Three a.m., and Rachel woke suddenly, feeling as if an arm had withdrawn, a body, light, pressed against her. Her heart pounding, Rachel turned away from the wall and searched the darkness. She should be alone, had been alone, for a long time now. No arms draped around her, no heat generating body snuggled in such a familiar way, no touch, no caress, nothing. Laying on her back, the clock light the only illumination in the room, the only sounds the passing of a car, then others…Rachel was aware of being the sole occupant in her bed.
Why, then, did she still feel like she’s still being held?
Tossing and turning, the night crawls by. Her pulse rate takes its time in returning to a relative state of normal, chest finally relaxing where she no longer feels like her rib cage would expand to bursting. Sleep comes, but is interrupted often by a quick wake up, startled, flipping over, wrapping her sheet around her, kicking off the blanket, putting the blanket back on. Three and a half hours pass this way.
Rachel slams the alarm button, and the clattering noise stops and leaves her hearing her own ragged, panting breath. The left eye hurts, the right one not much better. She rubs them with the palms of her hands, and they tear when she blinks them open again. Massaging her temples, Rachel puts her feet in her slippers and gets up off the bed. It takes a second to balance herself.
Her morning rituals go without a hitch. Rachel is on auto-pilot, showering, dressing and completing all her needs in the correct order, as she’s done for so many years, and while this stabilizes her, at the back of her mind she can not get over the feeling of the arm, the hand, the fingers splayed upon her back. “A dream” she says to herself. “A nightmare.” Shrugging it off, Rachel leaves to, as she sees it, truly begin her day.
It is one disaster after another. Stress piled on top of anxiety on top of belittlement, with a dash of confusion, worry and angst blended in to the mix. The car that cuts her off; the boss reaming her out; the phone call not returned; the splatter of grease from her lunch on her suit; the call that interrupts; her mother; the co-worker; the bill that she thought she paid; the smile not returned; the feeling that she still has not shaken off the nightmare grope, what it meant, why it still is touching her.
She feels as if she carries around an imprint of the appendage from the night, that it is affecting her day by rippling out to those around her. Rachel sees a grasping, a clutching that cuts off anything from running smoothly, the same old same old to the unexpected. It tightens and pulls, runs strangle holds over thought processes, thumps speeds bumps into her path. She was physically exhausted from lack of sleep already; Rachel felt, by end of her work day, completely beaten up, drained of energy, worn out, worthless.
Her briefcase, shoes, stained suit, shirt, stockings, bra and panties are scattered from the front door of her apartment to the bathroom. That was not like the normal Rachel, the put together Rachel, the almost OCD Rachel, the orderly, neat and clean obsessed Rachel. That Rachel had a phantom arm around her throat, constricting her every movement.
The shower head pumps out steaming hot water, the mirror fogs up in seconds. Soon her white skin is pink, turning to red, and it gets to the point where she almost screams that she feels the limb dissolve, melting away in the heat, running down the drain with the too hot water. Rachel presses herself against the tiles, cold on her back, fiery blast assaulting her front. Closing her eyes, she stands there until the pain finally reaches her, and she stumbles to turn off the left faucet, letting icy water race down her torso, genitalia and legs.
Eleven p.m., and Rachel has finally made her way to her bed. Before this it was mindless TV watching on the couch, huddled in her pj’s and terry cloth robe, nursing a beer along the way while she downed a few shots of Tequila. Her normal to bed time went by an hour ago, and she knew she could not put it off any longer. Two days of little to no sleep would do her no good, nor would two days in a row of being batted around by others, and herself.
Lying on her back, eyes wide open, Rachel checked the darkness, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. She closed her eyes, re-shifted, opened her eyes, tried to focus, closed them, shifted again, and again, pulled the top sheet and cover up to her neck, swaddled her feet, curved into a semi fetal position, and finally…finally….finally…
Three a.m., and it was more careful this time, not wanting to wake her, to distress her, to cause her any pain. It floated its caress around her, a diaphanous embrace of the night.
“A butterfly!” Amy said, retracing the pattern she saw.
“Um huh,” her mother murmured, smiling as she stroked her daughter’s hair.
Amy continued to explore, finding another pattern, and then another. Shifting positions only when asked to, Amy found images as she went along.
“Dragon?” her mother asked?
“Yup. Dragon. Big, scary dragon. Roooooaaaaarrrrrrrr!”
Katie laughed as she hugged her Amy. She got a hug back.
Amy went on tracing what she saw in the dots, naming them at will, giggling at the made up things. The late afternoon sun streamed through the bedroom window, lighting and warming up the bed they were laying on. Amy drifted off to nap time, finger still on one lone spot.
Katie held her daughter, feeling Amy’s breathing change. She was nappish herself, closing her eyes as they nestled together.
Just before she, too, drifted away, Katie smiled, thinking: “Why did I ever hate my freckles?”
I set fire to the house, watching it burn a safe distance away. Flames lept up into the night, licking up the side paneling that I no longer had to worry about painting. The gutters melted, the tarred shingles smoked; it all came tumbling down, bit by bit, ashes to ashes. The chimney was the last thing to fall, having never been set right in the first place.
Neighbors surrounded me, many of them holding onto their spouse or children. They looked at me, wondering where Margaret was. She screamed then. They knew.
Later, police handcuffed me. Asked me “Why?”
I blamed it on the dog.
This is a weekly challenge for those who are over 16 and enjoy challenging themselves with writing. Each week you are given a prompt. It may be a few connected words, a selection of individual words or a picture.
You have 100 words (or the number that have been set for that week) plus the prompt to write a creative piece. If you have a blog, post it on your blog then link the URL of the post (not the blog) to the link that is at the bottom of that week’s challenge. You can right click the badge above and copy the image URL into your post.
This weeks challenge:
… I blamed it on the dog…
Your pieces should be 106 words long (the prompt plus 100). Please make sure you visit to comment on others and do leave a link back here for others to find us.
Feet are planted on the sodden earth. The milling around, jockeying for positions, too close, not far enough, has ended. Heads are bowed, hands are clasped or reach out to touch another. All are quiet, now, but that silence is shaken by the wind that picks up speed, sending hair and head coverings aloft. A multitude of hands pat things back in place, murmurings of comments are made and subside, back to the quiet of the morning.
The cantor speaks, and there spills out an evocation of the life they have all come to honor. There are drawn faces, lowered eyes, huddled bodies, all straining in listening to the words that belay what has been lost. And tears…there are tears, wiped up with crumpled tissues, or left to drip down, from eye to cheek, cheek to chin, chin to hang there, until they fall on the ground.
It is not the only moisture falling. Rain, which had passed by earlier, returns. A few drops splatter down on the mourners, or miss, taken by the grass. The drops from the sky turn to a drizzle; from drizzle, to a steady stream. Umbrellas are handed out by the cemetery man. Not everyone takes one. The cantor is protected, as is the widow and one of her children. The son lets the proceeding be, rain or shine, standing alone.
The prayers are done. The dirt is placed on the casket, shovel by shovel full. The ceremony is complete.
Hugs are given, sorrowed words are spoken, and all disperse back to their lives, away from the newly packed ground.
It was the 2012 Memorial Day Weekend, and I get a pleasant surprise: I have been honored TWICE with the One Lovely Blog Award, as passed on to me by Allan Douglas of Simple Life Prattle and The Write Stuff (and fellow Triberr buddy).
How could he bestow this upon me twice? One is for here,Tale Spinning, the other is for my Non-Fiction blog, BornStoryteller.
The “rules” are simple:
- Thank the person who awarded the award (Thank you Allan) and link back to their blogs: Click HERE and HERE
- Tell SEVEN things about yourself that no one knows (but two blogs… 14.. but…14? TMI)
- Pass on the award to (15) blogs you follow and like/admire/wish they were yours.
- I’ll do as many as I can.
Seven Things :
- I’ve lived on the East Coast of the USA all my life, but have visited more than half of the states now.
- I read SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries, and then the occasional other book. Existentialism, anyone?
- I wish the lyrics to John Lennon’s song Imagine were achievable.
- People find me unfocused in my field of interest (the arts); I find myself versatile.
- I believe in ghosts, but not vampires and werewolves. Especially not shimmery vampires.
- I like both cats and dogs; I do NOT like fish, as pets or otherwise.
- I have never gone to a demolition derby or a monster truck thingy; I’d like to, at least once.
In no particular order, blogs I pass this along to, and you should give them a look/leave a comment (tell ’em I said Hi):
I forward to you this, in abstentia, my congratulations and best wishes on your retirement from the infamous Pinkerton National Detective Agency. You have had my utmost admiration for your tenacity and perseverance, and while you did not reap the true reward you sought for for so very long, I hope you do take some consolation that I stopped way before you did.
As far as you know.
This missive is a parting gift, if you might take it as such, as you retire to chilly Bournemouth with that delectable Mrs. of yours, the former Emma Beaument. It is a pity that she and I never met, but, really, she and I would never have had the opportunity to cross paths. Straight and narrow, inspector…straight and narrow.
How fitting that my “final” prize, Mary Jane Kelly, for “Fair Emma” was indeed worthy of my skills. Inspector, she was a beauty, and fallen as she was, it was a pleasure to make her acquaintance. Mary was tall, slim, fair, of fresh complexion, and of attractive appearance, but…you only met her after my work was done. I doubt you found her very appealing once you came upon her, prone and vivisected as she was, but trust me, Frederick (I do hope you don’t mind I call you that), she was very attractive.
Very attractive indeed.
How puzzling the insides of a woman are, the extra parts, the bits and pieces that make up the female form. I hope you appreciated the aesthetics of the beauty I left, the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera, the displacing of the bosoms, the flaying and intricate incisions that transformed “Fair Emma” into a work of art…a work of art I left for you and the stalwarts of Scotland Yard.
All these years later, the cases still open, and you now in retirement…are you still pondering why? I know you think you know the who. It wasn’t poor mad Georgie, I’m sure you realize now. Yes, he did poison those young ladies (of which you only pinpointed three; he had a much higher count) and paid for his “crimes.” Not mine, Frederick, not mine.
Why? I must admit, I loved them all, in my own way. Especially Mary. I keep her heart with me, always.
There were others before, and many, many after those attributed to me. Each throat cut, ever organ removed, every slice given live with me even now, Frederick, and while you wile away your time by the sea shore, think on this:
You were never, ever close in catching me. Pity. It was fun.
Hug your Emma, Frederick, but never worry, for she is as safe from my knife as the purest child in the church of the lord our God. Love her, as I love mine. I shall be enjoying the rewards of my memories, and those that I still come to know.
With fond regards,
Even after reading about all the possible side effects, Jean wore her mother around her neck daily. Others complimented her on her memorial diamond pendant, with many commenting about it afterwards, not all in a favorable light. Compressed into a stunning jewel, strung and embraced in an array of silver filigree, the late Mrs. Deidre Ann Cabochon glared from her daughter’s chest.
Cremated only a month previously, the ashes were mixed with snippets of her hair, and all was distilled to the carbon left behind. These were sent into a press, to duplicate the forces of nature. Extreme heat, 1,000,000 p.s.i., and time…and from the passing of the deceased came a new jeweled existence.
Or so Jean thought, even though the price was high on many levels.
Her husband, Paul, disagreed to the cost, both financially and emotionally. He was never fond of Deidre, a woman he found narcissistic and shrewish, and if he had been honest with anyone he would have loudly pronounced how glad he was that his mother-in-law was dead. Paul saw how Jean suffered during her mother’s long lingering illness, how she put “that woman!” on a pedestal, even while being ordered about and verbally demeaned at every turn. Jean just turned the other cheek, said it was the woman who gave her birth and raised her, and that was that.
Paul moved out the day after the jewel was delivered.
When she got the package, Jean cried as she opened it, and cried as she held it out to examine it. Jean asked Paul to attach the clasp for her. He went behind her as she moved her hair aside and did as she asked. There was a soft “snkt” sound; Jean let her hair down and turned around to give Paul a hug. She held him, lowering her head onto his right shoulder, pressing her body against his, tears leaking down, which he felt through his shirt.
Paul also felt the diamond pendant digging into his chest. Uncomfortable as that was, he felt…more. There was something emanating, a negative grasping, and it hurt on a much deeper level then the prick of the necklace pressed against him. Pushing away was hard but Paul moved a few feet backwards, seeing the pain in Jean’s face but he found himself unable to answer her question of what was wrong.
She needed comforting the rest of the day, and each time Paul’s horrible feeling deepened. He felt lethargic, and depressive thoughts flayed him, making deeper cuts as the day progressed. By the time they went to bed-Jean still wearing “her mother”-Paul was ready to slash his wrists. In her sleep Jean rolled over to the edge of the bed, as Paul, awake, did rolled to the opposite side. There was a lessening in his chest, and things felt calmer as he went to the bathroom (down the hallway), and still when he went downstairs to the kitchen for a cold drink.
Sitting at the kitchen table until dawn, Paul went back upstairs. Each step was agony, and when he got to their bedroom door, he knew. Grabbing his clothes, he woke Jean up.
“Get rid of that necklace, Jean. Let her go, or I will…”
“You’ll what?” she said, belligerently, rubbing her eyes, up on one elbow.
“I’ll leave. That thing…something is wrong with it.”
An argument ensued, words were said, many that could not be taken back or apologized for, many that Paul had heard from Deidre’s mouth only months before. Jean came towards him in fury and tears; Paul bolted with his clothes, changing in the car before running away.
Jean grieved doubly now. She started to lose interest in eating, slept poorly, wandered aimlessly, and while all around her said she was in the grips of depression, none would say so to her face. She would talk about her mother in one breath and be scathing in ridicule in the next, tearing apart friends, family, and co-workers alike with a viciousness that was “not like her” (or so they said).
Hollow eyed, sallow skinned, Jean played with the jewel almost constantly. She shortened the chain the one time she removed it, making it a choker, in so many ways. Her belligerence became so brutal that she was told to leave her job, that she was creating an unhealthy work environment. She spat in her bosses coffee when she got up to leave, gave her the finger, and slammed the door on her way out.
Jean sat in the dark, in her living room, gripping the arm rests of the chair she had inherited from her mother. She contemplated many things, but they were about the others, what they had done to her, nothing was her fault, and why were they all crazy? She had bought a 1.4 litre of Irish Creme, Deidre’s favorite, and killed it in one sitting. Feeling queasy, Jean left the house to get some fresh air.
She thought getting in the car for a drive upstate was a good idea, at the time.
From the hosts of the A to Z Challenge:
This is your time to tell us about your A to Z experience. Share your pleasures, your pains, your setbacks, your gains. Who did you meet along the way that you found to be especially helpful or inspiring? Did you have a favorite blog post? Or a favorite series? Which blogs did you discover during April that you will be returning to in the future?
Express your gratitude or vent your frustrations. If you’d do this again, let us know why. If you hated it. tell us why. We want you to tell your A to Z story to the rest of us and tell it in the way that suits you best. Like the Challenge itself, this Reflection post is your creative outpouring. Be it prose, verse, song, video, or images, you can express yourself in anyway that you like.
What I have to admit was my frustration/failure:
My lack of really exploring and commenting on other blogs. I tried, but so many things just prevented me from doing anywhere near the number of visits I intended to do. That, to me, is my own let down.
I do intend to go back and visit some of the bloggers who have visited me, and to explore others, during May. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: late comments and views are better than no comments/no views.
Just plain out discovering the characters of Swan Rise, and the building itself. This was (as tired as I got of writing/blogging at times during the month), very satisfying as a writer. The feedback and encouragement was gratifying unto itself, but I found great satisfaction with what I was producing. Can’t always say that.
For all the links to MY A to Z stories, CLICK HERE! I’m very proud of what I produced.
My favorite:I have asked readers if they had a favorite story of the 26: the ones that did answer seemed to gravitate towards Mrs. Beatty. I really liked her; I’m also not sorry I killed her off (so there). She still has more to her story: I only covered a few periods of her life.
Amy, for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, became my favorite character. She came out of nowhere; I wrote the B post with no knowledge of her before that, no planning. I know I did not explore her enough (to my satisfaction). Not sure why, and I’m not sure (yet) what more there is to write about Amy. That will happen when I tackle the second draft.
Will I do the AtoZ Challenge again (and why is my pudding barking at me?):
In all honesty, I can’t answer where my head will be in a year (well, eleven months). It’s an amazing, frustrating, sometimes daunting, challenge. I did not write any of my posts months ahead of time. Most were written to order (I scheduled them to post at 12:15 am) the day before they were due to appear. Some were written the day due, sometimes scrambling to produce; I only wrote ahead a few times, sometimes doing two or three in one day (had to do that the two weekends I went away). I’d just schedule them out. Nothing was written before the event began.
18,00+ words in 26 days. Ouch.
That, to me, is what the challenge was about. So..will I do it again? Ask me next Feb/March.