Both times before, I wished I'd a place in my port for my entries...this time I do!
To My 15 For 15 Entries Journal
This contest is my favorite for practicing off-the-cuff writing -- not my forté! Below are my scribblings entered each day in the Round 8 (Sept. 18 - Oct. 2, 2009)
Please feel free to read any or all the entries below and leave me your comments/reviews. Thank you so much!!
|Wendy hunched her shoulders against the chilly morning air and dug her balled fists deeper into her jacket pockets. She looked at her three expressionless friends, all of whom looked to her like they could use a cup of coffee. “Where is Stephen?” she asked no one in particular. She rocked back and forth on the balls of her Mephisto-clad feet, trying to feel warmer. “He’s always late.”
Eric leaned over the handle bars of the bicycle he straddled. “Don’t see him up the street. Lousy bastard is probably still in bed.”
Wendy followed his gaze then shifted her eyes to the three people on the corner across the intersection. “I know how we’ll pass the time,” she said. “Let’s decide what those people over there are discussing.” She pointed discretely.
Catherine turned for a look. “Oh, that’s easy,” she said. “Grandpa there is back from a trip to Guatemala. He was bringing specialty items to rural villages off the main routes like sugar, cigarettes, and battery-run flashlights. He’s telling those ladies from the church all about it.”
Jason snorted. “No way. Those two women were on their morning walk. They live in adjacent apartments and when they met they had a combined weight of 445 pounds. They became great friends and decided to help each other lose weight. They started by walking up and down the hallway of the second floor of their building, and lost the first twenty pounds fast. That’s when they got the dog. Now they walk fifteen city blocks every morning. They ran into Mr. White Hair, who used to live in their building. He can’t believe the transformation and is praising their success.”
Wendy smiled, nodding her head. Then she said, “That’s good. But I think you’re both wrong. That man is the woman in the white shirt’s biological father, but she doesn’t know it. Every morning he watches her walk with her niece and her niece’s dog. He aches to speak to her, but he knows it will devastate her to learn after all these years that the man who raised her as his own, who was so kind and loving to her, wasn’t really her father. He knows the truth would destroy her. He--”
She was interrupted by her cell ringing. A moment later she said, “Stephen stopped for coffee at the Starbucks down the block. He wants us to meet him there.”
As the four of them set off across the intersection, heads bowed against the frigid breeze blowing down the sunny street, they passed close to the three people on the opposite corner.
“So I go three blocks down and take a left onto Morningside Drive?” the woman asked.
“No, go right onto Morningside,” said the white haired man, who looked up at them as the four passing kids burst out laughing.
|The robed man holding the lead camel's reign stopped. He looked up to his companion on the camel's back and smiled. "It is time," he said.
The other nodded, and without hesitation he dropped from the saddle to the sand, taking the reign. As the first mounted and sat atop the camel's back, he called up to him, "We must keep moving. The storm this morning set us back. If we don't make up lost time, we won't reach Bilma before auction."
"Yes," the man said from the camel's back, "Muwaffaq will punish us if his cargo isn't there for trading. The extra ivory we carry will fetch much salt, as well as the two slaves we bring." He turned in the saddle and leered at the slender woman on the back of the camel behind him.
Ige sat as tall as ever despite her aching back, and returned the man's steady stare. He spun around as the caravan began to move again, and only then did she smile. She was enjoying this trip immensely, even though the travel was difficult in the blazing heat of day and frigid temperatures of night. The sand storm that morning had forced them to stop and circle up the camels. The sand had still reached her in the middle, and it'd felt like hundreds of stinging flies attacking her from head to toe.
The interpreter had told her parents the trip would be long and dangerous, but with the grace of Allah they would traverse the Azalai Route without incident. Since leaving the Yoruba Region, she hadn't spoken to anyone. She didn't understand the men's foriegn tongue, but she liked the halting sounds they produced when they talked.
Ige looked out over the endless dunes of the desert. Her new life was beginning! She missed her parents already, but she'd promised them she'd return to Nigeria when she could. Once she'd found employment in one of the wealthy Arab homes the translator had spoken of, she'd start putting money away for a trip home. Her eyes sparkled as she thought about the bright future before her. Perhaps she'd even get to live in a shiek's home. Maybe the shiek would fall in love with her? Maybe she'd become a princess!
Her mother always said she'd go to great places when she grew. Ige's name meant "delivered feet first," and her mother said she'd walked into her life when she was born, and would achieve great things. Ige sat even taller as excitement spread through her like a swarm of butterflies batting their wings.
"I tell you one thing," the man on the camel shouted down to his walking companion. "If I had the salt, I'd buy this one for myself." He shot a glance behind him.
"You'd have to have more salt than me!" sniggered the other. "I'd take a slave that looked like her into my hut anytime."
|Tess sucked in her breath when the raft guide checked, then tightened, her life vest.
"I'm sorry, is that too tight?" he asked.
"No," she replied too quickly, "it's fine."
In fact, the pressure from the vest pressed on her chest and she we conscious of pain in her right breast. She forced her attention away, and looked up. Steve was smiling at her.
A wry grin pulled at one side of Tess' cheek. "You look goofy in that helmet," she teased.
"And you look scared," Steve joked. "You ready?"
Tess ordered her smile to stay put, and thankfully her facial muscles obeyed. "Let's do this thing!" she shouted. Their friends behind them, Andy and Becky, whooped in unison.
As they walked toward the river with their group, Tess took a moment to thank God for all his blessings. Steve had received the call they'd all been waiting for just before they left for this trip. The doc says he's cancer free. Cancer free. She still couldn't believe it. The past two years had been a frightening nightmare, but they'd gotten through it because they'd made a sacred pact to live their lives. Period. Cancer or no cancer. Andy and Becky had made the pact with them. Looking back, Tess reflected on the past two years.
After Steve's treatments had begun, they'd gotten together at the hospital. Each wrote an adventure they always wanted to take but were too scared -- or broke -- to do it. They put their papers anonymously into a box. Every six months, when Steve was between treatment rounds, they pulled a paper from the box and went. Just went. And lived.
So far they'd scuba dived off Key West. They'd skied at Vale. And today, they were rafting the Colorado River. Today was different though. Today they weren't enjoying a day outside Steve's world of cancer. Today, they were living Steve's world without cancer.
They thought brought tears to Tess' eyes. Steve glanced at her, and his smile faltered.
"What is it, love?"
She gave her head a little shake. Something. "Nothing," she lied. They were next to board the boat. "Here we go!"
As the raft rocked and she sat down hard next to Steve, she realized the last paper in the box was hers. Her sky diving trip. Something she'd always wanted to do. She swiped at a tear that escaped down her cheek. Stop! she thought. Today is for living. Tomorrow I'll tell Steve about the lump.
They pushed off from the bank and started toward the churning river below, Tess whooping as loud as her friends.
|Damon had to keep his mind off Beth. That was all there was to it. Hell Week was bad enough without him screwing up worse. And every time he thought about Beth, he screwed up. Just last night as he kneeled for hours, shoulder-to-shoulder with his pledge brothers, the grains of rice scattered on the floor digging into his flesh with a pain reminiscent of a seseme seed wedged between two teeth, he couldn't keep his mind off Beth. The curve of her face swam before his eyes, her musky jasmine perfume seemed always in his nose, and the thought of her toned, sun-tanned legs disappearing beneath a black mini skirt drove his mind to distraction. Not good. Especially during Hell Week.
Last night, he'd been roused from his reverie when a Sigma brother had stood before him. The brother pulled a match box from his pocket and shook out a match before sliding the box back into its cardboard sheath.
"The Greek alphabet, scab. Five times to this match. Don't burn me." He struck the match; it flared within inches of Damon's nose.
Damon shifted and the pain from the rice rippled up his thigh. He sucked in his breath and began as fast as he could. "Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, iota..."
Around "omicron," Beth's face suddenly flit into the view of his mind's eye. He sparkling emerald eyes were heavy-lidded. She tilted her chin, her glossy lips parted. Damon ached to put his mouth on hers.
And he faltered. "Chi" came out before "phi" and he stumbled, stopped, re-started. The brother dropped the match to the floor, stomping out the flame with his sneaker.
"Dual!" he shouted, and the other brothers cheered.
The next day, they marched the pledges out to the field behind the frat house. Damon wore a ridiculous, ill-fitting powdered wig and he sweat profusely beneath the heavy fabric of the gilded costume he wore. He was ordered in the middle, back to back with another pledge who had screwed up the frat's founding fathers list. Armed with pop guns with "big loser" flags inside, they were about to take their ten paces and shoot when a Sigma brother shouted "Wait!"
"Our guests have arrived!"
Damon's heart sank. From the woods at the left entered a gaggle of gorgeous girls from the Tri Delt soroity. In the middle of the group, neck craned and looking distressed, walked Beth.
|Edna didn’t take her eyes off the mantel clock when her husband entered the living room. The neon green feathers in her duster moved soundlessly across the framed family photos on either side of the glass dome housing the delicate gold leafed heirloom. The minute hand crept across the three to the four.
“Where’s today’s paper?” Charles asked. He put his hands on his hips when his wife didn’t respond, eyes glued to the face of the clock. “Edna?” Irritation simmered in his voice.
Edna’s duster moved frantically across the frame of a smiling little boy in a baseball uniform, bat slung across his shoulder. Next, it flitted across the simple black frame with the boy grown up, wearing a solemn face and an Army uniform. Her feet seemed rooted to the spot, and the duster wandered back to the photo of the boy. Charles voice cut through the silence.
“Edna, the paper? I want to read the latest about Iraq…”
Edna interrupted him with an equal dose of irritation. “Shh!” she hissed. Her eyes grew round as she stared at the minute hand. Click. Ten-oh-five. She held her breath, duster stopped mid-air. Charles again broke the silence.
“Jesus, Edna. When are you going to stop this nonsense?”
She hung her head, then turned around. She heaved a heavy sigh. “That dream I had was so vivid,” she began. “There was a man, well, his hands anyways. And he was holding out to me a beautiful clock of light--”
“A crock of light, you mean,” Charles grumbled.
Edna eyed him darkly. “It means something. I know it in my heart. It was so real, I can still see it. The clock said five after ten. Something is going to happen at five after ten!”
“Honey,” Charles said, his voice warmer, “it was just a dream. What are you going to do, watch the clock like a hawk every day at five after ten? Twice a day?”
The doorbell rang, startling them both. Edna glanced at the clock. Who could that be at this hour of the morning?
She walked to the door with Charles at her side. When she opened it, her hands flew to her mouth. A gasp escaped her and as her knees went weak, she felt Charles grab her elbow. Facing them was their son, wearing his pristine Army uniform but the same smile he wore in the baseball picture.
“Oh my God!” cried Edna. “You’re safe, and home!” She and Charles threw themselves into their son’s arms.
He held them tightly and said into his mother’s silver hair, “I wanted to surprise you! I’ve been discharged. I’m home for good.”
Through their hugs and tears, Charles suddenly pulled away. “Jesus, Edna,” he said. “Isn’t today October 5th?”