Xs and Os

I haven’t shared my flash fiction in awhile, because I haven’t been writing it as much. Between promoting The Devil Within, editing Little Birdhouses, and writing my no-name work-in-progress I haven’t had time. But this week, I decided to write for Mid-week Blues-Buster.

The song this week is Little Blue One by Cowboy Mouth, which is an upbeat song about a sad subjectWhen I heard this song, after not having listened to Cowboy Mouth for years it took me back to a crowded concert venue in Atlanta in the late 90’s or early 00’s, where I’d gone to visit my childhood friend, Stacy, at college. I hadn’t heard them before I attended the concert with Stacy and Andrea and a few other friends, and I immediately liked their music.

Fair warning: the subject matter is about divorce or the end of a relationship.

Here’s the song if you’d like to have a listen:

So here’s the Dear Jane letter…


Xs and Os
554 words
@laurenegreene

Dear Jane,

The dream again. Your face. But when I wake up you’re not beside me in the ocean swell of what-used-to-be our king sized bed. The room wreaks of your ghost. I pretend not to think of you. I tell my repetitive thoughts to still the image of you in my mind as I pour two cups of coffee instead of one for the third time this week. Without thought, I pour the second one down the drain. I think about picking up the extra cup and smashing it against the wall, but instead I set it in the sink and think about how you would have told me to “just put it in the dishwasher.”

The photos of you and me in the Caymans eating turtle soup. The smile on your face is eternal. You don’t live here anymore with me, but every waking moment I have to tell myself you’re gone. Today, I’ll take the photos down. It’s been six months, and I know you’re not coming back. I’ll put them in boxes, and I’ll wrap them up, and it will be like our life together never existed. That’s what you wanted.

When your text pinged my cell at 2 AM, I had to stumble from the couch where I’d fallen asleep watching Geraldo. I knocked the half empty bottle of wine onto the rug. You remember that rug, don’t you? We spent four hours debating on whether to get blue wool or the checkered cotton at Pottery Barn. I, like the sales clerk, wanted to gouge out my eyes with knives before you’d make up your mind. Back and forth. Wishy washy. That was always your way. Maniacal laughter erupted from my lips when I thought how ironic it was that this rug, your baby, your precious, had been left in my incapable hands. It’s in the green trashcan waiting for pickup on the curb now. So long sucker.

The laughter turned to tears when I read your text. “I want an annulment.” The words stung. Married for six years and just like that you wanted to pretend we didn’t exist. Well maybe you didn’t exist, but I did. I waited for you, lost in your blue world of depression as you were. I stuck with you when no one did. I made sure they pumped your stomach. I made sure you didn’t die on the pink title floor of our bathroom by sticking my finger down your throat. Covered in your puke and half-digested pills, I helped get you to the hospital. I saved your life…literally. And I helped you find your way. Even if that way was away from me.

So, my little blue one, now that you’ve found your way you want to pretend that none of it ever happened? Move on, put me behind you and that period of your life when you couldn’t control yourself. You couldn’t control your emotions.

The answer is no. I’ll grant you a divorce, but not an annulment. Because not every day was filled with vomit and fights over rugs. I walked on the beach with you. I kissed you under a gazebo. I imagined our life together, complete with babies, and I thought I’d be with you forever. I can’t pretend that never existed.

Xs and Os, the answer is no.

–John


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A Writer’s Conundrum

I wrote today for Mid-Week Blues Buster. My goal today was sunshine and unicorns, but obviously I’m just not that type of writer. I write emotion, drama, conflict, and real life through horror. It’s just the way I’m made. Everyone has a gift, and as someone told me recently, mine is to make people cry. What a wonderful gift (I jest). Anyway, the song Another Nail In The Heart didn’t exactly lend itself to happy, but I did my best. And I’m pretty happy with the product! Enjoy!

A Writer’s Conundrum
@laurenegreene
443 words

“Another Nail In My Heart,” she wrote, then crumpled up the paper. The words dripping from her pen were filled only with sorrow. And why? She had a charmed life.

The next sheet of lined yellow paper sat before her, a blank slate for her to fill. And this time, she wanted to fill them with happy words, words of rainbows and lollipops. Words of hope and inspiration. Instead of her usual: horror, pain, and sadness.

Diego plopped down beside her on the couch craning his neck to see what she was writing. She covered it with her arm like a child trying to keep someone from cheating off of her paper.

“Oh come on, I just wanted to see what you’re writing. Let me guess, another tale of killer clowns. Or divorce on a hike?”

She nodded towards the four crumpled balls of paper on the floor, and he reached forward and squeezed her leg gently.

“Maybe that’s your gift—making people cry…or scream.”

“Very funny,” Ana said. “How do you make happy interesting? Drama is much more fun, because it produces conflict immediately. There is always an issue to resolve.”

He took a swig of Sam Adam’s and put his arm around her. “You’re the writer, I defer to you.”

“A lot of help you are.”

He found the remote and started clicking through football games until he found the right one. Ana leaned up against him, tapping her pen against the empty pad, leaving tiny ink marks in her wake.

“Oh, did I tell you? Nick Hutchins and his wife are getting divorced.”

Ana sighed, set the pad down next to her on the couch and turned her attention to her husband.

“Didn’t they just adopt twins?”

“About six months ago, yeah. But turns out Nick was sleeping around. And guess what? She caught him in bed.”

“With who? Oh wait, don’t tell me, Shelly from accounting?” Diego was always telling Ana about what a slut Shelly from accounting was.

“No. With Patrick Weasler.”

“Oh God, that’s even worse. Who did you hear it from—Nick?”

“No, I heard it from Shelly. She’s best friends with the wife—what’s her name—and went over to pick up the pieces after Nick left.”

Ana picked up the pad, the blank lines seemed to suddenly fill up with words of woe, sorrow, divorce, infidelity and unhappiness: the shit of life. Diego flipped through the channels absentmindedly, not content with any of the games on T.V. as his wife scribbled furiously across the paper.

“Unicorns and rainbows?” he asked.

“Divorce and despair,” she said. “I guess, it’s just what I’m fated to write.”

The Instigator

I wrote “The Instigator,” today for Finish That Thought. The thought was “If only I’d gotten her ten minutes earlier,” but I changed up the pronoun. For the special challenge, I had to include a word starting with each letter of the alphabet. Here you go! Once again, I am incapable of writing a happy story.

The Instigator
@laurenegreene
478 words
If only we’d gotten there ten minutes earlier.

“Bear plus food do not mix,” my wife said, when she saw the ravaged campsite.

We’d been watching the sunrise at the top of the peak when the bear attacked. While the sun spread its glorious hues of ultra violet rays over the earth, the bear tore into the freeze-dried packs my wife, unknowingly, had left out beside our packs.

“Rats, I wonder where it came from.”

“Oh, I don’t know, let’s see, the zoo. We’re in the middle of the freaking Appalachian Mountains, Jessica.”

“Jeez, Quint, you don’t have to yell at me.”

We had decided to take this trip, a two week hike in the Appalachians, as a way to repair our marriage, but instead of the bonding experience we had been looking for, the vacation had mirrored our tumultuous relationship.

“Maybe we should call Lyle to come pick us up,” Jessica said. She had the map spread out, sitting cross-legged in the dirt in front of the tent. A torn half empty bag of freeze dried beans stood by her Merrells.

“I’d never get in the car with that guy again, xenophobe that he is.”

“Oh come on, Quint. He’s harmless. What’s our other choice?”

“We stop in the town up the road, buy more food and keep going.”

“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing this whole time, keeping it going, despite a clear lack of sustenance?”

I hated when Jessica got all hoity toity on me and created analogies about our relationship. It was a side effect of her psychological practice. Psychologists have their own disease: know-everything-itis. She was staring through the map instead of at it. I sat down on the dirt next to her, and offered up the comfort of my arm, but she scooted further away from me. The Great Divide. Hurt pride, but I shook it off. I’d gotten so good at doing that.

“Here, this little town. Kunkletown. Funny little name, and not too far.”

“I wonder if they have cell service there,” Jessica said, as she folded the map and stuffed it into her back pack.

“Why?” I asked, but she just shook her head.

We wordlessly took the tent down and packed our bags. Stillness rose between us, like the quiet of the sunrise, only an hour before. In that moment, hope had sprung to me like the dawn of the new day, but the bear had dashed all of that making the tension stand between us like an unwanted lover.

Kunkletown was a nice little town. I stayed there, getting myself together for two days after Jessica left with Lyle. I thought maybe I could move to this little town that housed only a church, a few houses and a general store. Then, maybe I could find the hope I had lost in one moment on the trail.