Saturday, April 30, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 49: Second Chances My Ass

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: Picture 1

Second Chances My Ass

“No. No no no no no no!” I yelled.

“Elliot, you’re overreacting,” my brother sighed.

“Yeah, Jelly Bean, it’s not that bad.”

I glared at him. “Don’t you dare call me that.”

“Look, your name isn’t on the lease so you don’t have a say in it,” Charles tried to calmly reason. “He needed a place to stay.”

“I’ll buy you a box, Jack,” I said sympathetically. “A nice big one.”

He rolled his eyes and plopped down on the couch. “It’s not that bad,” Charles chuckled.

“Not that bad? You’re letting my ex stay here! The only way it could be worse is if you let his little bitch stay too!”

“Actually, we broke up…just thought I’d throw that out there…” Jack mumbled.

I rolled my eyes. “I wonder why she left.”

“I cheated on her,” he smirked.

I felt my blood boil as I walked away.

“I’m just kidding, Jelly Bean!”

“Fuck you!”

“So where do I sleep?” He asked my brother.

I slammed the bathroom door and sat on the edge of the bath. I knew Charles was friends with him, and I was okay with that. I almost never saw Jack after we broke up. I heard about him from my brother occasionally, but that was the extent of it. I didn’t think he’d eventually move in!
Jack cheated on me five months ago with his friend’s girlfriend. They deserved each other. His friend and I kind of bonded over that. We got really close afterwards. We never dated, neither of us ready to get back out there, but we became very good friends. After a while, I accidentally fell for him and he fell for me, but by the time we admitted it, it was too late. He was moving and that was the end of that week. I missed him a lot; I wished I could see him again. If I never saw Jack again, I wouldn’t mind, but because of his mistake it brought his friend and I together.

Suddenly I heard a knock on the door.

“You can’t stay in there forever, Elliot,” Charles said through the door.

“Watch me.”

“I’m not even here!” I heard Jack yell.

I opened the door to peek my head out. “Jack, you’re a bona fide moron.”

He curtsied from the living room. “Thank you, I try.”

“I don’t think you do. I think it comes naturally to you.”

He laughed as I shut the door again, but Charles’ foot was in the way. “I’m not asking you to date him. You don’t even have to talk to him. Just don’t hate me. He’s my friend.”

I rolled my eyes. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t hate you.”

He pushed a pint of Ben & Jerry’s inside the bathroom for me. I took it before he could pull it out again. “Do you forgive me?”

I opened the door all the way. “Maybe.”

“Well, where are you going?”

I stormed past Jack to the kitchen. “I need a spoon.” I walked into the kitchen and jumped up onto the counter after grabbing a spoon.

“You’re just as moody as last time I saw you,” Jack leaned again the door.

I scooped into the ice cream. “Last time? Oh you mean last time when I walked in on you and you said quote ‘I tripped and my dick landed in her mouth’. Yeah stupid me was really moody about the whole situ—“

“Elliot, stop.” He interrupted me. “I’m sorry, okay? I was stupid and I made a mistake.”

I put the lid on my ice cream and put it in the freezer. “Three words I’ve always wanted to hear. ‘I’m sorry okay.’” I headed for the door, but he blocked me.

“Your sarcasm doesn’t do anything to me. I know I hurt you and I’m sorry.”

I squared my shoulders and leveled my glare. “You don’t know shit what you did to me so quit acting like you do.” I shoved past him and headed to the living room to grab my bag. “Charles, I’m going out. I’ll be back later.”

He came out of the bedroom confused. “Did something happen?”

“Yeah we have an infestation problem, but you can deal with it. I’m going out.”

His shoulders slumped but I walked out, heading into the hall of the apartment. There was a Starbuck’s right down the street that was practically a second home to me. I used to go all the time with my friend, but now it was just me.

“Hey Elliot!” Rosie greeted me when I walked in.

I nodded in response, pulling out my wallet. “I’ll have the usual coffee frappuccino,” I sighed. “Make it a large.”

“What’s wrong?”

“My ex is moving in with me thanks to my stupid brother.”

She made a face. “Wow, so that kind of day?”

I exhaled trying to find a smile. “Yeah…how much do I owe you?”

“No charge today, Sweetie.”

I took the frappuccino gratefully. “Thanks, Rosie.” I found a large, comfy seat in the back and closed my eyes. I just needed to relax and breathe. He wasn’t staying forever right? Charles wouldn’t do that to me. I finished my coffee and continued to sit in the big chair, listening to the jazz music playing softly over the speakers. The sun went down and the lights on the streets were turned on. I sighed, knowing I’d have to go home eventually. I picked up my purse and left, waving goodbye to Rosie.

“Good luck,” she yelled sarcastically as I walked out.

It had gotten much chillier now that the sun had gone down. I wrapped my arms tight around my body and walked home. The lights were already off in the apartment. Charles always went to sleep early, but I’d always shut his door and turn them back on. The apartment was too quiet knowing who was there. I didn’t go looking for Jack; instead, I grabbed my bathrobe and headed for the bathroom to take a long bath. I flicked the light on and turned the water all the way to hot, pouring in bubble liquid. I stripped my clothes off and pinned my hair up, dipping my toes into the steaming water. It burned at first, but as I sank lower it soothed my tense muscles. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I turned the water off with my foot once it filled up as high as it could. Steam covered the mirror and air in the confined bathroom. I heard a soft knock on the door so I pulled the shower curtain closed to hide the tub.

“Come in.”

I heard the door open gently and someone walk in. “I heard the water running and thought you might like some company,” Jack’s voice said.

I felt my anger rising slightly.

“And before you say anything, I didn’t mean me.” He put his hand through the curtain to give me the Ben & Jerry’s container and a spoon.

I took it and starting eating. “Why does every guy assume ice cream is a good peace offering?” I commented.

Jack chuckled softly. “You took it didn’t you?”

I couldn’t see him through the curtain, but I thought I heard him sit down. “How’ve you been, Elliot?”

I didn’t answer for a long time. “I don’t know,” I finally responded. “So Emily broke up with you?”

He sighed. “We broke up four months ago.”

“Why?” I honestly was curious.

He chuckled. “She accused me of not opening up to her.”

I laughed with him. “You never were one for opening up. We’d dated for seven months before I finally knew everything about you.”

“Well she thought a month was long enough for us to know everything about each other. What about you?” he asked, bringing the topic back to me. “Did you ever date after me?”

I sucked on my spoon thoughtfully. “No…I’m kind of off the stuff for a while.”

“You just never found the right guy or never looked?” he asked.

I shrugged even though he couldn’t see me. I didn’t know the answer. I thought he was the right guy when I was dating him, but then I was proven wrong so I guess both.

“I realized something after Emily left…” he said thoughtfully. “As corny as it sounds and even though it doesn’t make a difference at all…”

I listened intently for what he was trying to say.

“You were the best I ever had. I know you won’t take me back, but at least take my apology.” He pulled the curtain away to see my face. “Please.”

He leaned in cautiously, gauging my response to him. I closed my eyes and parted my lips as he kissed me. It was a brief kiss, but it was the first one in a long time.

He chuckled, his breath fanned across my face. “Your kisses still taste like chocolate. You wonder why I call you my Jelly Bean is because every time I kiss you it tastes like candy.”

I licked my bottom lip, putting a lid on the ice cream. I couldn’t quite make sense of what just happened. He just caught me off guard and took advantage.

I pulled the curtain closed and he sighed. “Elliot, please forgive me for hurting you.”

I didn’t speak, not trusting my voice. I pulled the plug on the bottom of the tub and the water started to drain. He handed me a towel and walked out of the bathroom with the ice cream. I wrapped the towel around my body and wiped the single tear that fell down my cheek. There was no way on this godforsaken earth that I would let him back into my life. After all the damage he did to me, why should I forgive him? He can’t just show up on my doorstep and kiss me, thinking everything is okay in his world.

I finished drying off and got dressed in my big t-shirt and boyshorts, ready for bed. I brushed my teeth and splashed water on my face. I couldn’t let Jack see what I was feeling. Quietly I turned the bathroom light off and padded to the living room where I slept. We had a futon I used for my bed while Charles got the bedroom. Since he paid rent on the apartment, it was only fair he got the room.
When I got to the living room, the futon was already pulled out and Jack was sleeping on one side.

“Get up,” I ordered.

He looked up and squinted. “Charles said we had to share the futon.”

I rubbed my temples to calm down. “Only until you get an air mattress, understood?”

He nodded with a smile, plopping his head back down on the pillow. “And that’s my side so move.”

He sat up and scooted over to the right side of the bed. “You look really good tonight.”

I quickly pulled my shirt down lower to hide my underwear. “Oh don’t act like I haven’t seen you naked before,” he chuckled.

I glared in the dark, getting on the bed. It squeaked loudly, not used to a lot of weight. Jack laughed under his breath. “Guess there’s no hiding anything we do in this bed.”

I pulled the covers tight, facing away from him. “All we’ll be doing is sleeping,” I assured him.

We laid in silence for about ten seconds before he started bouncing. The bed started bouncing loud enough for Charles to hear.

“I swear to god if you don’t stop right now, I’ll make it so you’ll be the one squeaking,” I said menacingly.

He continued to bounce defiantly so I kicked him hard in the groin. “Oh, Mary, Mother of all things wholly cheese and salty crackers that fucking hurt!” he cried.

I sighed with a smile on my face. “Maybe now you have an inkling of an idea of how I felt,” I pulled the covers up. “Good night.”

He groaned. “Good night, Jelly Bean.”

“Call me that again, I dare you.” I felt good to make him cry after all the tears he drew from me. I closed my eyes and fell asleep, trying to ignore the fact that jack was just inches from me.


“Morning Jelly Bean,” Jack chimed.

I kicked my left out trying to hit him. I heard him laugh and I opened my eyes. His bright green eyes were staring back at me from off the bed. I rolled over and groaned.

“Enough with the moaning. As if the bed squeaking didn’t give me enough mental images of you two,” Charles gagged.

I shot out of the futon angrily. “No! You got it all wrong! We didn’t—That’s dis—“

“Don’t say it’s disgusting, we’ve done it before,” Jack laughed.

I glared at him before looking back at Charles. “Trust me, it was all him, by himself.”

Charles looked at jack questioningly. “Never mind I don’t want to know.”

Jack laughed going into the kitchen. “Well I’m off to work. Try not to kill each other okay?” He opened the door.

“No promises!” I yelled after him.

“So what do you want for breakfast?” Jack came back in.

I rolled my eyes and fell back onto the mattress. “I’ll take that as a yes to banana pancakes.”

I reached over and grabbed my Ipod and headphones. Last night in my dreams I practically relived five months ago. He was standing outside my parents’ house, yelling that he was sorry, but I knew he was only sorry he got caught. If he loved me, he wouldn’t have cheated; plain and simple. I couldn’t believe anything he said anymore knowing how easily he hid her. He was the first boy I ever loved and of course, he was the first boy to ever hurt me. After I broke up with him, I moved in with my older brother.

Jack didn’t act serious unless it was something really serious. Even being here after all the damage he did to me, he still found he could joke about everything. It was a quality I used to like about him, but now it showed how immature he truly was.

Last night when he asked me to forgive him was him being serious and he meant for me to take him seriously, but I had no intentions of doing it. He didn’t deserve forgiveness. I pulled the covers higher over my head to block the sunlight, but more importantly block out reality.

I fell back asleep listening to music, but was soon woken up by Jack nudging me. I tried to ignore him, but he continued faster. I pulled my headphones off and glared at him. “This had better be because you caught the kitchen on fire or something.”

“Actually the phone is for you,” he held it out for me.

I answered it angrily. “What?”

“Elliot? Do you mind coming in to work today? I know it’s your off day, but—“

“Yeah I’ll come in! What time?” I sat up.

“Really? You sure?”

“Yeah absolutely.”

“Well if you could make it in by one that would be great.”

I hung up and got out of bed. “Work?” Jack asked.

“Yeah looks like we aren’t gonna be able to spend the day together. I was really looking forward to us, too.”

He chuckled. “You’re really torn up about it, I know.”

I rolled my eyes, heading to the bathroom to brush my hair.

“You know you look really good with bedhead.”

“Yeah because rat’s nest is the new ‘do,” I mumbled, brushing it out.

He laughed. “Girls try to get every strand in place, but I love it messy. It’s sexy.”

I put the brush down and walked away. “So when do you have to be at work?” He followed me.

“Uh…” I looked at the clock. “Eleven.”

“It’s ten-fifty.”

“Mhm gotta rush.”

“It takes you fifteen minutes to get to work,” he said suspiciously.

“Hence the rushing part.”

I stripped my shirt off, replacing it with a white tee and my pants next. Jack fixed the futon back into a couch position, trying to not be seen watching me. I put my shoes on and headed for the door.

Jack blocked it, his face void of humor. “Do you forgive me?”

I stared into his eyes for a while, not able to think like last night.

“Come on, Elliot, I made a mistake. I will never do that again. You have to believe me. I learned my lesson. I lost the one person that actually meant anything to me. I made one slip up and lost her,” he stared deep into my eyes. “Please.”

I didn’t know what to say. All this time, all I really wanted was for him to admit he was wrong. Even when I caught him in the act, he blamed her for coming onto him. I knew people made mistakes, but at least they took responsibility for their actions.

“Please, Elliot.”

I didn’t respond. What could I say after five months? Poof I don’t hate you anymore.

“I still love you, Elliot.” He cupped my face, sending chills down through my body as I closed my eyes. He gently brushed his lips against mine, making the moment last. I inhaled through my mouth before pressing my lips to his in a searing kiss.


“What are you doing up here? The parades down there.” I walked over to where he sat on the edge of the building.

Jack looked up and smiled. “I like the view from here. It’s better.”

I sat down beside him. “I doubt the candy will reach us up here.”

He intertwined his fingers with mine and smiled. “So long as I have my Jelly Bean with me,” he leaned in to kiss me.

“Call me Jelly Bean again and I’ll push you off this building.” I chuckled against his lips.

Friday, April 29, 2011

SwedenSara Week 49: Human Waste


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SwedenSara’s Choice: Picture 1


Human Waste

She waits in the shadows behind the school gym, hidden from the rest of them, pressed against the wall of the old brick building. The smell of rotting food from the trash cans has become so familiar that it feels like home. People rarely come here because of the stench, and the cans offer a place to hide should someone turn up anyway. She’s noticed that spending time close to trashes sometimes gives her an advantage, and sometimes makes things worse. They often take detours in the school corridors to avoid the smell, but sometimes they tease her about it, adding it to the long list of things they consider wrong, unnatural and disgusting about her. It makes sense to her, though. To them, she’s nothing more than human waste, garbage, white trash. She might as well smell like it.

As the parking lot in front of the school becomes more and more deserted, she finally sneaks out of her hiding place. She hurries across the open area, desperate to reach the long line of cars. She ducks down between two of them and pauses, listening closely. She’s sure she heard something, but now it’s quiet. She stares at the front door, registering the shadows of a few students inside, walking by.

Classes are about to begin, she doesn’t have much time left. There’s no need for her to go to her locker, she abandoned that a long time ago. Everything she needs is in her backpack anyway, since it gives her the opportunity to spend a minimal amount of time among her fellow students inside the school.

She watches the clock on the wall, knowing exactly how many minutes she needs to get from the parking lot to the classroom just before the teacher closes the door. She’ll be the last one in, sneaking inside and taking her place close to the door. She’ll also be the first one out; she’s fast.

Four minutes left.

Three. She counts to 30, and then it’s time to run.

Halfway to the doors something - someone - comes flying from the right and knocks her to the ground. She has her backpack slung over her left shoulder, and even though it softens most of the impact, she also feels the edge of a book boring into her side. Before she’s registered what - who - has hit her, she’s hauled off the ground and into the woods behind the school. Her feet are dragged against the hard surface, and she notices she’s lost a shoe somewhere along the way. The school is disappearing behind the tree line, and she suddenly finds herself dumped on the cold, moist forest floor.

“Your clothes smell like shit, you know that?”

She closes her eyes. The light voice is familiar, as is the demeaning tone. She can smell her, a heavy, flowery perfume permeating and overtaking the earthy scent of the forest. A small stream is floating by, creating a purling background to the girls voice.

“We need to get you out of them.”

The voice is still light, feigning positivity and pretending to be friendly. Small but rough hands rip the clothes off her body and she hears the sound of them being thrown in the water. She keeps her eyes closed, trying to focus on the sounds of birds singing, the rustling of leafs and the breeze through her hair.

“There you go. Nice and clean. You should thank me, you know, for being such a kind-hearted and selfless person. I even help you clean your clothes.”

The voice quiets, and she hears the sound of the girl’s foot impatiently tapping the ground.


She opens her mouth and whispers.

“Thank you.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Burntcore Week 49: Breaking the Ice


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1


The water was clear, but cold. The frigid temperature stung my skin but I waded in anyway. It was technically a little early for such forays into the water but I couldn’t resist. I had been waiting all winter to be able to wade into this pond. It was sunny out, which made it feel warmer than what it really was, but did nothing to improve the water temperature. I didn’t care. I just had to get into the water. I craved it. My body was so tired of winter that even the bracing water didn’t make a difference. It was sunny out and I was in the water. That was all that mattered.

My short dress hung loosely, just inches above the surface. I loved the floral print and couldn’t wait until it was warm enough so I could wear it. Today was the perfect opportunity.

My fingertips dragged along the surface of the water, sending out long lines of ripples. I walked further into the pond, the waterline rising and touching the bottom of my dress. The bit of cloth began to billow out along the surface of the water until enough of it had gotten wet and sank into the water. Goosebumps erupted along my arms as the cold water crept up my torso. My legs had adjusted to the temperature of the water and it was actually starting to get comfortable. It certainly was no sauna but it was comfortable.

“Danny! Hey Danny!”

I turned around at the sound of Peyton’s voice, the water sloshing around my chest. I didn’t think anyone else was out here today, especially not Peyton. I waved at him but stayed in the water.

“Danny, what are you doing out there? Isn’t the water freezing?” he called from the bank, a hand shading his eyes as he stared out at me.

I shrugged. “I’m enjoying myself. The water isn’t that bad. You get used to it,” I answered, throwing my voice across the rippling water.

Peyton put his hands on his hips as he continued to look at me. “How can you enjoy yourself in freezing water?”

“Its not that cold, you big baby,” I hollered and turned my back to him. I really didn’t want to go any deeper but I wasn’t going to allow him to spoil my day in the water.

Before I knew it, I heard a splash followed by a surprised shout.

“Jesus Christ, Danny! The water is freezing!” he cursed as he plowed briskly through the water to me.

I turned towards him again and looked at him drolly. “I didn’t make you get in the water, now did I?”

He glared at me and continued to approach me, purpose in his stride. When he finally caught up with me, the water was only up to his belly button. However, I couldn’t fail to notice that the cold water had made his nipples poke out against the fabric of his t-shirt.

“Why are you out here?” he asked again, folding his arms across his chest.

“Why are you?” I countered. I didn’t have to answer to him. He had no claim on me and this was where I lived. Not in the pond, but the house up on the hill. The pond was a part of the property.

“I came by to see you.”


“Yes, you.”


“Why not?” he asked with a smirk.

I huffed in exasperation. “Would you just answer the damn question?”


I pressed my lips together in a thin line as I glared at him. After holding his gaze for a minute while he continued to smirk at me, I turned from him again and began walking farther into the pond.

“Wait! Danny, please!” he said finally, reaching out and grabbing my elbow before I was out of reach.

When I stopped but didn’t turn around, he pulled me towards him. I slipped on a rock and lost my balance. I would have gone under if it wasn’t for his quick reflexes. His hands shot out into the water and grasped me quickly around my waist, steadying me. Before I could pull out of his grip, he brought me up against his chest. Peyton hissed as the wet and cold material of my dress pressed against his dry t-shirt. He held me there longer than necessary, but I couldn’t bring myself to extricate myself from his embrace.

“Peyton,” I whispered softly.

Letting go of one hip, he leaned down and pushed some of my hair away from the nape of my neck. Ever so slowly, he ran his nose from my neck to up behind my ear.

“I cam here because I wanted to see you,” Payton whispered into my ear. “I wanted to see you because I like you, a lot actually. You are the smartest, most unique person I know, and I want to get to know you, the real you.”

I shuddered, closing my eyes, hoping that this wasn’t a dream. When I re-opened them, he was still there, gazing at me with hope in his eyes.

“You don’t know what you are asking,” I whisper. There were things about me I knew he wouldn’t want to know. No one did. I had learned that the hard way already.

“Yes I do.”

I scoffed and tried to pull away. His hand that was still on my hip, still underwater, tightened and kept me from moving very far.

“Don’t push me away,” he whispered.

“You don’t want to get to know me. You don’t know the things I’ve-“

Peyton cut me off with a kiss. It was gentle but firm. I was too shocked to respond. When he pulled away, he looked at me tenderly.

“I want to get to know you. I prove it to you every way I know how, and maybe even some I don’t know... but I’ll figure it out along the way. Whatever you’ve seen or done, it doesn’t matter.”

“It does!” I insisted.

“It doesn’t,” he argued gently. “We all have our secrets. You have yours, I have mine. We’ve all done things we regret, seen things we wish we hadn’t, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is now. Here and now.”

I blinked at him, stunned.

“And right now, I want to get to know you.”

“What if you end up regretting it?” I ask.

“The only thing I could ever regret about you is not asking, of not getting to know you.” He thought a moment before continuing. “Although, I do have one regret at this moment.”

Trepidation filled my heart as I looked up at him. “What’s that?”

“Getting into this damn pond! This water is freezing, woman!” he said briskly. He took my hand in his and tugged me back towards the bank. “Come on, let’s get dried off and get to know one another.”

I smiled softly and let him pull me out of the water. I shivered as a wind gust hit my chilled skin, which just made me move faster. Maybe there was hope for me after all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 49: Boys and Rainbows


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Kimmydon's Choice: both

Boys and Rainbows

All hail summer vacation. How much longer until school started again? Oh, right, fifty days. Had it only been two weeks?! Well, Beth definitely agreed with me. She only had one, lucky girl, and Sarah was a doll. Although, I didn’t like the way Sarah eyed my Jacob. They were both too young for that sort of thing, right? Thirteen was too young. Definitely.

Jacob certainly didn’t seem to notice Sarah. He was too busy climbing back to the spout at the top of that damn rainbow slide. She was adjusting herself on her towel, making sure her sunglasses were perched just so.

Beth nudged my elbow. “Good idea? The waterpark, I mean.”

“Are you kidding? Fantastic idea. I’ve been chasing them out of the house every day and they never seem to know what to do with themselves. ‘Go play’ seems to be a foreign language.” I shook my head in disgust and disbelief.

Beth laughed. “Sarah would spend all day, everyday, at the mall if I let her. She’d also be wearing less of a bathing suit if I let her have her way.” Beth rolled her eyes. “She claims this will give her wicked tan lines.”

We both stopped talking as one of the younger boys crept up to where Sarah lay. She must’ve had her eyes closed because she didn’t move until he hurled a bucket of water on her.

Beth and I nearly fell off our perches at the picnic table, laughing. Sarah chased after the boy, tripping in her towel and sprawling on the grass. As string of profanity issued from her mouth that had Beth stepping quickly to her daughter. Surprisingly, Jacob made it there ahead of her.

“Are you okay, Sarah? He just wanted to splash you. Actually, I wanted him to splash you.”

“Um, I’m okay,” she murmured, looking away as he did. She sighed. “I need a new towel though.”

“Oh! You can have mine,” he said, leading her to my side where he rummaged in our bag to pull one out. He wrapped it around her shoulders quite chivalrously. I couldn’t hide my smile. Beth echoed it.

“Is that better?” he asked, wary.

“Yes, thank you.” Sarah stepped a little closer, but just then Jacob’s younger brother, Doug, came and tossed water on Jacob.

I snorted and Sarah muffled her laugh with her hand as Jacob stood there, dripping and scowling.

“I had to wash the cooties off!” the eight year old maintained, trying to climb the multi-hued dome again.

“Cooties,” Beth said between chuckles, sitting next to me again. Jacob was climbing after his brother and Sarah was setting up again on the grass.


After tucking Doug in bed, I nearly ran to kitchen. Who was cooking? Not burning, thankfully. There Jacob sat on the counter, in his shorts, eating scrambled eggs from a plate.

I shook my head but said nothing, passing through.

“Wait, Mom. I was wondering if you’d take me to the movies tomorrow. Not go with me.” The derision in his voice was hard to miss and nearly made me snort. “Drop me off... with some friends.”

I leaned against the counter in the corner opposite him. “Some friends?” I asked.

“Well, just one friend.” He turned slightly pink.

“Aren’t you a little young to be dating?” I asked. “I mean, your brother will be appalled if you bring home cooties.” That had the desired effect; he laughed.

“Not a date. Well, not a real date. Unless... Will she think it’s a date?” he asked. “Do I need to do something special to make it a date?”

I rolled my eyes. As clueless as his father. “I think it would count.”

“Oh.” He rubbed a hand through his mop of hair, making it stick up worse than it was from the waterpark.

“Yeah. You ready for that?”

“Why? Does it mean something? I mean, is it important?” He was stunned and wide-eyed. Innocent. This girl had caught him hard. If I didn’t know Beth, I might be worried. She wouldn’t let her daughter go around using boys like mine, well not for long, not once she found out.

“It means you think of her as a girl, not just as a friend. Is that how you see her?”

His eyes remained wide and he gulped down another forkful of eggs before answering. “Yeah, I do.”

“Then I think you’re ready. I’ll drop you off at two. We can pick Sarah up on the way. Make sure you wash that pan.” I patted his knee as I left the room.


I turned back, a little surprised.

He’d hopped down from the counter and kissed my cheek. “Love you.”

He didn’t even have to stretch. Damn that boy grew fast.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 48: Come Home

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: both

Come Home

“Nick, I swear to god you better not have thrown up in my backseat.”

“I’ll pay you back, I swear.” She heard his weak voice cough.

Cassie rolled her eyes and pulled the milk out of her backpack, drinking from the carton.

Nick sat up and looked at it. “You’ve been keeping milk in your backpack? Gross.”

She put the lid on and tossed it to Nick. “No, while you were passed out this morning I went to the store.”

He drank from it too. “Really, with what money?”

She held up her backpack and smiled slyly. “They were having a sale. Anything you need free, bring your own backpack.”

Nick crawled into the front, pulling his shirt on. “I underestimated you, Cassie.”

“Damn right you did. Now how do you plan to clean my cars interior?” She rolled the windows down so the barf smell wouldn’t linger.

He pulled out a bag of quarters. “I got these from one of the parking toll things.”

Cassie laughed. “And it looks like I underestimated you!” She turned her car on and zoomed off to a car cleaner.

Nick and Cassie sat in the waiting room for their car to be detailed and finished. They had a couple quarters and used them to get some snacks and drinks from the machine. Nick lounged across three seats, watching a boring golf channel on the small tv. Cassie sat quietly, looking out the window.

“So Cassie, what’s going on?”

She looked up from her name being called. “What?”

“What are your future plans?” Nick got bored watching tv and watched her instead.

She folded her arms across her chest and shrugged. “I dunno. I haven’t thought about it. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No…”

“Did you even tell your parents?” She whispered, wishing he’d look into her eyes, but he refused to.

“Did you?” Was all he replied, going to check on the car.

She sighed, looking at the 30 missed calls on her phone. “No…”

Last week, she found out she was pregnant, and guess who the father was? The idiot druggie she hooked up with for a night. She had been out partying and smoking, and he looked cute when she saw him, so they went back to his place for a secret party of their own. His parents were gone for the weekend, so they had it all to themselves. When Cassie went home it wasn’t long before she started to feel sick every morning. She missed her period and that’s when she started getting suspicious and bought a pregnancy test. Positive. She couldn’t tell her parents, they didn’t even know she was sexually active, let alone drinking and smoking weed. They would freak out so it was better to just run away than to tell them. Nick offered to go with her. He promised to stick around and be the father of the child. Cassie was afraid he’d ignore her and deny it was his, but he didn’t.

Now here they were, on the road to who knows where, blowing their cash on alcohol, weed, and other things they couldn’t just steal. What did the unborn child do to deserve this life it was going to be thrust into? Staring at her phone, it started to buzz again. She missed the sound of her mother’s voice, but what would she say to her? How would she explain what she was doing?

She pushed the ignore button and shoved her phone in her pocket, wiping a tear away. First thing she’d teach her child was that sex was bad. End of discussion.

“They’re finished with your car,” she heard Nick.

She stood up and walked over to him. They hadn’t really talked about what they were planning on doing yet. Cassie wanted to talk to him, but she barely knew him. She didn’t know if she said too much it might scare him away. She needed him to help her take care of the baby. She sighed and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around her and walked her to the front desk to pay.

They got the newly smelling car and were back on the road. Cassie took this opportunity to say what was on her mind. “Nick?”

He was listening to the radio, banging his head to the tune. “Yeah, what is it?”

She turned the radio down till it was background music. “What are we doing?”

He looked out the window not answering so she continued.

“We’re both not even out of high school yet and here we are running away.”

He looked over at her. “I dropped out of high school last year.”

She didn’t show any emotion as she drove. “Okay, well, it looks like I just dropped out, too. I mean we’re going to have a baby for god’s sake! We are the worst parents ever!”

“You don’t know that,” he defended.

“That’s exactly my point! We don’t know each other! We hooked up!” She yelled, trying to end it with a laugh.

He stared at her. “I didn’t have to come with you, Cassie. I could have been a douche and said ‘good luck’ and not done anything.”

Cassie’s hands tightened around the wheel. “The only reason you said you’d come is because I was leaving that small town. Everyone knows you were looking for the first way out and as soon as you heard I was taking off, you jumped aboard!”

His eyebrows knitted together. “You don’t think I did it because I have a responsibility now? We’re having a child, Cassie! A human being! It’s my fault we—“

“Whoa, what do you mean fault?! You say it like the child is a problem!” She got defensive.

“Unplanned would be the word I’m looking for actually! It’s not like I purposefully did it.”

“No it was just an accident you having unprotected sex with me, right?”

“I asked you if you took pills!”

“I was drunk and almost passed out! You took advantage of me!”

“You came home with me! Don’t put this all on my head! I don’t have to be here, you know!” He yelled angrily.

Cassie hit the brakes and glared at him. “You use that card a lot. No, you don’t have to be here. It’s in my stomach, so I’m stuck with it, but you’re free. You’ve done your part and you enjoyed it. Meanwhile I have to deal with the consequences.”

“You don’t have to deal with the consequences though! Think about it, Cassie! Just get an abortion and everything will go to the way it was before.” He tried to reason with her.

“Get out.” She stared straight ahead at the road.

“Cassie, I’m sorry.”

“Get the fuck out of my car,” she said menacingly.

He sighed, opening the car door. They were only in the next town over so he could call one of his friends to pick him up. She drove away, the door slamming shut with the jolt. He flipped her off in her rear-view mirror.
Cassie drove all day until the sun set. Her phone buzzed multiple times, but she ignored it. She just kept on driving. She pulled into an old run down motel and walked inside.

“Do you have any open rooms?” She asked the man at the desk.

“Fifty bucks.”

“But I don’t have that much,” she pulled what little cash she had left.

He stared at her hands and looked back up. “Fifty bucks, take it or take a hike.”

She put the money back in her pocket and walked back out to her car. She’d have to find a parking lot and sleep there instead. Her phone vibrated once more and she looked at it.

Slowly she opened the phone and pushed the green talk button. “H-hello?” she answered.

“Chasity! Oh thank god you’re alive!” Her mother was on the other line. “Where are you, sweetie? We’ve all been worried sick about you! I thought you were dead!” She started to cry, relieved.

Cassie felt tears roll down her face too. “Hi mom,” she whispered.

“Where are you?” She asked again.

Cassie looked around for some sign or road map. “Um…Santa Rosa, I think.”

“Oh my god, she’s in Santa Rosa! Honey, what are you doing there? Were you kidnapped?” Her mom’s voice was panicky.

“No mom, I…ran away. Um…I don’t know how to say this.” Cassie laughed nervously. “I ran away because I was afraid you would hate me…”

“Chasity, I could never hate you.” Her mother tried to explain.

“Well a couple weeks ago while you guys thought I was at a sleepover with some friends from school… I went to a party and hooked up with a guy named Nick and…” She paused, waiting to hear her mother’s voice again. When she didn’t, she finished her sentence. “I’m pregnant.”

Her mother didn’t say anything at all. Cassie started to cry, all the fear she kept inside her overflowed. “I’m sorry mom! I know I shouldn’t have run away, but I was scared and I didn’t want you to be disappointed in me. I’m so scared. I don’t want a child to come into this world the way I am. I’m a bad person and I would be a terrible mother…” she couldn’t stop crying and her mom listened silently.

She continued to cry until all her tears dried up. Finally her mother spoke with a soft tone. “Come home, Chasity.”

She wiped her eyes and listened to her mom.

“I love you. Please, come home.”

Cassie stayed up all night, driving back home. Hearing her mom say that, after knowing what she did. She still loved her and didn’t hate that she was pregnant. It was afternoon by the time Cassie pulled into the driveway of her parents’ house. Her dad was gone to work and her siblings at school. Cassie slowly walked inside and didn’t hear anything. She walked into the kitchen and saw her mom sitting at the counter, sipping a hot chocolate. She slid an extra cup over to Cassie, already made with little marshmallows in them.
“Welcome home.” Her mother said, taking a sip of the chocolate.

Cassie ran over and hugged her mom, crying. “I’m so sorry, mom!”

Her mother soothed her quietly. “Baby, you can’t change it. What’s done is done. That doesn’t mean I love you any less. I’m just glad you’re home safe. Promise you’ll never leave me again.”

Cassie nodded, burying her face in her mother’s clothes. Her mother pulled her away and smiled. “Look at the bright side. I get to be a grandmother at such a young age.”

Cassie wiped her eyes, taking the hot chocolate. “And I get to have a kid that hopefully will be nothing like me.”

Her mother laughed. “Well, you should be so lucky because my daughter gives me a heart attack on a regular basis.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

SwedenSara Week 48: Fight and Flight


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SwedenSara’s Choice: both

Fight and Flight

The sound of the slamming door is still lingering in our apartment. The walls are still vibrating from the impact, and the words I shouted in anger still float around in the air. I want to take them back, but I can’t. That’s how it is with words. Once uttered, they stay out there, always present in people’s minds, poisoning their memories and obstructing your chances of ever making it right again. I crawl up in the window and seat myself on the ledge, leaning against the frame. I light a cigarette and take out my phone, typing a message for her.

Please come back inside.

I hear the beep from the staircase, and realize she’s still outside the door. She’s probably sitting on the stairs, all dolled up in her new blue dress, with tears messing up her mascara. I fiddle with my phone waiting for her answer, and look at it dreadfully as it chimes with an incoming message.


My fingers move by themselves, not allowing my brain to have any opinion on what to write.

Please. I’m sorry.

Her response is too quick, too harsh, too decisive.

Fuck you.

I try a different approach.

You can’t sit on those stairs forever, you know.

I stare at the phone, the cigarette slowly burning in my hand, ash falling down in my lap, as I wait.

I won’t. I’m leaving.

My fingers are back in charge, typing away without asking my brain for advice again.

NO! Wait. Don’t go.

You want me? Come and get me.

I stare at the phone. Should I go to her? She told me to stay away from her, to back off. Now she wants me to follow? I don’t get her. These kind of games in relationships have always been my weak point. I debate my options. If I stay inside, like she ordered me to at first, she’ll probably use that against me, claiming I showed her that I don’t care about her by not coming out. If I do follow, chances are she’ll engage me in another fight that I’ll most likely lose. Either way, it’s bound to end up worse than it already is.

I light another cigarette and sigh as I look out the window, down on the kids on the playground and their stay-at-home moms. Moving to this neighbourhood was a bad idea. We should have stayed in the city, close to the night-life and the lesbian clubs, instead of moving out here to try to play ‘ordinary family.’ I miss the gay scene, the diversity in the city and the tolerance for difference. I hate this conformity, it’s a threat to everything that I am.

I don’t understand why she wanted to fit in with these people. They don’t want us anyway. I can tell from the way they look at me in the staircase and always keeps a secure distance when waiting for the bus. I don’t think she notices. She’s not as obvious with her sexual preferences as I am, with her being bi and all. I’m not exactly butch, but I’m not even close to being feminine. She is, though.

She’s pretty, with long hair, makeup and dresses, heels and purses.

I have jeans and a tee.

She likes both men and women.

I only like women.

Men ogle her when she goes out, they flirt shamelessly and try to get her into bed. The fact that she has a girlfriend only seems to spur them on, like it’s a proof of their masculinity to bed a lesbian. That is what today’s fight is about. She’s going out, without me, to a straight bar, and I know that if she decides she want one of the many men who will come on to her tonight, I have nothing to compete with. If she wants cock, I’m out of the game, because I don’t have one.

She says I don’t trust her. I guess she’s right.

She says I’m insecure, and I guess I am.

She says I’ve got penis envy, and in this case, I guess I do.

I never wanted to have a cock, until I met her. I never wanted to be a man, but now, I wish I could be both to her. I can’t, and that’s killing me. I want to be everything she’ll ever want, but that’s biologically impossible.

I think I should go to her. That’s the right thing to do. I hope she’s still out there.

I open the door and peek down the staircase. I hear heels clicking on the floor a few stories down, and the front door slams as she disappears outside.

I waited too long this time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Burntcore Week 48: Paradise


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1


I hated this time of year. It was cold and barren and brown. Even the snow only stayed pure for so long. Staying out in this cabin only made me feel more desolate. I brought the cigarette to my lips again and pulled another drag of the sweet tobacco into my lungs.

It felt like spring would never come again. I longed for warm breezes and leaves on trees and even flowers. Mostly, I couldn’t wait to see the girls running around campus in shorts and tiny dresses.

I couldn’t help it, I was still a guy... who, especially in this cold, forsaken place, longed for the warmth of something soft and feminine. All of those soft and feminine things were covered up by thick, downy jackets, gloves, hats, and scarves.


And yet, my dumbass is standing out on this joke of a balcony in a t-shirt. The joys of being a smoker.

Maybe I should quit.

Maybe I should just put on a sweatshirt before I go outside.

Perhaps it was time for a road trip to someplace warm.

Shivering, I flicked my cigarette out into the snow covered grass below and shuffled back into the cabin. My roommate was sprawled across the couch, mashing his thumbs on the controller of his game system.

“Dude!” I said as I plopped down beside him.

“‘Sup?” he asked, somewhat distracted as he graphically dismembered his enemy on the screen with sprays of blood going in several directions.

“When’s your last final?”

“Tomorrow,” he replied, and executed another series of hacking and slashing.

“Awesome. It’s time for a road trip.”


“Somewhere south. I don’t care where as long as it’s warm and has pretty girls.”

My roommate looked back at me with a big smile. “Now that’s what I’m talking about. There’s a game I would much rather be playing.”

He high-fived me and I laughed as I started making plans for our winter break road trip away from this desolate, cold, hellhole.

Paradise, here we come.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 48: Rising Water


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Kimmydon's Choice: both

Rising Water

The grey sky was ominous as we drove nearer to the ocean. There was little traffic in either direction, which was surprising. We expected an exodus away from the hurricane and flood zone, but apparently everyone had already left and we were the only one’s crazy enough to be driving into it.

“Keep going, Martin,” I pleaded as the rain began to pelt the windshield. “I know she’s there. We have to help her.”

“She’s gotten out already, Lucy. Why don’t you believe that? She’s long gone and just didn’t have a way to tell us.”

“No, she’s trapped. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know. Just like I know we’re going to get there before this really breaks on us.” I looked up at the sky, doubting myself for a minute. It looked horrid, and the devastation further south certainly foretold of disaster here. It didn’t matter. I had to get to Kristen. She had been living in the lighthouse all summer, alone. She said it was perfect for her to work on her novel. No interruptions, easy, steady work. She’d sent me pieces of the manuscript to review, by mail - snail mail. She was taking this ‘olden days’ thing far too seriously.

Martin knew she had taken only a long dead cell phone with her into the light house, and no computer, no laptop, nothing. The lighthouse had power and a phone jack, but she’d shunned both, as he knew, which is why he was so avid that she simply hadn’t gotten hold of us. However, I knew that if she’d left, the first thing she would do is find a phone and call. She was still there, trapped in a tower on the edge of the ocean.

As we broke through the scrub to the actual beach, I saw just how trapped she was. Tide was in and higher than it had ever been. The storm had lighted a little, as I had known it would. I jumped from the car before Martin even had it in park.

“Lucy! Come back here!”

It was too late, I’d jumped off the rocks that protected the area we had parked, though the water would breach those soon as well, and landed with a splash in the swirling, rising water. I started to slog for the pinnacle, for Kristen. My red coat floated on the water, swirling around me, but I hardly noticed it. It seemed to take hours to reach the door at the base of the spire, and it was already half its height under the water, as was I. It would have been impossible to open if it had been fully sealed.

Planners had left small gaps, which made this horribly cold in the winter, but accessible now, when the water threatened to strand whoever was inside.

“Kristen!” I yelled, shoving the door with all my strength. It budged slowly. “Kristen! Can you hear me?!”

“Lucy?” her voice croaked. It sounded full of pain. “Is that you?”

“I’m coming, Kristen!” The stairs, out of the water, were easy to climb, though I shivered with cold. Being out of the water drew attention to the winds coming off the ocean, bringing the hurricane with them.

I found her, trying to turn the glass of the light. The rusted mechanism had jammed. Joining her, I pushed with all the might I had as well. This was important, getting the light where it would warn ships tossed in the storm. Two backs seemed to have enough oomph to throw the mirror into place. Kristen ran out of the room while I still heaved for breath.

She came back with pages in a giant ziplock. I almost laughed. She hugged the bundle to her chest. “Thanks for coming. I assume Martin is out there?” she asked, skipping down the stairs.

I was hot on her heels. “Yes. We need to hurry, we won’t get far before this really breaks. Why don’t you have a radio in here?” I asked as she pushed open the door that had been shut again.

The water on the other side fought against her. It had risen in the time I’d been here. “I do. I just... didn’t turn it on,” she admitted sheepishly.

Shaking my head, I joined her at the door, wedging it enough for the water to swirl in, up to my breasts now. We only opened it enough to press one of us out at a time, and we each groaned and cursed as it tried to close on us. It slammed as soon as I was through and we started paddling for the shore. I could see Martin in his light brown slicker, watching for us. He started waving arms as soon as we were out.

“He’s never going to let me live this down, is he?” Kristen asked.

“And I am?”

The water had breached the rocks, just barely, and it was through sloppy mud that we ran for the car, Kristen and I caught each other as we skated on the slick surface. We both hopped into the back where I’d left a couple of blankets, suspecting we’d be cold.

Martin, bless him, had left the engine running and was backing onto the highway as our door closed. “Hold on,” her warned, snapping the wheels and tossing both of us in the passenger side door. Kristen grunted as I collided with her, but Martin was climbing, headed to town where we could shelter. Already the winds were rising and the rain had returned, harder than before.

“You alright?” he asked, once we were on the slope.

“Yeah. We’re okay,” I answered.

“Thank you,” Kristen murmured.

Martin just chuckled. “If I didn’t trust Lucy so much...” he mused, focusing on the road and trying to see through the rain.

“At least we’ll have something to read while we wait out the storm,” I joked, taking Kristen’s bundle from her. I gasped when I saw the water pooled at the bottom. “Oh no!”

Kristen’s hand shot out to take it back, ripping the bag open. She sighed in relief. “Just a little damp on the edge. A hole in the bag, probably.

The last line or two of each page was smudged, but not illegible. Her baby, as she so often called it.

Martin got out first, when we reached the community hall. He dove out and ran for the door, banging on it twice before pulling it open. He ducked in for only a second before holding it and motioning for us to join him. Clutching our blankets, we did.

There was a small group gathered, coffee in an urn, water in pitchers, and a handful of kids chasing each other around the large open floor.

“Hello. Did you have any trouble?” a woman with grey hair asked.

“A little,” Kristen answered. “The mirror wouldn’t budge. I need Simon to come take a look at it when he can.” She filled a cup with steaming brown liquid, holding her blanket with one hand. “I might not have made it out if my friends hadn’t come to help me with it.”

She motioned to Martin and I. I waved tentatively.

“And now you’re trapped here, too. Well, they say this won’t last long, overnight. Melanie! Nita! Would you two stop running! I need you to get another mat.”

The two oldest girls stopped chasing the younger boys and went to one of the doors under the small stage. They dragged out a pair of mats that might be used for gymnastics, but would be our beds for the night. The woman, who’s name I hadn’t gotten, went to help them lay out sheets and pillow from the pile on another mat.

“You don’t mind staying, do you?” Kristen asked. “That’s Mrs. Murphy and the girls are her daughters; the boys, grandsons.”

“I don’t see as we have much choice,” Martin complained, listening to the storm howl.

All the lights went out suddenly and then came back on a moment or two later.

“We have a generator,” Mrs. Murphy told us, returning. “And stew in a crockpot when you get hungry.” She led them toward the kitchen again. “Don’t expect many will find their way here tonight, but you never know in a storm like this. Tree blow right through your window, and then what do you do?”

None of us answered, just took more coffee, quietly.

“How much longer are you planning to stay here?” I asked Kristen as I sipped from my mug. “You must be nearly done writing by now.” She couldn’t mean to stay in the tiny coastal town forever. Certainly not in the lighthouse.

“I’m not sure. I’m... not finished...”

There was a gust of cold salty air as the door opened.

“Simon! Shut that. Hurry now!”

As soon as I saw the man, I knew what Kristen wasn’t finished. “And why didn’t you have him come fix the lantern sooner,” I asked.

Martin chuckled, too. He probably noticed Kristen’s face colour as the man came in. He wasn’t extraordinarily handsome, but he certainly didn’t strain the eye, either. His head was covered with a shiny rain hat, that he doffed quickly to reveal more forehead than he’d probably had a few years ago. Rather than old, it made him look... stately.

He stepped up to Mrs. Murphy and kissed his cheek. “House’s shut up as tight as I can make it. The boys give you any trouble?”

“Not a lick. Girls! Boys! Come get some supper.”

I turned to Kristen in surprise. Not only was he a few years older than us, he had kids?! This was a long way from the guys she usually dated. She was still red-faced and watching Simon closely. I couldn’t take my eyes from her, until Martin approached Simon, hand out-stretched.

“Hi, I’m Martin. Lucy and I are friends of Kristen. We were worried when we didn’t hear from her.” He glanced over his shoulder at us and Kristen huddled further into her blanket, seeming to hide.

“What have you got there, dear?” Mrs. Murphy asked, coming closer. “Is that the book? Bring it into the kitchen. Lots of counter to set it out on. I see it’s gotten a bit damp.”

I was even more confused and beginning to feel out of place. Maybe Kristen hadn’t needed us after all. She followed the older woman into the kitchen silently but was soon set upon by the boys who didn’t seem interested in their stew. The colour in her cheeks faded as she answered their questions and showed them pages. She wasn’t leaving.

Simon was watching her with the boys. Martin stood beside him, grinning. He caught my eye and winked before striking up a conversation with Simon. One that probably revolved around revealing every tidbit Kristen would like never repeated. Indeed, Simon was soon laughing with Martin and they moved to some stacking chairs that had been set out.

I entered the kitchen, planning to ask Kristen about Simon, but she had her head bent to Mrs. Murphy’s. “You’ll be fine dear. Just go and talk to him. I know the old mechanics of the lighthouse aren’t like the new fangled gadgets he works with now, but he’ll know what to do. I’ll keep the boys out of both your hair.” The older woman’s smile was warm and knowing as well.

Grabbing a deck of playing cards from a cubby hole, I sat at one of the tables set up and started dealing out Klondike, until Martin came and took the cards, dealing for Gin Rummy. “Didn’t see that coming, did you?” he asked, cocking his head in Simon and Kristen’s direction.

“No,” I answered honestly. My gift let me see somethings, very clearly in the worst scenarios, but almost nothing in the best. It was nice. It meant I could still be surprised, but usually in the most pleasant ways.

Friday, April 15, 2011

SwedenSara Week 47: A Place to Hide


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SwedenSara’s Choice: both

A Place to Hide

All my life I’ve been looking for places to hide. When I was little, I hid for fun - in the closet, under the table, or behind the couch. I sat there, waiting in rapt anticipation for my parents or my big sister to find me. I giggled with joy as I listened to their voices, laced with pretended concern for my well being as they called for me, begging me to come back to them. In some ways, I knew that they just played along to make me happy and that they were aware of my whereabouts all the time, but I still loved the feeling of being missed, of hearing them cry and telling each other how their lives were not complete without me. It was just for show, but it made me feel loved and cherished. I was loved and cherished, and toying with the idea of disappearing made me realize what an impact it would have on the lives of my loved ones if I really did go missing. For a while, that understanding made me anxious about letting go of my mother’s hand in the supermarket, or losing sight of my family on the playground or the beach, but I grew out of it.

My talent for finding good hiding-places came in handy in school, in positive as well as negative ways. During my first school-years I excelled when playing hide-and-seek in recess, but my friends grew tired of never finding me. Once, they decided they had had enough, and just left me. I waited and waited, and when I realized they had actually abandoned me, I cried. I stayed in my place and didn’t go back to class that afternoon. I felt betrayed and ashamed, an odd mixture; betrayed because they left me, and ashamed because everyone would know that they left me. Everyone would know that I was the one singled out, the black sheep, the one not worthy of finding. They would point their fingers at me and whisper, covering their mouths and giggling, and when I would look at them they would quickly look away. I knew that. I had seen it happen so many times. That evening, my parents got the first of many calls from the teachers about my missing class.

From then on, I stayed out of the hide-and-seek games, with the intention to always be close to my friends so they wouldn’t leave me again. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. They suddenly seem to find me annoying, but I didn’t know why or what I had done wrong. It was as if the choice to abandon me during hide-and-seek united them closely and made it okay for them to freeze me out.

I quickly adapted to being “the lonely one.” I thought that, if I gave them time and kept my distance, they would come back to me. I wasn’t happy with it, but I figured that at least it couldn’t get worse. They didn’t come back, and it did get worse. A lot worse. And my skills at hiding came in handy again.

I usually hid in the woods behind out school. The moss-covered trunks and the leafy branches, the huge boulders and the uprooted trees, they were all on my side, offering me solitude, solace and security. The only difference was that now, I didn’t want to be found. So many times I decided to just stay in the forest forever, to disappear and never come back. Then I thought of my family, searching for me and calling my name like they did when I was little, only this time it would be for real. And I realized that if I did leave, then the sorrow in their voices, the despair and concern, it wouldn’t be just for show anymore. It would be sincere. I couldn’t do that to them. So I came back, every time, only to face my antagonists once again.

I survived, though. I’m grown up now, and I have friends who would never leave me behind. The scars are still there, and I still look for hide-outs wherever I go, just in case. It’s like a reflex, an unconscious act meant to prevent and protect. I haven’t told them what happened to me, and to be honest, I don’t remember much of it. I’ve repressed it, pushed the worst stuff so far away in my mind that I’m not sure I could remember it even if i tried. I don’t want to remember, but my therapist says I should. She thinks my life would be better if I dealt with it. I can’t see why reliving that would make anything better at all. I think those memories are perfectly fine where they are, banished from my conscious mind and locked away.

Today, as I look down on the big city below, I realize how much it looks like a forest. The skyscrapers reach for the sky, offering me millions of hideouts. It’s not like the forest at home, but it’ll work. It’ll make me feel safe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burntcore Week 47: Stillness of Color


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Burntcore's Choice: both

Stillness of Color

Melanie sighed as she flopped on my bed. “Do you think we’ll ever be as cool as Marlon Brando?” she asked, gazing longingly at my black and white poster of Marlon on my wall.

“Maybe,” I mused. “If you stop being such a goober all the time.”

I smirked at Melanie as her jaw dropped in shock.

“Goober? Who are you calling a goober?” she demanded, throwing a pillow at me.

“Who you callin’ a cootie queen, you lint licker!” I quoted an Orbitz gum commerial as I caught the pillow and tossed it back at her.

Melanie laughed and sighed lustily over Marlon Brando’s picture again.

“They just don’t make them like they used to, do they?”

“Hmm?” I asked, as I dug through the piles of organized chaos on my desk to find a SD card for my camera.

“Men like Marlon. They don’t make them like that anymore. Hollywood just isn’t like it used to be.”

“Aha!” I crowed happily as I branished the sought after SD card. “Found it!”

“Seriously, Linds, what do you think? Do you think Hollywood is different now?”

I sat in my desk chair with a flop and pondered her question. “Of course it is. Half the shit that men like Brando got away with back then couldn’t be done now. Everyone romantisizies how things were back then but was it really that great?”

“If you feel that way about that time, why do yo have a poster of Brando on your wall?”

I laughed, “Cause he’s fucking hot! Duh!”

Melanie joined in my laughter as I swapped out SD cards on my camera. Regardless of how much of a sexist pig Marlon Brando may have been, he was still one of the finest men to ever grace the big screen.

Our laughter died down and I gathered my camera bag and lenses. Melanie said she wanted to come with me on this trip. I next assignment for my photography class was to interpret the phrase “Stillness of Color.” I wasn’t sure just how I was going to do that but we were going out to find just what that would mean.

“You ready?” I ask, as I slide the last of my stuff into my bag.

“Yep,” Melanie said, as she got up from my bed and grabbed her purse. “Where are we going exactly?”

“I have a few ideas where I think I can find something that fits... the lake is one, and possibly the arboretum. We’ll hit the arboretum first as it is closest. After we’re done, you wanna grab a bite?”

Melanie eagerly agreed, “Yes, please. I’ve hardly eaten all day.”

We ran out of my apartment and hopped in my trusty Honda Civic. It had seen better days but it still ran great and got me where I needed to go. The gas mileage couldn’t be beat for a standard combustion engine either.

It didn’t take long before we got to the college’s arboretum. Thankfully, it wasn’t that busy. As we walked around, I took a few photos of interesting things I saw but nothing really stuck out at me. Melanie even tried to help by pointing out a few things she saw that caught her eye, but nothing was working. Nothing was It. We had gotten about halfway through the arboretumwhen I realized that I wasn’t going to find what I wanted there.

“Come on, Melanie. It’s just not working here. Let’s try the lake.”

“Really? There are so many beautiful things here,” she replied, looking around with a smile. Melanie loved the arboretum, which was fitting since she was studying to be a botanist.

“There are,” I agreed. “But not what I need for this assignment.”

The drive to the lake took a little longer. We chatted easily about our plans for later that night. Melanie and I both had dates with guys from our Ethics class, the one class we both had together. This was my first date with Jason but her third with Matt. She was eagerly looking forward to how the third date shenanigans would go.

“You are such a slut,” I teased.

“What? He’s hot!” she retorted.

“Yeah, but still, that doesn’t mean you have to give it up just because it’s the third date.”

“I know that, mom, thanks,” she said sarcastically. “I really like him so we’ll just see where it goes.”

I nodded, knowing that nothing I said would sway my friend from her goal of getting into Matt’s pants. He was a good lucking guy and all but there was more to life than sex. Not much, but there was.

Finally, we pulled up at the look-out point for the lake, which was also blissfully empty. The sun had just set and colors were streaking across the sky.

“Oh my God,” I whispered. “Mel, this is perfect.”

I barely remembered to park the car and shut it off before I was out the door and setting up my tripod. I heard Melanie get out of the car and join me on the bank of the placid lake.

“Wow, that’s amazing, Linds,” Melanie whispered.

I nodded as I attached my camera to the tripod and dug through my bag for the right lens. The colors were deepening as the sun continued it’s trek across to the other side of the world. I only had moments to capture this. With a quiet snick, the lens locked into place and I began setting the aperture settings.

Gazing through the viewfinder, I watched the oranges and the blues of the sky streak against the high, puffy clouds. The placid, calm lake mirrored the image, providing a fantastic backdrop to the dead tree that stood off to the side. Finally finding my moment, I focused on the limbs of the dead tree with the last of the sun streaming behind it in glorious golds that contrasted the blues and oranges of the sunset.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 47: Misfortune


Picture 1

Picture 2

Kimmydon's Choice: both


What was I doing here? I should have learned my lesson from his last show, but no, I’d decided to try to make it to another. Sure, there was the lure of the new songs, written about characters I had created, but Dan would have been happy to sing them for me somewhere quiet, well-lit, and warm. Instead I’d wedged myself into a milling crowd, sure my shoe was slipping in something not from a glass. I’d made it through three numbers before I couldn’t take another minute. The people felt like insects, swarming me. I ran from the bar and heaved a sigh of relief from beside the bouncer still taking cover fees.

“You okay?” he asked, eying me over. “Need me to get a cab?”

I should have accepted, instead I foolishly thought a walk would do me good. Fresh air wasn’t a bad idea, but the neighborhood I’d chosen couldn’t be much worse. Dan wouldn’t swoop in and save me now. I didn’t have a knight sworn to protect me. I was going to be crushed by the monster that dogged my steps.
I froze in front of a lighted window, praying the neon would repel him, like some magic barrier.
It seemed to work at first, he stalled anyway. Then he came on, grabbed my arm and pushed me past the window, into the alley.

“Come along, little girl.” His voice dripped venom and I started to scream. His hand wrapped around my mouth, muffling it. It was cut by the knife he produced. “Now play nice and I won’t have to use this,” he warned, twisting the blade so it shone in the sparse light. Tears filled my eyes but I nodded slightly.

”Aren’t you lucky I have a strong constitution? Amnesia, the knight muttered.

The princess clung to the knight’s back as he rode out of the cave. “How do you get me into these things?” he asked.

“I’m beginning to believe your reputation is bringing disaster,” she retorted, losing breath as she connected hard with the saddle.
“Heh, suppose it could be. You never see the inept ones I put down. It’s mercy-killing, I swear.” He chuckled and held a hand over hers where it clung to his breastplate.

“Well, if you will kindly return me to my fortress, I will attempt to make your job easier,” she answered coolly.

“How’s that?”

“Better fortifications, of course. Less chance...” His laughing cut her off.

“You think they won’t find a way around? They always do. How many times have you been captured this month? this week? I’m starting to think you’re running off with them to make me come for you.”

She seethed, wishing she could cross her arms. Finally she did let go and slipped form the saddle to the dirt. She tumbled once, her rags picking up more filth. This last captor had not been gentle.

Rearing, the knight pulled rein, and dismounted, coming to lift her. “Why?” he asked.

She kicked a little, ineffectually, until he plopped her in the saddle, walking with the reins. She quieted some then.

“Why?” he barked again.

“I don’t know,” she answered. She knew the question. Why did she fight him? Why didn’t she let him protect her properly, all the time? Why did she refuse his presence so often?

“Try to figure it out,” he grumbled.

Scooping a glob of jam onto my bread, I joined Marla at the table.

“What happened to you?” she asked, alarmed. “Where were you last night?”

I didn’t answer, slugging back coffee and choking on it. “Nothing happened,” I said when the coughing died away. “I went to the show, then Dan brought me home.”

She smirked. “Dan did. Is he coming by again today?”

“Yes,” I said in a whisper. Appetite gone, I dropped the bread to my plate and turned back for my room.

“Wait,” Marla called. “Your face. What did you do? Fall?”

I ran a hand of the shallow scrape and bruise. “Yeah. I fell. Near a wall.” It was pushed against a wall, but close enough.

“You’re not going to eat that?” she asked, pointing at the bread and heart-shaped glob.

“No. In fact, I’m going for a walk. Tell Dan I’m at the park?” I didn’t bother with bag or coat, walking out.

I sat staring into grassy field, not seeing the kids playing, or dogs walking. Leaping of the bench, I punched Dan in the jaw as he tried to hug me.

“I’m sorry!” I shouted, putting my hand to the spot. “You scared me.”

“I deserved that. Should have warned you. You forgot this,” he said, pulling my notebook from his coat pocket. “That nearly scared Marla to death. You’ll have to tell her something when you get back. As soon as she told me you were gone, I guessed where.” He moved to sit next to me. “May I?” he asked, lifting his arm and setting it well off my shoulders behind me.

I nodded and leaned into his chest, tucking my head under his chin. “Thank you,” I whispered. “It could have been so much worse. It was bad, but...” I sniffled unable to relive any of the night before, yet.

“I’m here for you, Chase. Always. I’ll come for you anytime, anywhere. I just wish I’d known you were coming. If John hadn’t spotted you in the crowd, if I hadn’t gone looking...” We both shuddered at the implications.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked after several minutes of silence.

“No,” I whispered.

“Want to hear a story?” he asked. “About a little boy who got caught by bigger boys?”

“No,” I answered honestly. “Unless it’s about the little boy kicking all their asses.”

He laughed, and I could feel it rumble through him. “Don’t let him get you, Jenny. He’s gone. You will never see him again. No one is going to see him again for months.”

I let the words calm me. He was right. The creep was a repeat offender. I probably wouldn’t even need to go to court. Dan’s hand never stopped moving on my back, slow strokes. He turned his head to kiss the top of mine.

I shifted, bringing my face up to his. I held those deep dark eyes for a moment before pressing my lips to his.

His response took me by surprise. He jumped and seized my shoulders, pulling me away slightly. “Whoa. You sure you wanna do that?”

I sighed a little. “No,” I answered honestly before deflating completely. I was a puddle of Jennifer in his lap, no will to stir from the spot.

His hands found my hair and started combing through it. “‘Why?’ he asked. I opened my notebook to what I’d written after he dropped me off.

“She kicked a little, ineffectually, until he plopped her in the saddle, walking with the reins. She quieted some then.

Dan continued to read.

“I don’t know,” I answered. Then the tears came. I’d cried on him last night, and then it had been okay. I mean, I’d been assaulted and nearly raped, that excused a few tears, but now? Now I didn’t know why I was crying. Probably because I was a girl.

“It’s okay, Chase, cry it out.” It wasn’t what I’d expected to hear, and the tears slowed as a result.

“What?” I asked.

“That’s what that little boy did, after he got back to his mom. She held him, and let him cry, until he was ready to try again.”

I half-expected the tears to return, but they didn’t. Instead I threw my arms around his neck, half-straddling him. He gave a gasp in astonishment. “Thank you. Thank you so much. I shouldn’t have left alone. I shouldn’t have gone alone. I’ll never be so stupid again.” Pressing my face to his neck, I pursed my lips to kiss it.

“I’m so glad I found you. John and Eric still weren’t talking to me this morning, but they will when I tell them why I didn’t come back. I can’t believe you came at all, alone or otherwise. Why did you do it?”

I sniffled and pulled away enough to look at him. “42.”

He put his forehead to mine. “You’re telling me,” he murmured.

His smile warmed me where I thought I’d be frozen forever. It hadn’t even been twenty-four hours, but it felt like eternity.

“Take me to heaven?” I asked, an errant tear tickling my nose. His lips moved to kiss it away.

“One day soon,” he promised. “First, I want to have you here a little longer.” He hugged me tight again, stroking my back and rocking. I wouldn’t argue. There wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Destinee Week 46: We All Need a Little Fun

Destiny Cullen

Picture 1

Picture 2

Destiny Cullen’s Choice: both

We All Need a Little Fun

Sara was laying on her bed trying to get back into her book, but she just couldn’t concentrate. She laid the book on her chest and stared at the photos she had on her surrounding walls. She smiled looking at each picture, remembering each moment that was caught forever and posted on her wall. She remembered each laugh, each smile, each hug. She remembered feeling. . .alive.

She wanted to feel happy again, like she did before - before she had to get a second job to pay for school and bills that weren’t even hers. She didn’t have any drive, no passion for school anymore. She sighed and took her feet off the wall, throwing the book across the room.

“What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?”

Sara laughed and sat up to look at her best friend. “What are you doing here? I said I couldn’t meet you at the mall, I have to study.” Her friend gave her an ‘oh really’ look and glared at the book that had almost hit her. “Don’t give me that look, Beth. You know I have finals next week.”

“Sure Sara. Anyway I came here, even after you blew me off, to tell you something really ultimately life changing!”

Sara rolled her eyes. “Did you win the lottery?” God knew she needed that for all the hospital bills of her late parents.

Beth scoffed. “No! It is way better than that. Try. . . Tickets to see The Sex Brothers! They had a free give away at the mall and I won! And what is even better you ask? We get to meet the band after the concert!”

Sara’s eyes were about to pop out of her head. The Sex Brothers? They were the biggest thing right now in rock music. Not to mention the sexiest band ever. Not one person in the band was ugly, but Sara had a huge crush on the guitarist.

“I don’t think I can Beth.” She sighed and headed to her closet so she wouldn‘t give in to temptation, but Beth blocked her. “Don’t you dare ditch me, Sara! I know you can go. I’ll even help you study tomorrow. All day! You know Saturdays are my flirt days at the beach.”

Sara couldn’t help but laugh. She glanced over her shoulder and looked at the pictures of her old happier self. She wanted to feel alive again, right? Before she had to take care of all the responsibilities? She wanted a little spice back in her life. Why not go to the concert that was bound to have adrenaline running through her veins? It may be temporary happiness but she’d take it where she could get it.

She looked at her watch and knew that if the show started at seven then they only had about six hours to wait in line. “I’ll have to hurry up and get dressed. If we want to be up front and actually see them during the show, we have to leave in the next twenty minutes.” Sara whispered not really sure if she should do this. Suddenly Beth crushed her in a tight hug and squealed with happiness.

“I have the perfect shirt for you to wear to the concert, it may be white but it describes you.” She snickered and Sara was instantly worried. “Come on,” she waved Sara out of her room. “I have an outfit for you in the car, just grab your camera and I.D.”

Sara threw on her converse and ran to her friend’s car, hoping no one saw her in her shorts and sports bra. They weren’t even the cute ones she ran in. “The bag is under your seat.” Beth smiled as Sara pulled out a plastic bag. “Just so you know, you have to wear what is in there because there is no way you are going to meet The Sex Brothers in ugly shorts and an old sports bra.”

Sara glared at her and jumped into the back seat and Beth sped off toward the arena. “I swear that if these clothes are too small I will kill you and feed you to the groupies.” She glared at Beth in the rear-view but her friend just told her to put on the clothes and quit complaining.

Of course Beth had to get on the freeway, and Sara was sure those honks weren’t for Beth’s bad driving. Finally dressed in a new bra, shirt, and pants Sara climbed into the front seat as they entered the parking garage.

“Are you ready to have to time of your life?” She smiled at Sara, and it was infectious. Sara was already forgetting all her troubles. She grabbed Beth in a rib-crunching hug. “Thank you so much for doing this for me. I really needed to get out and have fun.”

When she finally let go, Beth took her toward the already large line of fans. “Shit, we’ll never get to stand by the stage!” Her face fell, so much for getting Ryan’s guitar pick. Sara crossed her arms and stood behind a girl with a bright red Mohawk.

“Don’t act like that! Remember what we get to do after the show.” Beth smiled and leaned in close to her ear. “I know you want Ryan’s pick but imagine you could get something better. Like a shirt, or a kiss.” She giggled like a school girl; that earned some glances.

Surprisingly the hours waiting in the hot sun went by pretty fast and the venue staff let everyone in after verifying bags and tickets. Beth and Sara were about six rows of people away from the stage and figured that it wasn’t that bad. The tricky thing with general admission was that you never really stayed were you started out.

An evil grin spread across Sara’s face. She was going to be in front tonight, no matter if her clothes got ripped. Despite what it said on her shirt, she was not going to act like a lady tonight.

Not long after, the general admission was full and most of the stadium filled. Sara glanced around and saw the opening band start a sound check. She tugged Beth’s bra strap, “I need you to be ready. Once the band starts playing and everyone starts jumping around, we need to push our way up to the front.” Beth smiled and nodded her agreement.

After the final four bands played Beth and Sara were only a row of bodies away from the stage. The Sex Brothers came on stage and the whole place erupted in screams. Sara couldn’t help but stare at Ryan as he slung the red and black guitar over his shoulder.

The whole place vibrated with excitement and Sara smiled so wide it hurt. This was the feeling she was missing; she really needed to find a way to pay back Beth. The band started playing, and she could feel the music in her bones. The music from the amps shook her necklace on her chest.

Sara and Beth avoided the circle pits as best they could. A huge guy almost pulled Beth into the circle but Sara somehow got her back to their place up front. Ryan was in the middle of his epic solo when the huge guy from before came back around the circle pit and hit Sara square in the jaw.

Sara’s vision got flooded with black dots as the pain erupted in her head. She was here for the feeling she was missing and she got more than bargained for. She glared back at the guy but he was too into the music to figure out he just punched a girl in the face.

Fighting the tears, she put her all her focus back to the stage and she saw Ryan staring at her. Sure, everyone thought that a famous band member was looking at them during the concert, but he was really looking at her. She looked over at Beth and she was screaming for the lead singer, Darren, to look at her.

At the end of that song set, Ryan stepped on the ego riser, leaned over security, and held out his hand to her. Sara couldn’t breathe as she looked into his hazel eyes. Screams shredded her eardrums and hands bashed against her body to get closer to Ryan.

She shook the shock away and reached her hand out and took what was in his. He smiled as she took his pick and mouthed ‘sorry’ to her before he straightened and headed backstage. She was dumbstruck, but she couldn’t stop smiling even when her face protested.

“Thank you for coming out tonight! You made our stay in California worth it!” Darren yelled into the microphone.

“I want you, Darren!”
“Marry me, Darren!”
“You’re my baby’s daddy!”
“I love you!”

He laughed at the screaming fans, said his ‘I love you’s to all the screaming girls, and avoided the baby daddy comments. Finally the whole band came back on to say goodbye and then they were gone. The lights came on and everyone started for the doors.

“You got his pick, you little bitch!” Beth laughed as she hugged her. “Oh shit, your face! What the fuck happened?” It was Sara’s turn to laugh. “Nothing that matters, I got Ryan’s pick and I’m ready to go home.”

“Not so fast! We get to meet them backstage remember?” She smiled and thought about actually talking to her fantasy. “Lets hurry up before the groupies ravage them. I want Darren’s shirt.”

Thirty minutes later, they were backstage, but it wasn’t roadies and the band they were greeted with. It was the police. “You ladies need to leave. There will be no meeting the band tonight.”

Beth scoffed. “We have tickets to see them.” The policeman eyed her and then looked at Sara. “There will be no meeting the band. I suggest that you ladies go home.” He crossed his arms across his chest as his partner cupped his taser.

“This is bullshit!” Beth stormed out of the arena and slammed the door to her car. “This is utter bullshit, Sara! We deserve to see them! You got clocked in the face, for shit’s sake!” Sara patted her friend’s arm since smiling was out of the question - her jaw was already swollen.

“I know, I know. I’ll take you home now. At least you got a pick out of the punch to the jaw. I’m going to complain to the manager who gave me the tickets. We are going to meet them one way or another, Sara.”

Sara laughed at her friend. “Yeah, right. You know, they don’t give a shit if we see them or not.” Beth shot her a death glare and she shut her mouth. Beth parked outside the house and waved bye before zooming off into the night.

Sara smiled as she walked into her room and falling limp on her cold sheets. She moaned as she curled up in the most comfortable position ever. “Best. Night. Ev-” She was cut off by the chirping of her phone.

She groaned eyeing the device on her nightstand debating if she could reach for it without moving from the comfy position. It chirped again and she glared at it and moved to get it. It was texts from Beth.

I’m home safely and on the phone with the manager right now. Wish me luck or you’re not getting to meet them with me!

Still on hold but not giving up.

Sara rolled her eyes, knowing she wasn’t going to get new tickets to see them but texting back her wishes of luck to her hopeful friend. She laid the phone right next to her pillow just in case her friend decided to text again.

Insistent ringing woke Sara up and she looked around her room wondering why her head hurt so bad. She wanted to shut that annoying ringing up. She found her phone under her pillow right where her ear was and looked at it, wishing she could turn it into mush with one thought.

But instead she looked through the messages. Fifteen missed calls last night from Beth and ten text messages from her, eight in from the last five minutes.

Bitch answer the phone!
You think I won’t go to your house and wake your ass up?
I have good news bitch!
Fine, I guess you don’t want to know!

Sara stopped looking through the texts and decided to call Beth before she had an aneurysm. Beth answered on the second ring. “Finally! I thought someone might have killed you last night. I mean you are a sexy twenty-two year old.”

Sara rolled her eyes. “The good news, Beth. I need to get some aspirin and get back to bed. My face is killing me.”

“Party pooper! Anyway. I was calling you to tell you we get to see the band next Friday in San Diego! And this time we have backstage passes! We get to see the whole show backstage.”

Sara’s eyes bugged and she couldn’t form words. “How the hell did you pull that off?!”

“I have my ways. But it might have to do with something about my best friend getting hit in the face and us not being able to see them, becoming emotionally unstable. Oh and lawsuit and killing spree might have been thrown around.”

“You made me sound like a lunatic.” She put her arm across her eyes, her room seeming too bright.

“The details don’t matter. Just get better and get an outfit ready for next week!”

The call was disconnected and she let the cell fall from her ear. She took a deep breath and smiled. She was looking for happiness? She found it, and it wasn’t even temporary. She just needed to open herself up to the opportunities.