Don’t Be A Chicken

I’ve been remiss in posting the last few days! Work and life have been crazy, and my kindergartener, sweet darling that she is, is having a terrible time adjusting to school. So my mind has been elsewhere.

Today, just so you know I still exist, I’m posting a piece I wrote for Finish That Thought. I made some minor tweaks, as I had a few typos originally. This piece won me the contest this week, so next week I’ll be judging! Any of you writers should make sure to enter.

Don’t Be A Chicken

Oh no, please no, I thought as I ran toward the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Or I should really say ran toward the train wreck that was once my diet. It was the smell of fried chicken. I’d whiffed the scent on my way home from the gym. All those hours, sweating in the gym to look good for Marco, and now I was about to stuff my face with a big-fat grease-filled chicken bucket. At least I could say the potatoes were a vegetable. Wait, were they?

Sweat poured down my face as I neared the KFC. I slowed to a light jog. At least I could justify it by saying I’d ran all the way here. How the scent of KFC could travel three whole miles down 83rd Street and alight on my nose the moment I walked out of the YMCA was beyond me. And I’d made the three miles in record time too: 25 minutes. Heck I’d be ready for a marathon soon—right after I dug into a huge bucket of chicken.

I opened the door and the wonderful scent of fried food wafted toward me. I inhaled deeply. This had to be heaven. After all the salad and fruit I’d been eating, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into a nice moist chicken leg. I didn’t even care if the scale reflected it in the morning. To heck with Suzie and her weekly weigh-ins.

Bucket in hand, smile on my face, I turned scanning the restaurant for the perfect place to devour 3,000 heavenly calories of perfect bird. And then—there he sat. By the window with the big swirly K. Marco. I couldn’t care less about being near him still wearing my soaking wet pink workout shirt. It wasn’t the sweat dripping off my face and forming puddles on the floor. No—here I stood in KFC holding a chicken bucket for one, and already gnawing on a chicken leg before I’d even found a seat.

He waved at me frantically, and I did what came naturally, pretended he didn’t exist. Maybe I could fit into the trash barrel. Maybe I’d drop the chicken bucket on the floor and run back into the heat, but then the sweet aroma tickled my nostrils again and I knew I needed another bite.

Wait a minute, Marco was committing the sin of fast fried food too! I smiled and waved like I was a desperate preteen girl who’d just gotten her braces removed. Oh, those kissable lips. And then, wait, what? He motioned for me to come sit with him. And before I could stop myself, I’d joined him. Giant bucket and all.

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Cold Heart, Cold Mind

I wrote for Finish That Thought today.  I’ve been taking too many breaks lately, letting the urge to write slip away form me. This week, I’m trying to get back on the wagon (so to speak).  I have editing of my next book to do, and I keep putting it off.  I’m going to try to set some goals over the weekend, and I’ll post them here next week.  I’m goal oriented, and when I track I do so much better.  Plus, blogging! I haven’t been doing it after the A to Z Challenge nearly as much as I want to. I’m hoping with summer quickly descending on us and the absence of afternoon activities for the kids that I’ll be more productive.  We shall see!

Cold Heart, Cold Mind
495 words

I had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since I’d been back. Dad had cut the topiaries into animal shapes, and covered with snow, they reminded me of the scene from “The Shining,” so I kept a safe distance, hugging the side of the hedge as I walked to the door. My heart pounded in my chest like a million drummers in a band. The snow fell around me, and I shivered as I stood there trying to build up my nerve. I felt like a little kid again, lost and alone, not to mention freezing—Florida was so nice this time of year, I wish I’d never left.

If I stood there one more second, I might turn into an icicle, or worse yet I might freeze in one position snow-covered like the topiaries dotting Dad’s yard. I knew he needed me. My comfort. My presence, but the truth was I didn’t care about him anymore. Ever since he’d left Mom, I’d told myself he didn’t matter.

But then Janie had called six months ago and said Grace had died. Dad had dementia. She would arrange a nurse. Even nurses needed vacations, and Janie was out of pocket this week, in Disney World with her husband and three kids. I guess she deserved a vacation too.

I rubbed my hands together, they seemed frozen solid, and I wasn’t sure if the fist would form so I could knock on the door. The topiaries were so well trimmed. Was that part of Hanna’s job description or had Dad kept up with them, even in his confusion? Finally, I knocked.

Hanna came to the door, wearing a white nurse’s cap, like someone out of an old-timey movie. From behind, Dad wrapped his arms around her and squeezed.

“She’s a hottie, isn’t she?” Dad asked, as Hanna pushed his arm from her waist.

“Bill, I’ve told you a thousand times, I’m your nurse not your wife.”

“Where’d Grace get off to?”

I stood in the doorway, my eyelashes nearly frozen. Winter in Michigan was hell.

“You must be Christina. Thank God you’re here.”

Dad scooted around Hanna and screwed up his eyeballs as his mind whirled like a hamster on a wheel, trying to locate me in a sea of frothy memories.

“Tell my friends to come in too, Grace. They’re covered in snow,” he said, waving to the topiaries.

“They’re better off outside, Dad,” I said as Hanna scooted out of the way, and I stepped into the warmth of the house.

“Dad?” he asked.

“It’s Christina, your youngest daughter,” I said.

“I don’t have any children. Just ask Grace,” Dad said.

“She’s dead, Dad,” I said.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you Christina. I’m leaving in ten minutes. Let me show you where your dad’s meds are,” Hanna said.

Dad stared at the topiaries. The only friends he had, left out in the cold.


Today I wrote for “Finish That Thought.” Enjoy Xavier’s little story, which all you writers out there should be able to relate too!

A “Dicken” of a Block
491 words

The policeman took off his hat as he said, “You should sit down, sir.”

Xavier stared at the sentence written on the lines in the journal. He crossed it out with his Uni-ball pen, and when that wasn’t enough he kept scratching until there was a black hole in the paper. He sighed, took another sip of his coffee and picked up Hard Times. He’d just immerse himself in a book—easier than writing, that’s for sure.

But that didn’t work. He set Hard Times back on top of his stack of Dickens, covering David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities.

Another sip of his coffee, and he held his pen to the paper but no words would come. Why couldn’t he just be like Dickens? His first lines always sounded unique and never spoiled the plot. Xavier knew the “policeman” line would make his readers think something terrible had happened, and wanted it to be mysterious—not give it all away at the very beginning. The only words that could follow a policeman saying, “Sit down,” were tragic. Words like, “I’m sorry sir, your fill-in-the-blank has died.” Not like Dickens’ famous line, “It was the best of time, it was the worst of times.” Oh yeah, well which was it? Good or bad? The line made the reader want to keep reading.

Xavier set down the pen and started cleaning up the living room. It was noon, and he wasn’t out of his pajamas. He’d read the key to success was getting up and getting ready for work every morning.  After Zombie Killers ‘R Us had made him a tidy little profit, he’d gotten rid of all his suits and decided to put himself into writing full time. Although, his near instant success with Zombies had not translated to more words streaming from his now empty noggin.

He had on his flannel pajamas, which made him feel like he was wearing a security blanket, as he shuffled to the mailbox. He was surprised when he saw it. The return address in New York. The logo. It could only mean one thing, the agent had found a home for Killer Fairies.

He tossed the envelope on the kitchen table, without opening it, and paced around the kitchen. News that should have been exhilarating brought anxiety to his racing heart. Because it meant they’d want more, and the truth was Xavier hadn’t written anything in nearly four months.

He went into his closet leafing through clothes. He shed his Flash shirt, which had become a second skin to him, and threw on a button up shirt, leaving the top noose of a button undone. He found some khaki pants and slid into them. He grabbed his laptop and slid it into his briefcase.

If the words wouldn’t come at home, then he’d just go to where the words would come, he thought as he left the house traveling to destination unknown.

Ricky Head

I wrote today for Finish That Thought. I had a little trouble with this prompt, but in the end this is what I came up with.

498 words


When we hit the state line I cheered. Ricky glared at me, out of the corner of his eyes. We hadn’t spoken since Texas.

“Are you sure you want to go on this trip with him?” Mom had asked. “Who names their kid Richard when their last name is Head? Is there any truth to it?”

“Mom, we’re in love.”

Famous last words. First, we’d had a flat tire. When I complained about standing in the hot sun, Ricky had called me a sour grape. I mean, who compares a person to a rotten fruit? I was ticked at him, but we were following the Dead around the country—what could be better than that? Plus, Ricky had great eyes. The kind of eyes that make you pull out the dictionary and look up unique ways to describe the word “blue.”

Now the only way I could describe Ricky’s eyes were as cold and uncaring. I didn’t care if I ever saw him again.  I folded my arms over my chest, tapping my feet against the dashboard as I counted down the minutes until I arrived safely back at my parents’ house.

Ricky pushed a cassette into the player, and “Truckin’” blared from the speakers. I thought about the blown out tire on the first day. The sunburn on my face so bad that people at the first concert asked me if I was a leper. One state after another, and there were some good sets. Even selling grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot wasn’t bad. Ricky and I had a good laugh over some people who thought we were Smurfs—high on Lord knows what.

It was the last week, when Ricky had picked up the hitchhiker after I had told not to. And we drove fifty miles in the wrong direction before the guy pulled a knife on us and told us to empty our pockets. We had. We’d rather have our skins than the money in our pockets. In some po-dunk Texas town, my Mom had to Western Union money to us, and I told Ricky I never wanted to see him again. In hindsight, I should have waited to speak those words when I arrived home.

I decided Ricky Head might have been right about me on the first day of the trip. Maybe I was sour grapes. And maybe he really did live up to his name.  All I cared about was getting home into my Momma’s arms.

“I gotta take a leak,” Ricky said, pulling into the rest area. “You gotta go?”

I shook my head without looking at him, and picked at my fingernails. I followed his back with my eyes, and when he was in the rest area, I hopped into the driver’s seat.

He’d left the keys in the ignition. I threw the car into reverse as fast as I could.  From the rearview, Ricky’s arm flailed trying to get someone to stop me. So long Dick Head!


I’ve always been partial to the letter L. My dad’s name starts with “L,” my name, and my son’s. When you’re in pre-k and learning your letters, you get so excited when you see the letter that belongs to you. “L is for Lauren! That’s me!” I’ve seen this over and over again with my kids. The recognition of yourself in something abstract.

Today, I wrote for Finish That Thought about loss. Loss of something you once had is hard to cope with.  We’ve all been there, whether it’s losing a loved one, breaking up with a boyfriend, or something more (as is the case with my protagonist). I feel like I’ve been lucky in my life, but still I’ve experienced a lot of loss.  It’s part of life, learning how to cope with grief, and move on to find what else life has to offer you.

Enjoy the read!

Passing Storm
446 words

“It is not uncommon to get melancholy when it rains,” the therapist said, drumming his pencil against his pad.

Yellow, legal pad, Laurel thought to herself. She could almost taste yellow, like a burst of sunshine in her mouth.

“I get so blue. You know, when I walk outside, and I can smell the ozone—that’s what it’s called, right? I can feel the drops on my skin, the tiny hair follicles rising to greet the rain.”

“It’s called SAD,” the therapist said.

“And I used to read. Now I listen to the characters in my favorite books. I hear their voices trickling from my boom box—I still have one of those—but the problem is, they don’t sound like how I’d imagine them.”

The therapist cleared his throat. She heard the tinkle of ice cubes against his glass, and she imagined him picking up the glass, pressing it to his dry lips, and taking a sip. She imagined the glare of the newborn sun, born of the rain, and scattering rainbow spots over his white walls: green, orange, indigo, violet, and red. She was forgetting a few, but couldn’t figure out which ones.

“Are you ready to talk about the accident, yet?”

She heard the thunder, and she knew she was premature in her thoughts of the storm’s end. She settled into the couch, rubbing her fingers along the edge of the leather fabric: smooth and soft.  She always thought about the accident, but had yet to speak about it. Every day, she woke up in a black world and opened her eyes to a sightless world. In her dreams, she could see. Colors were vivid, dripping their peaceful hues, like a childhood book she had once read.

“I know it’s stupid and part of denial, but one day I think I’m going to wake up and be able to see.”

“It’s very common to have these thoughts, even when you know they’re unrealistic.”

“The sun will come out, and I’ll feel it on my skin. I’ll look up into the sky, and I’ll be able to see birds flying. I’ll see all the colors of the rainbow instead of just imagining them. The blue of the sky. The world is full of colors that I can’t see anymore.”

“Talking about it helps, Laurel.”

“Will talking about it help me get my vision back? I don’t think so. I escaped, that’s all that matters. It was just a passing storm,” Laurel said, running her fingers over the couch until she found her purse.

She stood up to leave the room.

“See you next week?” the therapist asked.

“Not likely,” she said, with a laugh.

Frayne’s Sacrifice

What else could F be for but Flash Fiction? Today’s story was done for Finish That Thought and for Mid-Week Blues-Buster. I killed two birds with one stone. Both of these were difficult for me today. The song on MWBB didn’t really inspire me, and I don’t consider myself a sci-fi writer at all, so using an alien protagonist for Finish That Thought was difficult for me.

Frayne’s Sacrifice
490 words

It was the night of a blood red moon. His fourth trip to Earth to look for Basha. Frayne hated this place. Last time he’d come, he landed right in a drone path. Took all his power to steer his ship to safety. He couldn’t understand a whole world intent on killing each other.

He stumbled around in the dark, staring up at the moon. The last of four blood red moons from 2014 to 2015. He knew the Christians of the earth thought this was religiously significant. Frayne laughed at that, shaking his head at their lack of astronomical knowledge.  They’d been using Christianity to explain natural phenomena for centuries. He didn’t know what Basha saw in these earth people, and he was sick of looking for her. She needed to take her rightful place next to him on the throne of Planet Bingo, where they would rule and reproduce as necessary, and then their little spawn would take over after their time was up.  Until he found her, their duty could not be fulfilled and he would feel incomplete.

The red barn stood at the edge of the field.  The farmhouse was in the distance, lights dancing in the windows. He snuck up to the house, and folded down upon himself until his knees were touching the grass. He placed his hands on the edge of the window frame and peeked into the house.

Basha was in the kitchen, making a meal. She was moving as he’d never seen anyone move before, swaying her hips. The human man walked up behind her, and what was he holding? Was that a baby human? Frayne saw the paleness of the baby’s skin and the truth hit him like a penny falling from a hundred foot building. Basha had reproduced with this earthling. He glanced back through the window, and as he was about to turn and walk away the screen door opened.

“Frayne—come out from behind there. I can sense your presence, you know.”

Frayne unfolded his seven foot body and stomped over to Basha.

“We were to be married. You could have had this on Bingo.”

She shook her head, and he noticed she was holding the half-earthling, its little fists waving in the air.

“I could never have this, Frayne. The earthlings believe in family. There’s is a love so eternal; I can feel it in my core.”

“You’ve seen the wars, same as I have.”

“They fight because they’re so passionate. It is something you could never understand, unless you let yourself live as one. They love as no others love.”

“I don’t understand this thing you call love.”

“It’s a feeling—something you can’t touch.”

“I’ll tell the council you died,” Frayne said.

“You’ll do that for me?”

“It’s what you want.”

She walked back toward the dim light of the farmhouse, but turned around to look at Frayne one more time.

“That’s love, Frayne.”

Sweet Caroline

This post isn’t really about the Neil Diamond song, “Sweet Caroline,” but now that you have it in your head, I’ll do you a favor and post the song right here:

Blogging every letter of the alphabet is hard, especially when normally I just post pieces I write for Flash Fiction challenges.  Today, I thought about writing about confidence, but instead I decided to give you “The Last Straw,” in which Caroline is a peripheral character.  I won the Special Challenge over on Finish That Thought for this piece.  The first sentence was provided, and then we had to use at least one emotion/noun combo (e.g. angry waffled).

And although Caroline is a secondary character the story revolves around her. Her mother, the protagonist, makes the right decision for her.


The Last Straw
450 words

This was neither the time nor the place for his antics. Lines were being practiced on the stage. Kids flitted around like anxious butterflies. My daughter sat in the glum corner.

“Where’s your father?”

“He took the happy juice, again,” she said, without looking up at me. “He forgot my costume.”

I sighed. My tired feet weighed a thousand pounds from a double shift. He had one job, to bring Caroline’s costume to school, and he’d failed like he had a dozen times before.

“Is he here?”

“Outside, with Victor. Mom, how can I be Juliet without my costume?”

“Go talk to Ms. Harrison.”

I knew I didn’t have thirty minutes to get up the mountain and back down. Caroline’s eyes were stained red from too many tears as she went to track Ms. Harrison down. A seething bull settled inside me, ready to gore Darnel. I’d given him so many chances, and he kept disappointing me—a record constantly on repeat. And now, he’d shattered our daughter’s dream like he had the cracked window in our lonely bedroom.

Darnel was out on the school’s quad with Victor. He was dancing around, a raving lunatic, and I knew he’d taken more than just happy juice.

“What’s he on?” I asked Victor, as Darnel tried to kick up his heels and belly flopped onto the firm green lawn.

“I’m not sure,” Victor said. “Honestly I’m surprised he even made it here without running off the side of the mountain. Caroline was something else. Mad as a tick. She yelled at him in front of everyone. Told him she wished he was dead. Didn’t faze him one bit either.”

Bones ached, and I shifted my legs trying to find a comfortable position, having stood all day at the diner. Low on tips too, and I needed to pay for Caroline’s senior trip still. I was bone tired of coming home to find Darnel having spent the money on booze and drugs. And the lying. That was the worst of it. He wove tales with a dishonest thread. I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of who he used to be. The man I fell in love with all those years ago—he didn’t exist anymore.

I reached into my pink apron, and I pulled out fifty dollars, a good chunk of the day’s tips.  I settled the money into Victor’s hand and caught his eye.

“Take him down to Bradford. I don’t want to see him again.”

“What’ll you tell Caroline?”

“Leave it up to me.”

I turned my back on Darnell, and walked away from the man I had once known. Caroline wore the color of hope when the curtain rose.

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
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.

The Clown

I don’t know why, but I’ve always been afraid of clowns. I saw “IT” way too early, and so I blame it on Stephen King a little bit. Write what scares you, is some advice I’ve always heard. Maybe that’s why King writes so much about rats.

Today for Finish That Thought, I wrote a little piece about clowns. It was hard–I was scared the whole time.

The Clown
499 words

“Excuse me, but what on earth are you doing up that roof at this time of night?”

I thought it was Petey, but when he turned around I saw the made up face. A putrid smell hit my nostrils, and my stomach turned with nausea. I’d always hated clowns.

I’d been sitting in my office chair, working on the next great novel, the feel of “Q” and “L” beneath my fingertips when I heard something up on the roof. Up on the House Top. Quick, Quick, Quick. But it wasn’t Christmas—snowy white—so I knew it wasn’t Santa Claus.

I blinked, and when I did, he’d come down from the roof. The dreadful smell of rotting fish filled the air around him, and I leaned closer to see a maggot wiggling out of his nose. I had the strongest desire to touch him, but I didn’t. He stood only about four feet tall. The red spots painted precariously against the white makeup adorning his face.  Just a child. But what was a child clown doing on my roof?

He wore one of those pointed hats, with a red ball dangling off of it. You could imagine him in an ancient circus. The white of his costume was stained around the edges. Was that blood near the torn place on his sleeve? I wiped my eyes, because I had to be dreaming. Maybe I’d fallen asleep in the office chair and this nightmare had come to wreak havoc against my coulrophobia.

“Hey mister, want to play?”

The pint-sized clown suddenly was holding two hula hoops. The streetlight shined on the lawn, as I grabbed one from his hand. I placed it over my body and securely on my hips, then I started wiggling, but it kept falling down to the ground, thudding loudly against the grass. The clown laughed, but his hula hoop was spinning around Clown Clip Artfast, even though he wasn’t holding it.

“You’re good at this.”

“Lots of practice in the circus,” the clown said.

I reached out, wanting to touch him again, but he backed away from me.

“Look, no touch—like the bearded woman at the circus. She bit a man’s finger off once,” the boy clown said.

“What are you doing here?”

“You should ask yourself that question.”

I looked around me. The street was dark and silent. The houses all shuttered like eyes closed for sleep. The moon shined, a giant ball sitting in the sky. When I looked back, the clown smiled at me, a sincere grin. I heard the front door squeak open; it needed some WD40.

“Dad, what are you doing out here?” Petey asked

I looked at him. “I was just talking to the clown.” But when I turned back the clown was gone.

“Sleep walking, again. I’ll help you get into bed.”

The smell followed me back into the house, putrid, rotting meat. I knew it wasn’t the last I’d see of him. They always came out at night.