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Not supposed to…

My Indie Ink challenge this week brought up some difficult things. I wrote this as fiction because I can’t write it well as anything else yet, but this is pieces of reality from years ago. I was challenged by A Lil Irish Lass with the line “That was something you were never supposed to see.”


“I just walked in on him. They were in our bed. How does he think that’s okay?”

“You’re in an open relationship. What’s the problem?”

“Apparently it’s possible to cheat in an open relationship. One of the rules we have is that we always know what’s going on with the other person. If he’d wanted to sleep with her and he’d talked to me about it, it would have been all right. I wouldn’t have understood, but I wouldn’t have objected. She’s tall, yes, and young, but not very bright, and her teeth are awful. Of course, so are his, so I suppose that doesn’t matter to him. I’m rambling about teeth while my boyfriend is screwing someone in my freaking bed.”

“They didn’t stop?”

“He looked up at me, more angry than anything else, got up, walked over to the door, shut it, and as he shut it, said, ‘That was something you were never supposed to see.’”

“That’s not good.”

“Would you please help me pack? I am not staying, and I know how bad he can get if he’s in a temper and doesn’t have an audience.”

“What do you mean? He’s always so sweet to you. I’ve seen you overreact a few times, but I’ve never seen him angry.”

I turned around and pulled up my shirt. The welts from a few nights ago that he’d applied so carefully after I had embarrassed him in front of his friends were still there, more bruised than red at this point. “He’s not sweet unless there’s an audience. I thought I could be good enough. I thought I was the problem. I thought, if I just worked hard enough, cooked well enough, was smart enough, he’d stop hurting me. In public he’s so nice. I thought it was my fault.” I pulled my shirt down and turned around. “I just realized how much I’ve come to depend on him for my sense of self. I’m with a man who can cheat in an open relationship and then get angry at me for it. If I go back without someone else coming along, I’ll pay for it tonight. I don’t think I can do that again.”

“I don’t even know what to say. I can’t imagine him being abusive to anyone. He’s so gentle. Everyone knows how kind he is!”

Tears were starting to leak out. “Where else would I get welts like that? It’s an open relationship on his side. The only times I’ve done anything were at his direction, and if I even flirted without his say-so he flipped his lid.”

“I just don’t believe it. You’re too smart to stay in an abusive relationship. The only people who would do that are stupid or desperate. He’s not that kind of guy, either. He’s sweet and sensitive and cares about people. I can’t believe you’d say that about him!” She left, angrily, slamming the door behind her.

I sat down on the floor, suddenly aware of how alone I had become in the years that he’d been separating me from my friends and working on his to make sure they had a particular view of the relationship. I probably wasn’t supposed to see that, either.


Karla V. answered my challenge here.

What is luck?

Another week of the Indie Ink Writing Challenge has arrived. This week I am being challenged by Supermaren. I challenged Sunshine, and she did a good job answering the challenge. I hope I can do Supermaren’s challenge justice!

What is luck, anyway?

I’m not sure I believe in luck, particularly. I am glad I was born basically healthy, because that is something I had no control over. I wasn’t born addicted to anything or brain damaged. In that, I have been lucky. I was raised in a family that values education and supports curiosity. That, too, has been lucky, I suppose.

I think most of what people think of as luck comes down to a lot of hard work. I have an MBA not because I am lucky but because I decided I wanted one. I did a distance learning program through the University of Edinburgh while I was working full time. I decided that was important to me. When I lost my job a few years ago due to the economy going in a bad direction, I applied for everything. I took a job I was overqualified for and I worked hard to do it well. As a result, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a career I can be happy with, and I’m in a better job now.

In thinking and talking about this, I realized that there are some people who think they are lucky no matter what their circumstances and some people who think they are unlucky no matter what their circumstances. There are people in Public Housing who consider themselves incredibly lucky to be there because the alternative is not having a place to live. I knew someone in high school, though, who had very rich parents, and he felt quite unlucky because he didn’t get a car for his 16th birthday. He was constantly moaning about how hard his life was, and it frustrated me because he had things like a maid to clean his room and a person who walked his dog for him.

I’m not saying everyone should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. That’s ridiculous. Your ability to get through life successfully, to have a job good enough to pay the bills and such, is partly dependent on how you were born and raised. If you don’t have the opportunity to develop in a healthy way, both mentally and physically, you will have roadblocks that others do not have. Some people have managed to overcome those roadblocks; some haven’t.

Sheer determination is not always enough, though, and to those people who think that the whole problem with poor people is that they haven’t worked hard enough, I say “Bullshit”. Part of success is being in the right place at the right time. A lot of that equation is knowing the right people who can get you to that place on time. You can sing in a hundred crowded little bars and never get noticed, but if you have a friend who has a friend who knows someone, they can ask a person with some clout to come listen to you. If you don’t make it to that particular bar on time, though, no matter how lucky you are you won’t get a recording contract.

If you don’t know an opportunity is there, you can’t take advantage of it. That’s another limitation. If you are great at some sport but you live in a podunk little town and don’t know anything about college scholarships, you aren’t likely to end up being noticed. Unless someone comes to you and opens up the possibilities, you don’t have a chance. You do the best you can with what you have. If you have a dream, if you desperately want something, you might be able to find a way to get there, but you might not. There are a lot of factors involved in this.

If you want to call it luck, go ahead. I think, though, that once you start making your own choices about how your life will work, once you are past the point where other people have control over what you can do and eat and read, you make your own luck. You show up for a job interview as prepared as you can possibly be rather than running five minutes behind and not having researched the company at all. You get a job and you work hard to do the best you can. You do what you need to get by.

I’m writing this from a middle class perspective. I will never be upper class unless something huge changes in my life. We don’t expect to make lots of money, but we have enough. At higher and lower levels of society, luck may mean different things. Upper class depends much more on contacts than ability, at least to an extent. Until you have the contacts, you can’t be a serious threat to anyone. You don’t have the clout. Persistence pays off at almost any level.

I think my birth and upbringing were lucky. I had a good start. Since then, though, I have made my decisions and made my own luck. I haven’t always made good decisions, but no one does.

When it comes down to it, luck, in my opinion, is what you started out with. What you do with it is not luck.

Rain

I’m participating in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge, and this week Mean Girl Garage was my challenger. I, in turn, challenged Michael, who responded in a very interesting way.

My challenge was “Then the rain came down…” and this is what came out. I am rather enjoying writing fiction lately, so you get another odd little story.


The water elemental rose up in front of her, knocking her off her feet. She scrambled up, knowing immediately that she only had one shot. She knelt down, aimed carefully, and held down the trigger. The adapted flamethrower erupted, covering all but the highest point of the elemental in flames. The elemental immediately disappeared into a cloud of steam.

She sighed, looked around, untangled her horse from a nearby tree where it had gotten caught while trying to run away, and rode into town, flamethrower securely stowed. The problem with using a car around an elemental was that so many things could go wrong. Horses were just easier.

Once the horse was settled and she had packed away all of her gear, she went to find food. The townspeople were eager to hear how she had vanquished such an impressive foe. She started by telling them of other elementals, how each needed to be handled differently, and then told the story of tracking this one and hunting it to its death. She had actually never taken down a water elemental before, but, as she had guessed, fire worked well. She finished talking and said she would be getting on her way.

As she left, she noticed that the clouds were darker than they had been earlier in the day. She shrugged and decided to ignore it. Having good raingear took care of many discomforts, and it was not more than an hour’s ride to home.

She saddled up the horse, packed up the gear, made sure she’d stay at least mostly dry, and headed out.

Then the rain came down…

No ordinary rain. This came in sheets, seemingly focused on her. She felt the water getting into every possible opening, and within a few minutes, despite being covered in the best rain protection she could buy, she was soaked. The horse was twitchy, clearly unhappy, and kept shifting and jumping.

“Easy. Not too far. We just have to get home.”

She was feeling somewhat uncomfortable, not in any definite way, so she decided to get off and walk the horse instead of riding. It had been a long day for him, too.

As soon as she got off, he settled down. She began slogging through the mud, and soon her feet were wet, too.

She felt an odd tightening on her skin, as if she were wearing too-tight clothes everywhere. Even her scalp felt like it was being compressed. The water began to move on her body, and she realized, suddenly, that steam was also a water elemental’s form. She hadn’t stopped it, just slowed it down a little.

As she fell, writhing, into the mud, she dropped the reins. The horse watched her without curiosity for a short while, then ambled towards home.

Mail order bride

It’s time again for the Indie Ink Challenge! We started out with just the editors challenging each other, but decided that it would be more fun to open it up and see who wanted to join in. Ever week we are challenged by a different person. This week I’m being challenged by Andrea. I’ll post the prompt at the end of the story. I’ve never been much on writing fiction, but this was rather fun. My Plaid Pants answered my challenge on her blog.


“Let us go somewhere romantic this weekend. A lake. Somewhere quiet, where it can be just us.” Her heavy Russian accent still charmed him.

“I think that’s a great idea, honeypie. I’ve got a tent and we’ll pick you up a sleeping bag. Y’know,” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “one that’ll zip up with mine.”

She smiled at him. “Of course. If I am to be your wife, we need to get to know each other better. Too many people here.”

The next weekend they went camping. It was a beautiful spot, a small, quiet lake without too many mosquitoes, even in the middle of summer. She stayed wrapped in a voluminous dress with a large hat until sundown, and then she took off the dress and hat to reveal a swimsuit that covered everything necessary but no more. He looked at her in wonder.

“You look awful purty!”

“Thank you. I do try to take care of myself.”

“When I went on those internets to see if I could find me a wife, I kind of expected that she’d end up bein’ one of those gap-toothed ugly women, y’know? Somebody like you…damn, I hit the jackpot!”

She smiled, that same slightly reserved smile, but he didn’t notice.

“You go swim, and I’ll get the tent set up. Then you can show me how a good Russian wifey cooks for her man.” He wandered off in the direction of the truck, humming tunelessly.

After he set up the tent, he came to check on her. When she saw him coming she walked out of the water slowly, making sure that he was paying close attention. She dried herself off and began to work on dinner.

“That ain’t enough for both of us. I eat a lot. If you want food, you’d best make enough for yourself.”

“I will be fine. I am not terribly hungry. Yet.”

“Whatever. Just don’t think I let people take my food.”

She finished cooking and made sure he was settled in, packing away the food like he was starving.

“I’m going to get clothing on. I am slightly cold.”

“Whatever.” Still shoveling the food, he paid no attention as she walked away.

When he had finished eating, he leaned back in his chair, let out a satisfied sigh, and burped loudly. “Hey, you ain’t half bad as a cook. Maybe I will keep you around.” He patted his lap, looking around the campsite. “Come on, baby, time to get to know each other better.”

She was suddenly beside him. “Of course,” she purred. She settled onto his lap and twined her arms around his neck. “I am looking forward to my dinner now.”

He looked at her blankly. “What?”

“You are going to be my dinner. I am going to suck your blood.”

“Baby, if you want something to suck, I got it for you right here!” He grabbed his crotch suggestively, somewhat impeded by the fact that she was still on his lap.

A trace of irritation showed on her perfect features. “No. I will open your jugular and drain you. I am a vampire.”

He smiled broadly. “Oooh, you like playing games? I think you should be my teacher and hit me with a ruler. I don’t much like blood games.”

She snarled a little. “You are not sharpest marble in flock, are you? I am going to kill you by drinking your blood. I have never met a man so stupid as you!”

His grin started to fade. “You wanted to marry me. You don’t want to kill me, honeypie. You’re a sweet little thing.”

“Not sweet. Not at all. I did not live seven thousand years to be stopped by stupid man. I need food, and you are prey.”

A dawning realization began to creep across his face. “But…but…” he sputtered. He grabbed her, threw her away from him, and ran for the truck.

She laughed. “All tires are slashed. You will not go anywhere.” Her accent was getting thicker. “Come back, stupid little man. It is dinnertime.”

He ran for the woods, but she was suddenly there, still laughing. He lunged for her throat, hands outstretched, and found himself on the ground staring up at her. That sweet face was not quite human anymore, and she looked very hungry.

“Ah,” she said as she leaned down and traced her very sharp fingernail along his vein. “I have heard that here, you eat wife when you want her to be happy. I do not know what that means. In Russia, wife eat you.”


The prompt was “Write a horror story or a comedy that includes a lake, internet dating, flat tires and bleeding.”

Spirit

The Indie Ink challenge has gotten more interesting. Now we’re getting other people involved, and I got a challenge I wouldn’t have picked for myself this week. It’s a stretch. Supermaren came up with mine: Write a story involving a famous historical event from the perspective of an inanimate object.

Let’s see how this goes…

He watched me being built and made sure they did it right. He knows me better than anyone. That ended up being very  important. It was stormy for days so we couldn’t leave. He’s been pacing, getting irritable. Today, though, the rain has stopped. He showed up early this morning, jubilant, carrying sandwiches and water. He checked me over very carefully, topped off all five tanks, and we were off. There was a huge crowd cheering us on, although I think they all held their breaths for a minute as we got off the ground. It was a little squishy from all of the rain, and I was heavy, but we got up and moving eventually. Not hitting the telephone wires or the tractor helped. I knew we could get up, but he seemed a little nervous at first. I don’t like taking off from squishy surfaces. I really wanted a hard, fast runway, one that let me get up to speed easily, but once we were up it didn’t matter.

We flew for a while, getting comfortable, and then he turned me out over the water. It was dark and foggy. The moon wasn’t out, and it was hard to see the stars. I’d never flown in weather like this. I knew that below me was only water, but I couldn’t see anything. It was cold, too. We flew through part of a cloud and I could feel ice building up all over me. I didn’t want to keep going into the cloud because I didn’t know if I could keep flying. Ice is heavy stuff, and I was already heavily laden. Luckily, he turned away from the cloud and the ice began to dissipate. We went down to help get rid of the ice. We were still over water, and he was flying us too close. I thought it was too close, anyway. Anything less than a wingspan if we’re not landing makes me very nervous, but it was the only way he could keep us out of the clouds.

All of a sudden, he turned towards lights. Boats! He circled for a while. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t need to – at least he pulled me up a little higher. I don’t know how to explain how it feels to be too close to the water. I knew if he made even the smallest mistake I would smash to bits trying to land, to keep him safe. Water is not forgiving, you know, at least not when you meet it at speed.

The sun began to rise, and the fog cleared. We were over land again, finally. If something went wrong here, I knew he could get us down. We’d practiced enough to make sure he could land me safely under almost any conditions. I felt much safer and happier. The winds were with us, a little bit of a tailwind speeding us along, and I could feel contentment drift in as I did what I was designed for. I carried him smoothly. He didn’t have to work hard to keep me straight and level; he’d build me well, so even with the fuel tanks I wasn’t too hard to fly. We flew for a very long time. It wasn’t exciting, but the scenery was beautiful, and it was a very nice day.

As night fell again, we saw the lights of a big city beginning to show in the distance. He aimed us towards the lights. We circled the Eiffel Tower, a beautiful sight, and got to see all of Paris laid out beneath us. He aimed us towards an airstrip and circled into the wind, then landed. I thought the crowd as we left was huge, but this was more people than I’ve ever seen. We’d been flying almost 34 hours straight. I still had fuel in my tanks. As we landed, he had to stop my propellor to keep from harming anyone. People were swarming the airfield, trying to get close enough to touch him, screaming and cheering.

I knew that most of the glory was his, but I had provided the vehicle for his victory. I am happy with that, and it was the flight of a lifetime.

IndieInk Challenge: Week 1

The Indie Ink editors have decided to issue writing challenges to each other every week to stretch our writing abilities. I like the idea. My first challenge was this:

“Best 300 words on how she knew her husband was to be her husband. No more than 300 words.”

To be completely honest, I didn’t have one shining moment, but here’s one that certainly played into it. Also, limiting me to a certain number of words made this much harder!


It was Thanksgiving with his whole family, and he decided it was time for me to be introduced. I had met a few of his siblings and his parents already, but not the cousins, aunts, uncles, or the matriarch. My family is very small, comparatively.

I admit to a certain amount of trepidation. I was head over heels in love with a great guy. I really liked the people in his family that I had already met, and they were very accepting towards me. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t fit in given my capitalistic tendencies and the fact that I’m not terribly artistic, but he said it would be fine.

I walked in to noise, color, and a lot of people. One of the aunts that married in sat me down and asked how much money I made. I managed “Enough!” with a grin, and she accepted it. Another aunt asked innumerable questions about my family. All of the cousins, most about my age, were friendly. Everyone was busy cooking or talking or drinking. I was assigned to get seeds out of pomegranates for a salad. I sat, warmed by the sun, surrounded by people talking and laughing and playing, watching everyone interact, and I felt apart, but not unwelcome.

His immediate family came in a wave of sisters and brothers and parents. His youngest sister jumped into my lap, narrowly missing the bowl of jewel-like seeds. “When are you going to marry my brother?”

I laughed. “We haven’t gotten that far yet!” Less than a year into this relationship, it hadn’t come up.

“We think he should keep you.”

I looked over at the kind, loving man who made me laugh and helped me heal, surrounded by his fascinating family, and thought, “That wouldn’t suck.”