Wednesday, July 3, 2013


                The ghost was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  My peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Loaded with a double wallop of crunchy peanut butter and just a hint of raspberry jam.  Seedless of course.  Crusts cut off.  Sectioned into fourths on a diagonal.  Placed on a plate with a pile of cheddar and sour cream Ruffles.
                My lunch.  Not my ghost.
                At least, I didn’t claim him.  But he did seem to claim me.  And my sandwiches.  This was the second time I had created the perfect meal and stepped away to the bathroom only to discover a ghost thief on my return.
                Yesterday, out of shock, I had simply made another sandwich and sat down across the table watching him eat the sandwich as if I was only looking in a mirror.
                Today I wanted my sandwich. I marched up to my stealing specter. “I made that for me, you now. Besides, I don’t think it would kill you to miss a few meals.
                Clearly not appreciating my humor, he rolled his eyes and took a super-large bite of my gooey goodness. I swear the bite was so big that if the man had been in need of oxygen he would have choked and died right there at my table.
                The look of annoyance on his face was instantly replaced by a look of pure bliss. Eyes drifted closed. Shoulders melted down. Brow relaxed. Corners of mouth tilted up into a hint of a grin. One tiny dimple briefly popped into view.
                I caught the grin spreading to my own face as I soaked up his rapture. It was almost as lovely to watch him eat my sandwich as I knew it would be to eat it myself.
                As his eyes started to open, I remembered that it was my sandwich and I meant to have it. I slammed the lid down on the joy he had passed to me and snatched the sandwich out of his hands. “Gimme that.”
                Saying not a word, he stared at me. He rose slowly from his seat and drifted toward the door and through. Leaving me alone with my beloved.
                I watched the door.
                Sinking slowly to my seat, I raised the sandwich to my mouth, took a bite, and closed my eyes, waiting for the bliss.
                The sandwich tasted terrible.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Alisha's Tree

            I woke up in a strange bed and really had to pee.  I made my bladder wait a minute while I figured out where I was.  The pale moonlight coming through the window was much weaker than the streetlight back home, but it was bright enough to show me the quilt crumpled at the foot of the bed.  Delicate hand stitched purple flowers twined through frail green vines.  Grandma’s house.
            I exhaled a sigh, remembering this was where I’d been banished for the summer.  I would have preferred to go to Thailand with my dad, but he was on no-kids-allowed-business-trip.
            I kicked off the light-green sheet and promised myself again that I’d stop drinking root beer right before bed.  Maybe then I’d sleep through the night for once.
            My bare feet hit the nubby softness of the rag rug by the bed, then a few steps later, the cool wood of the floor.  I grabbed the door handle and turned it slowly, not sure if this door was a creaker.  Pleased with its silence, I padded out into the hall and down to the bathroom.
            Skipping the overhead light, I took care of business.  Headed out the door again, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  The strange angles from the night-light’s glow turned my face into a death mask.  Large hollows lurked beneath my cheekbones.  My eyes were burrowed dark sockets peering out from under moss-dark bangs.
            Startled, I reached out and flipped on the overhead lights.  The face I was used to seeing peered back at me.  My eyes were their normal green, with the usual hint of insomnia-induced shadow underneath.  Dark brown hair curled chaotically to my brows and shoulders.
            Satisfied that I had not turned into a ghoul, I turned the light back off and headed for bed.
            Just as I reached my door I heard a long, slow squeak behind me.  I paused.  Swallowing my pounding heart, I turned my head, expecting to see a sleepy Gran.  Instead, I watched the door the to the furnace closet swing slowly shut.
            I know it’s really childish to be afraid of strange noises in the dark, but I couldn’t help it.  I ran.  Three steps from my bed, I jumped, landing in the middle.  In one motion, my head hit the pillow, my hands grabbed sheet and quilt and jerked them over my head.  My cave of covers would protect me from the mass murderer slinking down the hall.
            I lay perfectly still, trying to bring my frantic breathing under control.  Like a possum pretending to be dead.
            A minute later when I was miraculously still alive, I started to feel really silly.  So glad that no one had witnessed my stunning display of immaturity, I lowered the covers from my head and peeked out into the room.
            I hadn’t closed the door behind me, so I could see out into the hallway.  No serial killer was waiting there to pounce on me.  Only the wedding picture of my mom and dad that hung on the wall across from the guest room looked back at me.  My heart started to settle back into my chest only to be launched back into my throat.  Someone had appeared in the doorway.
            Well, it was shaped like a person, anyway.  But it wasn’t solid.  Through its head I could still see the blurred picture of my mom and dad.  It was like looking through a thin layer of swirling milk.
            I froze.  My mouth went dry.  My heart stopped moving in my chest.  It felt like even my breath was locked, air hardly slipping in and out.
            The figure began to move toward me.  From the waist down, it looked like it was walking, but without any vertical bounce.  It crossed the few feet of open floor, reaching the side of my bed in a matter of moments.  The only movement I could manage was to tighten the grip of my fingers on the covers I clutched just under my chin.
            Suddenly I felt the edge of the bed sink a few inches.  The shape was sitting next to me.  Through its cloudy form, I could see the indent of its weight on the covers and mattress.  Then it touched me.
            One human-shaped hand reached out and came to rest on my knee.  Everything was okay.  I could breath again, my heart picked up a normal rhythm, and I felt at peace.  Love and comfort flowed through that hand in a touch I could never forget.  It was my mom.
            As peaceful as I felt in her presence, I couldn’t hold back the tears.  As my arms slowly relaxed down to rest on my stomach, the tears began to slip gently from the corners of my eyes and roll to the pillow.
            She sat with me for a few minutes, rising and silently drifting from the room long before I was ready for her to leave.  The moment she was out of sight, I rolled onto my side, hugging my pillow close against my chest.  Sobs began to tear loose, shredding up from my gut and out into the room.  I had held them down for so long that the air they contained tasted stale.
            I don’t know how long I cried.  It seemed like forever.  When the last sob finally trickled out of my mouth, I felt pure.  I sucked down great big gulps of fresh, new air.
            And then I slept.  Deep, dreamless sleep that I hadn’t experienced for almost a year.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Must see TV

Most people probably think serial killers watch CSI, Bones, and Law and Order.  A few might even consider adding Dexter to the list.  In my experience, those shows are useless.  There isn't a lot of info there that's accurate.  What is accurate is horribly out of date.  When I watch those shows I laugh.  And imagine the poor beginners who think they're learning something.

I prefer the Discovery channel.  And its offspring.  I Almost Got Away With It is invaluable.  There's nothing like learning from the mistakes of others.  Unless it's learning from personal experience.  I think it's time to get to work.

Better set the DVR.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Set something on fire

Janessa's movements were slow and sure. 

First the newspaper she had stolen from the neighbor's drive.  Next the pizza box from last night's dinner.  The phone book.  Her notes from psychology class. 

Janessa popped open the flip top on the can of lighter fluid.  Dousing the pile on her living room floor, she took a deep breath to steady herself.  Instead, the fumes made her dizzy.  She deliberately traced a line from the pyre across the carpet, up the wall and onto the blue flowered drapes.

The book of matches was waiting.  Red.  Gold lettering advertised Two Brews, the bar where she had met Devin the night before.  Janessa opened the book and removed a single match.  Another deep breath and her hand struck the match head against the striker strip.  She tossed the match. 

Janessa backed up until she hit the wall.  She watched the flames grab each item she had so carefully placed.  Then the fire found the trail.  Low blue topped with bright white, it wormed across the floor.  The drapes caught.

The fire alarm began to shrill.  Janessa plugged her ears.  Then pulled her fingers quickly away.  She needed to hear the sirens.  She hoped to hear them soon.  She needed Devin to save her.  He was a firefighter, after all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Make a case for your favorite fruit

I have to make a case for this fruit.  (And yes, it is a fruit!)

I have to build a case, lock it inside, and never eat it again.  This fruit tried to kill me!

Did you know that if you are allergic to latex, you may also have reactions to avocados, bananas, kiwi fruit, and chestnuts?  I had heard the rumor, but eaten avocado in the past with no issues.  Surprise!

One bite of guacamole was enough to make my tongue and throat start to swell.  I was lucky, in that I realized what was happening and didn't eat anymore. 

The problem is that I love avocado.  It is creamy.  It is rich.  It loves to hang out with tomatoes, onion and jalapeno (some of my other favorite plants) in delightful guacamole.  It is hard for me to be in the room with that kind of deliciousness and not scarf it down.

So maybe I shouldn't make a case for avocado.  Maybe instead I should make a casket.  So that I can bury it and mourn its passing from my life. 

Farewell fond friend. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What you would shoplift

"What do you want?" Bob asked as we walked into Walgreen's.

"Just a Dr. Pepper.  Hey, I need to go to the bathroom.  I'll meet you up front." I kissed him on the cheek and moved off toward the back of the store before he could protest.

Down one aisle, a left hand turn, and a peek back over my shoulder to let me know he wasn't watching.  This was way too embarrassing to let him know about. 

I made my way to the back corner of the store.  There it was, next to the small freezer case.  My favorite aisle.  Full of things that I couldn't bring myself to buy, but couldn't live without. 

Looking around to make sure no one was watching, I pulled my black drawstring bag off of my shoulder.  Quickly opening it, I grabbed what I had been dreaming about.  I pulled a Snuggie down from the shelf above and ripped it out of its package.  Wrapping it quickly around my Perfect Tortilla pan, I hoped that Bob wouldn't notice that my bag was larger than when we entered.

I tucked my treasure into my sack and rushed up front to find Bob.  As I walked, I tried to imagine what new delights I would see on TV tonight.  They were always better in person than they were as seen on TV.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Desert ride

Hot.  Bright.  Grit.

The sun was on my skin and in my eyes.  So was the gravel.  Blinking my eyes open felt like shredding their surface with the tines of a fork. 

The first thing I saw past the white wall of light was the slowly turning wheel of my bicycle.  A Bicycle playing card stuck in the spokes tinked out the passage of time.  I wondered how long the wheel had been turning.  I wondered a lot of things.

Where were my shoes?  Judging by the bright yellow sundress I had on, I guessed that sandals had covered my feet at some point.  I picked up my bike and checked the wicker basket strapped to the front.  Empty.  No shoes.  No water. 

Looking around, I tried to decide which would be the bigger problem.  I was on a road twining through a sea of sand.  Other than myself, the only living things I saw were a few brave cacti.  Even they looked hot and tired.

Which way to head?  Both directions looked equally uninviting. 

Then I realized I had to have come from somewhere.  So I turned my bike around.  If I made it here, I can make it back.  Right?

I wish I would stop sleep walking.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Super Chocolate Bacon Bombs

"Everybody loves bacon and chocolate!  These two amazing flavors have finally been brought together in your breakfast cereal.  With the addition of whole grain oats, it's also high in fiber!  Eat it straight out of the box, or drenched in maple syrup!"

I just disgusted myself. 

And I want bacon.

The prompt: Write the copy for a new breakfast cereal

Monday, January 14, 2013

A recipe for disaster

good intentions
lack of judgement
poor planning
ignorance of Cassandra
limited resources (infinite resources can be substituted)

Unlike most recipes, quantities in this dish do not matter.

Simply combine the ingredients to taste.  Sit back.  And wait.  You'll know when it's ready.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The meanest thing anyone has ever said to you

"That was uncalled for,"  I said.

"Why?  Because it's not true or you just don't want to admit that it IS true?" Jack said.

"Do you think it's true?" I asked.

There was a long pause while he clearly considered his answer.  I turned my head, looking out the car window at the dark, foggy beach.  Mist swirled up from the nearly still water like disco wraiths.  The sky looked like a fortune teller's ball, lit up from within by the hidden moon.

Unwilling to wait any longer for his answer, I opened the door and stepped out of the car.  I unstrapped my sandals and walked out onto the sand.  On the surface, it was cool and crisp.  I paused, wiggling my toes down below the veneer.  The sand here was still moist from the tide hours before.  This inside sand was warm.  I imagined that Jack was warm under his skin, too.

I walked to the edge of the sand and the sea.  My feet were touching earth, water, and sky.  All it needed was the fire.  I sat, and lay back on the beach.  My feet submerged, my head dry.  I thought I could lay here until the tide returned.  Maybe I would drift out to sea, coming to rest on some far off island where the fire lived.

"I'm sorry I said it.  It's not true," I heard from above. 

 I tipped my head back to look up at Jack, and held out my icy hand to him.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A beginner's guide to getting up in the morning

"think we're alone now, doesn't seem to be anyone around.  I think we're alone-," Tina reached over and slapped the alarm before Tiffany could finish her thought. 

"I've got to remember to change the radio station." 

Wide awake already, but unwilling to move, Tina stared up at the popcorn on her ceiling.  In the dim dawn light, it reminded her of the warty skin of a toad.  Momentarily paranoid, Tina pulled her hands up close for inspection.  No visible marks.  Good.

It hadn't been easy to get it back into the box.  After a year in the dark recess of the drawer, Tina hadn't expected such a fight.  Hell, she hadn't even thought it would be able to get out.  Tina had expected to see a shriveled lump of tissue in the box.  In the end, Tina and her roll of ladybug printed duct tape had won.  It was back in the box, the box was in the drawer.  Waiting.

Tina tossed back the covers.  She sat up, pivoted, and plopped her feet on the floor.  Right in a puddle of cat yack.  "Max!  Really?!  Did you have to do that there?" 

Walking out the outside edges of her feet to keep from tracking puke on the carpet, Tina waddled her way to the bathroom.  She sat on the edge of the tub and rinsed her feet off.  She grabbed a towel and spot cleaner from the closet and headed back to clean up the mess. 

The sun had made it high enough into the sky that Tina could see what she had missed before.  Several clumps of cat fur dressed her bedroom floor.  "What the hell were you doing last night?  Max?"  Oddly, Max did not have his nose in her business. 

Tina looked toward the hall, expecting to see Max walking her way.  Instead, she saw the strand of red tape with black spots peeking out from under her closet door. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Things you should throw away, but can't

Blame it on Christmas shopping.  Seriously.  While looking for perfect (yet inexpensive) gifts for everyone else, I stumbled across a book in TJMaxx.  Who knew they had books?

642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto.  3.99 (regular price $6.00).  It's been sitting in my living room for just over a month now.  Finally cracking it open, I was inspired to write.  And then I remembered by poor, neglected blog.  It seemed like a good place to put whatever comes out of my brain. 

So I have comandeered my own blog.  I may still write about books I have read (I still read A LOT!), but I will definitely try to write something unrelated to what I have read several times a week.  Let me know if anything you read here strikes your fancy.  Or makes you feel the urge to upchuck.  Put please, don't throw tomatoes.

Today's prompt: Things you should throw away, but can't

Tina hated spring cleaning.  Wiping down walls, windows, and sills.  Emptying out closets only to repack them.  Pulling heavy furniture away from walls, revealing the detritus of a year in the dark.  Throwing windows open wide, hoping to let in a fresh start.

This year, she had the added knowledge of what waited in the Keds shoe box tucked into her bottom dresser drawer.  It was time to throw it away.

Tina saved the dresser for last.  She tried on every article of clothing in her closet, tossing things that fit 10 pounds ago.  She scrubbed the inside of the refrigerater, oven, and microwave.  Even getting down on her knees to scrub the crevice where the floor meets the wall behind the toilet was done.  Eventually, the only spot in her house that had not been cleansed and refreshed was the bottom dresser drawer. 

Tina pulled on her yellow latex gloves before she stepped into her closet.  Her eyes met her gaze in the mirror.  She looked deep to find the strength to open the box and took a deep breath.  Sinking to her knees in front of the dresser, Tina let out the breath.  Her hands were shaking as she reached forward to pull open the drawer.

The only inhabitants of the drawer were the box and what it held.  Tina stared for a long moment before she could bring herself to lift the box up and out onto her lap.  There she held the box for what seemed like eternity, gently rocking it. 

"One last look to say goodbye," Tina said, nestling her yellow-clad fingers under one edge of the lid.  Slowly she raised the lid. 

"Oh, no," Tina whispered as a single tear slid down her cheek.  The box was empty. 

The gentle rustling behind her told her she had waited to long to throw it away.