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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Nominated for Versatile Blogger Award!

Nominated for Versatile Blogger Award!

Straying from our normal “prompt-inspired” posts today to announce our blog was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the wonderful Elena Dillon! Please check out her blog here. There are some requirements for this award, too.  Miss A has to post seven random facts about herself and tag fifteen other bloggers she is a fan of! So here goes…

Introducing Miss A –

1. In my early twenties, I decided to read every novel that’s won the Pulitzer Prize. Thank goodness for the Los Angeles Public Library’s extensive collection for helping me achieve my literary goal without going bankrupt.

2. If I don’t have a cup of coffee first thing when I wake up every morning, I transform into a vicious little troll.

3. When I need to release stress, I make collage art from National Geographic magazines. You can see what some of them look like at my art blog.

4. I have a colossal fear of snakes, which stems from finding a copperhead coiled up in the laundry room when I was five years old. Even seeing a snake on TV will bring me to tears. Needless to say, I have never watched Anaconda or Snakes on a Plane.

5. I accomplish a majority of my reading in the bathtub. For that reason, I don’t own a Kindle. I learned many years ago that electronic devices and water do not get along very well.

6. This year, I learned to use a sewing machine because my co-workers wanted me to make them My Little Pony hoodies. My carpet and couch was covered in a rainbow of faux fur for three months. On occasion, we still find a random strand of pink hair stuck to a cushion.

7. One of my dream trips would be to spend a month traveling through Thailand and Vietnam.

And here are 15 Bloggers I am nominating for the Versatile Blogger Award!

1. Inward Singing

2. Chester Maynes

3. Lizbeth’s Garden

4. See Lorca Write

5. JC Cassels

6. This Writer’s Life

7. Patricia Zick

8. Ink Out Loud

9. Corey M.P.

10. Leslie Moon

11. Wenona Hulsey

12. Shah Warton

13. GMan’s Galaxy

14. Susan Helene Gottfried

15. TK Toppin

Chocolate

Ellie’s lot in life was to be allergic to chocolate.

She supposed there were worse things which could befall someone. Yellowed teeth. Limp, stringy hair. Stinky toes with gnarled nails.

Still, a chocolate allergy ranked pretty awful, especially as a child. All those birthday parties where she sat with an empty dessert plate while the other kids dove their spoons into brown spongy cake, fudge frosting, and moats of chocolate ice cream. A few of the nicer moms would drop one or two store-bought sugar cookies into her hand, but those hard, flat discs never looked as appealing as the birthday cake others had.

Halloweens had been even worse. Imagine devoting your entire evening to collecting a large bag bulging with sweet goodies, only to have your mother confiscate it as soon as you stepped through the front door. By the time she had sorted through the loot, you were left with a measly sandwich bag full of taffy and lollipops. That was Ellie’s Halloween every year.

When she was a child, the other girls at school sneered and made fun at her, dangling their chocolate puddings in front of her and taunting, “Sucks for you, Ellie! You can’t have any, you can’t have any. You’re such a freak.”

Now in adulthood, other women envied her allergy.

“Ugh, I wish I had a chocolate allergy. Then I wouldn’t be lugging around these five extra pounds. You’re so lucky, Ellie.”

Ellie never considered herself lucky, but if those five pounds the other girls complained about were really so hard to lose with chocolate around, then she supposed she was. That luck didn’t eradicate her isolation when throngs of tourists and city dwellers gathered outside the gigantic Godiva store in December to gawk at the wondrous window displays. Rivers of chocolate pouring through streams where chocolate bears in sugary Santa Hats fished for chocolate trout. When other people in the office oohed and aahed the mini chocolate souffles at holiday parties and occasional work functions, she could not partake in their raving reviews. Yes, being allergic to the most popular flavor in the world was akin to living on the planet Mars, Ellie thought. Of course, that was assuming Martians couldn’t eat chocolate either.

“What if you have Martian DNA?” her best friend Quinn joked when Ellie professed her frustrations over drinks one Friday night.

Ellie rolled her eyes. “Quinn, I’m pouring my heart out here. You have no idea what it’s like to feel different.”

Quinn stared at her friend.

“Really, Ellie? I have no idea what that’s like?”

Ellie winced. Quinn’s parents were white; she was Chinese. They had adopted her from China when she was three months old. If anyone understood feeling different from others, it was her friend.

“I’m sorry, Quinn. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m just being – ”

“Melodramatic,” Quinn finished for her.

“Yeah.”

“Nothing new. Seriously, Ellie, there are worse things you could be allergic to. Take my co-worker, for example,” Quinn began, taking a long sip of her muddled old fashioned. “He’s allergic to alcohol. If a single drop of anything fermented even touches his lips, his face puffs up like a blowfish and he stops breathing. Can you imagine how awful that must be, being forced to abstain from the cure-all social lubricant which can make any bad date or awkward family dinner somewhat bearable? Talk about social suicide. His life must really suck.”

Ellie tried to envision an adulthood without a glass of wine to dull a bad day or liven up a boring party. Yes, there was always someone who had it worse than she.

– Written by Miss A on September 23, 2012

Judge

He stopped on the corner across from St. John’s Cathedral and weighed his options once again. Turn and walk back from where he’d come, or cross the street and join the rest of them. 

If he didn’t care about what other people might think of him, it was an easy choice. But he did care. What if someone he knew from his other life spotted him there, in that group. How would that look to them?

His foot instinctively stepped back, as though it agreed, “let’s get out of here.”

Then an image of his children reminded him of why he had come. This was for them. For his children, who expected him to become the father they hadn’t known for seven years because being best at the game had been more important.

That game fell apart; he lost. He wasn’t sure he would ever get a chance to win again.

Remembering the true reasons for his being there in the first place, he choked back the pride which mocked him and trekked across the street toward the church. Shifting his eyes to the concrete ground, he avoided any gaze from others as he joined the long line of people, who patiently waited for charitable handouts which the parish provided them once a week.

 

– Written by Miss A on September 21, 2012

Fireworks

I stood there on the Mall, one of thousands who flocked to the Capital to watch the fireworks spray color and light across the black sky on the Fourth of July. In the dark, parents called for their children to stay close; young lovers cuddled on the lawn. My family hovered nearby, but I kept a safe distance from where they lingered. Sometimes they got on my nerves, and for whatever reason, they were irritating me tonight.

A nervous tension buzzed through the sticky air as we all waited for the light show to begin. The most heat of summer clung to our backs and licked our tanned necks.

“When is it going to start?” my sister whined. “I’m bored.”

I rolled my eyes and took another step away from her obnoxious complaints. She never basked in the moments that were different from our ordinary lives. The beauty if standing in the evening shadow of George Washington’s tall and lean monument eluded her. Maybe if her chubby fingers were wrapped around a candy bar she’d appreciate this moment more.

“It’s beginning soon,” a voice on the lawn promised, and a wave of whispers murmured through the crowd. As the whir of voices drifted away, a high-pitched squeal whizzed into the air and exploded with a BOOM! Shadows around me clapped and cheered. Dazzling blue sparkles stretched across all directions of the sky and then floated to earth like little fairies. No sooner did they start to fall that another rocket shot into the night and red-hot glitter erupted overhead.

One after another, fireworks shot into the sky and burst bright chandeliers over our heads. Blue, green, red, purple, gold, and my favorite silver lights illuminated the Mall. Where normally I would have escaped into my imagination and transported myself to a fantastic universe where nights like this lasted forever, tonight I did not stray from the present, mesmerized by the exploding light and the static air pulsating with energies of strangers I’d never know.

This night would not last forever, I realized. It would end, like all others before it. Something about this awareness unsettled me. Why did it gnaw at my insides and fill me with dread? A bullet of truth penetrated my puzzlement: like this night, all life eventually came to an end, too. I was not exempt from this law. None of us were. We were mortal, I was mortal, a mere blip in the infinite space of time. One day in the future, I would not be alive to stand on a lawn and watch fireworks like this. My mother, father, sister would all be gone, too.

As people around me oohed and aahed the dozens of sparkly lights exploding across the sky, a fear of mortality – life in its simplest, finite form – paralyzed my heart. No matter what I did for the rest of my days, no matter how many nights I gazed at the stars and wished for infinity, I could not change the inevitable fate we all will face at one point in time or another.

Which made those fireworks all the more beautiful to behold.

Running

is what I do when I gotta get away. Gotta escape from my skin. It thumps real hard against my chest and claws at my legs. I punch my toes against the pavement, pump my arms in the air, and I bolt fast and hard.

Sometimes, I just gotta get away. Can’t really explain what I’m running from. Maybe it’s the preposition I shouldn’t finish my sentence with. Oops. There I go again.

Running releases the mistakes I made. The worries that build inside me and scream to break free. The fears disappear. For a while, anything feels possible. Until I slow to a walk at the end of my street, and life reminds me that it’s there, waiting. On some days, I think I can handle it. But let’s be honest – I don’t.

Running is the only time my breaths for air catch up to the frantic beating of my heart. Then, I don’t feel like I’m gonna explode. I hate feeling that way. I wish I could be all calm and zen, like one of those Buddhist monks. They make happiness look easy.

I wish I could run for a thousand years, but where would I run to? The loop around my neighborhood gets old after a while. I need a challenge, something that will change it all up – or not. Change is hard to make a permanent condition. I think that’s why we fight it sometimes. Or we run from it. Because we can’t always makes everything stay the same.

I’ve run to change before, too. When that pent-up feeling gets to be too much, and I have to make a choice – stand still and shrivel, or leap forward and sprint to the next place, the next state of mind I’m seeking as a friend. Don’t know for sure if something will be there, but I won’t find out unless I run.

 

Thief

He crept along the outer bank of the highway, hiding from the commuter traffic which streamed back and forth on both sides of the busy road.

It had been too easy, he thought.

Crouching low to the ground, he opened his clenched palm and examined the tiny chip. Pinching it between his thumb and forefinger, he held the silver square into the light and gazed at its reflective shimmer. This was real. He had actually taken it, and no one had tried to stop him.

How long would it be before they noticed the data was gone, he wondered.

Long enough for him to cover his tracks and disappear into the ether. He gave himself a day to erase all traces of who he was and where he had been. The merchant wouldn’t even know what he really looked like when the authorities asked for a description of the culprit.

By that point, he would already be someone else.

– Written by Miss A on September 10, 2012

a Jacket

The jacket hung solemnly in the dark closet, waiting for the girl to remember him. On busy days when she was around, the girl might open and door and bring her light into his box of shadows – the one where less important “things” were sent to live.

Is today the day, he’d wonder longingly.

Then he would watch as she pulled the vacuum from its lair – or worse, grabbed a different jacket or coat from his rack. He called it his because he was the eldest of the clothes who resided here.

“Do you want the black or brown one?” she called out to someone beyond the door.

“The brown one,” another voice, more deep, replied.

And she was gone.

The jacket remembered the time when she loved him, wrapped herself in his arms every day of autumn, winter, and the first days of spring for half a dozen years. He was older than that though. His green-blue and off-white wool had survived almost fifty years. Watched a man march to Vietnam and consoled him when he returned two years later. Hibernated in a chest as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Cold War came to an end. Slept through a war over oil in Kuwait as well. No one interrupted his long slumber for almost a decade, until one day, the chest door was yanked open and piercing sunlight momentarily blinded his view.

“Ugh, all of this crap can be sent to Goodwill,” an old woman scoffed.

“Wait!” a girl’s voice exclaimed. “Some of this stuff looks cool. I might want to keep it.”

It was then she had picked up the jacket and flung it open, examining his creaky limbs and aged neck for holes or tears.

“I’ll wear this,” she told the old woman.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Your father used to wear that jacket thirty years ago!”

“So what? It looks cool, and it fits me,” the girl shrugged as she pulled her arms into the jacket’s and tugged him close to her thin frame.

After that day, the jacket accompanied her everywhere – to stifling days at school, entertaining nights at the movies, theatre rehearsals, shopping trips, sleepovers, football games…then there were the afternoons and evenings when he tried to comfort her anguished sobs behind closed doors. So much pain was contained inside that young, wilted body; but over time, she grew stronger and less afraid of the world around her, which sparked the courage to leave her unhappiness and move across country to a warmer climate lined with palm trees. All of a sudden, the sun kept her bones heated, and the jacket was not needed anymore to keep her safe from the non-existent cold. He hung in the closet, biding his time and wishing for the day she would take notice of him.

As of now, it had not happened, but he held out hope that one day she would open the door and pull him from the dark once again.