May 8 2014

let’s get lost
{story a day – desire}

Lou drove the old green pickup into the car wash bay for the six thousandth time. Every time he headed over for a wash and wax, Betty told him he better watch out, that truck was only held together with a prayer and song, and if he washed either one off, he was done for.

But Lou liked things clean. He hated those people that just let their cars stay dirty all winter long, dirty enough that some wise guy could write WASH ME on the back window. That was just pure laziness if you asked Lou. And lack of pride. Even though his truck was 13 years old, it was always clean, even the rusty spots.

He still remembered the day he’d paid The Green Queen off, some nine years ago now. That night, he’d taken Betty out for a nice steak dinner, and then they’d headed down to the lake to sit at the pier and feed the ducks while they made plans for what they could do with that extra $389 a month. Course, then they’d ended up getting in a fight, because Betty had her eye on a blue Subaru down at Al’s lot, and Lou wanted to sock that money away for a rainy day.

It took about a year before Betty wore him down, and eventually she got her Outback and they both forgot the argument and just remembered the bald eagle they’d seen at sunset that night, flying out over the water. It was the first time either one of them had seen one in real life, and man, what a sight. Better yet, it had put a quick end to their bickering—for once even Betty was speechless.

The next day she looked up what an eagle sighting meant on that internet site with all that animal totem spirit stuff, and when Lou got home from work and sat down in the foyer to unlace his steel-toed boots, she told him it was a sign of courage and freedom, peace and fertility. And then she laughed real hard and went off to the kitchen to finish stuffing the pork chops. He wasn’t sure what she was laughing about exactly, but he had a feeling it was aimed at him. And he knew better than to ask. That laugh was just one step away from a brawl, and he was just too tired after another 12-hour shift.

So he’d done what he did most nights, pretended not to notice and cracked open the beer she handed him when he walked in, and during dinner he kept his head down and his voice quiet, and then cleared everything up and washed the dishes while Betty watched her shows. Life wasn’t perfect, but it worked okay for them most of the time, and if anyone had walked up to Lou on the street and asked if he was happy, he wouldn’t have stopped to think too long before he said yes.

Course that didn’t mean he never got mad, or sad, or sick and tired of things. Especially dirty vehicles. And so here he was again, scrubbing salt and road spray off the sides of a truck he never thought he’d still be driving, after another long day humping molds at a job he never thought he’d still be working.

Lou kinda snorted to himself then, shaking out the rag he kept behind the seat for wiping the tires. You just never know where life is gonna take you. But he’d been getting there for a real long time in this old truck, and The Queen was damn well gonna be nice and clean and shiny when he arrived.



I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this piece was “Write A Story Where Everything Hinges on Your Character’s Most Desperate Desires.”
I’d call this a beginning, perhaps a first chapter.




Nov 7 2013


Everything in life feels off center and crooked. Odd angles jutting here and there through a forest of misguided direction.

Of course, you can’t see the big picture when you hover so low to the ground. Too many shadows, obstacles, possibilities.

Rise above.

Rise above.

Look down at yourself and laugh at how tiny it all becomes.

Soar higher, until all detail is lost. Until there’s just a quiet quilt far beneath you, waiting to cushion your landing.

Don’t land until you have to. Tail wind, tailspin, kite flyer.

Holding on to air is just as difficult as clinging to nobody’s hand.

Don’t let go.



Coast again.

You are the compass in an ocean of sunlight. Your shadow points in every direction.

Light, dark, light, dark through a checkerboard of miles.

Pack lightly. Travel far.

Circle back.

Begin again.


Jun 19 2012

home is where

there’s a crack in the wall
just above the staircase
that returns no matter
how many times i

patch it up




a few months later
there it is


i moved here
some 26 years ago
this house was moved from
two roads over
and balanced
on a flat bed truck

then hauled across fields of corn
and set down here
in this new spot
to grow
a new history
settle into
this land this view
this corner

but that crack

that scar

is always there
just to remind me

of the many



Linking up with the fabulous dVerse poets for Open Link Night, join us!


Mar 28 2012

a story
{scintilla day 11}


Tell a story that you haven’t told yet.
Give it a different ending than the one that really happened.
Don’t tell us where you start changing things. Just go.


It was midnight when I got off the train. My first trip to New York, in the days before cell phones and the mobile devices we all carry with us everywhere we go these days.

I’d spent the entire trip reading books and writing poetry, seated alone in an almost-empty car, wearing my favorite vintage dress and the old men’s overcoat I lived in back then. I carried with me an almost-empty purse and little else, being too young to care about something as silly as planning ahead. Being too naive to think about it. Blind faith is a beautiful thing.

I was on my way to meet someone. An invitation that, looking back, should never have been accepted. As much as anything, I was excited to see the big city. I grew up in a tiny rural town of 10,000. New York was about as foreign as I could imagine. And suddenly, I was there, standing in Grand Central Station in my shabby clothes and uncomfortable shoes, and there was no one there to greet me.

Too late, I realized that I didn’t even have a phone number for the person I was supposed to be meeting. Nor did I have an address. Somehow, I had left all my common sense back home on the dresser. Blind faith may be beautiful, but it’s not very practical.

The station was fairly quiet at this time of night, though not deserted. I wandered back and forth, eyes frantic, looking. Surely, he was there, somewhere, looking for me. Surely. I passed people sleeping in dark corners on the floor. People that clearly lived in those corners. At one point, I noticed a man lying in the middle of the floor, unconscious. He didn’t look drunk or homeless or derelict, he looked like something was wrong. What crowd there was walked past, never looking down, rushing by, stepping over. I stood there, staring.

Finally, just as I was about to scream and find a guard or someone who could help, another stranger stepped in and took over. I never did find out how that story ended, but I was glad to know that someone cared enough to stop and help, that I hadn’t stepped into a completely callous world.

By this time, my internal panic alarm was ringing loudly in my ears. Drowning out everything but the fact that I had come to this giant city with no idea where to go. That I was a fool for being there in the first place. Who was I kidding? I continued to wander back and forth across the lobby, trying to look far more collected than I felt.

“Excuse me?” A kind voice from behind turned my head.

It was a young man that had been on the train with me. A young man I had noticed, because he was dressed like a skinhead. At least that’s what we called them in those days. A young man I had been a little wary of, primarily because of his appearance.

“You look lost.”

I almost started to cry right then, but somehow I managed to hold back the tears and explain my situation. He offered to wait with me, or to try and help me figure out what to do. He was kind. He kept me talking because he knew I was freaking out. I wasn’t fooling anyone.

After a few minutes, I told him I would be fine, that it would be okay, that I didn’t need any help. Of course, I did, but I wasn’t about to admit it. He accepted my answer politely, and while we didn’t have any further conversation, I felt him hovering nearby, watching over me.

A while later I went to find the ladies room, and when I returned, he was gone.

A little while after that, I got on another train.

The one that would bring me back home, none the worse for the wear, but most definitely, a little smarter.


this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.