Why He Left- Trifextra Week 60

“In our first apartment, we watched the rain. I held him when he was sick.”

She took his black peacoat last. “I remember, and he does, too.”

I, mistress, fought the rebellion, but lost the war.

~*~

36 word challenge for Week 60
Of Trifextra was a fun morning for me. I had to use three words: rain, remember, rebellion, to tell a compelling tale in 36 words exactly.

I like it when affair stories come out on the OTHER side. Of course I’d rather not have them happen at all but we authors tend to take some sort of sick sadistic pleasure in making our characters suffer. I’m sure there’s a psychological analysis in there somewhere.

My first full-length short story, a scfi tale relevant to today entitled “The Newcomers”, is out to two magazine contests. I hope to win both, as one was an abridged audio version for The Missouri Review’s annual Prose Audio contest and one was for the Ohio Review’s fiction contest.

Wish me luck! I hear back in April so I will let everyone know.

Also back in the studio this week for some serious work. Serious. Like traditional, old school overnight musician work. It’s going to be awesome!

“I’m up all night in the studio/and you’re up early on your ranch/you’ll be brushing out a brood Mare’s tale/while the sun is ascending and I’ll just be/getting home from my reel to reel/there’s no comprehending…”

~Joni Mitchell, “Coyote”

Love you all, dear readers, and glad to be back.

~ Julia Mae

“Diner”, or A Saturday Short

The diner was the place to be.

Rose always thought so.

“Here’s your coffee and the cream,” the waitress said.

(Cindy, the computer of Rose’s brain ticked: had two kids and a husband in jail. But Cindy was convinced he hadn’t done the crime he was incarcerated for.).

She loved the way the waitresses all knew her. And she knew them. She loved the solid feel of the table. The clink of the metal spoon as it tapped the glass rim of her mug. The smells. The people.

“This is early morning perfection, Cindy,” she told her waitress.

Cindy leaned on her hip. Her lipstick was one shade too bright for her skin tone and Rose found it terribly distracting.

“This is not perfection,” Cindy said. “You’ve been a writer too long. It’s going to your head.”

“I’m serious! No friends bother me with endless text messages. No mother calls with redundant questions about how the new dishwasher works. Perfection.”

Cindy sighed and went back to the kitchen.

Cindy didn’t understand. Rose would snuggle with her fiancee until the last possible minute when he left for work. Then, she was left to her own devices which meant, in simple terms, that she was free to write and read and be.

Cindy came back with another regular waitress in tow.

(Pat, the brain computer clicked.)

“This is an intervention,” Pat said. The rest of the diner stared. It was only two old ladies and some construction workers but Rose felt herself blush. “This is it, Rose! You need to stop coming here!”

“What?” Rose choked on her toast. “What are you guys talking about?”

“You! You’re a writer,” Cindy said. “You can’t come to the same diner every day and expect to write good things. You’ll write about the diner and nothing else!”

“That’s not true!” Rose lowered her voice. “Please. It’s the one place I can get away from it all.”

“It’s not,” Pat said. “It’s for your own good. We will ban you for a week. “

Cindy folded her arms. “The boys won’t let you in, they already know.”

Pat stepped closer. “You are going to write something new. And then you can come back.”

“This is ridiculous!” Rose said.

“This is tough love,” said Cindy.

They stuck to it. 8 am the next morning, Rose approached the door. But one of the kitchen boys was there.

“Sorry, Miss Rose, but orders from the boss. You can’t come in.”

“Lee is in on this too?” Rose threw her arms up in the air. “You know you’re the only diner in this area, right?”

“Too bad!” His jacket creaked as he tightened his crossed arms. “Find somewhere else.”

Left with no choice, she went to the Starbucks next door out of spite and glared at him the whole way down the sidewalk.

The Starbucks was stuffy and crowded and she balked at the state of the floor. She crammed herself between a businessman and a gaggle of preteens she was shocked to see awake.

“Don’t you have school?” She asked them.

“Holiday,” one of them quipped before going back to gushing over Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift or whatever it was those teens did.

She wrote nothing worthwhile that day.

Wednesday she tried again.

“Really,” a different kitchen boy said, “you’ve got to get the hint. No diner!”

She got a Wawa coffee and a wrapped sausage biscuit and sat by the lakeside.

A goose came up to her in a completely un-wild fashion and nipped at her jacket until she gave it a piece of her biscuit.

Then, honking, they all came, and thus ended the lakeside adventure. An old man sitting on a bench across the lake laughed her to her car.

Thursday she avoided the diner and went to the lake again, this time armed with an umbrella. It wasn’t raining, but she opened and closed the umbrella at the geese until they left her alone.

The man across the lake laughed and laughed. He was back again.

She wrote for a while and looked up when her hands started cramping. The man was still there.

Rose walked around the lake’s edge until she reached the bench. “Hello,” she said.

“Hello.” He smiled at her. “You seem to have made quite an impression on our geese.”

“Yes,” Rose laughed. “Your geese?”

“Well, the lake’s.” The man waved a hand over his shoulder. “That’s my house in the woods over there.”

She peered between the trees. “You mean that’s your house?” She had passed the green mansion many times and had always wondered who lived there.

“That’s the one.”

“You always light it up for Christmas time! I drive past the lake just to see it.”

“Oh, my sons did that.” He laughed. “But I’m afraid those days are coming to an end.”

“Why?”

“My wife passed away a few months ago. I’m afraid my sons aren’t speaking to me at the moment. Matter of the will.”

“I’m sorry.” Rose hated to see families torn apart. “Have you spoken with them?”

He shuffled his feet in the dirt. “Children need time to process things. They’ll come around.”

“You seem sure.”

He chuckled. “I’ve seen quite a bit of life. Things happen for a reason, and people do change. But families are like elastic. They have a way of snapping back. Just some of the facts of life.”

These words resonated so with Rose they sat in silence by the lakeside for a long time.

When she returned to her car, she began to write.

A week later, she passed the diner on the way to the bank.

Cindy poked her head out of the front door. “Hey! Rose! You can come back now!”

Rose smiled at her. “Sorry. I have a date at the lake.”

“But don’t you have a fiancée?”

“Not that sort of a date. A writing date.” Rose waved, and walked away from the diner.

~*~

As writers, we get so stuck on places sometimes that it kills our creativity.

I wish I had people like Cindy and Pat looking out for me like that. The green mansion on the lake is real, although the man is fiction. I still wonder who lives there.

The diner in question is loosely based on the best diner in Bucks County PA: Mil-Lee’s. If you visit, you must go. Delicious food. Maybe you’ll even see the lake on the way. :)

Thanks for reading, as always.

~jms

Past and Pending – Write at the Merge Challenge

Past and Pending

~*~

I took the river road until I reached the end

I wrote those words into my song “Lullaby”, but I had never actually taken River Road all the way up.  When Meagan called me looking for an adventure, I thought about the words again.

“Let’s go as far North as we can today,” I said.

“We could make Easton and back before sunset,” she said.

My best friend for about thirteen years, Meg was the one with wanderlust.  It was the bug she had given me: a virus I didn’t mind catching.  Now I had the desire to get out and leave, find new paths and journeys.  This was the gift of Meagan’s friendship.

“Okay.  Let’s go.”

The air was cold that day.  We were glad to be in a car as we drove past the Delaware river and half-frozen lakes.  There were waterfalls as we passed rocky hillsides.  Actual waterfalls.  I hadn’t seen the like since Colorado and stared out the window in awe.  It was truly magical.

We talked about travel, geography and the Jersey Devil while munching on sourdough pretzels.

“Sometimes,” she told me as she turned the wheel, “while driving through the Barrens, I used to look for the Devil.  Watching for shadows against the stars.  Because those are the woods where Legends could still be alive.”

This was our friendship.  Topics meandering and lovely all the while.  We were poets and writers and liked to lose ourselves in “lines dissecting love” and life and other things.

The Shins’ Past and Pending was on right after a John Doyle reel.  Eclectic music, but it fit our personalities.  I didn’t listen to the words, but the sound made me think of all our road trips together. And while we’ve never taken a really long one, they are all memorable.

Once, we ended up at Seaside Heights during a cold spell in March, walking down the deserted boardwalk.  You never know with us.

This trip, I got a sandwich from a supermarket deli, and the hunger trumped the odd taste of the food.  “You never know,” she said, eyeing my sandwich dubiously.  “These places the food could go either way.”

We were off again down the road, sometimes listening to music in silence, which we have always been wont to do.

I missed her when she was away at grad school.  She is like family to me, the big sister I’ve never had.

As icicles dripped off of cliffs of “hills-not-mountains” around us, I wished.

“I wish it could always be like this,” I whispered to myself.  I hope the years and miles never change our camaraderie.

We round a stone wall, laughing at a strange mural as we enter Easton and prepare to journey homeward.

the strange mural of Easton. Canal Poseidon? Triton? We could not figure it out.

the strange mural of Easton. Canal Poseidon? Triton? We could not figure it out.

Days like this precious moment of friendship are mile markers on the path of my memory.  And in the dark times, I travel them over and over again.

Days like this, past and pending, are all that matter.

~*~

Write on Edge has begun a new and fancy challenge.  This time, it was 500 words or less, the song Past and Pending by The Shins, and the word: “WISH”.  I immediately wanted to write for it.  It took me some time to be inspired because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to take the song at face value or not.

My final decision on it was what you just read. :)

Meagan is truly my best friend.  She has a wonderful poetry blog, which I encourage you to visit.

I’ve been driving myself nuts all morning trying to find the term one of the ancient writers used for the form of love – I want to say either Socrates or Plato spoke of this form of platonic/friendship love – between two members of the same sex and said it was completely different from the love shared between a man and a woman.

This love was not romantic or sexual, but it was the strongest form of love, that only true friends could share, and it was rare.  If anyone can remember the name of this, or what it’s called, I would appreciate you leaving a comment.  I Google searched and checked my college textbooks but had no luck finding the term!!

Anyway, the mysterious missing word for this love was going to be the title, but instead it became Past and Pending, haha

Thanks, as always, for reading.

jms

On the Edge – Scriptic Challenge

I am on the edge.

2012 is about thirty seconds from being over, and 2013 is coming at me fast.

I am standing on the back porch of my parent’s house, watching someone else’s firework.  Bright flashes of multicolored lights that I barely see as I dwell in my own head.

I am wondering: why do we sever ourselves from the past but then dwell on it?

Why can’t we forget?

Old ghosts seem to be coming back to haunt me tonight.

Someone starts singing Auld Lang Syne drunkenly across the street.

I haven’t taken my medication… I don’t know if that’s why I can’t stop obsessing, or if I’m just melancholy.

It’s not the way I want to start the new year.  I don’t want to be here.  I was supposed to be in downtown Philadelphia with some friends.  But a friend got sick and the party was cancelled too late to make other plans.  And now…

Now I watch the false golden starlight of fireworks under a cloudy sky.

Maybe that’s why this night has felt rough, my mind recalling new years from before and how shitty they seemed in hindsight.  The parts not with my friends.  The parts with other men, other places.  The years in school, miserable, feeling so alone.

God, I hated that feeling.  I shiver.

At least you’re not spending it over a toilet, I remind myself.  Those years are long gone.

My mother counts down out loud beside me.

The arms of my lover feel strong as they come around me.  He shelters me from the cold of the night.

“Why didn’t you wear your jacket outside?” he asks me as he nuzzles my hair.  “You don’t want to get sick again.”

I don’t want to get sick again, I think.  I want to be well.

So be well, I tell myself.  You idiot.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!” My mother screeches, dancing around on the balls of her feet.  She blows the noisemaker retrieved from storage.

His arms vanish as he dials his own mother, ever a sweetheart, ever thinking of others.

Well, I don’t need his arms to feel secure.

I’ll wrap myself up in the blanket of this night and remind myself that it’s a new year.

I take a deep breath and join my mom, whooping at my neighbors.

I’m tired of being on the edge of anger, of hate, of pain.  This guilty post-school graduation misery, feeling trapped and sad.

This year, it’s going to be different.

He rejoins me, giving me a passionate midnight-and-two-minute kiss.  Then he stands beside me, laughing at my mother’s antics as she dances in her slippers, in the snow.

The three of us welcome 2013 as illegal fireworks light the sky above us and I resolve to put the past where it belongs:

in the past.

Happy New Year.

~*~

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Michael gave me this prompt: I’m on the edge.

I gave David Wiley at http://scholarlyscribe.wordpress.com this prompt: A short drama set in a locale that is exotic to you.

I was experimenting with a new tense today, which I’m not sure I like, but I tried, anyway.

This New Year’s was not happy for me at first.  While the above account was a bit fictionalized, it was based on some reality.  I have been spending a while feeling melancholy and miserable.  I hated my college career so much (the experience, not the friends I made) that I sort of forgot the good things I learned from it.  It’s been two freakin’ years.  It’s time I get over it and move on.  I don’t know why my OCD decided to dwell on that the other night, but it did.  But a little before midnight, I sort of just stopped myself and gave into the celebratory spirit.

So I hope this year you all are happy.  I wish you the promise of love, the joy of the friends around you, and all the best things in the world.  Happy 2013, dear readers.

love,

jms

nate and i on new years

Nate and I on my actual New Year’s Eve.

Resolutions and a Write on Edge challenge to follow!

Soliloquy – Trifecta Anticipation

“Pass the salt,” you say

Head buried in a screen.

I obey, but feel somehow

Your work is but a door between.

Your dinner nearly done,

The dawning thought: I deemed

I’d seen this somewhere else before.

And then-

An Anticipation!

Of what our future might become.

The endless hours dragging on.

The night begun it seemed

Till fears had won.

And that is what’s in store.

Dour and sulking, I

Did ponder this soliloquy:

Do futures make themselves or are

they birthed on rocks of self-defeat?

“Enough,” I say, “I will not see

this history repeat.

So shut the screen and eat with me.

Let work be done now, dear and come!

Put away the Mac,

that horrid fiend,

that splits in two

all that we do

and turns my mood to darkest black.”

With that, my thoughts wipe clean.

You obey, but feel somehow

You’re not sure what you’ve seen

But wonder who’s at fault today.
~*~

I just went crazy with this. It’s sort of prose poetry in answer to Trifecta’s weekly challenge: the third definition of the word “anticipation.”

I am not sure what happened here, but I liked it. Done almost entirely as stream of consciousness with minor edits.

A soliloquy is a monologue in a show, spoken regardless of what else is going on around them. Or, a character speaking their thoughts. Which is pretty much what this is allllll about.

~jms

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Beautiful Chaos- Red Writing Hood The Gallery

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She had waited all day to get a chance to talk to her old college friend.

Her stockings were slipping in a most irritating way under her slacks by the afternoon. She shuffled at her guard post, trying to fix them without being too obvious.

“You dancing or what?” Charles popped through the doorway from his assigned room. He rubbed his smooth shaved head.

“I’m trying to fix my stockings!” Anita said. “And I need to show you something. Here.” She pulled out a pamphlet from her blazer pocket.

“What’s this?”

She shook the brochure until he took it. “This is the dilemma I’ve been telling you about.”

“This looks nice,” he said, flipping through the brochure. “Sprawling grounds and fountains. Two acre parkland. They take the residents for a stroll every day, weather permitting.” He handed it back to her. “Sounds great. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is, I don’t know if absolute chaos is a good enough reason to send my mama to a place like this!”

Charles gave a deep belly laugh. “Oh, your mama is going to love it there.”

“I just feel so bad, you know?” Anita leaned in. “I promised her I would always take care of her. But lately, it’s,” she sighed, leaning back on the wall, “really hard.”

“Has she been worse than when we talked last week?”

Anita frowned. “I’m worried about my grand babies. She’s started yelling at them because she don’t know who they are. They’re only two. They don’t understand. And I don’t know how much longer our electronics are going to hold out. She fried a third coffee machine yesterday.”

“Ouch.” Charles chuckled. “You do love your coffee.”

“But…” Anita folded the pamphlet up, holding it in her hands. “That’s not a good enough reason to do it. The biggest reason is, she keeps trying to drive somewhere. She don’t have a license anymore. Not after her last accident. But she always finds our keys and tries to drive. She’s not herself.”

“My father got the same way in the end, you know.” Charles stroked his chin. “Stopped eating because he didn’t know my wife and thought she’d come to poison him.”

“Mm. That’s awful.”

“He also took things apart. It was when he started trying to fix the gas stove we knew he had to go somewhere else. He was becoming a danger to himself and the rest of the house.”

Anita shook her head. “It’s so hard seeing parents go like that. They’re the ones taught us everything. Now we have to do our best to keep them happy and safe until they move on. I just don’t feel right taking her from the house…”

“But you know you done all you can for her. Don’t feel like you’re giving up. Everything’s gonna work out, you’ll see.” Charles smiled.

Anita shrugged and tucked the pamphlet away in her blazer as the sound of patrons in the next room over floated in.

“I’d like to think I’m a good daughter. And that I made my mama proud. She’s still my mother, no matter where she is.”

She eyed the Pollack on the wall next to them and shook her head. “Mama used to be an artist. But if she starts painting like that, I’m gonna be sure her mind is gone.”

“It’s not that bad,” Charles said.

Anita tilted her head to the side, giving him a look. “You joking?”

“It’s like life,” Charles explained. “Sometimes you have to find the beauty in the chaos.”

The patrons were entering the room behind. “Whoop, gotta get back to my post,” Charles said, slipping through the doorway. “See you around, Anita.”

“See you.”

Anita folded her arms behind her back and stared at the painting.

She found that this time she didn’t mind it so much. She liked the shade of brown Pollack used.

“Oh!” Anita clucked her tongue. “You just had to go and ruin it for me, didn’t you, Charlie?” she muttered.

She turned away from the beautiful chaos and stood tall.

The patrons came into the room.

~*~

I wrote this for Write on Edge’s weekly prompt, Red Writing Hood. This week’s was a 500 word limit, and the prompt was the picture on this page.

I am not a fan of Jackson Pollack, so Iatched onto the guards. It’s kind of a sin to say it because everyone I know likes Pollack’s work. But for me it is just chaos, so to try and appreciate it I have to really search for the beauty.

And I guess that’s what I wanted to do with this story, was force my character to see the beauty in her own chaos.

My grandfather has dementia and it only gets worse with age. Fortunately, if there can be a fortunately here, it seems to be a slow process.

But he no longer recalls much of his past. He’s a brave man, because though I am sure he doesn’t remember any of us grand kids, we call him Dziadzi (grandfather) to remind him who we are, and he always says: “oh how are you? Great to see you!” And though he weekly takes apart household objects and turns the heat all the way up, we still love him.

And he is in his 90s, still living at home with my grandmother, who is also in her 90s, and cares for him and my mentally handicapped aunt. Pretty neat. I hope the day never comes we have to put him in a nursing home, but if it does, I hope my family understands they aren’t failing him, that sometimes it is really for the best.

Love you all, thanks for all the support and follows lately.

A big yay to R.B. Wood for Episode 26 of the Word Count Podcast. If you guys trek over there you’ll find 5 wonderful stories by some great authors (including my good friend Eden Baylee,) and 1 song, (mine).

“Lullaby” is the name of my song and that version of the recording is completely exclusive to that ‘cast. Enjoy!

Cheers and hope your December is lovely for you thus far,

~jms

Goddess Crush – trifecta weekly

The city was hers.

Felicia wrapped her toga tighter around her thin frame and sneered down at her subjects.

She towered above them.

“You have turned from the old ways,” she boomed, her voice like thunder as it echoed. “Now, you shall pay!”

They screamed and ran. But they could not escape.

She pounded a car to scrap metal underfoot. She kicked over a building like it was nothing. If there were still people inside, all the better. She ground her heels on the frame.

To crush a tall building into powder… That was power.

The heathens would all suffer. They had forgotten their goddess. Today they could share in her pain.

A man tripped nearby. She smiled as she stomped towards him.

It was Tony. That no good, lying son-of-a-bitch.

He pleaded in a tinny voice. She couldn’t even hear him.

“Oh,” she mocked him, “you should’ve asked for forgiveness a long time ago.”

She bent over until she could make eye contact. “But it’s too late now!”

He ran. She straightened up. She raised her foot high–

“Cut! That’s a wrap, people!”

Felicia stepped away from the tiny plastic figurines and sighed.

“Coffee?” She asked an assistant. He ran to get it for her.

His smile was sweet when he handed it over.

Huh. He seems nice, she thought.

The director ran towards her.

“Felicia, honey, that was so inspired! Where do you get that passion from? I really believed you were a vicious killer out for revenge!”

He folded his arms, knocking the plastic nametag that read: Tony.

She gave him her sexiest smile over the rim of her plastic cup. “Oh, you know. Around.”

~*~

Trifecta’s prompt for this week was “crush”. As in grind into powder.

I had a blast with this one. I think we have all wished at some point we could get revenge on someone…

Felicia’s is, well, it’s certainly special.

Hope you enjoyed!

~jms

Studio Time (Scriptic and Velvet Verbosity)

prompt: “My philosophy is that if you don’t feel like what you’re creating is the best work you’ve ever done, it’s time to throw in the towel.” -Bernie Taupin

~*~

I was on the tenth rewrite of the song.

(Counting the lyric change in the first week.)

Whatever. I was jacked up on lattes and pressing the keys too fast.

Latte #3.

“We rolling?” I asked the engineer I couldn’t see.

“Yeah, start whenever.” My headset crackled.

The song still wasn’t right.

But I was tired and the album was already overdue.

I recalled Nate’s advice: “Hey, perfectionist, remember? Sometimes you have to let go or it will never be done.”

I could do this.

“Take six.”

I’d be damned if I drank another latte.

~*~

I’m working on storytelling through brevity.

Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word prompt for this week was: “whatever”. Love that site.

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Michael at http://michaelwebb.us gave me this prompt: “My philosophy is that if you don’t feel like what you’re creating is the best work you’ve ever done, it’s time to throw in the towel.” -Bernie Taupin

I gave SAM at http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com this prompt: “He laughed at the sign. Was it his answer? Or was it just another chapter in the endless story of his bad luck?” Use the words or don’t, but take the theme in 1500 or less.

~**~

Any artist worth their salt is a perfectionist, and they will never be happy with their work.

It will never be “the best you’ve ever done”, although often it is better than the last thing we wrote because we learn with time and grow.

But the phrasing irked me!! It took me forever to come up with my response just because I disagreed with it to the core of my being.

Then I thought about it:

I never give up. I don’t think any of you should either. Sure, try to be the best you can be but also, give yourself a break and know it’s good enough, sometimes. But just because you have one day of bad art, you should throw in the towel?

I hope not!!!

But sometimes we do need to back away from the microphone or put down the pen and take a breather. Thins happen better when we aren’t freaking out over it.

I hope that’s what Mr. Taupin meant! Although I don’t think so.

What do you guys think?

Stay tuned for podcast updates.

-jms

P.S. Going into the studio again next week for one of my singles! Very excited about this one. May have dub step, but it may also just be electro club. We will see.

It’s a one-of-a-kind track on my album. Doing it just because I love listening to electro and figured hey, why not write one of my own?? (It feels so badass to drive to dub…)

P.P.S. I love you guys! Thanks for all the support, subscriptions and follows lately!

Experienced – 100 word song challenge

The wood shone like water as the stage lights came up. She walked out. Realism was a fiction – all that mattered was her cool indifference and the Valium that allowed her to sing.

Her manager had warned her no one listened to classical music.

“If you bring that cello onstage again, you’re gonna lose ‘em!”

Screw the system. It was like the goddamn conservatory all over again.

They didn’t know her.

Her fans knew her.

“Tonight, you get a peek into my past,” she whispered into the mic.

They screamed for her.

She smiled. She played.

It was love.

~*~*~*~
Witten for Lance’s 100 word song challenge this week, based on Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?”

I consider this slightly autobiographical only because I face opposition from all sides in regard to my music. The record people tell me I need to make it more mainstream.

The conservatory people will deny I was ever serious about my classical art, because I do rock and pop. They told me I should write for Broadway, because in music terms that means they didn’t think I was capable of composing “real” music.

I don’t expose a lot of skin. I’m sexy in my own way. I don’t sound like Katy Perry and I’m not on drugs to get by (unlike my heroine above.)

But that doesn’t matter to me, because I do what I love and even if I NEVER get famous for my music, it’s okay. My fans love me.

I don’t need a panel of judges or a high powered executive to tell me I’ve got talent. Most of fame has nothing to do with talent.

Except for a prized few, days gone by, being themselves on the stage and shining bright as a star while setting fire to their guitars…

Are you experienced? Have you been experienced?……

~jms

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Dana and David- Trifecta Week Forty-Two

A child’s purest love. That’s what she always had for him, and he for her.

Sometimes she felt like it was written on her. A note graffitied on a swing set by a school crush that everyone could see.

David and Dana went everywhere together. Did everything. Some would say they were so close they were connected at the shadows.

“I’m seven,” David told her at his twenty-fifth birthday party. He smiled over her homemade cake. “Admit it, I’m just a kid trapped in a grown-up’s body.”

He was. They blew out the candles together. She threw icing in his face. He bolted, upending the cake, and she chased him. They sprinted through the forest leaves.

It wasn’t long before she tripped over a tree root. He picked her up, laughing.

Their faces were close enough to kiss, and she leaned in.

“Dana!”

It was her.

David tried to run away and Dana held onto his arm.

“Please, stay! She won’t find us this time,” she told him.

That smile, so mischievous and loving. “Sorry, gotta go!” He vanished through the trees.

“Dana!” Her mother came into the clearing. She had one hand on her hip, and shook the pill bottle in the other. “Honey, you have got to remember to take these. You know what happens when you forget.”

Dana stared at the last place David had stood. At the splattered cake on the ground.

“Dana, was there someone out here with you?”

She bit her trembling lip.

“Answer me!”

“No,” Dana whispered.

She loved him with a child’s purest love.

She cried a child’s tears as she wished so very badly he was still with her.

“No one.”

~*~

Is he a ghost? Is she crazy? Is he just in her head? Or is he something else, something real and unseen by her mother?

That, dear reader, is for you to decide!

I wrote this in answer to Trifecta’s weekly challenge. The prompt was three pictures. I hope you like it. :)

-JMS