Friday Fiction #11: Beware the Ides of March

created by Kelly DeBie

created by Kelly DeBie

It’s Fiction Friday; every week the members of the Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode eleven of a continuing series. If you missed the first ten episodes, here are the links:

1. Lesson Learned
2. Althea
3. The Aftermath
4. The Gun
5. Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul
6. Facebook Envy
7. Love
8. Home = Our Beliefs about Love
9. One Day at a Time
10. A Stronger Woman

With the weather warming up outside, Amanda and Richard heated up their backyard swimming pool over spring break. Richard took the day off work to spend at home with his family since it was the last day of his sons’, Robert and Brad, holiday from school. Their oldest son, Steven, lived in his own place with his girlfriend and daughter, and they were too busy to come over, but Amanda talked to them after breakfast and everything sounded great. It was a sunny day outside, and she chopped vegetables in the kitchen while the guys swam outside. She planned to join them after she finished getting some lunch ready. Lying in the sun and floating in the cool water were two of her favorite pastimes.

Suddenly, Brad came running in the house through the patio door. “Dad’s dead. Mom, come quick!” Water dripped from his suit on the wood floor. He panted, out of breath, furrowed his brow, and Amanda could tell he wasn’t kidding. She could hear Robert crying.

“What? What happened?” she dropped the knife and ran outside, almost slipping on the floor. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, and she couldn’t believe what was happening. “Call 911 Brad!”

Richard floated face down in the pool. Robert cried and screamed in the pool next to him trying to turn him over. Amanda jumped in the water, shoes still on. “Richard, oh my god!” Blood was in the water, but she couldn’t see where it was coming from. “What happened?

“He jumped in and came up like this. I don’t know what happened! We were doing cannonballs. He said to watch him do a watermelon cannonball.”

She grabbed him under his armpits and tried to get to the side of the pool. He was so heavy. Amanda was only 5″3′, and Richard was 6 feet tall. She struggled to flip him over and hold his head out of the water, but he wasn’t breathing. His skin was turning blue as she cried his name.

EMS arrived on the scene and the minutes that ensued were a blur of medical equipment and questions. They were able to resuscitate him briefly, but couldn’t sustain it. He kept crashing. Amanda and the boys rushed to the hospital in the police car not far behind the ambulance. She called Richard’s family and told them what happened and to meet them at the hospital.

The doctors said he had a cervical fracture and was not breathing on his own. He had a large cut on the top of his head, toward the back. They didn’t know if he had brain activity, so they needed to care-flight him to another hospital and run several tests. Amanda knew it was bad news when the hospital chaplains introduced themselves while she, the boys, and his parents waited. The tests showed he had no brain activity and was in a vegetative state. Amanda would have to decide whether to take him off life-support and donate his organs. It was agonizing. Of course he would have wanted to donate his organs so other people could live, and she knew he wouldn’t want to be kept alive artificially. Those parts of the decisions made sense, but it would be so very hard to say goodbye to the man she married and created a family with, the man she hoped to grow old with. She sat with him in the hospital bed that night, speechless, crying, hugging him gently and lightly touching his face.

She sent the boys home with Richard’s parents and said she would stop at home and pick up some things then meet them at their house. It was too painful to think of sleeping in her bed without him. Just going back into the house was going to be hard. She made it quick, grabbing some clothes, shoes, and toiletries. She saw Richard’s phone on the table next to their bed, and she picked it up then headed over to her in-laws’ house for some sleep and a shower. What a day.

Amanda crawled under the sheets and started looking at pictures of them together on his phone. She noticed he had text and email notifications, so she opened them up, wondering what his last messages were about and to whom. She would be in charge of notifying everyone of his passing. At the top of his text screen were three messages from Amy, Amanda’s friend who also worked at the hospital with Richard. “Missed you today; How’s your day at home going? You there?”

My friend Amy? What the fuck?

There were emails from her too. As she scrolled through his pictures, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There were pictures of her husband with another woman, a beautiful, blonde woman in lingerie. And this woman was her friend, a single mom who was widowed when her husband died of cancer. Amanda supported Amy through the whole experience and helped with the care of her two boys, essentially letting the fox into the henhouse. She went into his ‘sent’ folder on his emails and sure enough, there was a long list of emails from Richard to Amy. One by one, she read them. He blamed Amanda for the deaths of their children and wanted to start a new life with her. He told her it wouldn’t be long until he was going to leave Amanda.

Her heart sank. Her stomach felt sick. How much worse could this day get? Amanda put the phone down and cried herself to sleep.


In the morning, she peeled herself out of bed and held herself together enough to go back to the hospital with her family and Richard’s parents. Richard’s phone kept vibrating with new messages, so Amanda turned it off. Today, she needed to focus on saying goodbye to her husband.

The hospital arranged the organ recipients, and informed the family they would take him off life support at 3:00 pm. Everybody said their goodbyes separately in privacy. During Amanda’s alone time with him, a few tears fell from his eyes as she lay in bed next to him, and she wanted him to answer her but knew he couldn’t. So, she just hugged him and kissed him and told him she loved him. Only Amanda and his mom were with him during his final breath. A piece of Amanda went with him that day.

For more information on organ donation, visit

For more information on organ donation, visit


Here is the prompt:

The Ides of March — that fateful day when Caesar was assassinated by coup by a team of Roman senators on the steps of the Curia in Pompey ( (Can you tell I love history?) Our character is betrayed, hardcore, by a friend. The relationship is forever altered, “killing” a little piece inside, of our protagonist, yet empowering her/him despite the damage.

Imagery, dialogue, movement…

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


Friday Fiction #7: Love

It’s romance month in my group, the Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales. We all write fiction on Fridays based on the same prompts. If you missed the first six episodes, there are links below, and don’t forget to visit the other blogs to see what the other Femmes Fatales wrote with the same prompt (links below).


Amanda reflected on the many faces of love in her life as she soaked in a hot bubble bath with lavender oil and mineral salts. Vanilla candles sent a soft scent into the air and a golden hue to her mood. Her tired body ached with tension. Children, parents, husband. Life was an interesting ride, and she took some time to herself to appreciate her many blessings while the house was quiet. As she slowly relaxed, she thought about Richard and what she could do to make Valentine’s Day special for him. After so many years together and so much tragedy and stress, their love was a complex being of its own with a complicated dynamic. Love waxes and wanes. She wanted to believe in the strength of their marriage and commitment, but she also had doubts of its everlasting nature.

She feared inside that he would someday leave her (just like her father did), and she put up defensive walls to keep herself from what she perceived as a sense of impending doom. Her parents divorced when she was a baby, and her father was absent in her life. So, she didn’t have a good role model for marriage. She wanted to be married more than anything precisely because of this gaping hole in her psyche. She grew up wanting to create stability that she didn’t have. Yet she feared she would lose it once she had it. She needed to find a balance.

As fearful and doubtful she was, and as conflicted as he was, Richard stayed with her. His actions spoke louder than his words. He blamed her, but he didn’t leave her after Ella and Anderson died (like he threatened to). He didn’t leave her when she embarrassed him by getting a DUI. He forgave her for having lunch with an ex-boyfriend and supported her through her darkest days. He was by her side when Robert clung to life in the hospital. They didn’t spend much time together as a couple anymore, but he was truly her best friend and a constant companion in her life. Even though they weren’t very religious, they did get married in a church, and they both took their vows seriously. In sickness and in health. Through good times and bad. Until death do we part. She really wanted to believe that.

She learned from Dr. Phil that the key to a sane and healthy marriage is to wake up every day asking what you can do to make life better for your spouse. When both partners are doing that, they are both moving toward each other. It sounded so simple, but in real life, it was too easy to let problems and their busy schedules get in the way. She asked herself what she could do for Richard to make their love stronger. She didn’t want to take him for granted, blindly believing he would stay with her. She realized she needed to do more to work her way back into his heart.

“Honey, are you home? Amanda?” Richard called as he came in the front door.

What is he doing home in the middle of the day? She wondered. “In here, taking a bath” she shouted so he could hear her.

He came around the corner holding a vase filled with twelve long-stemmed roses and a sly grin on his face. “Surprise! Happy birthday! I took the rest of the week off, and we are going to Hawaii. Your favorite hotel in Maui, the Ritz-Carlton.”

It’s where they spent their honeymoon. This trip would certainly be different. “What about the kids?”

“They are coming too. It’s all been arranged. Don’t worry. You deserve it. We deserve it. ” He started rubbing her shoulders and kissing her cheek. “I love you Amanda. You are so special to me.”

Her heart melted. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the massage. “Want to join me?” she flirted jokingly.

“Why don’t you join me?” he answered, loosening his tie and taking off his shoes while sitting on the bed.

She couldn’t resist. She got out of the tub, slipped on her satin robe and jumped on the bed playfully. “Your turn,” she said as she started to rub his shoulders and neck.


. zoe hearts

Here is the prompt: BELIEF + DOUBT = SANITY

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!



Daybook 2/13/13

For Today: Wednesday February 13, 2013
Outside my window…it’s a sunny day. The sky is clear and my neighborhood is quiet. Not a cloud in the sky. It’s in the 60s today, nice and pleasant for this time of year. I don’t miss the frigid winters on the east coast. It rained yesterday, so the ground is still moist and the daffodils have started pushing leaves out of the ground.
I am thinking…about all the things that need doing. So far today, I’ve been catching up on chores, bills, and phone calls. Taking a break now to write since I haven’t posted a blog entry since Fiction Friday #6:Facebook Envy.
I am thankful…I have quiet time during the day to balance out the demands of family life. Thankful I have a family to make life demanding and that our kids have such fortunate lives. Thankful for another year of life, another lap around the sun (turned 45 a few days ago). Thankful for a new car. Thankful I can do what I love for a job.

In the kitchen…not much going on yet today. Breakfast was blueberries, blackberries, and walnuts. Lunch was leftover chicken, red pepper, broccoli stir fry. Not sure what is for dinner yet.

I am wearing…orange GAP sweatshirt and navy sweatpants.

I am creating…this week’s fiction post is due Friday morning at 10 CST. It’s a picture prompt this time. Still working on how I am going to weave that into my ongoing story and how to tie it to romance. I also have a few songs to practice on guitar. I’ve been learning some ACDC just to try something new.

I am going…to mom’s weekend for my daughter’s college sorority next weekend. I haven’t been out there since fall 2011 when we moved her into her freshman dorm. I’m really looking forward to seeing her, her apartment, her sorority, and meeting her friends and sisters. She said we will be having brunch and doing painting with a twist together. We haven’t had mom-daughter time alone in a long time.

I am wondering…why people give things up for lent. How exactly does that bring them closer to Jesus? It reminds me of new year’s resolutions when we all try to give up something bad just because we feel like we have to. I prefer to try to find balance day-to-day than to swing back and forth to extremes. The fact is that every day we have to make choices about vices and luxuries. We are constantly surrounded by extremes of dark and light, too much and too little. I told a friend yesterday that I’m not Christian enough to give up anything for lent, and she told me I could borrow some Jesus from her. That’s hilarious. I get celebrating traditions and holidays, but I guess if I don’t fully subscribe to the story that it just doesn’t resonate with me. I wonder how to find balance every day.

I am reading…primarily news articles and other people’s blogs. I started Catching Fire a while ago, but my progress has stalled. I spent some time this morning looking at a book my great-grandmother wrote and my mom sent to me for my birthday. It’s called Denny Genealogy part 1, and it chronicles ten generations of descendents of Frederick Denny. It dates back to the seventeenth century. I think I will write a separate post about it with pictures.

I am hoping…to keep getting some pain relief from acupuncture, meditation and exercise. I’ve exhausted my resources with western medicine and have an open mind toward eastern medicine.

I am looking forward to…celebrating Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Even though it’s a Hallmark holiday, it’s a good excuse to celebrate love and romance, two of my favorite things.

I am learning…to leave tequila alone. A friend recently told me ‘you have to make friends with tequila.’ Well, I’ve tried, but I don’t think tequila likes me. I first met tequila in college and remember liking “Prairie Fires” (tequila with a few drops of tobasco). I know, yuck right? I no longer eat tobasco because of my food allergies/intolerances, including wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. Beer has wheat, and most liquors have wheat or corn. Tequila is made from agave and is not distilled through a grain, so it is the one shot I will take if I am at a bar or otherwise celebrating something. It doesn’t happen very often. I have a fiery personality, and I’ve been called “the furnace” because I run so hot physically. A massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor told me I have too much heat/inflammation (yang). Tequila is a hot and spicy drink, and I don’t think I need to add more heat. It brings out a different side of me that most of the time I shake my head about the next day.

Around the house…the dryer and refigerator are getting fixed this afternoon. The dryer keeps turning itself off, and the refrigerator has a leak in the water line. Cleaned off the patio and folded several loads of laundry. Lots of little things to do, but not lots of motivation to do them 🙂

I am pondering…the effects of social media on people. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I do each of them for different reasons. My followers on Twitter are mostly strangers, and I only got on it to keep up with my oldest daughters. I like being able to follow celebrities, and I use it as a platform to distribute my blog posts. On the other hand, I’m on Facebook because it connects me with people from all walks of my life. There are only a handful of people I’m ‘friends’ with that I’ve never met; they are there because for some reason we have connected (usually through a mutual friend), and they inspire me. Otherwise, my Facebook friends are my real friends from my real life. I have friends all over the US and around the world in Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, South America, and England. Family, friends from grade school, middle school, high school, all three colleges I attended, my NOLS course, when I worked at Greenpeace, when I took of time from school to live in Colorado, former students and their parents, former colleagues at schools, and local friends. I am an extroverted person and enjoy debates and discussions. I like keeping up with everybody, seeing their pictures, and hearing about their lives. I like walking down memory lane. To me, it truly makes the world a smaller place. But there is a flip side. Facebook now plays a role in divorces and causes problems in relationships. Its effects are significant enough to coin the term “Facebook Envy.” It can suck up time, and people can become too obsessed with likes and comments. People can let numbers define their sense of self-worth. People can get so caught up in the virtual world that they lose sight of the real world. People also use the anonymous interface to say things to others they would never say in person. They compare their lives to the perceived better lives of others. People post what they want others to see, not a true representation of all the ups and downs of life. I see both sides. I feel strongly both ways. Instagram and Pinterest are fun, but I’m on them less often. I love pictures, and both Instagram is popular with the kids, so again I participate to keep my finger on the pulse. Pinterest is visual expression and a resource for creative ideas. I’m not on it very often, but I do find interesting ideas and funny pictures there.

A favorite quote for today…”Be careful what you set your heart upon-for it will surely be yours.” James A. Baldwin

One of my favorite things…my new car!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Valentine’s day tomorrow, guitar lesson and lunch with friends on Friday.

A peek into my day…


February Friday Fiction #5: Eyes are the Window to the Soul

February is romance month in my Fearless Fiction Femmes Fatales group.  We write different fictional stories based on the same prompts from Molly Field at Grass Oil.  Make sure to visit the other blogs to see what stories they wrote (links at bottom of this entry).   If you missed the January Fiction episodes, you can click on this link to start at the beginning:


He didn’t know it would be the last time he looked into her eyes when he complimented her.  “You have the prettiest eyes,” he said as if really seeing them for the first time.  They were deep green like the ocean on the Emerald Coast of Florida.  There was depth and breadth and body in her eyes.   There was kindness and wisdom, and there was naivety at the same time.   She was younger than he, barely more than half his age.  When they were saying goodbye, her eyes caught his attention.

She smiled in return and said a simple, “thanks,”  followed with a shy laugh.  They were both a little embarrassed and uncomfortable with the connection taking place, but were both overpowered by it nonetheless.  The chemistry between them was strong, and when they made eye contact it felt like fireworks inside for both of them.  Time stood still.  A rush of emotion flooded over them as they both grasped for words awkwardly.

He now understood why people say that eyes are the window to the soul.   He never noticed how striking her eyes were until then.   He felt a soul connection with her, and it grew deeper that sunny afternoon.  Perhaps it was the universe’s way of letting him see into her soul before it was too late?  It’s funny how things work that way.

green eyed girl..

green eyed girl.. (Photo credit: ~no bullshit~)

They met at the hospital one day when a mutual friend introduced them.  If he knew what kind of pain their relationship would cause in the future, he would have turned her away, but he didn’t have any way of telling the future.   All he could do was live life fully each day and hope that his actions today would bring him to  brighter and better tomorrows.They hugged, said goodbye, and she went on her way smiling and waving.  It was a warm and friendly embrace. She smelled like a fresh breeze, and he got goosebumps from feeling that breeze rush through his senses. The sun shone behind her blonde hair like a halo.  Her smile and her beautiful eyes were forever etched into his memory.   He waved,  admiring her fit petite body as she walked away.   God she is gorgeous he thought to himself.  He got lost for a few minutes speculating what it would be like to be intimate with her.   He imagined she had a body like a Victoria’s Secret model under her hospital scrubs.  She sent flirtatious messages, and although they were subtle he picked up on them.  They got along so well, and her hugs were so genuine.   She felt so natural in his arms. He felt young and desirable again when he was with her.  She’s way too young, and besides I’m married he reminded himself.  He felt guilty for even letting himself follow that thought.  If he acted on his impulses, it might be wonderful temporarily, but it would crush his family and ruin his life.

He was clearly in the lustful stages of attraction and infatuation with her.   He only knew her for about six months. They started meeting for lunches then taking walks together when they could steal away the moments.  They got along in a best-friendly manner even though they were in vastly different stages of their lives.  He saw her only at work when she was at her best. They laughed and told each other stories.  There was nothing to fight about and no boring routine to get used to.  She admired his maturity and prestigious reputation as one of the best neurosurgeons in the country.  She flattered him and brought to life a vibrant part of him that had been lying dormant for a long time.

His wife was his best friend a long time ago, but their romance turned into attachment and commitment.  It evolved into responsibility and day-to-day mundaneness.  He loved his wife, but he hadn’t looked into her eyes that way in more than a decade.  It was a very different kind of love.  The passion had waned from his marriage.

Although his life appeared perfect from the outside, he was suffering a lonely existence.  Tragedy befell his family when two of his children died in a car accident.  His wife withdrew into herself, sinking into a downward spiral of depression.  He felt disconnected from her emotionally and physically.  He struggled with his commitment and responsibilities to her and his family versus the passion he felt for this young woman.  He wished he could get all of his needs met by one woman so he didn’t have to struggle internally this way.  He imagined starting all over again with a new relationship, a new life with a young wife free from complications.  He couldn’t get it off his mind, but he went through the motions when he got home from work that night.  He ate some dinner and retreated to his office where he ‘worked’ until midnight while the house was quiet.  He did have some paperwork to catch up on, but mainly it was an excuse to be alone with his deviant thoughts.  He carefully weighed his options and decided to sleep on things.  Perhaps they could meet for lunch again tomorrow and see where things go on their own.

The next day, he woke up early with the alarm at 5:30am.  He went through his morning routine getting ready for work.  He had a full schedule seeing patients all day.   He turned on the news while he ate breakfast.  “Breaking news,” went across the bottom of the screen.  “23 year old woman found dead from an apparent drug overdose.  Police are investigating evidence collected at the scene.  More on this story when we return.”  Pictures  of her apartment building and her face filled the screen before programming broke for a commercial.    Her green eyes looked right through him.  He couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing.

His heart sank and his stomach flip-flopped.  He felt a wave of dizziness and sank to his knees.  He couldn’t hide his grief or mask his reaction.  Tears poured from his brown eyes uncontrollably, and he put his hands to his forehead and tried to slow his breathing.  He just saw her yesterday.  How could she be gone today?  Drug overdose? 

His wife heard him crying and came out of the bedroom to see what was going on. “Richard? Is everything ok?”  There was no answer.  He didn’t know what to say.  She held him as he wept.  The news came back on continued with more details. Cocaine and prescription bottles were discovered in the bathroom where her body was found.  There was no suicide note, so it’s not apparent if it was intentional or accidental.  “Did you know her?”  she asked.

“Yes, from the hospital,” he finally managed to answer.

“I’m sorry honey, why in the world would a beautiful young girl like that want to do drugs anyway?”  she didn’t know what to say either.

Richard was speechless.  Usually he was the strong person in the family.  Now he needed support.


Here is the prompt:   When was the last time you looked into someone’s gorgeous eyes? Maybe they were sea green and seemed to have all the secrets of the world behind them? What would happen if you had a chance to know this person intimately?

Then you find that person has a dark secret that would bring your perfect but lonely life to its knees.

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Thanks for reading. Peace out!

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Fiction Friday #4: The Gun

Every Friday this month, I’ve been posting fiction as part of a challenge by my friend, Molly Field, over at her blog Grass Oil. Today is the last installment of the month. If you missed the first three entries, here are links. If you haven’t read them yet, you might want to catch up since this is part four of the same story.

Fiction Friday #1: Lesson Learned

Fiction Friday #2: Althea

Fiction Friday #3: The Aftermath

     After Amanda‘s arrest, she and Richard went to bed without speaking. She retreated into herself and didn’t know how to handle the embarrassment. What would everyone say about her? Why did she have lunch with an ex? What would she do to make things better with Richard? How would she go on day-to-day with so many problems?
The next day, she got up and helped Brad and Robert with breakfast and the before-school routine. She and Richard were cordial but superficial to each other. He was obviously upset with her and worried about her at the same time. He left for work without a kiss, and the boys left shortly thereafter.
Once she was alone, she went back to her bedroom and sat down on the bed. She opened the drawer in the night stand, pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and started to write, “My dearest family, once you read this note, I will already be gone. I am sorry for the pain my death might cause you, but I think in a few years it will become something you can get used to. I can not forgive myself for the past, and I know you can’t either. I haven’t been happy in so long.  Please know I love you, and I’m sorry.  I just can’t go on like this any more.” She folded the paper in half and propped it up on the bedside table. She looked out the window and took a few minutes to contemplate the garden of roses growing outside. Life goes on, she told herself, they will be fine without me.   She looked back over the past couple of years and wondered what happened to her family. She wondered what happened to herself. She pulled the pistol out of the drawer. She held it carefully in her hands, and it was as if her whole life flashed in front of her eyes.  How could she ever fix all the problems she created in her family? She blamed herself for losing Ella and Anderson, and she knew Richard and Robert had never fully forgiven her for what she did. Their marriage had never been the same since the accident.  How could she face people after what happened at school?  Maybe it would be easier for everybody if I wasn’t here she thought to herself.

HS2000 9mm Pistol

HS2000 9mm Pistol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amanda never wanted to have a gun in the house. She didn’t have a father growing up, so she was never exposed to guns as a child or young lady. It was never a question in her house. Richard felt it was a necessity to have a gun in the house. He wanted it for self-defense (in the case of home invasion) and for hunting. They owned some land where he frequently went hunting and camping, and he really enjoyed going there to pursue his hobbies.
When she met Richard, she learned of his interest in guns and tried to understand it (even though it was new to her). Part of marrying someone is accepting who they are as a person not changing who they are.  Amanda firmly believed in the importance of each spouse maintaining some individuality in the marriage. She felt strongly that there are some things that are deal breakers like cheating and beating, and other things are part of the territory of marriage that you put up with. You accept certain things about your partner so you can live a peaceful happy life together. So she accepted Richard, guns and all.
She was most worried about having guns in the house because they had children. There were stories all the time in the news about kids who accidentally shot themselves, siblings, and/or friends when they played with a parent’s gun. There were other stories about teenagers who had lost their minds, taken their parents’ guns, shot and killed people in public places like schools, stores, and movie theaters. She really didn’t want her family on the news in a tragic, avoidable story.
They agreed to keep most of their guns in a safe, but Richard insisted on keeping a pistol in his night-side table drawer so he would be able to get to it quickly in the case of emergency. The safe with his rifles was in their closet, but he didn’t want to lose precious minutes if confronted by an attacker in the middle of the night. He signed Amanda up for shooting classes, and she braved the experience to show interest in her husband’s hobby. Once she learned how to handle a gun, she felt empowered and prepared for the possibility of being face to face with an intruder. She thanked Richard for exposing her to a whole new world and could barely believe the dichotomy inside herself as she grew to appreciate something she also feared and disliked.
All of the sudden, her phone rang. It was Richard. He was able to schedule a marriage counseling appointment for them that evening. He wanted to talk to the counselor about the arrest and what led up to it. When he asked what she was doing, she answered, “uh, nothing really, just thinking about things.” She hung up the phone, put the gun away, and threw the note in the trash. Not today she thought to herself.
She ordered pizzas for the boys and put Brad in charge of watching Robert for a few hours while she was at the counseling appointment with Richard. Brad was practicing guitar up in his room and choking down bites sausage pizza in between songs. He shooed his little brother when he came into his room to listen to him play. “Go find something to do! Mom and dad will be back soon. Don’t you have some games to play or something?”
Robert played video games for a while, and then he decided to make a video of himself as his favorite character in his new game. His parents weren’t home, so he sneaked into their room and got the gun out of the drawer. They didn’t know that he knew it was in there, but he did. His big brothers showed it to him before and made him swear not to tattle. He set up his camera and got a kick out of seeing himself on the screen. He pointed the gun right at the screen then right, left, up, and down so he could see it from many angles. He made tough faces and felt like a tough guy. He could still hear Brad playing guitar upstairs, so he knew he wouldn’t get caught.
Amanda was telling Richard about having lunch with her ex at the counselor’s office. Brad just nailed the solo he was working on in his room when out of nowhere, there was a BANG! Brad stopped playing and looked around wondering what just happened. It sounded like a firecracker. He paused for a moment and then realized he knew exactly what that sound was.
“Robert?” He screamed as he started running down the stairs._______________________________________________________________________________________

     Here is the prompt:  “Invent a / your character (who) has two personality traits that are completely incompatible, that don’t fit together at all. For example: this character is incredibly messy and is also a total perfectionist. Or: this character is a pacifist and also has a really explosive temper. Or: this character believes in strict, traditional family values but is promiscuous by nature. You decide. Then think of a situation in which these two sides of your character would be in direct conflict with each other. Write the story / scene.”

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Friday Fiction #2: Althea

I’m participating in a fiction challenge. Every Friday this month, I and several other bloggers are posting fiction based on the same prompt. Welcome to installment number two. Here is a link to last week’s post in case you missed it.

“There are things you can replace and others you can not. The time has come to weigh those things.”
There was a knock at the door. “Just a minute!” Althea said as she turned down the television. She was busy coloring with her daughter at the kitchen table and the Disney Channel was on in the background. They were having girl time. She had a lot of studying to do for finals next week, but it was important to her that she spend some quality time with her daughter. It’s hard to find moments like that when you are a teen mom working on your education.
She expected it a package delivery since it was almost Christmas. Almost every day that week, more and more packages arrived. When she opened up the door and saw the soldier in uniform holding a bouquet of stargazer lilies, her favorite, her jaw dropped. Her stomach sank like that feeling when you are on a roller coaster just going over the top of a hill and it starts to plunge downward. Their eyes met as she took it all in and didn’t know what to say.
“Steven. What are you doing here?” finally fell off her lips.
“Althea, I’m sorry. Please listen to me. I know you’re mad at me, and I deserve it. I just got back from Afghanistan, and I need to talk to you.” he explained as he offered her the bouquet. “I brought your favorite flowers. I’m so sorry about everything. Can we please talk?”
LILIACEAE 百合科 - Stargazer Lily 'Tiber' (Lilium...

LILIACEAE 百合科 – Stargazer Lily ‘Tiber’ (Lilium orientalis) 火百合 (Photo credit: kaiyanwong223)

“I’m so surprised to see you.” She replied, feeling a flurry of mixed emotions. He left her when she needed him most. He was her first love, and she got pregnant not long after the first time they decided to have sex. She was only sixteen, and he was seventeen at the time.
“I thought you didn’t want to have anything to do with me, with us. Last time we spoke you told me to get an abortion. You left me here alone. Now you just show up on my doorstep and expect me to listen to you?” she answered incredulously.
“Althea please. I’m feeling lost. I’ve been lacking direction. When I found out you were pregnant, that was right after my mom’s accident. I lost my little sister and brother and couldn’t deal with anything. My parents were fighting and talking about divorce. We were so young” his voice broke and his gaze fell into the bouquet “these are for you; please take them.” He handed her the flowers, and inside she felt her heart soften. He was surprised to see her as a mother. She looked as beautiful as ever but more mature and self-assured.
The fragrance brought back memories from when he used to bring her flowers when he picked her up for dates. “Mommy, are you coming back? I need help with my crayon.” a little voice called from the kitchen.
“Is that her?” he asked as his eyes opened hopefully. He never met her, but mutual high school friends wrote to him while he was away in the military and told him Althea had given birth to a healthy baby girl and was still living at home with her parents. They provided for her and supported her throughout the pregnancy and subsequent years after the birth.
“Yes honey, just a minute.” Althea felt flustered and didn’t know what to do. She stepped out on the front step and shut the door. “What do you want me to say?” she inquired. “I can’t believe you are here. I have a life you know. I’m going to school and taking care of this child. It’s been really hard.” She felt a lump in her throat and fought back the urge to cry.
“I want you to give me another chance. I’ve been thinking a lot, and I never forgot the love we had. I never forgot about you…or her…I just was self-centered to the extreme. I’m sorry, and I am here for you both now. I’ve been to hell and back. I’ve lost friends in combat. I’ve lost the only family I knew. Since the accident, nothing has been the same. My parents are still in therapy. I’ve realized that there are things that can be replaced and some things that can not. I love you Althea. I need you. I’m her father. Little girls need their fathers. I can’t change the past, and I know I’ve missed out on her life so far. Please can we try to start over?”
“Okay, yes.” She cried on his shoulder as he hugged her. “I’ve missed you so much.” She didn’t want to let go of him again.
“I’ve missed you too. Thank you for giving me another chance.” He kissed her and held her tight.
“Come inside and meet your daughter.” Those were words she never expected to say. She couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for him after everything he had been through, and she hoped all along he would change his mind. He needed time to reach that point on his own. She gave him space, and he came back to her on his own.
Thank you for reading this entry. Peace out.
Here is the prompt!
Years later, the character’s first love shows up on his or her doorstep again. Both your character and his/her first love are surprised at how the other person has changed (How?) This encounter causes a disruption in your character’s life (How? What does your character do about it?) Write the story.

Which Rules Are Made To Be Broken?

Is your kid on social media yet? Did you know the minimum age to be on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is thirteen? I know so many people who allow their kids to fudge their ages to get on these sites. So many in fact that it makes my daughter stand out among her peers for abiding by the rules. I talk to other parents about it and the pressure it puts on my kid, and the common response is that they are ‘almost’ thirteen so it’s ok. One parent even put the onus on me to keep an eye on his kid since I’m on and he’s not.

I’m a math person, and numbers are absolute. Maybe I take things too literally, but twelve is not equal to thirteen. It’s like saying well my kid is almost sixteen so he can go ahead and drive or my kid is almost eighteen so she should be able to vote and join the armed services or hey my kid is almost twenty-one so he can go ahead and drink. Some rules are made to be broken, and rules are broken all the time. It makes me wonder which ones are worth fighting to keep and which ones are ok to bend. It’s a personal decision for every parent, and it’s a tough one in my house because I have two tween daughters. One is twelve wishing she was an older teenager, and the other is nineteen thinking she’s a full-fledged adult. I empathize with both of them. I’ve been their ages once, and I sure broke a lot of rules. The drinking age in DC was only eighteen when I grew up and thanks to a lookalike at high school, I had a fake ID and was able to get into bars and clubs to see shows on the weekends. Now that it’s my turn to be the mom, I find it hard to teach kids how to follow rules when they see their friends breaking them all over the place.

     In Texas, there’s this thing affectionately called the “bubba law” which says if bubba wants to have a drink with his underage kid he is allowed to. If underage kids are with their parents, they are allowed to drink alcohol. I swear it’s true. I heard about it straight from a police officer when we moved to town. In Virginia there were specific guidelines about at what age and how long can you leave your kids at home alone. So when we moved to Texas I asked the police what their guidelines were. The answer was they have none…except for the aforementioned bubba law. It’s interesting how things are so different in different places.
     When I was growing up, we didn’t have the Internet or smart phones. These days elementary aged kids have cell phones and are hooked up to the Internet faster than you can say beware of the sexual predators. Kids are sharing their lives and locations online and communicating with as many people possible without really considering the dangers. It bugs me to see kids post screen shots of how many followers they have. Who cares? And do you even know half of them? Does it matter? I am getting off on a tangent now, but it’s this kind of social media mania that makes my kid feel like she is left out if she too doesn’t have a bunch of sites and followers. To try to pick my battles and meet her halfway, I created a second site with my information that I’m letting her use until she is thirteen. Only Joe and I have the password, and I’ve changed my iTunes password too so she can download any old app she feels like. I want to be aware of whatever she’s downloading and who she is talking to. I think the people at Facebook etc thought long and hard about the minimum age and arrived at thirteen for a reason. At thirteen kids are still very immature and impulsive. They still need to be monitored and supervised. It’s not like at thirteen you are all of a sudden responsible and able to handle your own Internet safety like we adults think we are. On that note, I keep mine private and am only connected with a few strangers for reasons I’ve decided with my adult mind are productive and positive. While she uses the temporary account, I’m trying to teach her how to use it safely and responsibly. If she blows it, she might not even get on social media when she is thirteen.
How many ‘likes’ do you have? And does it really matter?
How about dress code? Having raised an older teen and raising a younger almost teen, the length of shorts is a big issue at my house. The rule at school is to wear fingertip length shorts. It just figures that what’s popular are super short shorts. Sierra and I went around and around about this topic when she was in school. She hated all the longer shorts and would decide to wear jeans instead. So that was that. She wore jeans all the time. Zoe doesn’t like the longer shorts either, and I know both girls have taken short shorts to change into once they are out of the house. It makes me wonder why do the schools have a dress code if the parents are the only ones enforcing it? Why should my kid feel so much pressure to change into booty shorts because everybody else is wearing them? I’m pretty sure short shorts are an issue because it’s been scientifically proven that the more skin you show, the more of a sexual appearance you give off. Schools don’t want the boys distracted by the girls showing so much skin. Then you go to the pool or the beach and women are dressed in the equivalent of a bra and underwear and it’s ok (except for those Muslim women who have to be covered head to toe-saw some of them here at the beach and I wondered how hot they must be?) To meet her halfway again, I allow her to wear the short shorts anywhere she would also wear a swimsuit. But it’s already a topic of conversation – will we let her wear them to school in the fall? My answer is would you wear your bathing suit to school? Nope. So I’m dreading another school year of apparently being the only parent who wants my kid to follow the rules.
These shorts are cute, but they are way shorter than fingertip length.
Who wears short shorts?
      Don’t even get me started on the use of cell phones in school. Well ok, just this-the rules say bring your own technology for academic purposes. Teachers are supposed to take up phones that are out for non-academic reasons. So why are kids checking in during math class and posting to instagram with pictures taken in class and even skyping during the day? Why have rules if you’re not going to enforce them?
What do you think about cell phones in school?
     Because of the bubba law, we allow Sierra to have drinks sometimes. Apparently it’s our decision as the parents, and I look to the European model where wine is usually a part of life and kids are not raised to see it as an evil. She said because we are like that, she felt less of a need to go crazy drinking at college like some of the other students. But if there wasn’t a bubba law, I’d be siding with waiting until the legal drinking age although I know that rule gets broken all the time.
Would you like some wine with your meal?
     I even lost my job being a rule follower. I was the only teacher on my team reporting accurate grades (not giving credit for missing work), yet I was forced out because of it. I enforced the school’s rules and used the school’s discipline system and somehow it was twisted around that since I used it, I obviously couldn’t discipline. Dress code? That school had a uniform. Kids could wear black pants but not denim. Every day kids showed up in black denim, and I noticed it. One parent was so frustrated with me he asked to talk to me about it. He said he had three girls at that school and they have six classes a day so that’s eighteen times a day they faced their teachers collectively. They all wore the same pants, yet out of eighteen teachers I was the ONLY one noticing it. He was offended that I was personally picking on his kid. I felt horrible for him because I could understand his frustrations. I couldn’t speak for the other teachers. It was the same for the missing work problem. I don’t make up the news; I just report it. But apparently following rules waves a flag that you’re a problem for some reason. I don’t get it. Why have the rules if we aren’t supposed to follow them? Should teachers model rule breaking to their students?  Do I need to do a better job of letting things slide?  Then you run into a consistency problem.  If you let some things slide but not others, kids don’t learn what to expect.  They don’t learn that when you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence.
It’s funny that I struggle with this topic because I’ve been kind of a rebel for most of my life. I’ve broken lots of rules. I was even arrested for trespassing when I hung off the Triboro Bridge in NYC (with twelve other climbers and many support people) to protest ocean dumping of toxic sludge. I worked for Greenpeace at the time, and they are still famous today for breaking rules or ‘bearing witness’ in the name of protecting the environment. I don’t work for them anymore, but I support them financially and participate in online activism and do volunteer work from time to time. I guess as I’ve aged and become a parent and a teacher, I have more respect for rules now. But there is a lot of gray area between the black and whites. Sometimes we should follow rules to the letter (like traffic signals) and other times it’s ok to break them (like activism). As with many aspects of life, it’s hard to strike the balance.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Triboro Bridge, NYC, NY 1988
Stop Ocean Dumping (Greenpeace Action)