me, but hell, having a third boob wasn’t going to be any more attractive.

 * * * *

On the day of my surgery, my best friend, Mae, drove me to the hospital early in the morning. Everything went off as scheduled, and after the anesthesia wore off, I was moved to a private waiting room where my girlfriend was waiting. We laughed and chatted about where to go for lunch. I was starving!

The nurse who had prepped me for surgery came in with the doctor carrying some pamphlets—post-surgical care instructions, I thought, but no … they contained information about breast cancer—which I had.

The only thing I remembered hearing was the word “cancer,” and then my girlfriend’s quick intake of breath before she started crying.

It was surreal as I watched the doctor mouthing words “Cancer … metastasis … more surgery … oncology …” and other medical terms I’d never heard of at the time.

Finally, at the end of it, the nurse handed me the pamphlets and asked if I had any questions. Sure I did, I had plenty. But my friend was sobbing, and I couldn’t think straight. The questions would have to wait.

Don’t ever underestimate a hungry woman who’s just been told she has cancer, or her best friend who’s quite reserved until she gets behind the wheel. That day, we hit a hundred in a sixty-kilometer zone, barreling down one of the city’s main arteries in search of comfort food.

“I dare a cop to stop me,” Mae yelled at the top of her lungs. “I’m going to tell him you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, and I don’t give a shit what he says!”

“No kidding,” I said, “as if he can possibly make my day any worse. I’ve got cancer for fuck’s sake!”

“Yeah, but if I get a ticket, you’re paying for it!” she screamed.

We laughed until we cried.

* * * *

From the day I was misdiagnosed until the end of my treatments, there were countless decisions to make. I can only compare it to climbing an old tree with numerous branches. Reaching the top meant I could grab my health back, but there were limitless, different ways to get there. At times, I was paralyzed for fear of making the wrong decision. In the end, I did what was right for me based on all the options I was aware of. As an active participant in my well being—knowledge gave me power.

My mother always said I hated to lose—she was right. There was no way I was losing my life to cancer.

*  *  *  *

Some final words for Joshua

You may feel the weight of cancer on your shoulders right now, but you have hundreds of thousands, if not millions in your corner to help lighten the load.

Keep fighting, young man. I know you can do it. 


Related post: Cancer ~Fuck. The Hell. Off

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“An Eternal Love”


Happy Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate love, and really … who doesn’t? Here’s my take on what eternal love might look like.

* * * *

The man across the table looked at me with skepticism in his eyes. I had repeated my story three times, but it was obvious he was looking for inconsistencies as he scribbled in his notepad.

“I know you think I’m crazy,” I said, “but I’ve known Emily since we were five, and there’s no other explanation for her disappearance other than what I’ve told you.”

“Miss Martin, what you’re saying is highly unusual, so we have to get the facts straight.”

I sighed—loudly. “I understand, but the story is not going to change no matter how many times I tell it. I’m tired, and I want to go home.”

He looked over at his partner who merely shrugged. I hated the whole “good cop, bad cop” routine they’d been playing for the past two hours. I was losing patience. Emily was my best friend, and I had no reason to lie about what I thought had happened to her, even if it was … highly unusual.

“Miss Martin, we all want to go home, but tell it to me once more. I promise you this will be the last time.”

* * * *

The cryptic note left for Emily’s mom read:

Dearest Mom,
Please don’t worry about me. I am well and happy and wish the same for you.
With all my love, always,
—Emily

Her mother was understandably distraught. She called me immediately after finding the note and said it was uncharacteristic of Emily to be so irresponsible, to vanish without saying a word. She would never leave like this …

Yes, but her mother didn’t know my friend the way I did. To her, Emily was the good girl who had done everything right from day one. As an only child, she had been an “A” student her entire academic life. She had always been there for her mom since her dad died when Emily was just an infant. The pressure to be the perfect daughter was not easy, and Emily had constantly wrestled with her mother’s inability to move on with her own life.

Emily was completing her master’s degree in metaphysics when she disappeared. As long as I had known her, she’d been interested in the idea of parallel universes. I had read some of her papers, and though they struck me as fascinating, my understanding of another dimension was rooted in science fiction, not science. Emily, on the other hand, believed there was something more and was determined to find it.

She hadn’t dated anyone in a long time, so I was naturally intrigued when she confided she had met someone. Over coffee one afternoon, Emily told me about the new man in her life. She described him as having hypnotic eyes, a deep voice, and charisma that had her dreaming about him almost nightly.

“I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something dark and mysterious about him,” she said.

Ever the cynic, I replied, “Oh, seriously, Em…”

“I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. He’s not particularly handsome—not in the classical sense anyway, yet somehow I’m drawn to him.”

“And has he noticed you?”

“Not really, no more than any of the other students. His teaching style is not interactive. He stands behind the podium for the entire two-hour lecture, and he barely moves. He just tells us which chapters to read, and occasionally, he reads out the chapters verbatim.”

“He’s probably your type though—you like them a bit strange.”

“Ha! No, he’s not strange—he’s deadly seductive. His voice makes me think of dark chocolate—thick, delicious, and his lips, my god …”

“What does the rest of him look like?”

“… Plus he has this flawless complexion. With the auditorium lights reflecting off his skin, his face is radiant.” She took a gulp of coffee, lost in decadent thought. “Sorry, what was your question?”

I had never seen Emily so taken by a man before. “I asked what the rest of him looks like.”

“Gorgeous. He’s over six feet tall, appears in great shape, and has fierce, dark brown eyes with a hint of crimson.”

“Hmm…the way you describe him can only mean one thing.”

“What?”

“He’s a bloody vampire!”

We both doubled over laughing. It had always been a joke between us to unabashedly label men as fictional characters. Between us, we’d dated a werewolf— hairy dude with the bad teeth; a zombie—guy with the dead eyes who walked with a shuffle; and gladiator man—my last boyfriend who had the rugged looks of Russell Crowe and a temper to go with it.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Emily said. “How do you get vampire from what I’ve told you?”

“Come on, he’s hypnotizing, can stand for hours without moving, and has a flawless complexion. He must be a vampire!”

That was the last time I saw Emily. After that, we continued to exchange e-mails and phone calls, and she told me about her escalating crush on her professor. He’d invaded her thoughts so thoroughly that she awakened nightly with wet dreams, her body trembling and flushed. She even found evidence of small marks on her breasts and around her neck, which she referred to as love bites. Although this alarmed me, Emily just laughed it off, saying she couldn’t wait to go to bed every night.

I was envious hearing about the passion in her dreams! It was better than any sex I’d experienced in a long time with a real man.

We made tentative plans to get together for dinner. Emily promised she had some exciting news to share and even hinted she wanted me to meet her professor. I gathered their relationship had moved beyond her dreams. Thrilled and excited for her, I was looking forward to our dinner to find out more. When I called to confirm our date on the morning we were supposed to meet and couldn’t get a hold of her, I was concerned, but not all that worried. I sent a follow-up e-mail but received no response. It was only when Emily’s mother called a few days later that I first suspected something was wrong.

* * * *

Numb from exhaustion after the four-hour interrogation, I kicked off my shoes upon entering my apartment and threw my coat on a chair. The emotional turmoil of the past week had completely stressed me out. Emily’s mother had no idea her daughter had been seeing someone, and I was beginning to wonder about it myself. It wasn’t as if I had actually met the man. I didn’t even know his name and had nothing concrete to offer the police about him.

I brewed a cup of tea and prepared to watch the news before going to bed. I don’t recall when I fell asleep, but I awoke with a start to realize I was still on the couch with the television blaring, and my cup of tea knocked over on the coffee table.

“Shit,” I whispered, running to the kitchen to grab a dish towel.

As I pushed aside the pile of magazines to wipe the table dry, I saw an envelope peeking out beneath my latest issue of Vogue. I had not noticed it before and pulled it out. It was addressed to me in a handwriting I knew well. My heart raced as I opened it and read the note.

Dearest Amy,

You are the only person who’s ever understood my desire to know more than just what this life has to offer.
You were right about the professor. With him, I have found everlasting life … and love. Please understand I have chosen to be with him. He is the one.

Your friend forever, love,
—Emily

The bittersweet pang of loss swept over me. Emily was gone. She had found the portal to eternal love.

This story is included in a collection called  HOT FLASH, now available 

Amazon US  ~ Amazon UK 

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“On the Heels of Submission”

You can also hear me read this story on:

Episode #22 of The Word Count podcast.

The prompt was “I washed the blood from my hands…”

*  *  *  *

I could tell what he wanted the moment he sat next to me. He showed me what he had in his duffel bag and invited me to his place. He was aggressive, which was ironic. I had to follow through, or I might not get another chance. The six beers, three glasses of wine, and two Tequila chasers made me brave. My ex always said to me, “Never mix your fruits with your grains. You can’t handle it.” He should know. He’d experienced more than his share of my violent outbursts.

* * *

Goddamn it, what the hell was I thinking? I couldn’t even recall how I got here. Thoughts tumbled around in my head like clothes in a dryer. I was in the dingy bathroom of his apartment, staring at my ruddy complexion in the mirror. My eyes were puffy and bloodshot, my mouth dry like I’d been sucking on a tennis ball. I spit out a blob of brownish phlegm, turned on the water, and watched the thick mucous swirl down the drain. With my chest heaving, I managed to gulp two handfuls of water.

“Hey, are you almost done?” he yelled. He was already in the bedroom, and the only thing separating us was the flimsy lock on the bathroom door.

“Yeah … just give me a minute.” I left the water running to mask the sound of my coughing. I spit once more and took several deep breaths before I unlocked the door.

He was on the floor, naked, save for the dog collar around his neck and the leash in his mouth.  My first instinct was to bolt, but it’d be pretty difficult to run with swollen feet inside five-inch heels.

He crawled over to me on all fours, and dropped the leash at my feet. “I’ve been a bad dog. I couldn’t wait for you and had an accident.” He whimpered and rubbed his face along the side of my leather pants. Sure enough, there was a puddle in the corner of the room. I suppressed my gag reflex and again thought of running.

“You are a bad dog.” Did those words really come out of my mouth?

Proceeding to the bed, I sat down awkwardly as a wave of nausea hit. He followed behind me, panting like a lovesick puppy. I crossed my legs and extended one in front of him. “Lick my shoe. Now!” I demanded.

Relieved with my quick recovery, I waited for my stomach to settle, but my discomfort only increased. His flabby body spilled out in front of me in full view. I, on the other hand, was stuffed like a sausage into my corset unable to escape. Listening to this fat slob slurp my stiletto and suck on my heel made me sick. I just wanted to get it over with and vomit.

“Bring me your whip,” I said.

He stopped tonguing my shoe and crawled over to his duffel bag. Using his teeth, he unzipped it and burrowed his head inside like a truffle pig.

With my heart hammering inside my chest, I quietly removed both shoes and gripped one in my sweaty hands. As I neared him, he craned his neck and saw me just before I stabbed the heel into his eye with all my strength. His body stiffened, and he let out a high-pitch yelp. He scrambled to his knees, frantically grabbing at the embedded shoe in his face. From the opposite side of the room, I watched as he twirled around like a wind-up toy and then slumped forward until his head hit the floor.

Inside the bathroom, I washed the blood from my hands, scrubbing my skin raw. Next, I knelt over the toilet bowl and vomited, immediately feeling better. After a few moments, I got up and braced myself against the sink. There was half a bottle of mouthwash in the medicine cabinet, and I used it up. When I  saw my reflection in the mirror, I frowned and wondered who the stranger was staring back at me.

This story is included in a collection called  HOT FLASH, now available 

Amazon US  ~ Amazon UK


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“Love Bites”

It’s January, the month of “new beginnings,” and I learned something new from a wonderful poet—the word “scansion,” which refers to the rhythm of a line of verse.  He also taught me 4-3-4-3 ballad style poetry, so I’ve composed something here in that style. Hope you like it.

eden

“Love Bites”

I’ve typed so much my fingers hurt
Nerve endings start to sting
An odd yet pleasing discomfort
Reminds me of a fling

The only way to stop the pain
Is bite down on each one
Suck the tips ’til feeling’s regained
Then kiss them when he’s done

He scrapes my skin with his sharp teeth
Licks a trail with his tongue
Leaves me burning from deep beneath
A place where it once stung

Connected and so intricate
Is pleasure with my pain
Small bites that inflame and then sate
Resistance is in vain

His oral skills make me shiver
Unleash a lover’s cry
All too soon I feel a quiver
Exhale a drawn-out sigh

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“An Adult Christmas Fairy Tale”

Once upon a time, there were three sisters who lived among the rolling hills of a faraway land. The Bradford sisters were, in fact, identical triplets. They caused quite the stir when they entered the world twenty-five years ago one wintry night. The town had never seen such beautiful babies and to have three at once! Their birth was declared a miracle as the last one was born just as the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve.

Elizabeth, the eldest and considered the brightest was a tenured professor at the university teaching Economics. Catherine, the middle child, was blessed with great sex appeal. Although all the girls had long flaxen hair, pale blue eyes, and beautiful, shapely bodies, Catherine was the runway model, and she could charm the pants off any man—literally. Finally, there was Alexandra, or Alex, as she preferred to be called. She was the youngest, and though accomplished in her own right, she couldn’t be more different than her sisters. Her dad called her his “free spirited” daughter.

Alex was infinitely creative and always open to trying new things. In her late teens, she played guitar in a band and became good enough to perform at respected venues, but she soon tired of the scene and left the band on the eve of their debut tour. Next, she took up photography and excelled at it. Her landscapes were featured in National Geographic with a sold-out show in Paris. When other galleries came calling, she suddenly decided she’d had it with taking pictures and sold all her camera equipment. Her latest venture was baking, and she quickly became successful at it. Her “delectable edibles,” as she called them were sold to local businesses, and she had difficulty keeping up with the demand. She had started baking purely on a whim (like everything else she did), and now her kitchen resembled a baking factory.

* * * *

“Honestly, Alex, why don’t you open up your own shop?” Catherine said, as she sat on the couch wrapping presents. She and Elizabeth had come by to exchange gifts and to pick up Alex en route their parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.

“I like baking in my own kitchen. Besides, I don’t want to become a storeowner. I sell to shops and restaurants, and that’s fine for now.” Alex carefully stacked colorful cupcakes, brownies, and cookies on a giant crystal platter, creating a pyramid shape. Next she set the platter atop cellophane, wrapped the arrangement, and finally secured it with a bright red bow at the top.

“That looks amazing,” Elizabeth said. “You know Bill is going to die when he sees those brownies!” Bill was her fiancé and had quite the sweet tooth—it showed.

“I’ve made boxes for each of you to take home,” Alex said, “so tell Bill to hold back tonight! This is just enough for everyone who’s going to be there for dinner.”

And what a dinner it would be. Each year it seemed there were more and more guests. Between her immediate family and their cousins’ families, her parents also invited some of their friends and neighbors. That was the wonderful thing about where they lived (in this faraway land), nobody ever had to spend Christmas alone.

Alex finished packing more of her goodies into tins as her sisters gathered bags of presents and piled them by the door.

“We’re going to load up the car,” Catherine said, slipping on her boots. “Good thing Larry has a big truck!

“Ha! You’ve always loved men with big trucks,” Alex said.

“Well … he has a brother with a truck too if you’re interested.” And with that, Catherine swung open the front door and a cold gust blasted her in the face. She grabbed two parcels in each hand and headed outside.

“Hurry up, Alex!” Elizabeth yelled while balancing the dessert platter in her hands. “It’s starting to snow.”

“I’ll be out in a minute, just tidying up.” Alex grabbed a dish towel and wiped the flour-caked counter. She was happy Elizabeth had Bill, and Catherine had … well, she always had several men on the go.  “Larry with the big truck” would be another in a long line of men who had graced their family Christmas table, and unlikely to be the last. Alex, on the other hand, never brought a date. She didn’t need it with the pressure of the holidays, especially when her family worried that she never made time for anyone in her life. Alex preferred creative conquests and baking had been the biggest challenge yet. She’d been waiting three years (a long time for her to be doing the same thing) to receive affirmation that it was what she was meant to do with her life. She was beginning to wonder if she’d ever get a sign. Tonight was another chance to find out.

Setting aside any pessimistic thoughts, she gave one final look toward the kitchen before stepping out into the cold.

* * * *

Alex opened the door to her house and dropped the bags of gifts she had received. The dinner was a huge success, as usual, with enough food to feed a small village. Her mom even sent her home with leftover turkey to make sandwiches. She was just happy to be home now and looked forward to getting out of her dress. As she walked by the kitchen toward her bedroom, the sweet smell of cinnamon filled her nostrils.

Alex stopped in her tracks and gasped. The mug she had left next to the pot of apple cider had been moved, and the plate of cookies on the counter was now bare, save for a few crumbs. She ran to her desk and flipped open her laptop, signing into her e-mail. With bated breath, she read the note she’d been wishing for.

Dear Alexandra,

Thank you for inviting me into your home. The past couple of years have been extremely busy traveling the world for the children, so my apologies for not visiting sooner.

After hearing all the wonderful things about your baking, I knew I had to make a special trip. The cookies were as you described—exquisite, and the cider really hit the spot!

I appreciate your continued belief in me at a time when so few believe anymore. You have a true gift to see the world through a child’s eyes, and I hope you never lose that wonderment for all that life has to offer.

Your friend,
K. Kringle

From that day forward … Alex baked happily ever after.

~ The End ~

*A special message for my readers*

No matter what you believe in at this time of year, I wish you peace, health, and happiness. All my very best to you and those you love this holiday season,
eden 

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