Category Archives: Lust

TALES OF TALE SPINNING

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©Edward Gorey

TALES OF TALE SPINNING

OR

The A to Z Epics, More or Less

I started Tale Spinning at the beginning of 2011 as an offshoot of BornStoryteller. The latter went more towards non-fiction, rants, comparisons, and observations. Tale Spinning: an experiment in creative writing was the space I needed.
Since then, I’ve gone through periods of both non-stop writing and those “dry” spells, where nothing inspired or motivated me.

Joining the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April 2011 was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. I’ve pushed my own boundaries over the ten years, always looking for that “challenge.” Taking risks is stimulating. A lot of what I write is expressing what is burning within me at the moment.

Which is probably why I have trouble continuing plunging into the worlds and characters I’ve built over the years. The roller-coaster upheaval of my life during these last ten years have jaggedly flowed from euphoric to complete and utter numbness. This isn’t a pity party. Just stating the facts, ma’am.

Many bloggers/writers I have “met along the way have become family. What is “Family is Chosen” for $2,000, Alex?” (Man, I miss Alex Trebek. Right now, I am Team Levar Burton to become the new host. Reading Jeopardy Rainbow!). It’d take me the rest of the day (it’s early here) to point you all out, but my thanks and love are hereby sent. I even met the woman I love writing these blog posts during that first A to Z. Present tense, even though we are not together anymore.

Shit happens.

Anyways.

List Time. In case, you know, want to read past (and present) A to Z attempts. Each set starts with A on April 1st of that year. There might be a few preceding posts/teases over the years as I tried out the new voice I was shooting for.

A TO Z POSTS

Here’s something not A to Z that I’d love to get your feedback/comments. I keep getting drawn back to it on an emotional/mental level, but have not added a thing to it in quite a while. These were written during the summer of 2011.

The Kitsune-Mochi and Fox Saga

INTERVAL: Liquid Time A to Z Blog Challenge 2021

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INTERVAL

Liquid Time

A to Z Blog Challenge

“Time is the fire in which we burn.” ~ ~ Gene Roddenberry

In between ‘It was…,

and moments before Z popped up.

Valentina + Void = inner jabbering.

Val’s short, shallow breathing climbed expositionally

with the beating pulsations of her heart.

98.8° F (37.1° C) ratcheted to (180°F − 32) × 5/9 = 82.222°C.

Nerves destroyed. Pain<3rd° burns.

Val is charred to basics.

Her chest continued to tighten and contort.

Guts flipped flopped non-stop.

Her mind pinballed.

Valentina’s body became its own Tower of Babel.

And ‘…too much’

Z’s appearance was announced by a pin-point of light.

Z was. Here. There.

Val’s extremes halted to numbness.

Vacant.

Sweat encased her.

She couldn’t move nor speak.

Spitting was out of the question.

She could not do anything of a physical nature.

Z, from There:

“Hello, Valentina.”

Val felt the words enter, not aural vibrations but cerebral contact.

Her head would have snapped back if it could have moved. She lost consciousness.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Val came back.

“I’m sorry, Valentina. Guess I don’t know my own strength.”

Z attempted to smile. Val knew the referencing Z was making. She was not amused.

She let Z know that.

“I thought it…Never mind.

Pause

Yes, I know I always...

Pause

Valentina, those language concepts mean nothing, never will mean anything. They have.”

Z halved the distance between them.

“Why?

Please.

What did you promise me?

What did you promise me between kisses, between acts of loves and fucks.

The truth is: I took you in, full trust, full vulnerability.

That you wavered? That you lied to yourself?

I loved you I loved you I loved you!

I love you.

Now, and whatever forever means.

That is why.

Here.

We are here.

Pause

No!

I’ve thrown off Zehara.

I was not a star.

I offered no radiance.

Zehara…she is the past.

It is time to uphold promises.”

Z was there.

Face to face with Valentina.

To Val.

To V.

Z brushed her lips over V’s.

TRANSITION

End of Arc One

Arc Two of Liquid Time begins Monday, April 12, 2021.

Stay Safe and Healthy

Comments are always welcome.

FLEETING: Liquid Time A to Z Blog Challenge April 2021

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FLEETING

Liquid Time

A to Z Blog Challenge

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” ~ ~ Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Zero hour. Day. Era. Epoch. Eon. Aeon.

Z subdivides along a non-unilinear line. Stopping milliseconds to absorb, dispel, bask.

Those are the fragments where a thought filters through.

Z assembles the pieces. Z experiences every emotional spectrum idea, searching for

Love.

Z does not believe in love. Love, to Z, equates to Pain.

Pain is a constant. Love=Pain never has/is/will be love ≠ pain. It is exact. For Z, it is exact.

There are no approximates.

Any/every instance Love touches Z is followed by an infinite drop.

Z is lost.

Inside, Z is lost in gathering specifics. The pure, unwavering distillation of Z’s perception of Love.

The amassing is complete.

Z stretches the limits of time to compact and keep.

The next second arrives.

Without the pain association. Z is blocking out the aftermath, the thrown away aspect, the being left, unnoticed, unwanted.

Another point arrives. The whole splinters.

Z

TRANSISTION

NEW!!!! TALE SPINNING is also a Podcast!

I plan to start recording MY reading of my posts. Maybe by 5/12/2021. Knowing me, maybe 2022. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the narration.

You can find Tale Spinning on:

Spotify iTunes PocketCasts Breaker Google Podcasts RadioPodcast (last two awaiting verification).

Tale Spinning, the Podcast, will include past series, interviews, and more.

Please Support Tale Spinning.

You can subscribe on any of the above platforms.

Comments are always welcome.

ElSeWHEN: Liquid Time A to Z Blog Challenge April 2021

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ELSeWHEN

Liquid Time

A to Z Blog Challenge

“Forever is composed of nows.” ~ Emily Dickinson 

Z thought as a black whole.

Z experienced everything at this/that moment without color.

Z tasted in shadows.

From the shadows came terror.

Z was a variant of a virulent tinnitus strain. Z was at a fixed point of -50 dB.

Z is the shriek that passes through the outer, middle, and inner structures, vibrating into an E Tube.

Traveling is a poor word of choice for Z in this state of being. Peripatetic is more to the point. Z travels from place to place, being to being, dimension by gradation of planes of existence

Z connects.

There are multitudes of levels of every emotional path that any can experience . Z knows.

There are a multitude of levels of pain. Hundreds of millions of points of view involving hundreds of millions of junctures, phases, factors, accents, factors. Z connects to All. All. All.

Z is at zero hour.

TRANSISTION

THE LAB

FLOAT POD con

“Stop fussing. Stop. I’m fine.”

Pushes hand away.

I said stop!”

Cursing, the medic walks out.

“Karen, there is nothing I can add to my statement.”

Debris is being removed. New equipment is being installed.

“Look, Val. Standard BS to make them happy. I know you. I know. Knew, Tyson. Just tell me what you edited out.”

Glare met stare.

“I do not have all day, Dr. Fill in the fucking blanks.”

Takes glass. Sips water. Another sip.

“VAL!”

“Tyson didn’t screw up. I did not screw up. He was being an ass, as usual.”

Pause.

“Fine. You heard the Banshee call. You heard the escalation. Then the cessation. The console sparked. I woke up on the steps, behind the railing.” Sips. “No, again, I have no idea how I wound up there. The pain in my back, my battered face? Stairs. Boom.”

Stare.

“Why did you break Tyson’s fingers?”

Pause.

“I…”

“Why did you break Tyson’s fingers?”

Pause.

Head turns. Sees FP. Nothing. Still in one piece.

Head still turned away.

“Jackass was reaching to mute. The data coming in and Tyson thought he was going to the mute button. He reached too far. He was going to incinerate the inside of the pod.”

“And?”

“He couldn’t hear me, damnit. He couldn’t hear me call out. I went for his wrist. My eyes were vibrating. Wrist. Hand. Fingers. I needed to stop him. So, I did.””

“And?”

Staring at the Float Pod. Shrugs shoulders.

Heartbeats pass.

“OK.”

Nod of head.

A chukka boot approaches.

Hand taps her shoulder.

“Dr. Marin? I need you to come with me, ma’am.
Her head turns to the other woman.

“Go with him, Valentina. Go. I’ll be with you again. Soon.”

Dr. Valentina Marin leaves what’s left of the lab.

She does not turn to look back.

THIS IS THE DAY Z DOES NOT DIE

Cold Hearted John Meadows

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My name is John Meadows, at least, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. At this moment, I’m not sure if that is even true.

I woke up in a bedroom. It was an unknown space. Except, as I lifted my head up off the pillow, I noticed a picture that looked familiar. I stood, walked over to it: it was flush with the wall. An outdoor moment in time. There was a man, and a woman. They held each other, big smiles on their faces.

The man leaned on a vast gnarled tree. Instead of branches, It looked as if seven tree trunks wound around each other, an abstract weave of latticework wood. The leaves were thick, a dark shade of green that looked almost like they were black. They hung over the couple like a frame.

The woman had her head resting on the man’s shoulder. His hair fell to his collar, so dark that at first, I thought it looked like it was cut out of the photo. Her hair was lighter, a mixture of golden brown and red. I remembered that it was called Auburn. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that at first. Yes, Auburn-haired, long, it fell down and over his chest, making his torso look like it disappeared as well.

The photo bothered me. Her eyes sparkled when the shot was taken. His eyes held little to no reflection. I looked. His didn’t, even with the sunlight spotlighting where they stood. Her eyes, the tilt of her head, her smile: there was life. He smiled, but it didn’t seem to reach his eyes. They were flat.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a free-standing full-body mirror to my left. It stood at a tilt near white folding slat doors. I shuffled my way over to it. I could not remember what I looked like, nor who I was. Maybe, I thought, looking at the reflection, things would come into focus. My heart began to accelerate, chest tightening, and it was getting difficult to breathe. I hadn’t been aware of breathing before this. I was now.

Coming into full view, I felt my head had received something smashing into it. It hurt like hell. I had to touch my head. It felt like bone shattered. I checked. It felt solid. But the pain. It was like a steel bar was slammed against my forehead.

A steel bar? Why did I…no, more a bat? Baseball? No, no. A baseball. Yes, a baseball hurtling to me, not even registering that I needed to move, to duck, do something. But it was too fast. I was too slow. I was up, then nothing. It felt just like that, although I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why I felt that way when I stepped in front of the mirror.

Yes, I was the man in that photo, even though I did not remember that. It was clear upon viewing, my eyesight was waving, no floaters, no film distortion over the irises. I looked at myself in the mirror, then over to the photo. Goosebumps paraded across my spine.

Turning, I took in the rest of the room. White minimalism in paint and fabrics. Same with my pajama pants. I noticed, then, that I had no shirt on. A look in the mirror traveled down; before, I was solely intent only on my face. My chest was hairy but not matted. Three parallel deep pink scars ran from my left armpit to just past the bellybutton. An inny. They didn’t hurt as much as throb. Noticing them did not help my rapid breathing and heart rate.

The next moments are still a blur. I know I looked around: the place had been tidy when I awoke. Now, drawers, men’s clothing, papers littered the white. All the bed linen was on the floor. The sliding slat doors were open wide, showing a closet that was only half full. I took this all in, sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed. I felt something hard and looked down. I had a metal lockbox in my hands. My breathing shallowed, and I felt myself calm down to regular human beats. At least, what I thought were normal.

There was no lock to have to break into. The lid swung up with ease, showing the mound of papers it carried. I riffled through the envelopes, unfolded the various papers, and only stopped when I found a Birth Certificate. Mine, I have assumed, until someone tells me differently. 

My name is John Meadows.

If you are listening to this tape, then most likely I am dead. Or too far away for any meaning of living or dead is inconsequential. This is the story of what happened from that moment of waking, clueless to everything that had meaning to me. I know that the woman in the photo was Jean, my partner. I know she no longer…is here. Where? At this time, I still do not know how to answer that.

Whoever you are, whenever you are, do yourself and loved ones a favor.

Do not stand under the leaves of that massive, gnarled tree.

It is not the Tree of Life.

HUZZAH!

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Amanda Palmer © Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

HUZZAH!

by Stuart H. Nager ©

What is unknown appears known; of this, I am uncertain. Perchance beguiled, for last I knew I was there but, alas, here I be. This path through trees lacks familiarity, copses gnarled but tidy. A hedge I found to assist my invisibility, a vantage point to confuse me further.

So many passed by, speaking in words yet understood. I scent of fresh hops filled the air, roasted meats, and the stale sweat produced by the heat of the day. This was familiar, but the rest? Skin hues, the variances of body types, the way they laughed, swore, or what I took as such, were a jumble only experienced in the largest of gathering towns and cities.

Swords! In the distance, a clang of swords. Blade upon blade, the shrieking of steel. Cheers, mirth, sad wails erupt from that direction. As one, what I glean to be a crowd, yells, “Huzzah. Huzzah. Huzzah!”

I am undone.

My feet lead me away from the hedge, into the ebullient throngs. My spirits lift somewhat, having spirited away a mug of foul ale. Yet, I quaff to a drop as the mug refills. Foul but fair, I merrily wander to explore my thoughts and this strange happenstance.

The lasses are comely; the lads as well. Their states of modesty thrown to the wind. Music is precise. I join in the dances encountered, elevating the pleasures of all who participate. Some of the cavorting was of my accord. More of the repellant beer made its way into my hands and down my gullet. I skip off to find what I shall find. A need for the small forest calls.

Ho! A pair of churlish ruffians. Drunk, their lazy attempts to lay hands upon a lass are buffeted away. Yet still, they take no heed. She, red-headed and fair, yells with no results for assistance. Ah, this language is beginning to open. Help she will have. Swifter than an arrow, I am beside her.

Drolly, I smite the louts with my sharpened wit, enough so that their desires for the pretty turn to anger towards myself. I lead them on a merry chase, up and down, forward and back, until the befuddled duo collapse into heaps. Thanking them for this escapade, I return to the lasses.

She of red hair awaited my return, mischief in her eyes that complimented my own. She takes my hand as we become unseen behind a large oak. Their language is becoming more explicit still.

“Huzzah!” fills the air throughout.

~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

Sunlight is fading, and I still find myself here. Megan of the red hair has left, alas, alas, alas, with friends dragging her away. She made a promise. Surprisingly, I gave one in return. Yet, the day has passed, more sweet beer drowning melancholy away.

Something has been pulling me throughout the day, drawing me further. Except for my Lord, I am nobody’s plaything. It was easy to turn this away with the ethereal emissions of the masses. Now, so few remain. This “Ren Faire,” as Megan related, closed down at true nightfall.

I give in to the call.

I have reached a series of small but fierce pavilions. Each draped with runes, gemstones, carvings, feathers, and lace, enveloped in candle glow. I walk down the lane, peering into each. Women, swathed in rich earth tones, turn their heads away as I come upon them. Except, this one ahead.

She is waiting for me, knowledge in her eyes.

I know her as well.

“Sprite,” she warbles, her withered countenance neither friend nor foe.

“Crone,” adding a shallow bow to her presence.

“Inside.” She hesitates. “Please.”

I follow. She deigns to sit on a wooden stool while I stand, examining her craft. The damask cloth covering her centerpiece table is of the highest quality, the colors swirling as they lay in place. I would say hypnotic, laying down such schemes myself.

“He was angry with you. Anger festered for a long while. The King almost commenced a Wild Hunt. My Mistress lured him to her bower. No Wild Hunt was issued. It was she who moved you here.”

“I see,” thank you, My Queen, for this gift. “I still owe him my fealty.”

“No, you do not. The King has withdrawn any compulsion over you. Residing as far away, and as long, as the Queen and King have, He has no need of you. Anymore.”

This news. I never wished for it. Yet, I surprise even myself at times.

I glowed inside. It felt. Good.

“What will you do now, Robin?

The question was an excellent one. For the first time, I feel befuddled.

“I do not” was left unfinished. There was a tap on the pavilion frame behind me. I turned.

A vision appears before me. Be still, my aching.

What a glorious smile. She holds out her hand. Our eyes meet. Our hands join as one. Megan leads me away from the pavilion.

I hear the crone: “Mistress, what fool this Puck be!”

Could she not stay quiet?

Her cackles followed us as we left the faire.

Together.

Huzzah!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

This week, Shut Up & Write offered their monthly five-day challenge with the Prompt Theme of

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

Each day’s prompt was to give your character’s POV through their very first time at a specific place, meeting another, etc. No length restrictions. Any style of writing. Any genre.

I took on the challenge, even with the growing number of projects that I am involved with. If you’d like to read the five in order:

August 3rd:    First Impressions: Planet Earth    a twinkling defense

August 4th:    Holiday Study: Trick or Treat        Samhain

August 5th:    Extreme Sports                                 Lemmings to Slaughter

August 6th:    Modern Exercise                               Level

August 7th:     Big Events: Ren Faire                       Huzzah! (above)

 

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME

 

Demise On Old Blackwash Road

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Julie and Steve
In teenage lust angst
Lantern lit, hidden nook
Atrocities attacked ere consummation
Sending them heedlessly running along
On Old Blackwash Road

Julie was screaming
Until her voice decayed
Steve pulled ahead
No thought of her pumping away
Julie tried to catch up
Down Old Blackwash Road

If words could take aim
Steve would have heard her pleas
Curses tossed through him
Voiceless, running still
Left alone under moonlight
Fever pitch dashing on Old Blackwash Road

Steve's mind was blanker
Except for grinding terror
Pushing himself faster on
It was primal, fierce 
As his lungs began to seize
Slowing on Old Blackwash Road

Julie haven found above
Crawling up an ancient oak
She saw Steve plunge to the ground
Closed her eyes ridigidly shut
Prayed, then dug her nails into the wood
Surrounding Old Blackwash Road

Steve's wails turned raw
Before they abruptly terminated
Julie clung for more than her worth
Tree sap glued her to her spot
Unaware of it till morning light
Dawn awakening Old Blackwash Road

Time moved through Julie
Frozen to the spot
Heat of the day came fiercely 
Freeing her from tree secretion
Setting her down upon
Empty Old Blackwash Road

She fled the scene half naked
The ground was bare of Steve
Her throat hurt as she sobbed aloud
No tears were left inside her
As she stumbled upon Route 40
Connected to Old Blackwash Road

Julie withdrew and hid inside
While the Sheriff did his best
Steve was never found, even a tiny bit
"It's happened before," they all knew for true
Julie shrugged. What could she say or do
About Old Blackwash Road?







RevitalWriters: Critique. Done. Write.

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REVITALWRITERS

A WEEKLY COHORT FOR WRITERS

This is what has kept me very busy over the last couple of weeks. Michael Grant, Artie Ohanian, and I have put together a Virtual Writer’s Group. RevitalWriters is for writers of any style or genre (poetry; fiction; non-fiction; memoir/biography; etc.) who want/need support for their WIP (Work(s) In Progress). All this leading to achieving a finished manuscript to send off to agents and/or publishers.

The sessions will run every Friday night, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST. If you are in any other time zone, if you’d like to become part of the cohort, let us know.

Our Goal: To offer support, encouragement, and constructive critique in a safe space.

We are not a prompt/generative writing group that you join when the planets align. Our intention is that writers serious about their craft get what they need to to finish and submit.

For full details of how each session will be run, visit RevitalWriters.  You’ll find our guidelines, About page, contact information, and upcoming Resource For Writers and Blog pages.

I hope you can join us in our first group meeting at RevitalWriters Session.  Friday, July 10, 2020, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST.

PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION:

RevitalWriters@gmail.com

I hope to see you there.

 

The Party Took A Turn

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The party took a turn when I was in the shower. Steam clouded the entire bathroom. I was waiting. It was taking its time tonight. A heavy thumping on the door makes me jump every time. Three times: THUMP pause THUMP pause THUMP! Silence. I thought it wouldn’t happen tonight. I was wrong. My eyes jerked to the curtain with the first THUMP. The second THUMP and my stomach falls to my ankles. My heart skips a beat while my testicles disappear with the third THUMP. The sound of the water beating down drowned out. Rain without sound. That rain was now scalding my skin. That damn noise!

Again.

It always takes a few moments for my breathing to get close to normal. I took hold of the shower curtain, hoping to catch a glimpse of the noisemaker. On the other hand, I wished I never caught that glimpse. No matter what, this had to stop, especially tonight. I peeked.

Like every time before, nothing was out of place. The Medicine cabinet was in one piece, its mirror fogged over but whole. Same with the pictures on the walls. Nothing had exploded out of the toilet, to my relief. I pulled on the towel rack. The best epoxy mortar firmly held it tight. Nothing was out of place. Again.

I’d had enough. Too many nights to count. Way too much fear.

On the balls of my feet, I inched over to the door, only to fling it open with an “AHA!” like I’ve done every night it’s happened.  This night there was something beyond the door, in the hallway. My yell turned into a combo “AhaaaaAhhhhhOoooo,” ending with a yelp. Jan and Patty were just outside in the tight corridor. Jan had one hand over her mouth with the other pointing at my, ahem, sacred space. Of course, she was laughing. Patty’s hand flew to her heart, at first. Then the grin slowly built up her wattage. They were both laughing tears together by this point. Patty tried to bring Jan’s pointer finger hand down, but that brought the two of them to extreme giggling.

“We need the bathroom, Davey.” Jan knew I hated that. David. I’m David.

“Um..uh…,” Patty started. “Everyone is waiting for you. You know. Downstairs. It’s your…” and then she cut off with fire rising in her cheeks that spread to the rest of her face. She was still looking. I hadn’t done anything to cover myself or hide. Hiding was always a good option.

“It’s your frigging Birthday, you nimnut.” She pointed at David’s descending pair. “Make that nimnuts.” Jan’s smile combined a shit-eating grin with that of the cat that got the canary. I started to yell at her. Mid rant, she clutched my arm, pulling me out of the bathroom. The click bounced in the hallway as Jan locked the door behind her.

Patty stood there, admiring the newly waxed parquet floors. Water was dripping off of me. I sighed. Patty giggled. I had to sidle past her. I was sucking my gut in, squeezing past Patty. As I made it to my bedroom, I heard Patty’s giggle morph into a heavy sigh as I closed the bedroom door. I think she wanted me to hear that.

Drying myself was pretty much-taken care of by then. I threw on my clothes, gelled my hair, and opened my door. I left the room, expecting to see Patty still in place outside of the bathroom.

Nope. Jan. Of course, she noticed my instant let down hound dog look. I thought I was quick to control it, but again, nope. Jan knew me too well, growing up together, one year apart. My sister was a royal pain most of the time; tonight, she wanted to be one.

“Aw, Davey, little Patty’s gone for a tinkle. Or she’s hiding. Probably both.” Jan leaned in close. “Psst…Patty knows you like her.”

“What are we? Twelve?” I shouldn’t have answered her. I should know better by now.

I don’t.

“Davey wants to kiss Patty. Davey wants to…”

I lightly stamped on her foot. I moved back out of reach.

“YOU SHIT!” was loud enough to quell some of the noise from downstairs. Jan took the stairs with an “ouch ouch” here and an “ouch ouch” there. I could tell she made it in one piece. Everyone yelled, “Jan’s back!” The noise from the party ratcheted up.

The bathroom door unlocked. Patty joined me in the hall, closing the door behind her. I noticed the shower was off. One of them had to have done that because I forgot to.

Patty looked at me, her cheeks still pink.

“David, I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have…”

“It’s over, Pat. Let it die. Jan is Jan. You know that as well as me.”

Suddenly, three heavy thumps pounded on the other side of the bathroom door.

THUMP pause THUMP pause THUMP!!

The doorknob began to turn.

 

 

The Essence Of

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Texting Block

Prompt: Write an Essential Character Trait: Put your thoughts in the comments: what are their essential character traits?

The Essence Of

 

Steve wanted to text Beth immediately after their first date. He sat in his car, going over every detail. Her long red hair. Beth’s yellow summer dress. The way her green eyes drew him in, peeking just above the mandatory face mask. Beth’s figure under that dress. The almost kiss. Sue’s coyness in blocking that.

“The virus,” she mentioned. Beth had gently pushed his hands down after he “accidentally” brushed her breasts. God, those breasts were on repeat in his mind at this point. He had been idling for a long time.

At full pitch arousal, Steve started his Volvo to head home. He had hummed for the entire seventy-two minutes on his drive home. Steve caught a glimpse of his face in the rearview mirror: the gleam from his pre-date dental routine made him grin that much more extensively. Killer smile he thought to his reflection.

Arriving home, Steve glided over the street to his front door. He slid the house key into the lock cylinder in a slow-motion movie style. Engaged, the turn of the key felt good. Very good.

Closing the door, Steve kicked off his Clark’s Oxfords. Unwinding the Paul Smith tie from his neck, Steve felt released. Off came the North & Mark Union blazer. He tossed both on the seat of the hallway chair. His delighted smile followed him as he slid Tom Cruise like across the polished floor.

Plopping on the couch, Steve pulled out his cell, checking the time. His mind was somersaulting. No text or voice mail from Beth. He waffled between texting now or later. Taking a deep breath in, Steve released the air as he thought: Just under two hours. Now’s good.  Yeah, that’s enough space.

Steve texted Beth. What a great time he had. How wonderful she is. Praised her eyes, hair, style. How much he couldn’t wait for their second date. Steve made sure they had concrete plans for a second date before Beth left. Date, time, and place: all secured. He finished the text with a repeat:

“I had a great time with you today. Getting to know you, to see you. I can’t wait for our first kiss.”

That got sent. Immediately followed by:

“See you next Sunday. 4:00 pm. I’m glad you liked the restaurant I chose. Food is great.”

Sent.

Followed by:

“You’re great. Wonderfully great. I’m over the moon that we hooked up.”

Steve sat on the couch, staring at his phone. His breathing went shallow while his left hand quivered. The day moved on; Steve did not. He had no idea why she hadn’t texted back. Beth always texted back within fifteen minutes or less as they did the dating dance. Tinder, of all places. Steve shook his head, the first external movement he controlled in the four hours, thirty-two minutes, and 29 seconds since he sent the last text.

A ding from the phone awakened his body. Beth texted! Steve began davening on the couch. His prayers; heard and answered. He opened the text.

“Hi, Steve. Yes, it was nice meeting you. Have a good night.”

Steve levitated off the couch and into the kitchen. He filled a glass of orange juice, topping it off with Vodka. Then another. He was giddy. Beth said that it was nice to meet him. She wished him a good night. Two more vodkas and OJ turned giddy into sloppy.

In the morning, Steve found himself on the kitchen floor. The cell phone still in his hand.

Before he got up from the floor, he texted Beth.