Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Greetings everyone. It feels good to be back into blogging, even on a limited basis. These are short stories called ‘flash fiction.’ If you are new to the term it means a story in 1,000 words or less. I have written them for the Write, Edit, Publish blog-hop challenge. The prompt on the first story is 28 Days. For the second story, In Too Deep. Both are a little out of my comfort zone, but I hope you enjoy reading them. To read what others have written in this challenge, go here.

The buttons on the coffee pot blurred. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and they came into focus. I pressed the one I needed and soon the smell of coffee filled the kitchen.
          “Get dressed, Olivia.” School days. I really hated getting up so early. No! I can’t think like that. Embrace the sun!
Well…the sun wasn’t up yet this time of day. I’d spent last night plotting the changes in my life. It’s said, in 30 days you can change your habits. It’s February, 28 days will have to do.
I have some really bad habits. Smoking, drinking…well, just a cocktail or two after a long week Friday night. But the worst is procrastination. I wanted to change that. I hated cleaning and doing dishes. I despised it so much that I avoided cooking and opted for fast food. I needed to eat healthier and so did Olivia.
As I sipped my coffee, I turned to view my progress chart on the refrigerator. 24 boxes filled with three words. Cook, dishes, and pick up. Saturday had one big word in it; Clean! That equaled 28 days. My mother always said that it was easier to clean if you organized and picked up daily. That was my goal and I had bought little sticky stars to add to the end of each word in the box.
“Do I get to put stars up tonight Mommy?” Olivia stood beside me dressed for school.
“Yes, now it’s time for breakfast. Then, off we go, you to school and me to work.”
In the last few years, I’d changed my life for better. I left my abusive ex and the court sided with me. He wasn’t allowed to see Olivia. Yeah, he was that bad. Then I moved back in with my parents and went to school. Their support was critical and now because of that I had my degree in computer programming and was making the big bucks. Last month, I moved us into a new apartment close to mom and dad and in the same school district for Olivia.
          I loved the cozy little place. Two baths, two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and no furniture. LOL…that would change. We had beds and plastic bins, but nothing else.
          That’s where we were now on the floor eating dinner. I’d put a blanket down and Olivia giggled her way through mac and cheese. Yeah, I know, not the healthiest but hey, it was a long day. Well after six when I picked up my daughter from the sitter. Tomorrow I’m buying a Crockpot.
I almost made it through the first week. I should be proud, right? But I’m disappointed in myself. Olivia sat across from me at our new folding table and chairs. A McDonald Happy Meal for her and Mac.’s grilled chicken for me. Dishes weren’t done from two nights. Tomorrow, I promised myself. My chart was missing some stars. I’d do better.
February 20th. I’ve fallen off the wagon. Almost the whole week so far without doing a single dish. I didn’t make it through school by giving up, and it was hard. I called mom. She said, “One day at a time.”
March, day one. My poor chart for February was half full of stars. I had a new chart for March, and I was doing dishes while Olivia colored at the table. We didn’t have a T.V. yet. My radio was playing Hotel California. An oldie but goodie. I danced while putting a rinsed plate into the dish washer. This was kind’ a fun. Maybe, that was the secret, turn chores into fun.

Word count 612
This story was inspired by my daughter who just graduated nursing school and has a new job. She is trying to quick smoking, lose weight and overcome her procrastination. I’m cheering her on.

Oh, The Depths That We Reach.
Brett watched as the door clanged behind Marsha Lent. She took tiny steps forward because of the shackles, guards on either side. The men forced her into a chair and put her hands in the restraints attached to the table.
          “Is that necessary?” Brett asked. The guards grunted and left the private visiting room.
          Marsha smiled displaying missing and rotting teeth. Her brown hair needed to be brushed and her chocolate brown eyes studied him. Brett looked down, pulling out his recording device.
          “Who are you?” Marsha no longer smiled.
          “Brett Summerville, with True Crime Magazine.” He stood as an automatic reflex and put out his hand.
          “You want me to shake it?” Her hoot made him shiver.
          Brett unbuttoned his plum jacket and sat. “You don’t mind if I record this?”
          “My story?” She shrugged her shoulders.
          “Let’s start at the beginning.”
          “The beginning. Your jacket is tattered. True Crime ain’t pay’n you much?”
          “They pay enough. How old were you when you met…” Brett fumbled through his notes.
          “Jason Caudwell.” Marsha smiled. “I was sixteen. Jason was twenty-one. Sandy hair and blue eyes that looked like the pool down at YMCA.”
          “Go on.” Brett readied the tablet and pen in case he wanted to emphasize anything she said.
          “He was my first sex toy.”
          Brett’s mind went to his wife and lingered there for a moment. “Go on.”
          “Jason could have anyone, but he liked me. I loved him and would do anything he wanted, if you know what I mean.”
          “And the drugs.”
          “Ecstasy was first, then cocaine and lastly heroine. I quit the dumb ass school and left my parents. All they did was argue anyway and I’d had enough. Jason started his own gang. I oversaw the money. We were the best, robbing businesses and banks. We got away with it for three years. Jason had a mask of Trump he used. He’d go in with his gang members, walk up to the teller and sing, ‘Money, money, money.’ It was hilarious.” 
          “You were happy?”
          “Yeah, I loved every minute of it, until…” Marsha looked down and off to the side.
          “Until what?”
          “I was coming down after a bad trip. In fact, they were mostly all bad now. Jason gave me an M-27, that things a bitch. I put on my Melania mask and we entered a bank, the Trust something---”
          “Citizens Trust.”
          “Yeah, that one. You won’t believe what was in the bank. Monsters, drooling, hairy monsters with red eyes in business suits and dresses. I wasn’t gonna let them kill my Jason, so I opened fire. Even some of our gang members had turned. I killed all the monsters. Jason grabbed my arm, yanked the gun out of my hands and asked why I done that. I told him.
          There were only three of us running out of the bank with no money and driving away.”
          Brett studied Marsha. He wasn’t certain if she believed that story or not. “What happened next?”
          “Jason wouldn’t let me have no more drugs and…he shacked up with a new girl. I could hear them fucking.”
          “How did that make you feel?”
          Marsha raised her eyes to Brett, they’d gone completely black. “How would it make you feel?” Her voice sounded like she was trying to speak with gravel in her throat.
          Brett slid his chair back.
          “I killed them, I killed them all. That’s a stupid jacket. On a stupid man. Your momma was killed in a car accident when you were ten. Your daddy started beating you while drunk. Social Services took you away and put you with your mother’s parents. Grandpa put you in your place every time he saw you. But grandma, she believed in you.
“How do you know this?”
“I know everything. I know you down a bottle or two every night. I know you raped that girl in college.”
“I didn’t rape her.”
“I know, you’re gonna die!” Marsha stood abruptly. “Brett Summerville.”
Brett quivered. The shackles on Marsha’s feet and hands clanged and fell off. Her body lifted in the air. Hands out stretched.
Brett’s chair fell over backwards and he backed up against the wall. Then…
Marsha flew at him, hands outstretched, long nails tore his cheek in three places. Her long-forked tongue licked his blood. Brett peed himself.
          The guards entered just as Marsha’s fingers tightened around Brett’s throat. The guards used clubs, hitting Marsha until her eyes turned brown once more and she collapsed to the floor.
          Brett didn’t wait to see what would happen next, he grabbed his notepad, pen and recorder before running through the open door, down the hall were another guard let him out. 
          True Crime would never believe this. Maybe he should work for the National Enquirer.

Word Count 804
This story felt a little too cliché for me, so I turned it into a horror ending. What do you expect from a fantasy author? I’m not satisfied with normal.

Please leave a comment on anything you want. Today is payday which means, crazy, insane errand day. I will get to everyone’s post before this coming Monday.


Debbie D. said...

Two completely different types of stories; both interesting! I could relate to the main character in the first one, as domestic chores are a drag for me, as well. Music always helps! ☺ The second story took an unexpected turn which caught me off guard! And here I thought it was the drugs that made her do bad things when really, she was some sort of demon. Dramatic ending! ☺

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nancy - loved the first story and yes music always changes the mood and helps. Procrastination is such a pain - I can totally agree ... so good for you. The second is scary ... but so well told - interesting takes - cheers Hilary

Olga Godim said...

I love doing dishes, but I dislike cooking. When I lived with my sister for a while, long ago, we divided the jobs. She cooked. I did dishes. Everyone was happy. I liked the first story.

The second story had me baffled though. Is it from the last year challenge? The badge, In Too Deep, is from the last year, 2018.

dolorah said...

I liked them both. Wow, such imagination, and intensity. I think I would pee myself also, in both stories. Keep it up; you are good at horror Nancy.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Debbie. Yes, music is a great help in many endeavors.

Hi Hilary, I suffer from procrastination. It's a life long battle. Thanks for your kind comment.

Thank you Olga. I made a boo boo. I didn't realize last years challenge was in too deep.

Hi Donna.
Imagine, someone who never watches or reads horror to be good at it. Mind boggling.

L.G. Keltner said...

You may have made a boo boo by doing last year's challenge too, but that's fine by me! That simply means we got to read two excellent stories!

As for your first story, I found this very engaging. I too hate doing dishes, and I'm not a fan of cleaning either. Both need to be done, unfortunately. I don't mind cooking, but some nights it seems like too much after a long day. You gave us a character we can relate to and root for-flawed but who has also done lots of positive things to make life better. No parent is perfect, but as long as we keep trying, we get there in the end. Well done!

Jemi Fraser said...

Music helps me get through the mundane chores too!
These were both great - and so different. It's always fun to throw in those twists at the ends - well done!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, L.G., I had fun writing both stories. Very different for me.

Yeah, music is great, Jemi. Thanks for the complement.


Unknown said...

Two very different stories that have one odd thing in common, the power of change. The first narrative the change is for the better, while the second is a change for the worse. Well done.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Nancy! Great to have you back. Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation and her new life.
Change is difficult. It's hard to change ingrained habits. Keeping a daily 'keep me honest' calendar is a positive move. Don't most of us hate the drudgery of everyday chores. The only housework I 'like' is washing. The rest is a chore. The only music I listen to is the music of my vacuum cleaner, LOL.

It's funny that 'In Too Deep' image turned up on 2 entries this month. Perhaps the same blue shade led to copying the wrong image. Doesn't matter. I'd read your second story so gave it a miss.

Thanks for joining WEP this month Nancy! Hope we see you for Jewel Box in April.


Tyrean Martinson said...

I loved the first story - maybe because I know how hard it is to change habits. I appreciated how hard she was working, how much she was starting from bare essentials and working her way slowly in the right direction, not giving up even if she did miss a few stars in February. She just kept going in March. Nicely done!

On the second story - whoa! I didn't expect her to turn like that, but it was definitely interesting. Her turn from drug addict/robber/gang leader to monster was a surprise, but there was definitely something monstrous about her from the beginning so it worked. It's almost as if her inner monster took over as she did more and more monstrous things.
Again, well-written.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Christopher. Change is inevitable I think, depending on our choices in life.

Hi Denise
It is good to be back. I plan on Jewel box. I should give myself more time.

Hi Tyrean. Yes, the second story was a bit of a surprise for me too.

Thanks everyone for stopping by.

cleemckenzie said...

I could use some of that daughter's inspiration in your first story. The second one had a great surprise twist!

Nilanjana Bose said...

I can so relate to the mc in your first story - dislike doing dishes and housework generally, no fun at all. Congrats to your daughter on the job and the positive changes.

Toi Thomas said...

Change is an optimistic story, filled with hope. I like it. For me, listening to audiobooks makes folding laundry bearable.
Your second story took a major turn at the end. Creepy. I liked it too.

D.G. Hudson said...

Yes, I think that second woman was taken over by a demon. . .but at least he survived to run away. The first story about the woman trying to change her bad habits seems calm after reading the first one. I dislike chores too, but I dislike a messy kitchen or other areas more. If it's to be (clean), then it has to be me (doing the work). I try to let my mind roam when I do mindless tasks.

D.G. Hudson said...

correction: 'after' reading the second story, maybe my mind was roaming. . .

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Clee, I think we could all use a bit of inspiration when it comes to cleaning.

Thank you, Nila

I never thought of listening to audio books while doing chores. Now that's inspiring, Toi.

Yup, you're right D. G.

Thank you all for coming by.

Anstice Brown said...

Two great stories! I could relate to the first one a lot. Keeping up with the chores is hard, especially when you're working full time and have kids to look after. It can be tempting to give up when we fall off the bandwagon with new habits, but it's good that your protagonist decided to take the 1st March as a fresh start.

The second story was very creepy and I liked the unexpected ending. It's interesting how Brett went into the interview with a very judgemental attitude towards Marsha, but it sounds like he isn't squeaky clean himself.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Anstice,
Yes, Brett was in for the surprise of his life. Thanks for stopping by.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Wow, that’s a pair of rather different stories! I hope the mom in the first one manages to get her life straight, and maybe get a dishwasher :). Cooking can be fun, but washing dishes has never been my favorite :).

The second story—great horror twist!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Rebecca.

Bernadette said...

The first story was very relatable, the second one, freaky.

Jemima Pett said...

Yeah, I related to the first one. Maybe I should have a calendar and put stars on it. That's a great idea. Note to self, go and buy some stars.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Bernadette and Jemima
That's a good idea, Jemima. Thank you both for coming by.

Sally said...

Great writing, enjoyed reading.

Roland Clarke said...

The 28 days tale reminded me of my own procrastination and resulting chaos. So, well written.

I have to admit to not reading the second one as I'm in a state of chaos having messed up February. I have more WEP posts to read, emails gathering cyber-dust, writing cluttering up my head.......and my only excuse is retirement.

As I said. The first piece feels so real.

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

I liked Marsha. A nice avenging demon. I think that the National Enquirer is still too mainstream for Brett's experience. He needs to go to Weekly World News.
As someone with type 2 bipolar disorder, I have periods where I am very productive. On the other hand, there are times when it takes me three days to convince myself to take a shower because I hate myself that much.
Regarding the weight thing, I spent 33 years yo-yo dieting and calling myself horrible names. Fortunately, I discovered Health at Every Size nine years ago. Still fat, but my wait problem and self-loathing have diminished.

Pat Garcia said...


I really like your first story. It has a positive touch that speaks of overcoming obstacles. It lifted me up.
The second story came from another world for me. I am glad you had the first story first.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat G

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Sally.

I can totally relate, Roland.

I know about self loathing and weight problems. Hang in there, Cara.

Thank you, Pat


Michelle Wallace said...

I’m still doing the WEP rounds. Better late than never, right?

Great story.
Turning chores into fun is definitely the way to go. Oh, and stars seem to work, too. Yes, a chart with stars adds to the fun!

Susan R. Mills said...

Ugh, I can so relate to the first story. I'm experiencing a little bit of that myself. Fun to read. Thanks for sharing.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Michelle and Susan for coming by.

Susan said...

I think this is definitely an amazing project here. So much good will be coming from this project. The ideas and the work behind this will pay off so much.

NIKE said...

You play bazaarfir se apna dil denge tumhe khelne k liye and satta king Kabhi udaas ho jayo to btana mujhe.