Thursday, May 26, 2011

Burntcore Week 53: Hearts So Deep


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Burntcore's Choice: Both

Hearts So Deep

The journal was a road map, of this Casey was certain. It was a road map of the life of a troubled young woman trying to find answers to questions she was prepared for yet. The journal was the story of Casey’s mother, a woman that she barely knew. How she came in possession of her mother’s story seemed to be a part of the puzzle.

Casey sat on a bench in that park, quite possibly the same bench that her mother sat on all those years ago, near the Penn State campus with the journal in her hand. She hoped that the journal would shed some light on her mother’s death. It all started there, in the park by the playground. Even the time of year seemed to match. The first entry in her mother’s journal was from when she was a freshman in college at Penn State, experiencing life on her own for the first time. It was filled with her thoughts, her dreams, her memories, the people she met, the people she wish she never met, and the ones she was running from.

Casey was just a child when her mother disappeared and was later found dead, her murder never found. Her mother’s last will left most of her belongings to Casey but the journal was not a part of that. The journal was mailed to her a few months after she graduated from Penn State in an envelope without a return address.

It sat there in the envelope for a week or so until Casey was able to open it. She was curious about it, but she had a lot going since she finished school. Casey had just landed a killer position at a PR company in State College. She had worked there as an intern for several years while she was in college and got to know the staff and their clients. Casey looked forward to building a deeper relationship with them now that she was an employee.

As she read through the pages, Casey was overcome with sadness. Her mother, Susan, was so sad but had hope in what the future held being away at college. It was a fresh start, one she sorely needed.

Susan’s first entry told of her youth, of being emotionally abused by her parents, never feeling like she was good enough. This was startling to Casey. She didn’t have a close relationship with her grandparents, but she never would have thought that they were capable of such things. She wondered if Margaret and Leonard were even aware that Susan had written about it.

Casey also learned she had an aunt that she never met or heard of, named Julianne. Susan was much younger than Julianne, but only had wonderful things to say about her older sister. From what Susan wrote, Julianne had also been the victim of emotional abuse by their parents, but had gotten out as soon as she could. The day that Julianne graduated from high school, she packed up and left without telling Margaret or Leonard where she was going.

Periodically, Susan would get a postcard from her sister, or a phone call to see how she was doing. Julianne expressed her remorse at having to leave her baby sister to fend for herself, but she had to get out of there before it was too late for her. Julianne always encouraged Susan to stay strong, and if Susan ever chose to leave, Julianne would be waiting for her.

Susan held onto that thought, that one last hope that she had some place to go. It is what helped her get through every day of high school and every night at home. When Susan started her senior year, she tried to reach her sister frequently, but when she called the last number that Julianne gave her, she was told Julianne was gone.

The man that answered had a rough voice that scared Susan. He swore at her, telling her that her sister was a no good whore and he finally kicked her out. Susan burst into tears and hung up the phone, afraid for her sister and heartbroken as her hopes dashed to the floor.

Casey's cell phone buzzed, pulling her out of the story. It was the alarm she set so she could get back to work on time. Sighing regretfully, she closed her mother's journal and stuffed it in her bag. She desperately wanted to read more but work came first. Reading the journal wouldn't bring her mother back to life, but maybe it would give her some answers.... and maybe she could find her aunt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 53: Make It Special


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Kimmydon's Choice: Picture 1

Make It Special

“Okay, Daddy,” Sarah said, holding out the glass jar. “Will you put the tag on?”

Gold glittered at the bottom of the jar, fluttering as she moved with it. Instinctively, I reached out to steady it.

Sarah’s five year-old face soured. “I’m not going to drop it! I can do it myself!” she reminded me petulantly.

She was right, of course. The jar wasn’t heavy, and even if she did drop it, from three feet, it wasn’t likely to shatter.

“Yes, you can.” She held the sticker label out to me. “What do you want it to say? Happy Mother’s Day?”

Sarah shook her head, blond pigtails waving. “Wishes,” she insisted. “I have dreams in my room; Mommy can have wishes in hers.”

She was still young enough that most of the dreams in that jar belonged to her namesake, my sister. “Have you put any dreams in there?”

Sarah rolled her eyes impatiently. “Yes.”

“Mommy wrote them down?” I was surprised Beth hadn’t mentioned it to me.

Sarah shook her head again, bouncing a little now. “I drew them!” she told me proudly. “Daddy? Who put the dreams in my jar? I put the wishes in Mommy’s jar. Did you or Mommy put them there?”

We’d told her about her Aunt Sarah and her grandparents that weren’t with us, trying to explain their deaths to a child who had never met them. It wasn’t entirely successful, but she understood now why she only had one grandma and one grandpa while her friends had two or more of each. My sister was harder to explain. There was a picture of her in the stairwell, taken in Paris on a family vacation, and another with my grandparents, but they were the only ones in the house.

“Sarah, do you remember what we told you about Aunt Sarah?” I asked, not sure how much I needed to rehash.

Sarah tittered a little. “She looks like me!”

I sighed quietly. That would be the thing she remembered. It was absolutely true. I didn’t have any memory of Sarah at this age, I was only a baby myself, but I had grown up with both of our baby books and photographs. Also, as she got taller and thinner, shedding baby fat, she looked more and more like the teenager I remembered, the big sister I admired so much. Same blond hair, same blue eyes, same sly smile that spoke of something you didn’t know about and were probably happier that way. That wasn’t so bad in a sister. I worried every time I saw that glint in my daughter’s eyes. It usually meant I was in trouble with the wife and cleaning up after.

I returned to the topic at hand. “You remember that she used to live here, in this house?”

“In my room!” she shouted, even more excited. She had loved her ‘big girl bed,’ which was Sarah’s old double. I worried about losing her in all the blankets and sheets, but she had never fallen out, never gotten too badly tangled. She stopped bouncing and twirling, a thoughtful look crossing her soft features. “Those are Auntie Sarah’s dreams?”

My daughter, or more correctly perhaps, Beth’s daughter, was bright. She could probably read some of those dreams, depending on the words Sarah had used. I was constantly surprised by what my daughter was capable of.


She pouted. “But my wishes are just stickers. No one made them special, not like Auntie Sarah did my dreams.”

I chuckled and scooped her up along with the jar she still held. She tucked easily against my chest, and although I wouldn’t want to carry her more than a few blocks, she didn’t feel very heavy. “Silly Sarah,” I teased. “You made them special. Mom’s going to love it.”

Sarah smiled and kissed my cheek while hugging my neck.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Destinee Week 52: The Room in the Attic

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 1

The Room in the Attic

The family reunion wasn’t the ideal way to start off my summer. School was finally out after frying my brain with finals I was ready to hang out with my friends and sleep in late. Apparently my mother forgot what it’s like being a seventeen year old.

I threw my bag in the trunk dramatically and plopped myself in the backseat putting my earphones on to drown out my parents excited mumbling. Two hours later I was surrounded by familiar mountains and the tall trees around our cabin.

“Lisa,” my mom pulled me close to her chest and whispered in my ear. “I need you to be nice and talk to you Aunt Esther. And your cousin Tony is here too. Marie told me he might have brought a friend but be a dear and be social.”

I groaned pulling my over-sized bag out of the trunk. “Why didn’t I get to bring a friend?” Entering the huge cabin we always used for family meetings I searched for anyone out and about. The coast was clear and I headed up to my secret room up in the attic.

Opening the door, I automatically threw my bag towards the bed in the corner. “Umph! Hey,” I heard someone call from the bed and jumped into a ninja pose. A guy I never seen before pulled my bag off his stomach and laid it on the floor.

“What are you doing here?” I narrowed my eyes at him as he chuckled at my ninja stance. “Hello? Are you just a homeless person kicking it in my family’s cabin? If so, go choose one of the bedrooms downstairs, this one is mine.”

He tried stifling his laughter by biting his bottom lip, but that distracted me and threw off my inner ninja, so I dropped my pose and decided on just crossing my arms. “Do you speak English? Japanese? Maybe you’re fluent in Idiot?”

“No, but I’m fluent in Sarcasm.” He smiled and it lit up his whole face making me realize how cute this possible homeless guy was. “Before you turn Ninja again on me. I’m Jareth, Bobby’s friend, not some homeless guy. And if we’re being fair, I was in this room first. So, I call it.”

My mouth flew open. “What? You can’t do that. This is my room, I get dibs. I‘m not giving it over to The Goblin King.” He smirked and raised himself from the bed. He raised his hands in ‘what are you going to do about it’ way. I looked over the small room and out the small window.

“How did you even find this room?” I said without looking at him.

“It wasn’t hard.” I heard him move around the room but I didn’t take my gaze off the window. “It’s kind of my job to find out secrets.”

I scoffed looking over my shoulder at him, “So you’re a private investigator or something?” His sinful grin spread across his face. “Nope, I’m a blackmailer.” Looked over at my bag at then back at him. He tilted his head in challenged and we both lunged for it.

My hand collided with his neck and I twisted out of the way with my bag but he rolled along with me not stopping his pursuit. We became a jumble of limbs and I forgot where my bag landed and where he ended and I began.

I suddenly was aware of the grunts we were making and I stilled and a blush crept up my neck and into my cheeks. Jareth was on top of me and he looked down at me momentarily stunned. His stray hair was stuck to his forehead and he was breathing hard.

His green eyes burned into mine and his weight was a delicious pressure against mine. His face was inches from mine, all he had to do was lower his head and I would be in heaven. I closed my eyes as his lips brushed against mine.

Ever hear that myth about being kissed so sensually, so loving, so completely that the person takes your soul? Me either, but if it were true, Jareth is now in possession of my soul.

My blood feels like it’s boiling and all he has done is kiss me. I thread my fingers into his hair pulling him even closer to me. My hips rock into his causing waves of pleasure through me.

“More,” I whisper as he kisses down my chin to my neck. I feel him smile against my skin. “My ninja wants more?” I bite my lip trying not to moan as he sucks and nibbles on my neck. “Yes, if you don’t give her what she wants she’s going to kick your ass.” Another laugh from him but his hands start roaming my body, joining the party. “Your wish is my command.”

I smiled feeling so lost in the haze of lust. Out of nowhere a rock crashes through the small window in the corner and Jareth picked me up and put me on the bed away from the glass.

“Lisa! Get your ass down here! I can never find the door to that room. Your Aunt Esther wants to talk to you!” My cousin Tony yelled from outside.

“I hate you so much right now, Tony!” I righted my clothes and chanced a glance at Jareth. He had a self-satisfied grin plastered on his face. Well it’s safe to say he doesn’t regret making out with a total stranger, for that matter I don’t either.

“Yeah, yeah. By the way if you see my friend Jareth on your way to the lake tell him he needs to pick a bedroom before the good ones are gone.” Tony’s voice was fading so I knew he didn’t expect me to answer.

“I’m keeping this room,” Jareth said trying to hide his smile. “The hell you are! I’m kick-” He lifted up my bag and cut me off. “I’m sure you’d like me to stay out of this bag. The only way I’m going to do that is if I get to stay in here-”

“Fiiiine, I‘ll pick a room downstairs.” I turned to go out the door when he turned me around and pulled me into his chest. “You didn’t let me finish. I want to stay in here with you.” His lips were suddenly on mine and I almost forgot that I had to go talk with my stupid aunt.

I pulled away before he could give me another drugging kiss. “Let me think on it,” I said playfully. “In the meantime clean up the glass and stay out of the bag. I’ll know if you were in there or not. Ninja senses and all.” I smiled and blew him a kiss.

On the porch of the cabin I could see the lake and a few of my aunts and uncles, along with my parents gathered by the water. As I walked the short distance to the lake I decided that this is exactly the way I needed to start off my summer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 52: Show Me What I'm Looking For

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: both

Show Me What I’m Looking For

I felt like this was it. Everyone had that one life decision that changes everything. That one moment where you know the rest of your life will never be the same. You’ll either spend a life of regret, or a life of magic and love and passion. If this were a movie, it would show the main character with conflicted emotions on each decision, but the audience watching is screaming “GO WITH HIM!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!!” I would know, I’m usually the one yelling and throwing popcorn at my small tv. But this isn’t a movie, it’s real life. And I can’t ask anyone what they think I should do, because it’s not their place.

I have the chance of a lifetime to move to Italy with a man I love. Why am I so conflicted then? Maybe it’s because I’m not sure if it’s love or lust. Maybe I only love him for his money. But I don’t think either of those are true. Maybe it’s because I know who I really love, but I’m not so sure he loves me back. I’m tired of waiting for the day when Michael realizes he loves me. Who knows if it will ever come. Leo asked me to marry him and I know it’s sudden, but he really loves me so why wait? Why wait is I’m not so sure I love him back. I think I do, but it’s a different love for him than I have for Michael. That’s why I hesitate. I may love him now, but what happens if that love dies? I’m left alone in Italy. I love my life in Michigan, I have family there, and a job there, and friends. Am I willing to give it all up for a hot guy in Italy? I know what my friends would say “Hell yeah! Don’t forget to send a postcard!” but why does that not feel right?

“Terri?” I looked up from the window I was staring out. Leo was standing in the door smiling. “What is it you are looking at?”

I stood up and pointed to the statue outside the window. “I can’t figure out what the sculpture was thinking when he put that there,” I chuckled.

Leo moved closer so he could see, strategically wrapping his arms around my waist. “It was put there to guard the house from bad spirits.”

“And does it work?” I asked, turning around.

He thought about it for a while before nodding. “I think it has so far. If anything it has brought great luck to this household.”

“You know today is my last day here, Leo.”

He sighed, looking out the window. “I know, I was hoping I could convince you to stay.”

“I have a job.”


“I have family out there.”

“I’ll move them here.”

“They won’t move,” I chuckled.

“So we’ll visit often,” he shrugged.

“What about my dog?”

He sighed, “when you bring a dog into this conversation, I know you’re grabbing at straws.”

“No really!”

He stopped me by pressing his lips to mine. “Terri, please stay.”

“I have unfinished things back in Michigan,” I argued.

He released me and backed away with a smile. “Finish them and come back, yes?”

I hesitated before smiling and kissing him again. He left me alone as I began to pack my things, getting ready to go home. The question still repeated like a broken record in my head. “Stay or go? Stay or go? Stay or go?” I wish it was as easy as flipping a coin.

My mother used to tell me to flip a coin on every decision in my life. While the coin is in the air, you find yourself hoping for a certain side; it doesn’t matter what it lands on, it matters what side you wished it landed on. I thought about using a coin to make this decision, but I don’t even know what side I want it to land on. What I want is an excuse to pick one. A reason why I should. A real good reason to say “this is why I did it”, but I don’t even have that. I needed a sign, but when would it come?


The flight home was the longest one of my life. Most of the people on the flight slept through it or watched the movie on the small screen, but I couldn’t concentrate or close my eyes for even a second. I was nervous, excited, depressed, every emotion possible. When I finally landed, my best friends were there to pick me up.

“So who is this Leo?” One asked immediately.

I tossed her my camera so she could see all the pictures of him. My other two friends surrounded her to see the pictures too. I described him over the phone, but they wanted pics.

“Oh my god, Terri. Why did you come back?!” They exclaimed, going through the pictures over and over again.

“I have responsibilities, you know. I can’t just stay in Italy my whole life.” No one knew about his marriage proposal and I didn’t know if I wanted to tell them. Judging by their reactions, they’d turn me around and stick me back on the plane sending their best wishes.

“When do you go back to work?” They asked.

“I have to turn in my paper tomorrow to the newspaper. It wasn’t vacation, I went for research,” I reminded them.

“Funny, I’ve yet to see a single picture for your research…unless your paper is on how hot foreign guys are then I’ll read the article.”

I rolled my eyes, taking my camera back. They drove me to my apartment and let me out. “See you later! I’ll return your dog tomorrow! She’s positively fat!”

I went in and checked my messages on my answering machine. “Hi honey it’s your mom. Just wanted to remind you to turn your lights off before you leave or your electricity bill will be expensive. Love you have fun!” I grimaced as I flicked off the lights that had been on since before I went to Italy. She was right, my bill was going to be over the roof. The next message played. “Hey Terri, this is Michael from work. When you get back from Italy, please call me, it’s important. Thanks bye.”

I grabbed the phone and sat on my couch, already dialing Michael’s number. He picked up immediately. “Terri?”

“Hey Michael!” I felt butterflies in my stomach at hearing his voice.

“Hey Terri, did you have fun in Italy?”

“Yeah, I did. It was really beautiful there.” I smiled, thinking about Leo. I cleared my throat, “so your message said you had something important to tell me?” My mind went to so many different scenarios of what would be important.

“Oh yeah um…you wanna grab a coffee?” He stammered.

I couldn’t stop a smile grow. “Sure, I’ll see you in thirty minutes at Starbucks.” We hung up and I ran to take a shower. I looked horrible after my long flight. I fixed my hair and got dressed in something not wrinkled in my suitcase before heading out to Starbucks.

Michael already ordered my favorite coffee and was sitting in the very back waiting for me. I walked up and he smiled at seeing me, standing up to envelope me in a hug. “It feels like forever since we’ve seen each other!”

I chuckled. “Yeah a whole two weeks.”

“Did you meet any Italians while you were there?” He sipped his coffee.

I bit my lip and nodded. “Yeah I actually met someone special…”

He raised his eyebrows. “Really? What’s his name?”

“Leo,” I started to regret even mentioning him.

Michael drew circles on the table, not meeting my eyes. “You like him?”

I shrugged. “Yeah, I do… He um, asked me to marry him.” I tried to gauge how he reacted to this information.

He cleared his throat and put a smile on, looking up. “Wow two weeks and you’re marrying a guy? Sounds like Vegas.”

I forced a laugh. “Well I didn’t give him an answer yet… I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

I noticed a spark in Michael’s eyes at hearing this. “You haven’t told him yes yet? Leo…sounds like he’s a God or something.”

“Yeah my friends would say that,” I nodded.

“What’s holding you back?” He asked, leaning into the table, watching me.

I shrugged. “I don’t know…” I coughed and sipped my coffee.

Michael leaned back and looked away, preoccupied. He suddenly looked at his watch and stood up. “Well I have…something to do. Um, I’m glad you had fun in Italy, Terri. See you at work tomorrow.” He left without another word, leaving me alone and confused.

I suddenly realized in that moment, Michael would never say anything. I wasn’t going to wait for him to make a move. Leo was really amazing and I would be a fool to turn him down. With a sigh I finished my coffee and headed home. I looked at my unpacked bags and set them back by the front door. I was going back to Italy tomorrow. I flipped my coin and it landed. I made my decision finally.

I woke up early the next day and headed to work with my completed article. My boss was in his office talking to Michael on his piece about the meat industry. I knocked lightly and entered.

“Welcome back Terri!” Mr. Bernard said happily.

I smiled kindly. “I wanted to thank you for the trip and turn in my article…along with my resignation.” I handed it to him and backed away.

Mr. Bernard was confused as he read it. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m moving to Italy,” I barely could smile. I refused to look at Michael when I said this.

Mr. Bernard smiled. “You’ll be missed, Terri. You were certainly my best writer by far everyone knows that.”

“Yes sir, but I’ve found something in Italy and I’d be foolish not to take the opportunity,” I bowed my head.

He nodded and chuckled. “Well my best wishes to you. I hope you enjoy it there. You are always welcome back here.”

I shook his hand and walked out. Michael didn’t even say anything, I felt tears stinging my eyes as I rushed out of the building. I had to make my flight in half an hour.

I made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare before they allowed boarding. I told my family and they said if I thought it was best to go for it. No one tried to talk me out of it like I was thinking they would. My friends promised to send the rest of my stuff soon.

“Now boarding for Italy.” The announcement over the intercom rang through my ears.

I exhaled air I didn’t realize I was holding and stood up. This was it.

“Please don’t go.”

I turned around and saw Michael out of breath. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t,” I said.

He walked closer. “The newspaper needs you… We’re terrible without out.”

I shook my head sadly. “That’s not good enough, Michael.” I turned to leave.

I need you… I’m terrible without you,” he almost whispered. “I need you, Terri, and I understand if you want to go after some hot Italian named Leo, but I wish you wouldn’t…”

I wiped a tear away before turning back around to face him, smiling. “Then I won’t.”

He exhaled, a giant smile spreading across his face. He held his arms open for me and I dropped my bags, wrapping my arms around his neck in a warm embrace.

“Last call for flight to Italy.” The loudspeaker echoed as we walked out of the airport together. This was the side of the coin I secretly wished it landed on. I knew what I wanted and I wanted Michael.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Burntcore Week 52: The Call


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Burntcore's Choice: Both

The Call

The desert mountains that pushed out of the Mojave desert called to me. I had been told by a rancher that the peak that dominated the local skyline was named ‘Spirit Mountain’ by the Indian tribes that used to live out here. The legends were that the Indians’ spirits resided in that mountain, to shield and protect the tribes from danger, and help them when they needed direction. If I ever needed direction, it was now.

I was at an impasse in my life, unsure of where I was supposed to go next. I hoped that the rumors and legends of this mountain were true, and the spirits that lived here would give me guidance, even if I was just a mere paleface. With a well-stocked backpack, hiking boots, and any visible skin slathered with sunscreen, I parked my jeep in a turnabout near the base of the mountain and got out with my gear. Looking up at the mountain, I tried to judge the time it would take me to get to my destination. Smiling, my heart full of hope, I began my trek.

Many people would think that the desert was a desolate, dry place devoid of life, but they were wrong. I could see life teeming everywhere in the short, from scrubby grasses and Joshua trees to the small critters and animals that moved in the shadows and at night. It was definitely hard to see if you weren’t from the desert, but I could see it.

I wasn’t born out here, in the dry heat of the American desert, but I had lived here long enough to seem like a native. I wasn't sure really where I was from. I was adopted from out east, but that was all I knew. I had very vague memories of when I was small but nothing definite. My parents said that if I wanted to know more, they’d tell me, but it didn’t matter to me. Who gave birth to me wasn’t important. Who raised me was. My parents were great people and helped mold me into the person I was today.

I lost them far too soon, shortly after I graduated from college. Their loss was part of the reason for my floundering now. Mom and Dad had always been my rock. I felt adrift without them. A part of me hoped that I’d find a piece of them here, among the spirits of Indian ancestors.

The hike was hard. Before too long, I was sweating and digging out a bottle of water from my backpack. It was a typical hot Arizona day but I was prepared. I took frequent breaks and found shady spots to rest in. By lunch time, I was halfway to my destination. I found another cool spot and stopped to eat a light meal of tuna and a granola bar. It was an odd combination, but it contained the lean protein and carbs that I needed to continue.

Occasionally, I’d see a handprint painted on a rock, the old red ocher fading with age and sun exposure. There was one that caught my eye that was hardly blemished, its color shaded by an outcropping of rock. I stopped and stared at this message from another century, this sign that someone else had been here before. It was comforting as I continued on my way.

The sun began to hang on the other side of the sky as I approached the escarpment of Spirit Mountain that I planned on staying at overnight. While I climbed, I felt such calm and peace. This was the right decision for me; I’d find my answer on this mountain. It reminded me of those old Ziggy cartoons where Ziggy climbs to the top of the mountain to talk to the guru. I laughed to myself as I pulled myself up the last final steps.

The escarpment was small but enough to serve my purpose. I quickly set up my tent, which was really no more than a tube long enough to fit my sleeping bag –with me in it—and my gear. These kinds of tents kept a low profile but still offered all the protection. Dinner was another simple meal, something I could prepare easily without the use of heat.

After I cleaned up the wrappers of my meal, I wiggled into my tube tent feet first so I could look out and watch the world for awhile. As the sun finally set and stars started to peak out, the wind picked up. The wind was warm, the air still heated from the sun. The nocturnal desert creatures and bugs began to come out. I heard scrabbling along the rocks as pebbles and bits of debris were loosened.

As I listened to the various noises, I thought I could hear something else. It sounded like the tinkling of bells and the clanking of animal bones, like an old Indian wind chime. I looked around and couldn’t see anyone or anything that might make those noises. The tinkling got a little louder and I heard someone speaking. It was a woman’s voice, soft and melodious, but speaking a language I didn’t know.

As I started to listen, I realized that she was saying the same phrase over and over again. The repetition and the tone of her voice was hypnotic and my eyelids started to droop, until they finally swung shut and I fell asleep.

When my eyes opened, I was soaring, like an eagle. As foreign as it was to be flying, it felt completely natural. I was far above another mountain range, quite unlike the ones in Arizona. They were covered with trees, the tallest with white caps of snow. In the valley of two peaks was a wide, placid lake. I wondered if the water was cool year around from the rain and snow runoff. As I flew, I felt called, like the peaks were speaking to me, that my future was there.

Sometime later, I woke up back in my tent. The sun was just starting to break over the horizon, casting the world in a golden glow. My memory went back through that strange dream and those mountains. I shifted, stretching out any kinks and stiffness from sleeping. As I moved, I noticed that there was something in my hand. Startled, I looked down and found a small dream catcher in my right hand.

I nearly jumped out of my skin as my eyes darted around, looking to see who intruded upon my camp and put the dream catcher in my hand. There weren’t any footsteps in the dust on the ground besides my own.

“Weird,” I said softly.

Startled by the dream and the dream catcher, I quickly packed my gear up to prepare to head back down the mountain. Despite the shock, I wasn’t scared. I actually felt fairly calm, like something about those green, wet, mountains was calling out to me.

When I got back to my apartment later that night, I poured through maps and pictures of northern mountain ranges to see if I could find where I had been in my dream. My fingers idly played with the feathers attached to the dream catcher as I studied. Finally, I found the right sequence of pictures and realized that the mountains in question were in Washington State.

With nothing left to lose, and no family remaining to keep me in Arizona, I bought an airline ticket to Yakima, Washington and prepared to see what was calling me.

A/N – Spirit Mountain is a real place in Arizona south of the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon. The first picture is not Spirit Mountain but it looked a lot like it from the pictures I have from when I was there. I embellished the legend a little bit, but I was told by the ranchers at the Diamond Bar Ranch that the local Indian tribes believed the spirits of their ancestors resided in the mountain.

SwedenSara Week 52: The World is Revolving


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SwedenSara’s Choice: both

The World Is Revolving

The world is revolving. Each year, it turns the same way, slightly tilted on its axis, leaning towards the sun and away from it in cycles that have been the same since the dawning of time. Nothing changes, yet everything is different.

A marble statue is sitting on her hard, cold stone seat, overlooking the vast ocean. Grey skies hover above her, casting a dull, gloomy light over her surroundings. People pass by below, as they have done for centuries. Their clothes and appearances change, decade by decade, but the mind-numbing chatter is always the same. Every year, month and day, no matter if they’re commoners, intellectuals, trash or aristocrats, the subjects are never-changing. Sex. Money. Deception. Love.

Mankind has developed surprisingly little since the rise of the ancient marble statue.

Scattered among the wandering visitors are tour groups. Like herds of cattle they are pushed around, tended to by jaded guides who mechanically repeat their routine. Every once in a while the dullness of their reiteration is broken by an intelligent question from a well informed listener, but the answers are evasive and rarely offer the insight requested.

If the statue could talk, she would tell them about the buzzing city life, the wonderful mosaics and the vibrant colours. She longs to describe the gleaming metal in the soldiers’ helmets, the rustling sound of the linen tunics, the glimmering brooches and the elaborate hairdos. She yearns to educate them about the Gods, the myths and the philosophers. But she can do nothing, except listen year after year to other people telling stories they have no real knowledge of or respect for.

The grey skies let a slow drizzle fall on the ancient marble statue. The acid that has become an ever-present part of the rain these the last decades slowly eats its way through her seemingly hard body. She was supposed to be an indestructible reminder to the later generations of her period’s excellence. Instead, this generation’s way of life is causing her to wither. It is polluting the air and draining the earth. This generation has forgotten about the responsibilities that comes with supremacy.

And yet, the world keeps revolving; nothing changes, but everything is different.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 52: Burned Bush


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Kimmydon's Choice: both

Burned Bush

I was still finding new and interesting places along the coast. I’d come to research the setting for my novel and stayed... for Simon. I had to start admitting that to myself. Lucy knew. She’d seen through me right away.

She and Martin had stayed with me in the lighthouse after the hurricane passed. They’d both teased me mercilessly about my infatuation. Then she’d taken my baby with her when she left. She was going to read it, type it, red-pen it. I’d have to move out of the lighthouse before she finished so I could receive her email.

The rocky cliff I clung to was covered in scrubby trees and bushes, but I turned to look out over the town, not far below me. Ugly clouds rolled in, threatening more rain and wind. It blew my hair across my face and out behind me as it rushed away from the ocean. Salt stung, and tasted magnificent.

“Kristen,” someone called from above me. I looked up into grey eyes that mirrored the sky. He appeared like in one of my fantas... er daydreams - a knight to help the endangered damsel. Well, I wasn’t in that much danger, but the cliff was steep. “You’ve found it,” Simon said, a grin breaking his face. He scurried down to me, some shale breaking loose and showering around me.

“What have I found?” I asked, looking. There were the same bushes all over the steep side of the tor. Well, maybe this one was especially sparse.

“The burned bush,” he said triumphantly, an arm coming around my shoulders. “Not Moses’ but mine.”

“Yours?” I asked, quirking an eyebrow.

He chuckled, ducking his head a little. The warmth of that sound filled me now as it had the first time I heard it. How many months ago now? Four? Five? Why hadn’t I gotten the nerve to tell him? Because I’m a writer, a shy introvert. I only met him because his mother refused to let me be until he came to fix the door of the lighthouse. I would never be able to thank her enough for that.

“Yeah, mine. When I was twelve, my friends and I were out here. With matches. Somehow this gnarly old thing is still alive.” He nudged it with a sneakered toe and the bush refused to budge. “Burned really pretty, but it didn’t burn down.”

I ran a hand over one of the twisted branches. The bark was surprisingly smooth.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen you outside the lighthouse except for groceries.” He chuckled again.

“I...” I wasn’t sure what to tell him.

He rubbed my shoulder, arm reaching around me. “You’ve been writing. I’m just surprised you aren’t writing now.”

“Lucy took my draft with her,” I said, sounding as empty as I felt.

“Oh, so... you’re not busy tonight?” Before I could say anything he went right on. “I think that storm is going to break and you might want to be indoors. I’ll volunteer my place.” His smile was glorious. “If you don’t mind a couple hooligans running roughshod through the place.” He rolled his eyes as he referred to his two sons.

“Of course I don’t. You know I love them.” My hand went to my mouth. That was too much, wasn’t it?

“I won’t tell them if you don’t. It would probably put them off. I mean you are a girl after all.”

It was my turn to laugh. “Noticed that, did you?”

He missed a step in his decent, muttering. If the wind weren’t still coming straight towards us it would have blown his words away. As it was, I heard, “hard to miss.”

At the base of the cliff, I took Simon’s hand. “I would love to spend the evening with you and your boys. Or without them.” I let the thought hang as I walked ahead a few steps, feeling his eyes follow me.

“I’ll see what Mom’s doing!” he shouted eagerly, loping over the few strides it took him to catch me up. His hands found my hips and he spun me to face him. “I’d rather have you to myself.”

His arms were strong around me, just as I’d imagined since I’d seen them wrestle with rusty hinges and heavy doors. His breath was salty, like the sea. And his eyes roiled like the sky, making me want to be there when they broke.

I hoped I wouldn’t burn away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pic Prompt!

That's right. It is week 52 which means it is the blog's birthday! To celebrate, we're featuring another blog filled with picture prompts. WELinde (that's also his twitter name) has 52 picture prompts posted on Sojourner Mountain (well, 53 now...) and we have randomly chosen our picture prompts this week from his blog instead of those the authors have found in their surfing.
Filled with writing resources as well as beautiful photography, I recommend heading over to WELinde's blog.

The first post for our celebration week will be posted tomorrow!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Destinee Week 51: The Good Things

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 2

The Good Things

After an eighteen month fight with cancer, I was finally able to return home. I walked into my room and everything seemed so foreign. The books on my shelf seemed ages old. I laughed as I noticed my floral bedspread.

I took a deep breath and smiled. I was home at last; I beat the cancer. I could redecorate my room later. Throwing my body on top of my bed seemed like the best idea, that was until my head connected with something inside a pillow case. I groaned, rubbing my head as I pulled the pillows out of the case.

A thick green book slid out and flopped onto the bed. “Oh my god! It’s my journal!” I quickly pulled it into my arms. I hardly remember all the good things before all the chemotherapy and visiting doctor after doctor.

As I opened my journal the binding cracked, causing me to smile. Reading about my life a year and a half ago was shocking. I never really appreciated what I had. I had loving friends (which are still with me), had some really bad ones that never showed after the C word came out.

Hours later, after crying and laughing, I noticed one page blank. I grabbed a pen from my bedside table and started writing a list of the good things I wrote about in my journal. I made the title: The Good Things in Life. After I got through sixteen, I was ready to stop, But I wanted seventeen to represent my age.

“Olivia, your friends are here to visit you. I told them you need rest but they are ready to bust down the door.” I smiled at my mom and nodded. “I’ll be right there,” I laughed as I saw some silly string spray the living room window.

Before I went out into the living room to meet my friends, I figured out number seventeen. I scribbled it on the page and smiled.

“Olivia! Olivia!” My friends chanted from the hallway. I stood up and looked at my list one more time before going out with a grin lighting up my face.

17. Realizing the things you have, and being grateful for them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SwedenSara Week 51: 26 Reasons, from A to Z


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SwedenSara’s Choice: Picture 2

26 Reasons, from A to Z

At times, when I’m feeling down and act like a bitch even though there’s no reason for it, he lets me have my moments of complete and utter idiocy without holding it against me.

Before I met him, I felt like I had to constantly prove myself. I don’t feel like that anymore.

Coming home to a messy house and hungry kids after a long day at work sometimes makes me weary, but the fact that he’s there to share it with me brightens my day.

Despite my sometimes bad mood or obnoxious behaviour, all it takes is my arms around his body, a touch on his cheek or a gentle stroke on his back, and he’s happy again, loving me with his entire being.

Even though these are small gestures to most people, for me they mean much more and he sees the significance in them.

For him, making love is about giving me pleasure. He spoils me rotten in bed, and I think I’ll never be able pay him back.

Giving him what he wants is harder than it seems because whenever I ask, he always says he’s more than satisfied. I want to know what to do for him and how to make him feel good, but he always says me loving him is all he’ll ever wish for.

His eyes, his voice, his actions and his devotion tells me he means it.

I still doubt it from time to time though, and it makes me snort unattractively and belittle his feelings. I hate myself when I do that, and I hate that our kids are already picking up the behaviour of their parents.

Just like my husband, our son showers me with kisses, hugs me tightly and presses himself as close as he can possibly get. Just like me, our daughter shies away from affection and calmly turns her cheek to me when I want to kiss her. She’s becoming me, and that makes me sad.

Kissing my husband, with tongue, has become difficult for me. I don’t know why. I used to love the intrusion of his tongue, the taste and the feel of him in my mouth. I’m slowly getting used to it again, and I’m beginning to enjoy the soft, slow kisses. I look forward to enjoying the heavy mouth fucking again.

Loving him is easy. Making love, on the other hand...

Making love has been hard for me during some periods of our marriage. I thought he would grow tired of it and leave me, but he stayed and waited until I grew comfortable with his touch again.

No one will ever fully understand how grateful I am for that.

One of my biggest faults is that it’s very hard for me to tell him I love him, but I do love him and I hope he knows it anyway.

Pain is a part of love, I’ve been told. I’ve been through pain, and I know now that I feel love. I’m grateful for that, and I’m grateful for him.

Question is if I’ve put him through too much pain, and if that will eventually over-shadow the love. That scares me.

Real life is nothing like the fairy-tales. It’s like an angsty novel, a tragedy, a thriller. But if you allow it, it’ll end well anyway. I know that now.

Some people give up way too easily. When the overwhelming love starts to fade and real life comes tumbling down, they leave.

They don’t see the part in the fairy-tales where the lovers have to fight for their love. They don’t remember the obstacles, the hurdles, the evil witches. They only remember the “happily ever after.”

Unless you fight hard for it, the “happily ever after” will never come, and if you don’t fight for it, you don’t deserve it. My husband fought for it. He deserves it.

Vile things will always try to desiccate your feelings and make you doubt your love, but remember the good things, and the darkness will disperse.

Whenever I’m in doubt, I look at him and remember the hardships. Then I remember that he’s still here, loving me, meeting me halfway like he’s always done.

X-axis and Y-axis balance each other, allowing the counterpart to exist on it’s own, and still meeting in the origin of coordinates. That’s how we are. Two lines meeting, extending on our own in different directions, but still grounded and connected the same spot. That’s how I see us.

Years have passed since we met, and I know that he is the reason I’m happy again.

Zooming in on our life together, I see that it’s been hard, challenging and difficult. But I also see that it has made us stronger, and showed us - or me, at least - what love is about. Love is adoring the nice things, and accepting the bad. The mathematics of love always lands us on the positive side of the scale.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Burntcore Week 51: I Agreed to What?


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1

I Agreed to What?l

Colton and I were trying to find new cool place to go one weekend when he suggested the new modern art museum. Now, I love art, but I wasn’t sure about this particular museum ... it seemed maybe a little too modern. It had lots of clean lines, stark coloring, and was completely and totally devoid of any warmth.


But we both agreed to it, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad once we were inside. I could only hope. I really hoped. I really, really, really hoped.

That Saturday, we stood outside the museum, examining the grounds. There were several outdoor installations that seemed to bring a bit more warmth to the museum but still seemed a bit too minimalist for my taste. Colton seemed equally ambivalent on how he felt about the pieces. Neither one of us meant any offense to the artists, but it just wasn’t our bag. However, we were here, so we were going to still go inside.

Entering the museum, we were struck by how under-dressed we seemed. It was the weekend, so we were in jeans and t-shirts. Plus, it wasn’t like there was a grand opening of a display or installation; it was just an ordinary Saturday. Apparently, not everyone felt that casual dress was appropriate for a day at the museum. Most of the patrons were dressed in skirts and suits and glared down their noses at us as we passed.

Not letting the snobbish attitude bother us, we continued through the museum. There were a few pieces that we didn’t even realize were pieces of art. We were standing there, holding hands, looking at two glossy bits of wall, when a security guard came over. He told us to let the art breathe. The piece looked like part of the building.

I sighed as we walked into another portion of the museum, which was even more minimalist and cold. Literally. It was literally forty degrees in the room. A placard when you walked in stated that the temperature was a part of the art.


And the big important thing that was in this specially chilled room? A metal sculpture in the middle of a blue spotlight. Nothing else. It wasn’t even an interesting sculpture, and I liked metalwork.

I turned to Colton. He had an equally bored look on his face.

“You ready to get outta here?” I asked.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he said with relief.

Laughing, we found the nearest exit and left a museum that was puffed up on its own awesomeness.


Mod note: I feel that the artist is trying to tell me something about my form. What do you think? *snicker*

Kimmydonn Week 51: Clear


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Kimmydon's Choice: both


His fingers traced her breast, her ribs, her hip. His lips echoed down the opposite side, both meeting where she still burned, even though she was sure she could burn no hotter, no longer. He had a magic of his own, something stronger than any spell she had cast.

The princess’s breath came in panting gasps. The knight held her tightly as she recovered her breath. “More?”

“Yes, please,” she cried, pulling him closer again.

My pencil nearly tore the paper scratching that out. I flipped to a clean one.

Once upon a time,

“A girl was sexually frustrated,” I said aloud, falling back on my pillow.

After all his hinting at ‘taking me to heaven,’ Dan was slow as molasses now that I’d made a move. I had never had a problem with this before, but after our dates, I couldn’t focus until morning. Still feeling squirmy, I considered writing more horrid erotica. I knew my strengths as a writer, and that wasn’t it.

On the other hand, he did tend to read what I wrote...

I had to try to explain all I was feeling. He knew I was still shaken from the assault, which made him tentative. He also knew he irritated the life out of me, making my intentions more suspect. Still, there had to be a way to do it.
I looked back at what I had written.

Once upon a time.

there was a scared little girl. She had friends and family who loved her, but she still sought solitude. She still hid behind her books. Safety was found on the page, or so she thought. Someone reached past the page, pulled the pages from her. At first, she didn’t know what to make of this stranger who seemed so completely her opposite. She wasn’t frightened of him, but he did make her uncomfortable.

Before she learned if her discomfort came from dislike or attraction, she shut him out. She stopped returning his calls, stopped taking lunch where he would meet her, tried to drive him away. She thought it had worked. He wasn’t calling anymore at least. However, now she knew which it was. She missed him. She missed his taunts, his teasing, his humor. She missed his smile, his voice, his hand in hers. So, she went to him. Fool that she was, she didn’t tell him she was coming.

That night, disaster struck her. Her friend, her knight, came for her when she thought she’d pushed him completely away. Never had she wished more for her books, her solitude, to disappear as when that awful man pushed her into the alley. She never wished more for her thick sweaters and layers of clothing as when he tore them from her, tying her with the scraps. She cowered and cried as he beat her, shoving her face to the pavement.

But her friend came, even though he shouldn’t know she was there, couldn’t know she was in danger. He came, following only a hint of her presence. He took his brief break, not to rest, but to look for her. No longer a stranger, he frightened off the assaulter and all but carried her to safety. He stayed with her when he should be returning to his job, his livelihood.

She had needed him, and he had been there. She had missed him, come searching for him, and led him to search for her instead. She never got the chance to tell him the reason she’d been looking for him that night, never explained that she missed him.

When she found herself filled with longing, filled with need, he continued to protect her, from herself now, sure she was uncertain, confused.

What he didn’t know was that she was more certain and clear than she had ever been before. She was conflicted, fighting a myriad of emotions - anxiety, loneliness, despair, joy, passion - but knew what she wanted, what she needed. Him.

I love you, Dan. I want to be with you, completely.

It was too much, over the top. Sappy in the extreme, but I didn’t know how else to tell him.

Turning the page, I chose to rid myself of the rest of the unrest his touch and kiss had left.

His lips found hers, all of his devotion sealed in that kiss.

“Yes,” she murmured, her hands linking around him, pulling him closer. “Please,” she pleaded, pressing herself to him, breasts rubbing along his hard, muscled chest. “I want you.”

“I know,” he said with a smirk, his lips moving to her ear, his breath curling there, moist and hot. “You’ll want more.”

She shivered at the effect his voice had on her, at the burning filling her. He used that, hands sliding down her back, cupping her bottom and pulling her legs around him, his want no longer an unknown. She moaned into his hair, his lips on her neck now. He carried her effortlessly to the bed where be began to peel the layers of clothing away, kissing the skin that each one revealed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Destinee Week 50: I Can't Love You Back

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 2

I Can’t Love You Back

The colors were gone from my life. The endlessness of the road before me just seemed to be confirming what my life has in store for me - nothing.

The desert landscape flew by my window but I couldn’t concentrate on the road. I couldn’t get the images of her out of my head. Her long blonde hair swaying in the wind, her baby blues shining with so much life, and the way she would smile at me. She would make me feel like I hung the moon and stars in the night sky. My chest tightened at the memory of her laughter.

My phone rang and shook me from the memory. I grabbed my cell from the seat, debating answering, when I looked at the caller ID. Dammit, it was my sister Lacy. Guess I’d have to answer this call then shut off my phone.


“Where are you?!” Her voice screeched. “You better not be doing what I think you are. Allen, are you there? Tell me where you are. Now.”

I sighed loudly, “Lacy don’t worry I’m not going to go off myself.” No, no matter how lovely that thought was, I wasn’t going to risk never seeing Carrie in the afterlife.

“Allen, you know no one blames you, right?” She whispered into the phone.

My hand clenched painfully around the phone. “Don’t go there Lacy.” My voice was thick with venom, I was not going to get into this conversation again.

“Everyone is worried about you. It wasn’t your fault. You have to kn-”

“Good bye Lacy.” I cut off the connection and took a deep breath. I rolled down the window letting the hot air whip around me. I tossed the cell phone out of the window and saw it crash onto asphalt. A small smile played around my lips, but it didn’t stay there long.

Before I knew it, I was turning into the cemetery and into Carrie’s own small corner. Turning the car off with shaking hands I looked at her headstone. It had a beautiful picture of her smiling right above her name. The headstone read:

Carrie Davis 1987-2011.
A loving wife, sister and daughter.
Taken from us too soon, you may be gone but you are never forgotten.

The anger and sadness almost over took me, but guilt was like a knife in my gut. Finally getting the strength to get out of the car I walked over to her headstone and placed my hand on the cool stone. Memories of my last night with her flowed through my head as if it were happening for the first time.

Carrie came into the living room pulling her jacket on and getting her purse off the table. “Allen can you drive me to my sisters? She needs someone to help her with the decorations for the party.”

“Come on babe it’s ten o’clock at night. My team is about to play. Besides I’ve had a few beers already, can’t your sister wait until tomorrow? The party doesn’t start until seven. That gives her plenty of time.” I took another swig of my beer thinking she was going to put her purse down and click her tongue at me.

“You know Jamie, she wants things done when and how she says,” she said sighing.

“Jamie just uses you. She only talks to you when she needs something.”

Carrie gasped and narrowed her beautiful blue eyes at me. “Allen, we’ve talked about this. Don’t talk about Jamie like that.”

I scoffed at her. “Honey, you know it, but you just keep letting her use you like a little slave.”

“What about your brother? He asked for a ‘loan’ to start his new contracting business and where is he now? He is in Vegas hiding from you because he used all eight grand on drugs and women. Because of him we didn’t get a honeymoon, but I didn’t complain. At least Jaime hasn’t asked us for money.”

“Yet,” I mumbled, finishing off my beer and slamming it on the table. “Jamie has done nothing for you, she doesn’t respect you. She wore a bright red leather corset to our wedding instead of the maid of honor dress. I know how much that hurt you but you still run back to her so she won’t be mad at you, so you won’t hurt your feelings. You need to get some backbone, Carrie. She’s going to kill you with the way she makes you do everything she says. You’ve just worked twelve hours at the studio and now you’re off to go help your big sister? Oh, excuse me I don’t mean help because that implies that she would have to do something. She doesn’t do shit! You do everything for her!”

She raised her eyebrow in defiance. “You’re really going to go there with me right now? You know what? I don’t need you to drive me anywhere. Enjoy your game, I’ll be spending the night at Jamie’s.” She took a deep breath, lifted her chin, and walked out the door.

“Baby I’m so sorry. I love you so much, I can never tell you how sorry I am. I never should’ve let you go. I saw how tired you were, maybe if I didn’t yell at you. If I hadn’t started a fight, you might still be here with me. I just miss you so much.” I fell to my knees resting my head against the stone. Tears burned their way down my cheeks.

“I-I love you so much, Carrie. This guilt is eating me up inside. It’s my fault you fell asleep on the freeway. If I were there, you would still be alive. I wish I could do that night all over again. I would have never touched a beer or turned on the TV. God, I love you so much. But nothing I do, no matter how much I love you, it won’t bring you back.” I wrapped my arms around the stone and closed my eyes, letting my tears fall and wishing for time to reverse itself or for me to wake up from this nightmare.

“Mister, are you alive? Mister?”

My eyes shot open and I saw a little girl around five years old. Her head was tilted to the side examining me. I noticed that the sun was setting, I must have passed out. “Um.” I stood up trying to shake the stiffness out of my joints.

“What are you doing here?” she said with the same probing look she gave me before.

“I was visiting my wife.” Suddenly I noticed the little girl didn’t have anyone with her. I looked around but I didn’t see any other cars. “What are you doing here? It’s very late.”

The girl stuck her chin out defiantly and crossed her arms almost crushing the flower she was holding in her hand. “I’m a big girl.” I smiled and bent down on one knee so I was eye level with her.

“What’s a big girl like you doing out here at this time?”

She turned her gaze on the flower and held it out to me. “I was going to give it to daddy, but you can give it to your wife.” She held out the small flower and my lips twitched.

“I’m sure my wife would love it but what about your dad? How about I take you to your parents before it gets too dark?”

She narrowed her eyes in determination. “I want your wife to have it. I give my daddy flowers every day.” I nodded and she walked around me to lay the small flower at the base of the headstone.

“Nora? Nora! Where are you?” A woman’s voice was echoing through the graveyard. “Nora, honey, what did I tell you about going off without me?”

“Is that your mom?” I asked as the little girl walked in front of me again.

She nodded, “I want you to meet her. Come see my mommy.” She gripped my hand in her small one and pulled me toward the voice.

“Nora! There you are!” A woman with dark hair ran and picked Nora up in her arms. “What did I say to you before? You don’t go anywhere without me!” Nora gave her mom the biggest puppy dog eyes, no doubt softening up her mom.

“I went looking for a flower for daddy and when I founded one, I saw him. I gave it to his wife instead,” She pointed at me and her mom was surprised to see me. “Honey, you’re not supposed to bother people while we’re visiting your daddy. It’s not nice.”

“It’s fine, really. I was getting ready to leave-”

“I woke him up. He was sleeping and I thought he might be dead.” Nora said all seriousness. I coughed, “Uh, yeah. Thank you for that Nora.”

“No problem.” She said smiling. “Can I give your wife a flower when I bring my daddy flowers? She’s really pretty and she should have pretty flowers.”

“Nora, I don’t think-”

“Mommy, I want to, pleaaaase?” The mother looked at me for help, but then Nora turned her big eyes on me and I couldn’t deny her. “Sure, you can bring Carrie flowers whenever you want, on two conditions.”

Nora nodded her head, all business. “You have to do what your mom says.” She nodded again. “And you have to let me bring flowers for your dad, it’s only fair right?” Nora nodded but added, “I’ll only let you bring flowers to my daddy if you come every day.”

“Nora, you can’t ask that of him.” Her mom said sternly and Nora’s face fell. My heart would have broken in half, if it wasn’t already shattered.

“No, that’s alright. I’ll come every day, I’ll bring flowers for my wife and your dad.”

Nora clapped her hands and smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow!” He mom smiled at me and mouthed “thank you” as they walked down the rows, stopping to visit Nora’s father. Before I turned to walk away, Nora smiled and waved enthusiastically. I couldn’t help but smile and wave back.

I climbed in my car and headed for the city. I didn’t notice I was still smiling until my cheeks started hurting.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SwedenSara Week 50: A Place To Rest


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SwedenSara’s Choice: both

A Place To Rest

Closely after my death, as I like to call my transition to vampire, I came back to my house in search of some memorabilia. I wanted something to hold on to, something to help me remember who I was and what I had lost. A few pictures, a porcelain doll and my old baby shoes disappeared from my house that night. If my parents ever missed them, I’ll never know.

I visited Rochester again, years after my parents had passed away. Our old house stood there; it’s facade still beautiful, but it’s insides empty, broken and abandoned, just like me. I wandered among the debris and dust in the rooms once kept immaculately clean by my mother. A sad smile ghosted over my lips, knowing the disapproving look she’d have if she saw the state her precious home was in. I sat in there for hours, visiting the sometimes dim, sometimes fairly clear human memories of my childhood and my family.

The graveyard where my parents were buried had grown, and the old part of it had not been cared for in years. The relatives of those who lay there had passed away and the younger generations cared little about the graves of great grandparents. Some of the old tombstones were slanting precariously, slowly bending to the forces of nature. Lush, green moss covered them, giving the hard granite a velvety surface. Rays of sunlight filtered through the thick vegetation, like spotlights from God slowly moving over the cemetery, illuminating the forsaken graves one by one, showering them in light and giving them the attention they deserved, but didn’t get anymore.

I regarded the engraved names on my family stone, following my own with my fingertips.

Rosalie Hale - 1915-1933 - beloved daughter

If I ever died - for real - I wished my vampire family would bring my ashes here. This would be a good place to rest.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Burntcore Week 50: The Wishing Wall


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2

The Wishing Wall

The first thing students did upon moving on campus was run to the local office supply store and clear out the shelves of sticky notes. Seriously, all the stores in the area that carried sticky notes were sold out the first weeks of school every year. Some entrepreneurial students would actually order them by the case then sell them at exorbitant prices to their fellow students after all the store shelves were cleaned out. Usually it was the Freshmen who were the last to know about the importance of sticky notes and therefore were the ones who suffered the most from the hustlers.

Thankfully, Michelle and I had already done our time as lowly freshmen and bought our supply of sticky notes way in advance.

Anyone outside of our school would wonder why sticky notes were so important. They certainly didn’t look that important… just little squares of paper with adhesive on the back so you wouldn’t lose them. But here, here they were quite important. Only here were they used for more than mere notes. Here they were used on the Wishing Wall.

The legend of how the Wishing Wall started is shrouded in mystery and rumor, but regardless, the end result was still the same. Wishes, confessions, secrets, and silly thoughts were all posted on a seemingly innocuous wall in the middle of the Student Center for everyone to see, to read, and discover. People posted their wishes in hopes that they would come true.

Sometimes the wishes were for something simple like a good grade on a test but the wishes could also be about a crush noticing the wisher, or even, in one case, that a student’s mom would kick breast cancer.

She did.

The mother’s cancer remission just strengthened the power that the Wishing Wall had. People who may have been skeptical before were now believers. Beforehand, there may have been bare parts of the Wall that weren’t covered in sticky notes. After that, the Wishing Wall was coated with sticky notes.

A full Wishing Wall brought the question on how a prospective wisher would place their sticky note on the wall. A wish could not be removed from the Wall except by the person who placed it there, or if it fell naturally once the adhesive dried up. So the potential wisher had to wait until a spot cleared up.

Websites had been created, just to watch for clear spots on the Wishing Wall. At any time during the day, someone could log into the video feed of the Wall and see what was there. Sometimes a person would get lucky and would be able to get to the Wall without a crowd, but that didn’t happen often especially when it was nearing the week of finals. Really desperate people would camp out in front of the wall, studying or hanging out, while they waited for a sticky note to fall.

Thankfully Michelle and I had planned our trip to the Wishing Wall well. We had our stack of stickies loaded and ready to go. Approaching the Wishing Wall, we examined the best place to put our wishes. Several stickies were lying on the ground, having fallen off during the day at some point. Their absence left some rather choice places to put new sticky notes.

Our strategy was sound. We had determined that the stickies that were closest to the middle of the wall had the highest chance of coming true based on months of careful observation. So we wrote our wishes and carefully placed our stickies in the spots we could find closest to the center. Michelle and I giggled as we pressed the adhesive as tightly as we could to the wall. We didn’t want to take any chances that our wishes would fall prematurely, before they had a chance to come true.

“How long till you think they will start to work?” Michelle asked me in a whisper.

I shrugged my shoulders as we walked back to our dorm. “I have no idea. Hopefully soon.”

Michelle nodded and hip checked me as we entered our building. Standing in the foyer was the object of my wish. He was tall with dark hair, clean shaven, and hopefully mine... soon. Our footsteps alerted him to our presence, and he turned, slowly, towards us.

“Dani?” he asked, his face breaking into a smile.

“Hey, Masen, how are you?” I asked, feeling suddenly nervous.

“I’m good. How are you?”

I blushed, hoping he didn’t know where I just came from. “Fine. Have you met my friend, Michelle?”

Masen smiled at Michelle and she nodded at him.

“I have now,” Masen said. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Michelle replied with a friendly smile. She turned to me and smiled wider. “Hey, Dani, I’ll meet you back up at our room, okay?”

“Uh, sure,” I said, my heartbeat pounding. Michelle winked at me as she walked by.

“So, what are you up to today?” he asked, after Michelle had turned at the corner and out of sight.

“Nothing really. We were just walking around to get some fresh air.”

He ran his hand through his hair, messing it up in a delightfully, adorkable way. “Are you doing anything tonight?”

I tapped my fingers to my chin to try to keep them from shaking. The wish couldn’t have come true this quickly, could it?

“Hmmm, I don’t think so. What about you?”

“Well, I was hoping, if you weren’t doing anything, if you wanted to do something tonight.”

I almost dropped my bookbag in shock. “Really?”

Masen smiled softly at me and walked closer, close enough to where I could smell his cologne. “Yes, really. So what do you say?”

“I think it’s a date,” I replied with a huge smile.

He hands his phone to me. “Great! Here, give me your number and I’ll call you later to make definite plans.”

My smile couldn’t get any larger as I typed my number into his fancy touchscreen phone. We parted ways with a promise to talk soon to make our plans. I floated up to my room, so incredibly happy.

In the Student Center, a sticky note floated down to the ground, having only been on the wall less than a day, but it’s purpose was fulfilled. The wish came true.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 50: What Little Girls Are Made Of


Picture 1

Picture 2

Kimmydon's Choice: Picture 2

What Little Girls Are Made Of

The metal chairs were uncomfortable and creaks echoed as the music faded out. It was quickly replaced by a thunder of applause. My wife and I joined, only slightly less enthusiastic as our daughter was not among the girls on stage. They all bowed together before heel-toeing their way off the stage in unison. They moved more gracefully than I’d ever seen Sarah, age four, manage, but then again, they were an older class.

“She’s next,” Beth said quietly, just loudly enough to be heard.

Immediately my chest tightened slightly. She was with the tiny heads peeking around the curtain as the older girls passed. Her first recital.

Beth took my hand and laughed a little as she squeezed it. “She’s going to be fine,” she whispered to me, kissing my cheek.

Sure enough, my little girl, hair fought into a tiny knot on the back of head amid hundreds of pins, smiled as brightly as any of the other nine girls on stage with her. The instructor took the microphone up briefly to introduce the youngest class and their rendition of Butterfly. They all wore pink leotards and tutus with blue wings attached to sleeves they wore. Beth had had the job of constructing half of those. One of the other girls waved to her parents and blew a kiss. Another girl had started staring at the spotlight and missed the beginning of the music. Sarah did neither. She’d found us, and her smile had brightened, but she stood on her mark and moved when the music started.

I’d been to the odd practice, but Beth attended most of them, so I was unprepared for the fluttering of wings, the interplay between the girls as they leaped between one another, bent and straightened, ran through another series of leaps, all their wings ruffled by the speed of their movements.

Sarah spun out, a frown painting her face as she stood on the edge for the final pliet, but it disappeared when I jumped up, whistling.

“Good job!” I called as more applause joined mine. Beth shook her head as she rose more slowly.

“Really, Peter. She’s fine. She’ll probably be more upset at you than herself,” she chided me.

I didn’t care. My little girl had gotten up on that stage, she’d stared down a theatre full of adults, and she’d shown them what she could do. I was bursting with pride for her. I wanted to run up there and hug her and show everyone she was mine.

I didn’t. Beth was right about it being too much. Still, I was looking forward to giving Sarah the flowers that were currently hiding under my chair, just like she was the prima ballerina. To me, she was.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Destinee Week 49: God Save The British Hotties

Destiny Cullen

Picture 1

Picture 2

Destiny Cullen’s Choice: both

God Save The British Hotties

“This is it. This is our first step into adventure, Cat.” I laughed, carrying our last suitcases to the trunk of the car.

“One small step for man…one giant leap for us girls.” Catherine made an over-dramatic step off the porch.

We were getting ready to go on our summer vacation together as official on-our-owns-without-parents. We refused to say “adults” in any way to describe us. Both of us just got out of a bad relationship with a couple of douche-bags so what better time to go on an adventure right?

“Don’t forget your cell phone!” I yelled, closing the trunk and heading for the driver’s seat.

“Oh shit I forgot!” She ran back in the house as I laughed.

This was going to be one crazy trip. I didn’t know how we were going to survive, but it would be fun.

“Okay let’s go!” She locked the door and ran for the car, squealing. “I can’t believe we’re doing this!”

I laughed, turning the radio on. “I can’t believe we didn’t do this sooner!”

We set out to the airport, hoping there wasn’t any traffic to slow us down. We didn’t want to miss our flight to England. No chance in hell of that happening. We actually lucked up and Cat knew a guy willing to take us in for the summer. His name was Dean and he owned a small house in the countryside.

“Dean sounds cute.” Cat said once we were on the plane headed to London.

I laughed. “Dean has only sent you letters as pen pals for a couple months. You haven’t even heard his voice.”

She rolled her eyes. “Nooo, not like sounds as in I’ve heard his voice cute, but sounds like in my head and what he’s written to me, he sounds cute.”

I nodded to her scientific defining of “sounds” and the different uses of the word. “So tell me again about him? I mean, what he’s told you.”

“You make him sound like he’s an old pervert making up lies to an innocent naïve 18 year old girl in America,” she accused.

“Reality check, babe. He probably is an old pervert making up lies to an innocent naïve 18 year old girl in America.”

She crossed her arms. “No. England doesn’t have pervs.”

“England sooo does! They’re just higher end pervs. Kinda like how America has low end perverts.”

Cat rolled her eyes. “Well, from what he’s told me, he lives with his brother in their house in the country just outside of London. He writes novels, but he’s yet to publish a single one. I’ve been trying to convince him to let me read one but he’s refused.”

“So, what if he turns out to be a creep? Do we find a hotel in London and hope he doesn’t kill us?” I laughed.

Cat hit me. “You got a problem with Dean?”

“Yeah I got a problem with a faceless person you don’t even know.”

“Let’s make a bet right here right now. If he turns out to be a creep, I’ll pay in full our next vacation.”

I smiled. “Deal.” I stuck my hand out.

But if he turns out to be a decent guy like I say he is, then…” she tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Then you have to kiss his brother no matter what!”

My mouth fell open in disgust. “What if he’s super old—“

“No. Matter. What.” She said slowly. “But you seem confident he’s a dirty old man so what do you have to worry about?”

I narrowed my eyes and stuck my hand out. “Deal.” We shook hands and crossed our arms, each looking the opposite direction, determined to be right.


“Thank you for flying with us. Welcome to England. God save the Queen.” The person said over the loudspeaker.

I giggled. “Do our airplanes say ‘God bless America’ when people fly there?”

Cat was bouncing. “I guess we’ll find out on the way home.”

We each grabbed our carry-ons and headed for the tunnel to get off the plane. So many people were in the terminal waiting to greet people. Dean had told Cat that there would be a car waiting for them in the parking lot for them to drive. He even sent her a map to the house, a pretty simple straight line once you were out of London. We found our bags and headed for the outside.

“Take a deep breath, June. What does that smell like to you?” Cat inhaled.

“Mmm British hotties,” I looked around at a couple of cute guys walking around.

“I love the smell of British hotties in the…” she checked her watch, “damn, early morning.”

I set my watch to the appropriate time and headed for the parking lot. We weren’t sure which car was ours until she saw a large sign in one of the windows. “FOR CATHERINE LANE AND JUNE STEEPLES.”

“I guess that’s us,” I laughed. “Check out the car! It’s so beautiful!”

We ran up to it and got in. “I’m driving,” Cat said, taking the key that Dean had sent with the map.
She went to grab the wheel, but it wasn’t there. I looked in front of me and saw it was on the right side of the vehicle. I busted up laughing. “Yeah you can drive. This’ll be fun.” We traded seats and got on the road.

“It’s a good thing I’m ambidextrous or we’d be screwed,” she said with focus as she weaved through the cars.

“We’re in London!” I screamed excitedly. “I can’t believe it!” I felt like the news just hit me for the first time.

We both laughed as we turned the radio on. Some of the music was the same stuff we heard back in America. “I love that Bruno Mars is well-known here.” We sang along as we drove out of London.

“Okay where to?” I asked Cat as I pulled out the map.

“Don’t bother to look at the map. I’ve memorized that thing so much I could drive this road blindfolded.” She closed her eyes and drove to prove a point.

“You don’t have to do that!” I panicked, grabbing the wheel.

“Oh relax, if we crash where will we go? In the grass?” Cat laughed, looking at the fields in front of us. There were rolling hills of green, it was so beautiful.

We drove down a long straight road seemingly leading to nowhere. I sighed getting slightly bored and tired from the jet lag. Finally we broke over a large hill and there in the distance was a huge castle. I use the term “huge castle” lightly, what I really mean is Cinderella would be jealous!

“Is Dean’s house behind that castle?” I asked, breathlessly.

Cat drove slowly as she looked out the windshield with her mouth open is shock. “Um…he failed to mention what his house looked like, but he said that his house was the only one you could see for miles…and I don’t see another house…”

“Maybe we should just stop and ask for directions. We probably took a wrong turn somewhere…on this straight road.”

We pulled up to the castle and walked up to the large front doors. Huge knockers were hanging on them so Cat and I each took one and banged it against the door. We heard it echo forever through the castle.

“There’s no way they didn’t hear that…” I mumbled after a long time of no response.

Finally we heard running inside and Cat and I smiled eagerly at each other. The door opened and a young man about our age stood there out of breath. He was so handsome and well-dressed with a charming smile and black hair that stood up.

“Catherine?” He asked in a sexy British accent, smiling wider.

Her mouth was wider than her eyes as she stared at him. I nudged her with my elbow and she swallowed. “Um, Dean?”

He nodded, laughing. “You are even more beautiful than I imagined.” He kissed her hand softly and smiled.

She blushed like crazy and I muffled my laughter. “Hi I’m—“

“June, correct?”

I couldn’t help the smile. “Correct.” I shook his hand.

He opened the door wider. “Please…come in.”

We both followed him in, flabbergasted at the size of the place. It was huge beyond belief.

“So um, where’s your brother?” Cat asked, giving me an evil grin of triumph.

I winced, suddenly realizing she won the bet we made on the plane. “It’s okay, he’s probably busy, Cat. We’ll meet him soon enough.” I gave her a pleading look behind Dean’s back, but she looked away unwavering.

Dean turned around with a smile. “Don’t be silly! He’s been waiting for your arrival. He was a little…skeptical on inviting two strangers to come visit, but I knew you weren’t one of those creepy rude Americans.” He blushed looking at Cat. “We even made a slight bet on it.”

“So wait…you guys made a bet, too?” I laughed.

He looked confused. “What do you mean “too”?”

Cat chuckled, but shook her head. “It’s nothing. But I want it made clear I was right and you were wrong.” She stuck her tongue out at me.

He laughed. “No, wait, what was the bet?”

Suddenly we heard a man running down the stairs. “Are they here?”

I looked up and saw a sexy man the same age as us. His hair was black like Dean’s, but it fell slightly in his face hiding his face. His accent was smooth like velvet and his dark eyes were filled with humor.
His eyes locked with mine and I blushed, looking back at Dean. His brother came down the stairs, slower and with more dignity. “Hello,” he smiled.

“Colin, I’d like you to meet June and Catherine.” Dean introduced us.

“Please, just call me Cat,” she shook his hand.

He looked at me with a smile, shaking my hand. “Are these the two Americans that will be staying with us?”

I smirked, “I sure hope so.”

Dean coughed and nudged Colin. “I do believe you owe me something for winning the bet.”

Colin looked slightly panicked that he mentioned it in front of us.

“Yes, June, I think you owe me something as well.”

I bit my lip and couldn’t stop the blushing. Colin rubbed the back of his neck, clearly embarrassed. “Now that I think about it, we never did shake on it so technically what kind of bet is it?”

Cat laughed. “Oooh, too bad for you, June, we shook on it.”

I glared at her. “Don’t be cruel, Cat.”

“The cruelest,” she winked.

I looked back at Colin. “Um, we kind of made a bet that…if you guys turned out not to be creepy old guys…I’d have to kiss Dean’s brother…” I was mumbling hoping no one really heard me.

Dean busted up laughing. “Funny, that’s the same bet we made, isn’t that right, Colin?” He elbowed him playfully.

Colin punched him in the arm and glared, but his eyes showed his true feelings as he looked back at me. “This is rather awkward for me, but a bet’s a bet right?” He tried to reason with me.

I laughed briefly. “And British people have a thing for honoring their bets right?”

He chuckled. “That’s right, we do and I’d never go back on my word.”

I smiled, already knowing this was going to be one great summer. All those Disney fairy tales can suck it, because I’d just found my real life Prince Charming. Dean held his arm out for Cat and she took it shyly as he led her through the castle to show her around, leaving Colin and I alone to settle a bet.