Sunday, April 28, 2013


The trigger came from A God of Small Things by the Indian writer Roy. I felt mine was a bit cliché and I really couldn't get going but my writing pal developed a wonderful grandfather who picked mint with his grandchild (great detail) and was reflexive in his answers. I wanted to meet that grandfather.

The afternoon was still and hot.

Marge and Betty sat on the front porch fanning themselves. In the yard, their five-year old kids, Tommy and Sarah, were running back and forth through the sprinkler, screaming.

It was Sunday. Neither had to work. Marge was a nurse and Betty was in billing at the same hospital. For both of them having a Sunday off together was a real treat. They had adjusted their schedules so normally it was Marge working at night so she could be home with the kids days while Betty was working, which made time together as a family together difficult.

“Should we take them for ice cream?” Marge asked.

Before Betty could answer, they heard a door slam on the house to their right. Mr. Harper stormed over. “Can’t you keep those kids quiet. It’s Sunday.”

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We’ll do what we can,” Betty said, putting a hand on Marge’s knee that said, “Don’t say anything louder than if she’d yell.”

“Hey kids,” Marge hollered not quite loud enough to break glass but almost. “It’s Sunday. Keep it down.”

Janice, their neighbor on the other side stood up. They hadn’t noticed her planting flowers below the white picket fence separating their properties. “Don’t be such a grouch, Harper. They’re just kids.”

“It’s the Lord’s Day,” Harper said. He glared at them all and stomped back toward his house.

“And if the Lord were here, he’d probably be running through the sprinkler, too,” Janice said to his back just before he slammed his door. “Bigot,” she said to the two women. “I heard you suggest going for ice cream. I’ve an ice cream maker. “Want to come over later and John and I will get it out.”

“What flavor?” Sarah asked. No one had notice her come up to the porch.

"Whatever you want, and bring your moms."


Accepting Help

My writing pal and I won't be writing until a week from Tuesday, May 7 because of our schedules. I miss the exercises. When we discussed the trigger phrase, "he pressed his index finger over her mouth," we both wanted to do something positive and ruled out a domination scenario. The quote is from Beverly Barton's, Every move she makes.

He pressed his index finger over her mouth. “shh”

She wanted to say "but". He shook his head as soon as her lips parted. “I won’t hear another word about it.”

Then he went to his oak desk and took his check book. “Will $5,000 be enough?”

She fought with herself not to say “more than enough.” It would let her fix up the storefront she found and at least lease the oven and mixing equipping.

“You didn’t even look at my business plan.”

“I don’t have to. I’ve known you since you and Andrea nearly drove me crazy with your music.”

This had been her second home as a teenager. She and Andrea had been inseparable, and thanks to Skype she and her best friend were able to talk almost daily, even though Andrea now lived in Japan and Myra was in Boston.

Andrea had been her lifeline when Jack had walked out leaving her with a baby. It was Andrea who urged her to go to her father to ask for a loan to set up a business. “You can’t earn enough as a secretary to support you and the baby,” Andrea had said. “Put a business plan together. It will help you focus.”

So she had. The idea of a cupcake shop near a private school with good traffic harnessed her hobby. The area was trendy enough. She also had diabetic cupcakes and good to the earth cupcakes planned, things to make her different.

Three colorful decorated cupcakes
Banks almost laughed her out the door. Each time she checked her numbers and each time she was sure of her profit margins. Her ideas on offering her cupcakes for parties, not just kids, but to businesses as well, even if only half came to realization, made the bottom line seem reasonable.

She brushed away her tears of gratitude as she took the check to her future.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Circumstances Change

The trigger was from Somerset Maugham’s short story. The Force of Circumstance. This time we both wrote about a long married couple not communicating well. Both our couples were married for 25 years.

She was sitting on the veranda waiting for her husband to come in for lunch.

As always he was late, which annoyed Cook, but after 25 years of marriage, Marjorie knew there was no hope to change him.

She heard through the kitchen window the cook slamming pots and pans. Cook had made a hot meal as Bob had requested. Usually they had cold salads, sandwiches for lunch, but today Cook had roasted a chicken stuffing the bird with olives and bacon with potatoes and green beans. Well none of that would spoil, it was not like a soufflé on anything.

Marjorie knew that she and Bob had to talk. He would be surprised when she announced that she was leaving, moving back to London. He would ask why.

She would say she was tired of living in Africa, in the country.

He would wave his arm around to the lush garden leading out to the land where their coffee crop was growing and ask how in God’s name would she be able to put up with a dirty, smelly city after all this.

She would not be able to explain about plays, concerts, museums, tea shops. Or rather she could explain, but he would not understand.

There were many times before when she had prepared to leave, but lost heart at the last minute. This time she’d bought airline tickets, non-refundable.

A hour went by. This was late even for Bob. Cook came out and asked “When?” her face twisted in anger.

“I don’t know,” Marjorie said. “Perhaps you should serve me and put a plate aside for my husband.”

She finished eating and Bob still hadn’t appeared.

As she waited for Cook to bring her a cup of coffee, she saw Kofi running in from where Bob should have appeared. “Master Bob is sick.”

Marjorie was wearing slacks and trainers which let her run after Kofi. The field where her husband lay was a good ten minute run away. He was gasping for breath. Having trained as a nurse, she noticed the blue of his gums and thought heart attack.

How quickly she was able to organize Bob being carried back to the house. She went to the room where they had the medical supplies, including oxygen, called the helicopter from the hospital in the city. As she watched the helicopter air lift her husband away, she realized he was the only one that would be flying.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


 The trigger first sentence came form J.J. Parris's Sacrilege. My writing mate did a brilliant piece of writing where she kept repeating, "I couldn't tell them about..." and used wonderful details of smell and dark and light.

“I remember him,” I said.

And I did. What I didn’t say was I also had hated him. We’d worked together for five years in back to back to cubicles. Those cubicles I’d hated too. When I found mine each morning, I felt like an experimental mouse running through a maze for a piece of cheese, only in my case, the cheese was a paycheck, if you could call it that. I’d needed a second job, which was a sales person at Charette Art.

I envied the painters who came in with their clothes often spattered with miscellaneous colors. Finally, I used my employee discount to buy a set of acrylics and a canvas to try and paint myself. I wish I could say, there was a hidden talent. 

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There wasn’t, but that had led me to meeting Jim, and that led me to work at his gallery, which I inherited when Jim died and I never had to live in little cubicles again.

Which brings me back to the woman standing before me asking me if I remember Neil. “He said he used to work with you.

I nodded not noncommittally. Since she might be a buyer and I didn’t know what Neil was too her I didn’t want to tell her about his voice booming on telephone calls. So much for sound deadening panels. And the smells of the food he brought in, especially the garlic, made me wish for windows to open, but the building was sealed. Even if I could have opened a window, they were a sea of cubicles away and air would ever have reached my space.

“How did you stand him?” she asked. “He’s such a pig, a bully. But I thought he was lying when he said he knew the owner of the gallery.”

“How did it come up?” I asked.

“I’m in the cubicle next to him. He saw the invitation to the exhibition on my desk and after that it was brag, brag.”

“Sounds like Neil,” I said. 

She pointed to a couple that just walked in. “Better go to your next client,” she said.