Fiction Midterm

I wrote this for my fiction midterm story, but I thought it would be fun to post here and see what people thought.

Emily’s Garden

The tower rose three stories with a top floor filled with glass. A hot house, with ripe tomatoes on the vine, beans growing up trellises, mounds with cucumber poking through the soil, a small herb garden that released pleasing aromas into the air. There was even a small patch of strawberries. He stood at the east windows of her garden, looking at the glow just clearing the horizon. He winced, unable to look at it directly, then, he wouldn’t have to.

A furious clatter atop the stairs caused him to turn around. A woman stood at the entrance of the room, blood-spattered and breathing hard. She wielded a large axe, but what he took notice of was the thick black utilitarian braid running down her back, her large dark eyes, the flush of pink at her lips. He could smell the blood of Clarence and Vanessa on her, but not of Emily. No, that would just be ash.

“What, no sly remarks?” The woman demanded. Girl, he thought, probably no more than forty, although perhaps only thirty with a rough life. Her teeth were nicotine stained. “No menacing threats?”

“Child,” he said, his voice a slow breath over dandelion seeds, “you killed me yesterday. Go away.”

“You look surprisingly animate for a dead vampire,” She said. “I think you’re lying.”

“Tell me, was it your brother or your sister?” He asked, and watched her eyes go wide in shock. “It couldn’t have been a parent, they are expected to pass first. Was it in the dark of night? Were you in the room, listening to soft sucking sounds as the monster lay atop them, holding them close so they could not escape? Or was it a lover? Someone you were very close to, surely.”

“You don’t know me,” She spat, braid stiff like an angry cat’s tail. “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I know everything about you,” he said, his gaze turning back to the horizon, ignoring her. “You were hurt, you were trained, you started to make a name for yourself. You decided to try for more difficult prey. You killed Emily.”

“I kill a lot of vampires. I’m going to kill one more,” She said, taking another step closer.

“I told you, you killed me yesterday. When you staked Emily, the wood pierced two hearts. I cannot face immortality without her.” He confessed, his fingers caressing the soft ripeness of a nearby tomato. “I have given it thought, and I realize without her, this life offers me no more.”

“Bullshit,” She advanced again, holding her axe up between them. “Vampires can’t love.”

“On the contrary, we love very deeply. It is difficult to find the one person who can traverse centuries with you, but it is possible. Vampires do not change the way that humans do, but we do change. Like those plants we twine around what supports us, holding us up as we reach for the next level. Many vampires are not capable of love at all, as you say, but there are some who not only do, but who love for well beyond a human lifetime, into the realm of ages.”

“If you want me to apologize for killing your wife, you’re asking the wrong woman,” She said, taking another wary step across the teak wood floors towards the vampire. He discerned that she’d crossed half the length of the space. He wondered which would reach him faster, the sunlight or the hunter.

“I do not apologize for my kills,” he shrugged delicately. “I am a hunter, just as you are.”

“I’m nothing like you!” She shouted.

“Oh, but you are,” he said, taking a step towards her. Her axe flew up in a defensive style. “You have blood on your clothes. This is not the average wear of humans. Very few pick up the cause to end things lives. You are just. Like. Me.”

“No!” She shouted again, and she rushed him, axe swinging.

He reached out and gripped the axe beneath the head, ripping it out of her grip. “Emily was asleep and unarmed,” he pointed out. “You are a clever hunter, but you are not a strong hunter.” He turned the axe and swung, hitting her in the thigh, all the way to the bone.

She shrieked, and her agony was a song in his heart.

“Immortality is impossible, you know,” he confided in her, jerking the axe free of her femur, smiling at the cracking noise that preceded the rich smell of blood that flowed like wine. “It is like perfection; something to strive for, but inevitably as ephemeral as the soul.”

The hunter stopped screaming, and both of her hands pressed hard against the wound, trying to stem the flow of blood. Such riches going to waste, but he would not give her what she wanted. Vampire hunters sought vampires to risk eternal life, and she had killed Emily. Her deed was immortal, but he would not give her the satisfaction of living forever. She coughed. “I could be her,” she begged. “I could take her place.”

He could feel the bright brush of the first rays of sunlight stroke his cheek, so similar to how Emily would rouse him at night that his chest hitched, and his breath caught. His attention was torn away from the hunter as he turned to face the sun. “She was singular,” he said as he felt his cheek turn to ash. “You should try her strawberries before you die.”

He looked back to her, watched her blood soaking into the teak wood floor. He saw her pick up her stake and slide in his direction on her injured leg before his eyes turned to ash and he joined Emily in her garden.

Photo credit:
unsplash-logoChristian Widell


Happy New Year

This is what I’ve been waiting for. The end of 2017. It was a dramatic year, a painful year, and the end was the most intense – my husband had a concussion, I had finals, and the holidays were looming. I had to grit my teeth and get through the season, get through weeks of my husband not being quite himself, organize the holidays, and troop through the season. Which I did, and it was harrowing, but it was good, too. I ended up with a 3.9 GPA, as well as a prime rib dinner for Christmas and the glint in my child’s eyes when he saw what he got for the holiday.

What got me really jazzed, though, was coming back to school. I have a strange schedule, Tuesday and Thursday each week, three classes each. I’m in school from 10-4, which isn’t a full work day but it’s the closest one I’ve had in two years. It’s also not for the faint of heart… by class 3 my brain is full, and I’m trying my best to concentrate on what point the professor is going to teach.

My brain has kicked back into high gear and I find myself more able to remember the little details that were in danger of being dropped, everything from Toby’s vitamins to when I have to pay bills. I had been keeping on top of things over the winter break, but there was much less to keep track of. Being in three senior level classes, I have so much piecemeal work, a little reading here, a little writing there, a little watching movies there, and you have to keep track of all the authors, all the titles, all the story content, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, what are we looking for? It’s been a ton of stuff.

I also went to a poetry reading for one of my classes. The reading was hosted by another one of my professors, so I got to kill two birds with one stone. Three, honestly, I’m sure my Creative Non-Fiction professor would have been glad that I went as well. The poetry was timely, and well crafted, and even though some of it wasn’t my favorite, I felt all of it was well written, which was a pleasant surprise.

Balancing school with the world is the hardest part of it all. I have friends I want to see that I can’t, business partners who are in need of help that I can’t offer, all of my spoons are taken up. It’s frustrating to be a student, there are so many demands, and my time is already shred finely and sprinkled over my life in a very thin layer. I want to do more, but I am finding my edges pretty swiftly these days. If time management is the key to success, then I will be pretty much down to the second by the time I’m through with this quarter.

unsplash-logoNordWood Themes

This Year for Christmas, Just a Handbasket

I would like to say that I have been too busy to keep up with my blog, and that would be true, but the real reason I haven’t written anything is because life got tough for a while. I couldn’t write anything but how much it sucked, and nobody has the spoons for that.

The short version is that my husband passed out and fell, giving himself a concussion. There’s no clear reason as to why he passed out – our current theory is that he had a fever and he stood up too fast. When we took him to the doctor they weren’t able to diagnose any better than us, unfortunately, although they did order some tests to rule out a few things. We were in the shadow of the valley of no insurance, so this made things much more interesting at the time. We have insurance now, but we still don’t have a ton of answers, the fact that he can’t take his ADHD meds, he can’t get his heart rate up, and he’s pretty much had to retool how he works. Luckily, his job is being very accommodating.

Concussions are a serious deal. I already knew that, having had two friends who have had one, but it’s different when you’re living with a person every day who has one. It’s a very intense situation. I’m also used to having a partner who helps out with everything, so to have him on light duty has increased my responsibilities… right before finals. This is a difficult situation but we’ve been handling it. He fell a month ago today.

School has been going well. I have ended up with two classes that I loved and one class that I did not. I am already done with the two classes I love, papers and projects are turned in, everything is now waiting on grading. My last class, the one I don’t love, has a final scheduled for today. I’m not happy about the final but I’ve done my preparation and research so I think I’m as ready to go as I can be. We had 8 study questions and 3 of those will be the final exam, so I need to keep everything in my head a little while longer.

I won’t lie – once this class is done, I will forget I ever took it. It was touted to be a high-value class for my major, but after taking it I am still failing to find it relevant. It’s disappointing, but it seemed like other people got more from the class than me, so it’s obvious I missed something.

Winter break is almost upon us! I am looking forward to three weeks of no homework, family time, and maybe even a little holiday baking. I could even write, although I have been warned against this by friends of mine. It’s hard to give up the habit, even if it is supposed to be break.

This has been a particularly stressful holiday season, not just for me, but for my friends, and I hope that the new year will bring in some much-needed relief. If you are not one of those people and are doing fine, I’m happy for you. If your season has been rough this year, keep going. Christmas rarely killed anybody, unless you’re Phoebe’s dad from Gremlins.

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

Fall Quarter

We have reached mid-terms, that nebulous point in the quarter where Big Tests are taken and everyone begins feeling anxious. To me it felt like we spent six weeks shooting the shit, only to come back around and sample those conversations and remaster them into something the teacher will feel reflects a modicum of processing and retention. It’s intimidating but also bracing, a chance to show off about what you’ve absorbed during those first six weeks.

And what have I learned? My classes this quarter regard Afrofuturism, Augmented Realities, and Philosophy 101 disguised as an English class. The crossover has been fast and furious. I read a book for my Augmented Realities class that featured the word semiotic, which I’d never heard, but found the definition in my own notes from the Philosophy class. (Hint: It’s the science of signs and symbols.) I have read books about aliens taming humans and books on a murdered woman whose remains were eaten. I wasn’t anticipating my Augmented Realities class to be so disturbing, but that has been the watch word. I watched a movie about phone sex operators (Girl 6,). I read a book about a transgender man who has a lot to say about the pharmacological industry on human life. I would like to think of myself as a ‘woke’ individual who is aware of the status of the world in which we live in, but these classes are taking me to school, as it were, highlighting what I don’t know with savage glee.

So instead, I surf the conversations of each of the three classes, trying to chime in where I am able. The funny thing is that I am the most convivial in my Afrofuturism class. Despite being a white girl from a very white state and having very little interaction with black culture, I find myself drawn to Afrofuturism for its message of hope of a better tomorrow. Here is a people who have been subjected to the literal worst for hundreds of years, still trying to find the best in things. Still thinking positive. Despite this not being my heritage, I can get behind the message quite thoroughly. It has raised a lot of prickly questions for me, recognizing my part in colonialism just by being alive, and I’ve been very uncomfortable. Still, I feel like this has engendered real learning, which is more than just getting passing grades in class.

My Augmented Realities class looked like the easiest one to pass, based on the fact that I would have a class project of my choosing, and I could write a short story as one of the options. I decided to write a short story based on Bento Box, my sci-fi world. However, what I didn’t expect was to read so many books that were so challenging, which took the basis of my understanding of how the world worked and twisted it until it was nothing more than a swirl of color in the forefront of my mind. One book was written by a transgender man who has a lot to say about pharmacology and how it effects every human on the planet; another book instead focuses on journalism in today’s world. Everything is like a quick jab to the ribs, causing you to forget how to breathe and struggle to survive at the same time.

I love my classes, and I love my school, and I am very learning how to navigate the world of junior classes. There is a synergy in having a focus for your major, and the classes meld together until you can’t tell where one stops and the other starts. I’m a little spooked by how this is working, but I’m also a little thrilled, as the whole point of this education was to push me beyond my high school level education and prepare me for jobs where more is demanded.

There is no doubt I will look back at this and miss it, but for the time being I’m looking forward to graduation.

Read, Write, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I have been in school for a week, and I can already feel myself getting smarter.

Yes, I am gaining knowledge, but I can gain knowledge by picking up any old book and starting to read. There are documentaries out there, if I can’t spare the time for a book. There are YouTube videos that are even shorter, although the danger of being trapped in the Kittenverse is much greater that way.

What I mean is that I can feel spaces in my understanding that I previously did not realize I had. I can feel them because they are filling up, with discourse and reason and logic. Not the knowledge itself, but the framework, like a spider’s web being spun to span a doorframe. Things that I missed, because it flatly wasn’t my strong suit to notice. I’m learning system.

What I mean by learning system is that I’m learning the terminology, the grammar, the rules which construct thoughts. I think all the time, but how I think is changing as I recognize key concepts that I’d never thought about before.

This mind expansion is assisted by the young classmates that I share classes with. A significant portion of them grew up with this kind of mindframe. It is not new to them, or different, so they are not sharing my experience. They are instead adding to it, by showing me realtime how they reflect on the content we are being exposed to for my classes.

One of my classes is a Philosophy class, and while I am singularly unimpressed with the gender bias and general air of superiority that is rife with every reading, the how of it sinks into the cracks and I begin to see how they thought, how they examined the world around them. I don’t want to emulate their conclusions, but we are nearly five thousand years beyond them in terms of science and technology. Their findings don’t make sense anymore, but they are the basis for thought in Western Civilization, so I suppose one might give them a nod for it.

Another one of my classes is investigating Augmented Realities, and how those realities affect the people that exist in them. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you recognize that every book every written is an alternate reality, created by a person who saw things in a unique way. We may only just be scootching our way in to virtual reality, but humans have been taking trips into their imagination for millennium. Hell, once every couple of weeks I indulge in the same process, of sharing an illusory world with approximately 40 other people. I am aware that I am not actually my character, but for several hours I have a different set of priorities, principles, goals and beliefs, and I portray her with all the cleverness and pathos I can muster. I am invested in a world that doesn’t exist, and I have learned a lot even in the short time I’ve played with the troupe.

The last class is a lesson in culture, focusing on black science fiction. Octavia Butler, Sam Delany, but more than that, musicians like Sun Ra and George Clinton, and let’s not forget Nichelle Nichols, who became a cultural icon as Uhura. I grew up in a small white community in Wyoming, with very few friends that weren’t white. I wasn’t exposed to black culture in any meaningful way, but this is something that I can plug into immediately. The stories they tell are unique, powerful, and inspiring, and I am expanding my understanding in ways that I can’t even calculate yet. Better understanding often leads to better communication, and I am all for that.

So, this is how I’ve spent my days since school started. Getting smarter, feeling more confident, enjoying the hell out of my classes.

Things are turning out all right.

Photo credit:
Ryan Holloway

Teaser Trailer

This is the prologue of a story I’m in the process of writing. I felt like sharing it out, I hope you enjoy it!


The crash of the storm startled Ferris out of his book. He looked up, checking to see that the window stood closed. The frame had budged slightly in the last gust of wind, nothing to concern himself over. The room was full of leather bound tomes that he had no intention of exposing to damp or weather. The dust was bad enough, for all that he had hired two maids to continually service this room specifically.

He looked down at his latest acquisition, a brown leather clad, hand lettered copy of An Fae Ri,worked in gold filigree. He smiled in pride, his hands looking careworn and drab next to the artistic depictions of the title.

“Sir, phone,” the maid knocked on the door, distracting him.

“Confound it, you know I hate that thing!” Ferris roared through the door.

“It’s lady Jenna, sir, elsewise I wouldn’t have disturbed you,” said the maid, the perfect amount of contriteness in her tone.

“Very well.” Ferris stood, smoothing his brown corduroys and sliding his feet into house slippers. He felt for his pockets, found his pipe, stuck it in his mouth. Continued his search through his pockets, found some thread, a ceramic cat’s head, a doubloon, and his tobacco pouch. He shuffled towards the door, railing at his old man’s gait, thumbing a pinch of tobacco into his pipe and tamping it down with practiced ease as he approached the door. His library was his sanctuary, the one room he required absolute concentration in. He vowed to dock the woman’s pay, but found himself unable to remember her name. He would have to remember to ask for it so he could see to it at once.

He opened the door, and there the maid stood, in her gray uniform, hair back behind a white cap, holding a tray with a white enamel phone, its numbers set in gold, the edging in cream.

Snatching the handset off of the cradle, Ferris realized he’d forgotten his matches. “Yes, girl, what is it?”

A gust of wind rattled the windows of the room behind him, but Ferris ignored it, straining to hear Jenna’s voice. He stepped into the hallway to lessen the strain on the telephone cord.

“Ferris, so glad to reach you,” she said. “I forgot to inform you that there is a big luncheon tomorrow that you must attend.”

“What?” Ferris choked on his indignation. “You expect me to drop everything so I can be bored to death by that thin crowd of morality challenged idiots?”

“What did you have on the docket for tomorrow, if you don’t mind my asking?” Jenna’s voice was thin and tinny across the connection.

“Well, you don’t know, do you? I could have been having lunch with Mr. Chaplin tomorrow afternoon,” Ferris prevaricated.

“There’s no way Charlie would invite you to lunch without me, I would have known,” she said, calling his bluff. “Stop playing the grumpy old man and get in the spirit. These are investors, Ferris. The very people you want to woo, not stiff. Get your best suit out, the navy one with the pinstripes. Have Ella polish your shoes and trim your hair, there’s a good boy.”

“If I wanted a woman running my life, I’d have a wife, you know,” he muttered irritably.

“And most of the time Darryl does a fine job at it, but you’re a man who needs a communal effort,” said Jenna’s crisp voice. He pulled the handset away from his ear, frowning at it the way he would at her were she here.

The wind rattled the windows in the other room, and Ferris snuck a look over his shoulder to the partially opened door. He had to get free from this damnable handset and back to his library before the windows burst in and the rain hit his books. He’d left his newest acquisition sitting on top of a stack. He felt a spill of anxiety and put the handset back to his ear.

“…there’s a dear.” Jenna said smartly. “The car will be around at eleven. I’ve told Ella to wake you at ten.”

“Yes, yes, whatever you say, I must go,” he said into the phone, then slammed it on the cradle unevenly, the handset falling off even as he turned and ran into his library to catch the windows. Ella was left behind, catching the handset and trying not to drop the tray that held the phone. He slammed the door behind him, shutting her out.

The wind shoved the windows open just as he reached them, the wood and glass catching his hand so that it stung fiercely. He dropped his pipe as he yelped in pain, then swung the large frame shut and latched it tightly. He paused then to take a look at his hand. It had apparently sustained no lasting wound, but the damn thing pulsed in time with his heart and was sore besides.

Reaching down to retrieve his pipe with his off hand, he stuck it back in his mouth after a brief brush against his jacket to knock anything free. He reached into his pocket to find his matches, only to find they were neither in the left nor the right hand pockets. He searched his inner lining pockets, to find an envelope he’d forgotten about, addressed to him by Tomas Marcato. He hadn’t had a chance to read it. He drew it out, made to open it, and then realized that he was no longer alone in his library.

“El…” was all he managed to choke out before something wound around his mouth and nose like an anaerobic scarf that cut off his oxygen supply. He gasped, his lungs heaving as he tried to draw breath. He flailed and thrashed, falling to the ground as he used his fingers to dig into his cheeks, trying to grip the fabric that wasn’t present, but to no effect. He felt no person behind him, no one to throw himself against, no arm to grab and dislodge from his face, just his own features, contorted from strain in the act of breathing, of attempting to draw air into his lungs.

His eyesight faded around the edges, dimming as his struggles weakened. He believed in that moment he heard laughter coming from somewhere above him and off to his left. It was the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard.

Autumn is Coming

I’m not going to lie, I think I forgot how to blog.
I used to be able to whip out a few lines about my life, but that was when I was in school, when things were jam packed and exciting.
This summer has made life Slow. Way. Down. And while I’ve been enjoying the pace, let’s face it, there’s nothing gripping in 88 lines about 4 things that happened. I’ve been writing about my adventures over the summer, of which some were mighty, and of which some were just a mention.
One of the things I like to talk about is my writing. I am learning so much I feel like every blog post is a chance to document my milestones. I also imagine that other writers might find it interesting. I imagine, on the other hand, that some people think it’s like watching paint dry. This leaves me trying to find a balance.
I am working on an exciting achievement and something I’ve never done before. I wrote two rough drafts in two months, in tandem. I’ve written one book in the course of a month, last summer, but two separate books in different genres was a whole new level of achievement. I used to wonder how my other writer friends pounded out manuscripts so fast, but I see now that it simply matters how much time you have. When I have enough time to treat my writing like a full-time job, I produce crazy books. When I’m a student, my output slows way down. It makes sense, but to know a thing and to experience a thing sometimes turns out differently. I always thought I was underproducing. Turns out, I was just overachieving in other areas of my life.
Speaking of overachieving, I was accepted to Sigma Alpha Pi, which is a national honors society for universities. I am stunned and pleased that my grades are getting noticed. Of course, this always raises the bar as well, but I figure anything to make my resume look more shiny is welcome in my world.
I’m a year out from graduation (or so,) and I’m making plans for how to finish out my year even as I begin it. I love being a student, love all that I’m learning, but it’s a race against money, as the student loans rack up. The whole point of going back to school was to raise my income potential. That, and to get a job that I could marginally stand while I wait for people to fall in love with my books.
I am looking forward to school. I love school. I love learning. In another life I might have been a teacher, if I wasn’t so obsessed with spinning yarn.
Speaking of yarn, I am trying to teach myself to knit. Let me tell you, for a clumsy lady, that is some slow going. But it has taught me the secret to learning a thing; never give up. And just keep trying.

So here is my relearning how to blog.