Monday, December 2, 2013

117. Not Your Typical Night

You see someone like that walk in, and honest to God, you do a double-take.  You catch him glancing in your general direction and you swoon.  Your girlfriends notice him too, they like his tush. 

When he finally comes over to you, what, twenty minutes later, you feel like you’re going to burst.  You are transported back to high school, make that junior high, wishing the captain of the football team would ask you out, or at least hold the door for you. 
This guy does better than that, he sits down and introduces himself.  He orders what you’re having, then proceeds to charm your girlfriends with some funny anecdote. 

You are not listening, you are naming your future children.  You have it bad for this guy. 
An hour goes by, maybe two, but it seems like only minutes.  The bar is closing but you cannot stand the idea of him leaving.  You are drawn to him, like a magnet. 

He whispers something to your friend; she laughs.  The kind of laugh where she throws her head back, like in the movies.  Then you realize he is interested in her. 
You are a fool. 

You excuse yourself to the ladies’ room and when you come back, they are gone.  They are all gone.  Your friends, the guy (Robert), even the waitresses.  The bartender tells you it is time to go.  It is like a bad dream. 
The lights click on full bright, and you stumble toward the front door.  When you get outside, the cold air assaults you like a splash of icy water.  You forgot your coat. 

You turn around to get it, and there he is—Robert—and he is holding your coat for you.  “Here,” he says, not unkindly, “let me help.” 
You love this story, this story of how you met and you thought he liked your friend.  Your friend raises a toast to you now at your 25th Anniversary Party, while you smile over at your husband, Robert.  

trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "tush"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

116. Do You Know This Beast, Too?

My Beast beckons at dawn
with siren song,
I succumb to her magic
(It’s quite tragic)

Smells draw me in
Caffeine’s my sin.
I go there daily,
she squeals gaily:
“Welcome to Starbucks!”

trifecta writing challenge/ an unusual beast in 33 words

Friday, October 18, 2013

115. Remember You Are Bigger Than It Is


“Don’t be afraid,” said my mom.  I think I was three at the time.  “It’s just a feather.” 

“Does it got eyes?” I replied warily. 
Years later, I take her advice.  Fear gone. 

trifecta writing challenge:  33 words about what scares you

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

114. Why Do Things Like This Happen to Me?

“Next!” called the barista. 

“I’ll have a tall latte, please,” I announced. 
The girl motioned to the customer behind me.  I started to interrupt and say that it was my turn, but when I happened to glance at the mirror behind the counter, I noticed I wasn’t there. 

Great, I thought, third time this week.  It sucks being invisible. 
When I first told Mike about it, he said it was impossible.  But then he was with me last time it happened. 

“Don’t worry, babe,” he’d consoled me, “I’ve got your back.” 
Tough to do when you can’t see it.    

trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 99 words/ specific word used is "back"

Sunday, September 22, 2013

113. Today Is September 11, 2001

At 8am, I call in a bomb threat; luckily, they believe me.  The World Trade Center sits empty when the planes hit.  Of course the passengers die, but that’s it.  Coulda been worse. 
trifecta writing challenge/ 33-word-story/ the subject is time travel

Monday, September 16, 2013

112. Over the Rainbow

You show up at the meeting because your daughter urged you to go.  You hear her voice even now, like pieces of Styrofoam deliberately being rubbed together or an unexpected chainsaw going off in your backyard:  “Mom, we can’t visit you with the house being like that.  You have a real problem.” 

She didn’t use the “H” word this time, you are relieved about that.  You like to call yourself a packrat or clutterer or even messy and disorganized.  Those words don’t have such far-reaching implications as the “H” word. 
Hoarders are sick people. 

You are not sick.  You are a collector. 
“My name is Phyllis, and I’m a clutterer,” you whisper.  The group nods encouragingly, they seem nice.  If they have a problem with too much stuff, you can’t tell.  They look normal. 

But what exactly is normal?  Is it normal to celebrate Christmas at a local hotel because the house is too full of stuff and no one can sit anywhere?  Is it normal to call a contractor to add shelves to every room in your 3000 square foot home so you can cram in more things? 
You don’t have a problem, you tell yourself.  This is Tammy’s issue.  If she doesn’t want to come with her kids to see you, that is her problem. 

“Welcome, Phyllis,” they smile.  This is their rainbow:  they will get their houses clean, their offices organized, their cars empty enough for a passenger to sit.  If they work hard enough, they can throw things away.  They can live like normal people. 
“Phyllis, what did you do today?”  the leader asks encouragingly. 

You clear your throat.  You were not expecting to be called on.  This is just like third grade.  Third grade is when your dad died, so maybe it is not like third grade. 
“I cleaned out a drawer in my kitchen,” you offer tentatively.  Applause all around.  “I even recycled a few papers.” 

They beam at you, they understand.  Tammy can go to hell.      
trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "rainbow"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

111. Right on Target

I adore your pristine aisles
Products arranged precisely
Obsequious clerks in red and khaki
Even a Starbucks to tempt me
But mostly I love your prices
I return every week
Loyal customer forever
trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 33 words/ apostrophe (addressing a separate entity almost like a person)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

110. Friends Always Listen

Tether a crystal glass to my
Fill it with a dry martini
You earn your crown of true
As I spill my soul in your
City lights sparkling outside.

trifecta writing challenge/ the required words are in bold

Thursday, September 5, 2013

109. That Girl We All Talked About

She walks with grace, she walks with ease,
I always thought she was a sleaze.

She approached my boyfriend when we were 20,
hit him up for sex and money.
He went with her, he did, it’s true
(that’s just something he would do).

I can’t blame him, she was hot,
Ballerina body, nice and taut. 
He came back to me, after time
(Cheating is bad, but not a crime).

We almost got married, he bought me a ring,
but I broke up with him, here’s the thing:
That graceful girl he liked so much?
She responds to a woman’s touch. 

Mine, to be specific. 
Do I think she’s sleazy, now years later?
After I had a chance to actually date her?

We’re still together, I love her a lot. 
(And yes, I think she’s still quite hot.) 

(oh, fiction is so fun!!!)
trifecta writing challenge, the word is "grace"

Friday, August 30, 2013

108. Life's Great Mysteries

I drove past the gym,
It was a sunny day out,
Gym rats on treadmills.

(and here is a bonus haiku I dreamt up:)

Pancakes for breakfast!
Happy noise in the kitchen
Oops—out of syrup

(oh what the heck, have another!)

My feet are pounding
Running closer to my goal
Marathon next week!

(last one, I swear!)

Kids sleep, husband types.
I read my book undisturbed
A peaceful evening.

trifecta Haiku (by the way, the title only refers to the first haiku, which is the one I am entering for the trifecta challenge........... the others were just for fun)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

107. I Already Said Goodnight Two Hours Ago

Goodnight Moon,
Goodnight room,
Goodnight, I fake a smile,
Goodnight to the dirty laundry pile.
Goodnight toys, Goodnight boys,
Goodnight dear babes of mine,
Mommy really need a glass of wine.
(Now please.) 
put a twist on a classic bedtime story in 33 words:  trifecta

Saturday, August 17, 2013

106. Just a Simple Poem

Who came before
Who will be here after
Beyond the green door
We share familiar laughter

Nature reaches out
She whispers, never shouts
She holds me in her embrace
Kisses your angel face
trifecta writing challenge/ 33 words about a nature photo

Monday, August 12, 2013

105. A Story About Old Men, Donuts, Teenage Hearthrobs, and Why I Hate Fundraisers

When I was in eighth grade, we had to sell donuts for a school fundraiser.

My best friend Charlene and I knocked on the door of the first house.  No answer.  Nobody answered at the second house either.  This pattern repeated itself for the next 20 houses.  Finally someone opened her door.  Charlene recited the spiel. 

The woman hissed, “I’m diabetic,” then slammed the door.   

At another house, an elderly man answered. 

“Hello,” I squeaked, “Donuts for sale!” 

He took pity on us and wrote a check for five boxes.  He craned his neck to look past us.  “Where are the donuts?”

“We’ll deliver the donuts in three weeks,” explained Charlene with a fake smile.  “You pay now.” 

He grabbed the check back and ripped it up.  Wait for donuts?  What kind of scam is this?”  He tried to slam the door, but a ferret escaped.  He hobbled after it.

“Catch Doris!” he cried. 

Charlene chased that ferret like she was on Animal Control’s payroll.  This rude man was going to see what a helpful person Charlene really was, and what a big mistake he’d made.  The ferret ran up a tree and Charlene began to climb. 

This was the moment Kent Richenberg appeared.  Captain of the basketball team, on the student council, gorgeous. 

“Why is your friend in my grandpa’s tree?!?”

Charlene caught the ferret.  It looked like a cross between an ugly squirrel and a raccoon.  I was terrified.  Charlene shimmied down the tree, holding the ferret triumphantly by the scruff of its neck. 

“Thank you!” exclaimed Kent.  “Gramps loves that ferret!”

Before I could grasp what was happening, the ferret sprang out of Charlene’s hands and landed on me, taking a chunk of my flesh with its razor-sharp teeth. 

The next thing I remember, Kent, Charlene, Gramps, and neighbors who’d been hiding in their houses avoiding buying donuts, were hovering over me.  The ambulance arrived and I noticed blood covering my arm.

I was excused from selling donuts after that.    

trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "grasp"

Saturday, August 10, 2013

104. Say "Cheese"

I made an appointment with a new dentist who came highly recommended.  When I met her, she chatted enthusiastically, revealing an almost-perfect smile. 

Wish someone warned me about the one rotten front tooth.    
trifecta writing challenge/ 33 words/ required word is "tooth"

Monday, July 29, 2013

103. How to Rob a Bank Without Really Trying

I’d only worked at First National for about three years when it happened.  An elderly customer, Mrs. Oakton, came in and asked to speak to me privately in my office.  I took her coat, shut the glass door, and pulled out a chair for her.    

“Theo,” she said, handing me an envelope, “I need your help.” 
I thought maybe there was a document she wanted me to notarize, but instead it was a cashier’s check from B of A for 1.2 million dollars, in my name:  Theodore James Davis. 

She leaned back in her chair.  “Can you recommend the best way to invest the money?  This is what my deceased husband left me.” 
I was about to tell her that she should’ve had the check made out to the bank or herself, not me, and that I wasn’t that savvy with investments, but I could refer her to a certified financial planner, when she had a coughing fit.  I offered her some water, but she waved me off.  She reached into her purse and pulled out a tin of cough drops, inhaling one quickly. 

To my horror, her cough escalated into choking and her face turned blue.  I ran behind her chair and attempted the Heimlich maneuver. 
“Sharon!” I screamed out for my assistant, “Call 911!” 

The ambulance arrived quickly.  The paramedics did their best to band together to save her, but I knew she was dead even though legally they cannot say it until they get to the hospital. 
I’d forgotten all about the check until I got home that night and felt the envelope in my pants pocket.  I must have put it there in all the confusion. 

I probably would have returned the check if First National had not fired me.  They said I did not do enough to save her.  Screw them, I tried! 
B of A had no problem wiring the money to my new account in Canada.  Turns out, I am fairly savvy with investments after all.          

trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "band"

Friday, July 26, 2013

102. Paul Newman's Eyes

Pool party

Utah sky
Ocean spray

Cool aqua
Yosemite blue
Champion cobalt

Blue jean
Turquoise powder

Forget me not
I want them all

Why does Benjamin Moore make it so difficult?

Monday, July 22, 2013

101. The Appointment

“Miss Percinetti?” she calls, pronouncing it right, “watch the floor, we just mopped.” 

You scurry back through the bright lights and past a yappy dog in another exam room. 

“Is everything okay?” you ask, “Are you going to have to drug her?” 

“She is, uh ... agitated,” the vet says.  “I just thought if she saw you, it might calm her.” 
You smile at the vet, but you secretly think the vet must be an idiot if she can’t handle a 5-pound tabby cat.  You wonder if you should switch vets.  You promise yourself you will Google new vets when you get back to the car.    

You walk into the sterile room and spy Tippy scrunched in the back corner of her cat carrier, hissing.  Tippy is not normally a hisser, but this situation seems to bring out the worst in her.  She sees you and thinks she’s saved.  She starts meowing loudly—Take me out of here!
You walk over and coo, Hey Tippy, it’s okay, I’m right here!  Just a quick exam and a few shots, that’s it!  I love you. You’re fine.

Tippy reaches her little paw through the side and you reach back to her, attempting to communicate with this darling fluffy creature that you have adored for going on 10 years now. 
Tippy claws your hand fiercely and draws blood. 

You are surprised, but try to act like you’re not, even as the blood is gushing from four perfectly symmetrical scratches. 
“Are you all right?” gasps the vet, immediately handing you some tissues. 

You tell here you’re fine, but you’re not fine.  You’re mad at Tippy.  Sweet little Tippy.  At home you charm her, but not here.         

Friday, July 19, 2013

100. Here Comes The Bride

“Let’s get married on a stage with magicians and live rabbits and fireworks!” squealed Rebecca enthusiastically.  Kevin sipped his water and silently wondered if it was too late to take the ring back. 

trifecta weekend challenge:  33 words, must include the three words above in bold

Monday, July 15, 2013

99. Her

She hung the clothes up on the line,
Drove us kids to school at nine,
Walked the dog, fed the cat,
Ran some errands, bought a hat,
Cooked some lunch for herself,
Dusted books upon the shelf.

But when we returned home we found
Her corpse crumpled on the ground.
Pills or gun, it doesn’t matter,
Our suburban ideal had shattered.

“She seemed happy,” neighbors said,
(this was after she was dead).
I hear her voice sometimes at night,
I see her ghost, pale and white,
Please think of her and shed a tear,
No one saw a crack in the veneer.

FICTION!  for trifecta, the word is "crack"

Friday, July 5, 2013

97. Job Hunt

I provided a detailed résumé, complete with legitimate references.  I filled out all your stupid paperwork.  I even did the requisite drug test (which I passed).  So why won’t you hire me, Mom?   

trifecta writing challenge / 33 word free-write

Friday, June 28, 2013

96. The Write Idea

There are three ways to become a good writer.  The first is to write every day.  The second is to write every day.  And the third?  Write.  Every.  Day. 

trifecta writing challenge

Friday, June 21, 2013

95. Gold Medalist

Michael was bad at tennis.  The coach advised him to quit.  Michael was even worse at baseball.  His teammates shook their heads.   

Finally, Mrs. Phelps thought, “Well, perhaps my son can try swimming?” 

trifecta writing challenge

Monday, June 17, 2013

94. Underneath the Surface

She swam to the deep end and back, less than 20 seconds by her count.  Mike’s words still burned in her ears:  Sophie asked me to the prom and I’d rather go with her. 

While he did earn points for honesty, those were quickly obliterated by his alarming lack of tact. 
Sophie.  Why would Sophie ask Mike when she knew that Deidre liked him?  Sophie and Deidre were not friends, but everyone knew that Deidre and Mike were dating. 

Well.  Deidre knew.  And Mike knew.  Didn’t he? 
Didn’t the movies with five other friends register as a date?  Or being study partners for the chemistry exam?  The teacher let them pick their own partners, and he’d asked her.  Sure, she was the top student in the class, but still.  Then Deidre had assumed they’d go to prom together, and Mike didn’t run out the door when she brought it up. 

“I bought my prom dress,” she had said coyly in between reciting chemistry formulas.  “It’s red.” 
“Who are you going with?” she remembers him asking. 

“You, silly!”
He blushed, and he kissed her.  Well, if Deidre was being honest, she kissed him.  But he didn’t resist.  He had kissed her back for a second or two.  It was a good kiss as kisses go, not that Deidre had anything to compare it to.    

When he ran into her at the local club's pool a week later, she was excited.  A new place they hadn’t been together!  That brought their total dates to three—four if she added the time he dropped off her jacket.     
But at the club his words tumbled out like nickels from a loose slot machine:  Deidre-I’m-sorry-we-need-to-talk-it-will-only-take-a-minute. 

And it did only take a minute.  Just like that, he was done:  I’d rather go with her.    
She swam the length of the pool again, faster.  I’ll show him, she thought. 

She felt the ice-cold water against her skin as she kicked hard, and the space seemed infinite in front of her.   
trifecta writing challenge/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "club" 

Friday, June 14, 2013

93. Thirty-three Words About Summer Treats

in the pan
I saw you
take one
when you thought I wasn’t looking (you’d already had three)
it is
still strange
to me
to remember
that you
said they



Friday, June 7, 2013

92. Three Sentences About A Life

You are at work when the call comes you have been expecting it and your sister says you better get on the plane RIGHT NOW and you are like oh God this is it and the whole flight you are praying for her not to die you want her to at least live long enough that you can see her one more time and say goodbye at least say goodbye and apologize to her not for one specific thing but you guess for your entire relationship and you swear it is the longest flight ever and then when you get there and your brother picks you up he tells you how bad it really is and when you finally FINALLY get to the house she can barely breathe but she is alive still alive and talking a little bit and she totally knows who you are and you sit up with her all night even though the hospice nurse is there by this point and you get no sleep and the nurse says you should really consider giving her some morphine but your sister doesn’t want to and your brother does you are on the fence the whole thing is such a blur so fast and yet so slow and so many memories in that house too. 
Your mom dies five days later. 

You are there. 

trifecta writing challenge/ tell a complete story in 3 sentences

Friday, May 24, 2013

91. The Chaperone

The field trip didn’t go well.  Sure, the kids loved the museum, but when we left for the school bus, bratty Travis fell and skinned his knees. 

I wish I hadn’t tripped him. 

trifecta writing challenge/ 33 words/ a fiction piece about a "confession"

Friday, March 1, 2013

90. Bathroom Etiquette

When guests need the bathroom, I say it’s broken and I just called the plumber and he’s on the way.

It’s a lie.
The truth is, we haven’t cleaned the bathroom since 1997.

trifecta writing challenge