Poll: To Know or Not to Know . . .

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. . .  That is the question.  Since Solitary Confinement was posted, there has been some curiosity regarding the inspiration behind the story and/or the ailment afflicting the character, (via e-mail and comments).  I am usually very hesitant to explain the motive behind anything I write, mainly because I love playing with the idea of ambivalence.  However, given the dark undertones of this piece, I’m a little more willing to share the inspiration and process that went into to creating something that is quite far from my usual bubbly personality.  Though, I will assure you the character is fictitious as is her entrapment on the floor.

Seeing as the story itself was put up for a vote, it seems fitting the explanation behind it should also be subject to reader’s choice.

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The results of the poll will determine whether I post an explanation.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts after casting a vote, (just remember to uncheck the little box on the comment form if you do not wish to receive an e-mail for every new comment on this post).

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c.b. 2012

Solitary Confinement

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I don’t know how long I’ve been lying on the floor.  Wasn’t it only a moment ago that an ice pick sliced through my skull?  My muscles are stiff and my cheek is slick with sweat where it meets with the floor.  I can’t move.  There is nowhere to go, no chance for escape.  Any attempt worsens a pain that can only become more unbearable. The pills meant to make it stop lay scattered, just out of reach.  The pain knows this, so I close my eyes and wait.

The ants start to crawl under my skin.  Their tiny legs are armed with lightening rods and stab relentlessly wherever blood flows.  The worst part is its only just begun.  The ice pick jabs from inside my head; its sharp point rips at my mind with persistent fervor.  The pounding of my pulse brings new waves of blinding agony.

He said I could call . . .

My body recoils in a violent fit.  One hand grabs onto my head, while the other tries to quell the ants that refuse to stand still.  My knees snap to my chest as a vicious cramp seizes every muscle. I wait for the blackness to come.  A dark void where I am lost and cannot feel. Hallucinations of haunting images flicker and phantasms of pain darken my view. I want to scream, but a clenched throat chokes my voice.

Help . . . I need help.

My limbs won’t loosen and my thoughts shatter. I lock myself away in a sunless tunnel.  It’s the only way to hide and protect what’s mine. There’s a chance I’ll never find my way back, but where else can I go?  I long to hear footsteps that will find me and save me from this hell.

But they will not come.  He left weeks ago, tired of what I could not fix.

My fingers cling to knotted strands of hair.  Another wave strikes, bringing with it a thousand baseball bats that beat the life right out of me. Shadows that don’t exist move in the corner of my eye.  Whispers that aren’t really spoken sound in my ear.

Where is he?  Why isn’t he coming?

There are no footsteps.  The blackness offers no release.

Something warm drips down my chin.  Red falls to the floor in tiny drips.  Not even my lips are immune to the havoc that reigns – my teeth cut right through.  He always knew what to do.  When I couldn’t take care of myself, he was always there.  But, not now.  I can’t remember why.  It’s lost to the pounding that won’t stop.

Didn’t he say to call him whenever I needed?

I need him.  I need help.

But that was before . . . he left.  A sledgehammer slams into my temple.  A white flash wipes out my vision.  The only sense I have left cries from the torture.  Please let me go. The hardwood floor, so unforgiving, pushes into my joints and offers no comfort.  Yet, I cannot leave.   Is this my punishment?  If he were here, I would apologize.  And beg for forgiveness.

Help . . .

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Special Note: Due to some changes made by WordPress in the comment section, be sure to uncheck the box that says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via email,” if you do not wish to receive e-mails for every new comment on this post.  At the moment, the box is checked as a default, (and I can’t fix it).

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c.b. 2012

Poll: Reader’s Choice

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For about a month, I’ve kept a short story on my draft queue.  I’m hesitant to post it because it is a departure from my usual style.  Solitary Confinement has a darker abstract edge to it, which is decidedly different from my usual imagery.  This is a story of how lack of control over pain (both physical and emotional) creates an innate sense of helplessness.

Due to my indecisiveness, I’ll leave up to my wonderful readers.  The results of the poll below will determine tomorrow’s post.

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Special Note: Due to some changes made by WordPress, be sure to uncheck the box that says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via email,” if you do not wish to receive e-mails for every new comment on this post.  At the moment, the box is checked as a default, (and I can’t fix it).

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c.b. 2012

He Waits Alone

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Just as it did every year on this day, Malcolm’s cane rattles across the cobblestones.  He knows where the walkway is uneven and how many steps it takes to get from the flower market to the clock tower.  Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven.  For the last ten years, the number has always been the same.

The roses smell stronger than usual, their sweet, musky scent hangs heavy in the foggy air.  The treads on his old shoes struggle to grip the stones still wet from the street washer’s hose.  He tightens his hold on his cane and feels for the wall behind him.  A chill seeps into his spine as he leans on the stone bricks.

He knows he’s in the right place when he hears the soft tick-tock of the clock tower.  The steady tempo calms his pulse and soothes his nerves.  It’s been so long, but the thought of her still makes his hands clammy and his knees wobble.

Footsteps approach and they could be hers . . . but, no.  Too heavy and too far apart.  They belong to Jakob, a waiter from the café across the street.  A large gentle hand squeezes Malcolm’s arm with the assurance of friendship.  He says nothing, but gives Malcolm a warm cup of coffee before walking away.

The steam warms his nose and weaves through his thick mustache.  It’s enough to warm his bones, but not much else.  She said she’d be here and he still believes her.  People get lost or wander away, but they always end up coming home.  Don’t they?

As the minutes tick by and his coffee cup empties, he listens carefully for the sound of her voice calling his name and sniffs the breeze for a hint of her perfume.  He would know her touch anywhere as there is nothing like the feel of her hand in his.  If he tries hard enough he can imagine her phantom fingers caressing his skin.  Though, he cannot see her face. The memory is no longer vivid and his eyes are a thing of the past.

She would come, he knew she would.

Side street view of the clock tower in Old Town Square, Prague, 2008, c.b.w.

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This is a little experiment in free-writing with the assistance of a prompt and a partial story it inspired in one of my journals.  I played with both a bit more and filled in some blanks.  The photograph comes from a trip I took to Prague a few years back.

Prompt: They’d agree to meet under the clock on Valentine’s Day.  That was four years ago, but he still came very year on that date to wait for her.

Source of prompt:  First 50 – I’ve had the prompt tucked in my journal for a while, but never checked out this blog until today.  It’s an amazing source of writing prompts and I highly recommend it for any writer looking for a little inspiration!

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c.b. 201

Celebrating A Win!

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When I joined Rachael Harrie’s Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign, my goal was to network with other writers and hopefully learn a few things about establishing an online platform for my pen name.  The whole experience turned out to be incredible from both business and creative standpoints.  I found myself in the mix of some pretty incredible writers, which makes my next bit of news all that more amazing.

I am beyond thrilled to report than my piece entitled Fatespeak won the Second Campaign Challenge!  This was a difficult challenge not only because of the prompts involved, but due to some tough competition put forth by so many talented and creative writers. In all honesty, I felt totally out of my league!  It’s an honor to be in the same company of writers I’ve come to admire so much.

To see my name at the top of the list is surreal at best.  This is the first competition I’ve ever won, which makes this a pretty exciting milestone!

Congratulations to all the winners!

The prizes are pretty exciting, too!  With my deadline of sending query letters out by the end of April, a critique of the first 30 pages of my manuscript is going to be very helpful.  I can’t wait to have a neutral third party dig in and help me find the weaknesses!  In addition to a critique, I also won:

This is like winning the lottery!

Thanks so much to Rachael Harrie for running the campaign and all the judges for all their time and effort.  The prompts were inspiring and the challenges irresistible!  I’m already looking forward to the next campaign.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fitting to re-post Fatespeak.  Enjoy the read!

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Fatespeak

Activity #1 – Pitch/Logline

The Fates meet their match in one small girl.

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Activity #2 – 200 word flash fiction based on the prompts

Aria peered through the Oracle Eye and smiled at her victory.  Amanda and Ian were safe, hidden away from The Fates who had so cruelly decided they should die.   She was supposed to lead them to the moment of no return, but broke her oath instead.  Under Rosewood Bridge they would stay, until she found a way to spare their lives.

“You cannot save them.”

Aria jumped and spun towards the sound of her Elder’s voice. Mena’s deep violet eyes pooled with sympathy, but remained stern.

“Why not?” Aria asked, despite knowing the answer.

“Their fate has been written. Your interference has only delayed what will be.”

“It does not seem fair that beings with so much free will, should be so readily controlled.” Aria turned back to the Eye and watched Amanda bandage the gaping wound in Ian’s leg with what remained of his t-shirt.  “They have done nothing wrong and do not deserve this end. How can it be right?”

Mena gently squeezed Aria’s shoulders,  “She will drown and he must bleed,” the Elder replied. “Listen, my youngling.  As a Fatespeaker you must deliver what The Fates demand.”

“And if I refuse?”

“I cannot protect you.”

(199 words)

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Activities #3 and 4 (Combined) – Poem with a twist/Five sentences using each of the prompts.

The Fates sing in unison . . .

Young love perishes too soon,
never to age, always joined

The orb shall fall as must innocence,
ignorance cannot reign

A delicate balance struggles to thrive
on the brink of collapse

The meek suffer with dirty hands,
to humble those who refuse to see

 Natural order binds our will;
a ribbon between us,
no one is truly free

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Activity #5 – Flash Fiction about the water pear.

The Fates hovered in stasis overhead.  Hands joined, eyes closed, and oblivious to the small girl below.

Aria stood her ground with a wooden staff firmly in her hands.  One swing would destroy the only link between the human world and her own.  The Oracle Eye pulsed with warmth and light, just as it had for thousands of years.

“Show me Amanda and Ian” Aria whispered softly.

A dark-haired girl and a tall boy instantly materialized, both wounded and frightened.  In the back of a dark cave, they huddled together and shivered as their fire began to die. Once the link was broken, The Fates could no longer find them and they would be free.

She tightened her grip and arced the staff for a mighty swing . . .

“Stop!” Three voices cried.

“No!”

“You have no right to disrupt what has always been,” The Fates seethed with rage.

“You have no right to take what is not yours.”   Aria said and unleashed her will with all her strength.

One blow was all it took.  The glowing orb erupted into pulverized glints of light, all of which faded to nothing upon hitting the ground.

(195 words)

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To see the challenge prompts that inspired Fatespeak, go here.

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c.b. 2012