Friday, April 15, 2016

This Side of My Skin

It’s the 15th. That means I should be posting a new short story or bit of fiction.


I don’t really have one.

Here’s the thing. I finished revisions of my novel in the first week of April. It took all of my focus, all of my energy. It is done.

For now.

Now it’s April. April is Camp NaNoWriMo.

I can’t resist. I have to play. But I am nowhere near ready to jump in and start writing another book. So I am plotting.

The nugget of an idea that I started with has ballooned into four interlocking stories. Each of them is demanding that it needs its own book. So I am now plotting FOUR novels. At the same time.

Oh dear.

Bottom line: I haven’t written any new shorts in several weeks. I have nothing to share. I am starting to get itchy. I can feel the untold stories crawling under my skin. They want out.

But never fear. May is just around the corner. I will be participating in the craziness that is Story A Day May. Every day I will be given a prompt. The challenge: write a short story. Every day.

There are 31 days in May. My goal is to post new shorts on at least 25 of those days.

If you want to part of the chaos, you can find info about Story A Day here:

To atone for not having a shiny new fiction present for you, I offer this tiny snippet of a thing. This character will grow up to be one of the characters in the four stories. I think.


Jonas stands in front of me, flipping a coin into the air with his right hand and catching it in the palm of his left hand. The coin shifts to the right hand and back into the air. I watch the coin travel its orbit once. Then I look at Jonas. He never looks to see if the coin lands on heads or tails. Just keeps the coin moving, his eyes not even bothering to track its path.

His gaze seems to float in the air in front of him. His eyes stare, but not at anything. Maybe they are looking at images in his mind.

I wonder for a moment how long he can keep it moving before a hand trembles, fumbles, drops the coin. I imagine it rolling away, spinning free from him. Maybe then he will look at me. See me the way I see him.

I watch his eyes pull into focus and I quickly look away. I don’t want him to catch me staring. Not that I think he even knows I’m here. We are only ten feet apart, but it might as well be a million miles.

I am invisible to him.

I didn’t used to be.

We used to be friends.  We ran through the neighborhood in the summer, building forts and houses out of cardboard boxes and discarded bricks. We gathered empty yogurt containers to use as dishes in our pretend kitchen. He pretended his puppies were our children. I fed them worms and caterpillar larvae. I was a good mom.

I look down at my hands. The ring he bought out of a quarter toy machine looks up at me. It is tarnished. Again. I need to give it a fresh coat of silver paint, make it look new. Make it shine. 

I twist the ring around my index finger, feel the metal pull the skin as it turns. It burns. It could almost pull the skin free, rip me open. It is not tight enough.

I pick at the tender skin around my fingernail, peel away a strip of flesh. Underneath I am red, raw. Exposed. I want Jonas to look over, see this side of my skin. See that I am the same inside as I used to be.

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