Laurel

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
@laurenegreene
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
@laurenegreene
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.”

Just Desert

Pun intended. Years ago, when I was just a college kid, I drove across country with my friend Jon and his sister Cass. We had gone to high school together, and we decided to go on this little adventure together. We stopped at Bryce Canyon in Utah. Utah has amazing scenery–so different from the greenery of the North, a lot red.

Thor's Hammer at Sunset

I  read about the desert. I just knew it was hot during the day and cold during the night. So we pitched our tent, and we went for a hike. Then we came back to our campsite, baking in the 100+ degree heat and complaining about it too. I told my friends it would get cold during the night, so we zipped up the tent and snuggled into our tents and baked like burritos, because the temperature never fell.  You see, even though it’s in the desert, the Bryce Canyon campground is at the bottom of the canyon, and it traps heat. I’ll admit it: I was wrong.

Today’s story, I wrote yesterday for Flash!Friday. The theme needed to revolve around a blunder, like the one I made in Bryce Canyon. And the photo was of a desert. And just a warning, there is some profanity in this post. I mean, I for one would be cursing up a storm if this happened to me!

Mirage
@laurenegreene
208 words

Bloody blunder that’s what it was. Bollocks. I could have sworn, I was signing up for a trip to Mount Desert, Maine. All-inclusive. When I showed up to the airport, I was surprised to see my plane was going to Africa. I mean, who doesn’t look at their tickets? Me, that’s who.

And now, here I am, running down a freaking hill for my life. And it’s hot, dreadfully. They’re chasing me, but they’ve fallen far behind. My marathon days have served me well.  I didn’t even know hills existed in Africa. Who invented this horrid place anyway? A sadistic god content on torching his fallen people, that’s who.

Thank God I packed extra water today. I stop for a minute, look behind me. There’s no trace of the errant tribe; I stumbled upon their sacrifice by mistake, but there’s no way I’m going to be their next victim.

I come to the bottom of the hill, and I’m surprised to see a road off in the distance. Blurry, weathered, but a road. And I hope to fucking God it leads me the hell out of here.

When I get out of this place, I’ll be content if I never see another grain of sand in my life.

Flash!Friday: We meet again!

Today, for Flash!Friday the story element this week was conflict, specifically (wo)man vs. self. And the photo was of the first all women jury in 1911. It was strange to me that the first jury was in 1911, and women were not allowed to vote until 1919 (ratified in 1920). But, these two elements made my creative juices flow, and as such I came up with two stories.

Story # 1: 

Proof
@laurenegreene
203 words

The trial was simple: did she or didn’t she kill herself? Six months pregnant with another man’s baby. The plaintiff’s lawyer said it was all very clear that she jumped.

Katie sat in the front row of the juror box and listened. She understood the need for self-harm. She’d been doing it for years. Sitting here, amongst these women, most who were older and wiser than her, she didn’t know if she could come to a conclusion. The wickedness of self-doubt always sitting next to her.

The three piece suit and top hat droned on. Katie pulled back her sleeve to count the marks she’d made on her arm; six now. One was precariously close to the artery. Jack had found her that time, the baby crawling around with red knees, in their tiled bathroom. He seemed relieved when the summons had come for the jury.

“It’s remarkable, Katie. You’re making history. Baby will be fine with Nurse Delores.”

And now the doubt crept in again. If the woman who died felt as lost as she did, felt the fear and anxiety of the world on her shoulders, then maybe, just maybe she threw herself off the building. Where was the proof otherwise?

Story #2

Only A Woman
@laurenegreene
206 words

The first words out of Ethel’s mouth were, “I can’t.” Ethel believed she couldn’t do much. Her parents believed she’d inherit the world.

“You’ll see, Ethel, dear. One day women will even have the right to vote,” her mother said.

But Ethel was too busy telling herself she couldn’t pass her history test. Her parents had sent her on to college. She would be educated, this child of their old age.

When the summons came, Ethel was shocked. She was even more shocked when she saw the all women jury.

“What if I’m the one who causes a hung jury,” she asked the woman next to her.

Ethel took detailed notes throughout trial. A pig theft. She didn’t even know there were pigs in Los Angeles. Ethel finally felt like she was overcoming her fears. Fears she had carried within her like an overstuffed suitcase her whole life. Fears of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m only a woman.”

She was named foreman, and in the end she was the one who handed down the guilty verdict. Self-doubt scoured away like scum from a bowl. She went on to be a leader in the Suffrage movement, so more women could reach their potential as she had.

The Hanging Tree

Yesterday, my family traipsed all over Alabama. I had memories of my childhood, where my parents’ special talent seemed to be turning a four hour trip into an eight hour trip. We drove to Moundville, AL and on the way home we came through Selma, AL. In case you didn’t know, the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Movement is this year. Today, the walkers who recreated the 1965 walk from Selma to Montgomery are arriving in Montgomery. We have come so far, but there is still a lot of hate in our world. There are still a lot of people who are denied rights. There is still a lot of racism. Teach your children well, to love all men, and there will be a lot less hate and racism. Hate begets hate. Love begets love.

I took this, not so wonderful cell-phone picture, of the Edmund Pettus bridge from the backseat of a mini-van. Sorry for the glare, but it shows you where my inspiration for this week’s Mid-week Blues Buster came from. 

EdmundPettus Bridge

The Hanging Tree
635 words
@laurenegreene

The last few times they’d visited the tree a rope had been hanging from one of the branches, a perfect circle, a hangman’s rope, Pamela knew. They’d put it there as a warning, the men with the tall white hats who ran around haunting the town.

Pamela and Nathan had ridden their bikes down to the five and dime to get a peppermint stick that day. They liked to sit under the shade of the old oak tree on the edge of town and talk.

Danny Risen nodded at them as they left the store, the jingle of the bell following them as they secured their feet on the pedals of their bikes and rode through the town of Selma. Old plantation houses loomed. A town, rich on textiles, and the center of what Pamela’s mother said was the Voting Rights movement. Just a few days before, the march had taken place. Pamela’s mother and father said it was about time. But Pamela knew they were in the minority.  The kids at school had nothing good to say about it.

They pedaled, the wind rippling through their hair, out to the edge of town and turned the corner on the dirt road toward the tree.

“Danny Risen is one of them.”

“How do you know?” Pamela asked.

The Ku Klux Klan members in Selma kept their identity a secret, but Nathan always claimed to know who was who.

“They set fire to a cross in front of one of their black preacher’s houses the other day. I heard Bucky talking about it at school. Said his Pa did it. Seemed right proud too.”

They pedaled down the dirt road, but even from this distance Pamela could see the shadow of the man hanging. Her heart sped up as her feet moved faster on the pedals.. She thought maybe if she could get there she could save him. Nathan always chastised her for wanting to save the world. “It’s too big of a task for a girl to take on,” he said.

Nathan had fallen behind, even as Pamela pedaled faster.  When they reached the tree, they saw the limp legs, hanging. The shoes untied and the feet at an awkward angle. Pamela slowly moved her eyes up his body, taking in every detail, until she saw his face. Ghostly white and young, his eyes were open, staring into the unknown face of death. There were scratches on his face and neck, where he’d tried to get the rope off his neck as he slowly suffocated to death.  Pamela had overheard her father say that when men were hung they danced a jig, their body jerking strangely, as they were slowly deprived of oxygen.

“I thought they put bags on their heads,” Nathan said.

Pamela shook her head, looking down at his feet again, his shoes seemed polish to a tee. This was a proud man, and he’d been pulled from Lord knows where and murdered for no reason. Pamela’s tears fell into the dirt, and Nathan placed a hand on her shoulder.

“There ain’t nothing we can do for him now, Pam. Come on. Let’s go home and tell someone. The least we can do is that, and maybe he can get a proper burial.”

Pamela shook Nathan’s hand off her shoulder.

“We need to get him down.”

“He’s deader than a doornail. A big ‘ole man like that. How do you think we can do that?”

She didn’t answer, and they turned to leave. From then on, her memories of the oak tree weren’t of spring and summer days with Nathan, unwinding and laughing in the shade.  Whenever she thought of the oak tree, she’d see the man’s face, bloated with eyes wide open and lips slightly parted as if he was questioning, “Why me?”

Cinders

Today I wrote a flash fiction piece for Finish That Thought. Obviously, Cinderella was still on my mind from yesterday. My Mom and I took five kids and one teenager to see it yesterday. It was too old for the little girls, but Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed it!   I’m trying to get a little bit of writing in this week and a lot of editing, but it’s Spring Break, and I have all three kids at home with me. We’re trekking across Alabama this week to keep them busy on some day trips. So far, I haven’t been all that productive, but I’ve been having great fun with them!

Here’s my story for today:

Cinders
468 words
@laurenegreene

They never asked me why I set the tree on fire. They simply dragged me away, my face covered in soot from the cinders. The tree, they said, was a national landmark. Dry enough to burn down the whole forest if they hadn’t caught me.

The policeman drug me to the office, sat me down in a chair, and bellowed at me as the EMTs checked me out. I fingered the plastic dragon in my pocket, Henry, I’d named him, and he was there to keep me safe.

“Right—so where are your folks?” the policeman asked.

I shook my head.

The policeman paced in front of me as the park ranger came up and tapped him on the shoulder. The park ranger whispered something into the policeman’s ear, and nodded my way, then they both walked off.

One of the EMTs had smiling eyes and pigtails. She took my hands in hers.

“Can you tell me your name?”

“Mikey.”

“This looks like a fine karate uniform you have on, Mikey,” she said.

“I’m a ninja! From Japan. And my dragon,” I said, pulling it from my pocket. “It helped me beat the wolf.”

“What wolf? There aren’t wolves in these woods,” the nice lady said.

“Are too. That’s why I burnt down the tree.”

“Where are your parents Mikey?” she asked.

I didn’t answer. Grainy memories of my parents played in my head. I hadn’t seen them in years, and that said a lot seeing as I was only six. I couldn’t stand the foster home I lived in. The older boy picked on me, something dreadful, and I had decided I was going to run away and join a circus. Be a clown, or better yet, a lion tamer. With the dragon, I knew I was capable of anything.

“It must be awful special to you,” the nice lady said, squeezing my hand. “You’ve rubbed off his eyes. Where did you get him?”

“Mom. She gave him to me, when I was little. She and Dad took a drive somewhere. I can’t remember. It’s fuzzy—like a peach. He made me safe for three days, until they came and took me away. They told me they’d find me a home. But I haven’t had a home since.”

The policeman and the park ranger came back and hovered over me.  The nice lady EMT wiped the soot off my face and my arms with a wet rag. I leaned forward and wrapped my arms around her neck, squeezing her tight. She patted my back and squeezed me back.  Her hair smelled like green apples, sunshine, and happiness.

“I reckon he’s too young for juvie,” the policeman said.

“He just needs a mother to love him,” the nice lady EMT said.

“Will you be my mommy?” I asked.

Bullseye

First off, I want to apologize for being missing in action this week. This is the first Flash Fiction challenge I’ve participated in this week, because on Monday I had somewhat of a medical emergency.Today is the first day I feel more like a human again, instead of just a crumpled ball of pain. I looked at a computer screen to watch television all week, because reading and writing simply weren’t possible. I missed the actual art of writing. I missed participating in the flash contestst, but I knew on the pain medication whatever I wrote wouldn’t be comprehendable. And plus, most of the week the pain medication didn’t actually help with the pain. But now I’m on the mend and actually going to function and go about my normal day today, and as such, I’m participating in Flash!Friday.

The setting: parking lot. The picture: Night archer. Once again, trying not to go dark, I end up going with love. So check out my Flash!Friday piece for today. And go easy on me, it’s the first thing I’ve written in 5 days!

Bullseye
@laurenegreene
202 words
We left work every night at the same time and would stand next to each other in the parking lot, under the flickering streetlights, talking about anything but our feelings.

That night, Mitchell had called in sick. When I asked our boss, he just shook his head and said he didn’t know why. Fumbling with my keys, I dropped them on the white line of the parking space, and when I looked up a vague image was sitting in the distance.

“Who’s there?” I called out into the darkness of the night. The lights were more off than on that night.

No answer. I tiptoed across the parking lot, and on his knees with his hands up sat Mitchell. Arrows were sticking out of a sheath attached to his back. He wore all black, blending in completely with his surroundings. My heart beat loud enough for him to hear, as I drew closer to him, facing my trepidation.

“Relax,” he said, as he turned his eyes to me. “I had an archery competition today. No time to change. But I had to come straight away, because when I looked at the bullseye, Madison, I saw your face. How about dinner tomorrow night?”

Chasing Fireflies

Flash!Friday made me nostalgic for long, hot summer nights. For playing basketball with my brother and sisters in our driveway. I didn’t have a boy next door that I liked (my neighbor was a bully). But I had a great playmate who lived behind our house, and I used to creep over to his yard to jump on his trampoline, play marbles, and spend hours in his playroom. My sisters and I would swim so long in our pool, we thought our skin would look like prunes for days. I took wagon rides down Mrs. Joseph’s hill, the sick sensation of fear mixed with pleasure roiling in my stomach. I went to Mrs. Tidmore’s house and watched her make flag, and played with her daughter’s dollhouse–her daughter who was grown and had left. I whispered secrets to my neighborhood friends, wrote in diaries, spent countless hours playing wiffle ball, even with the boys who beat me up next door. I’m not sure my foot ever graced the doorway until dinner time.

Today’s Flash!Fiction story is a little bit about that, and a little bit about a sticky kind of love. Enjoy!

Chasing Fireflies
@laurenegreene
Word Count: 193

Growing up, I had a crush on the girl next door. She lived in the massive white house with columns. When I was little, my dad would talk about Richard Nixon and the White House, and I thought Amanda was the president’s daughter. She wasn’t the typical girl next door—no plain Jane.

She had a tongue on her, Amanda did. First, it was pigtails, mud pies, and wiffle ball games—she always beat me. Later she used that tongue, stuck it in my mouth while playing H-O-R-S-E. I hadn’t even made the first move. She had our marriage planned before I was eighteen. I was just strung along.

We live in a white house now, one without columns. My son is obsessed with his own girl next door. I told him to be careful, before she traps him the way his mother trapped me. But honestly, I don’t mind. My best memory is of us sitting on top of her Ford, catching fireflies and staring up at the moon, with her hand securely tucked into mine. Hopefully, my son’s girl next door will be as bold as mine was, and still is.

A Trip To the Archives

Today, I wrote flash fiction for one of my favorites: Micro Bookends. I swear, the writers over there are inspiring. I always make it a point to go through and read every story, because there are some amazingly talented people writing shorts on Micro Bookends. I had to research the photo Dave put up to figure out what the heck it was. When I first looked at it, I thought it was carpet. Ha!

This one is short. I usually have a hard time sticking to my 110 words, but not today. It fit in easily.

A Trip to the Archives
@laurenegreene
100 words

“…beat the crap out of me,” the kid in front of us said.

My dad shook his head. I was in the process of dying from boredom as we walked through rows and rows of scrolls.

“How can they find anything. Haven’t they heard of computers?”

“They’re tagged,” Dad said, giddy with excitement.

“Why can’t we go see something normal, like Big Ben? Who comes to the Archives anyway, and why is this even considered interesting?”

Dad’s mouth ran like a river of words never ceasing when he found it fit to lecture me.

“Pip, I’ll never understand your generation.”

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.”