Archive for February, 2012

Closed Doors

Monday, February 27th, 2012

There was an obnoxious hum from her bedside table: her phone was buzzing her awake.  And she was having such a good dream.  She snatched the phone and slid the tab to answer the call.  “Hello?”  She mumbled sleepily.

“Karen, we need you to come it right away.”

She knew better than to ask why; it didn’t matter.  She would go in either way, just as she always did.  “I’ll be right in.”  Without trying to shake the bed, she swung her legs onto the floor and rubbed her eyes.  Her scrubs were on the chair next to the bathroom door; they hadn’t even been washed from the day before.  She glanced at the clock before she got out of bed: 1:30 AM.  After she had washed up in the bathroom and changed into her work clothes, she tiptoed out of the room, leaving her husband still sleeping undisturbed.

Arriving at the hospital, Karen grabbed a quick glass of water in the lounge and then went to report her arrival.

“So glad you’re here, both Cindy and Maggie called off tonight.  There’s a rape and stabbing victim in room 16, I think at this point she just needs someone there with her, but you should check her stats anyhow.”

Karen nodded to the head nurse behind the counter and went down the hall to room 16.  Before she opened the door, she had to take a deep breath and prepare herself.  She had worked this same floor for fourteen years, but rape victims were still the hardest to see.  After a moment, she twisted the knob and entered the room, closing the door behind her.

The patient before her had bandages covering both her arms, her forehead, one eye and her left foot, which was elevated half a foot from the mattress.   Her cheeks were swollen and the exposed parts of her face were a deep blue and yellowing green.  Karen tried to take in air as she took in the sight, but it was impossible.  She closed her eyes to try and steady her heartrate and breathing.  There was a soft moan from the bed, so Karen moved over to the girl’s side, ignoring her chart.

“I-I tr-” The girl tried to speak, but her voice cracked and her body heaved.

“It’s ok.  You’re in the hospital now, and we’re going to make everything better.  You don’t have to speak.” Karen spoke softly, trying to soothe the poor girl with her voice, but it didnt seem to work.  Her body heaved again

“I-I tried to- I screamed,” she coughed out.  It sounded like a frog’s croak.

“Shh, shh, it’s ok, hon.  You’ll be just fine.”  But Karen knew better, already she could tell these were her last moments.  Both arms were bleeding through their bandages, and her one exposed eye hadn’t even fluttered yet.  Her body was too worn out to fight any longer.  Her heartrate was slowing and her blood pressure was too low for her to even be alive at this point.  She took in a huge breath of air, and Karen look from the screen to the girl. Her back was arched and from her bandaged body came a shrill shriek.  She screamed and thrashed and flung her head back and forth.  Karen jumped to her feet and held down the girl’s arms, but she was flailing too violently to hold down, so she stepped back.  This was it.  The door slammed open and Nurse Farrah ran in.

“Karen!”  She cried desperately, but Karen only shook her head.  The shrieking stopped, her body lay motionless, blood still leaking from her bandages.  Just as a wave’s power swells, it crashes and spreads and leaves nothing on the sand.  Karen looked over at Farrah, who had moved to pull the sheet over the girl’s face.

“She was screaming for two hours before the police finally found her, thrown into a pile of trash, barely breathing.  She was raped, then left for dead.  Apparantly the sick bastard came back later and stabbed her nineteen times.  She was screaming the entire time.  It was on 5th Street, Karen, Fifth Street.  Between the two hours she was raped and stabbed, they think about forty people could hear her,” Farrah’s voice broke.  “But they did nothing.”


Prompt: The phone rings and rings and rings in the middle of the night.  It keeps ringing after the machine picks up.  Finally you answer it—groggy, irritated, and befuddled.  It’s the call we all dread and yet know will come more than once in our lives … Someone is at the hospital, and will not last until morning.  He or she dresses furiously, jumps in his or her car, get to the hospital, cursing at the slowness of traffic, and the stupidity of parking attendants, and arrive at the person’s bedside.  What happens next?  Describe the scene, be detailed.The person has to die and the narrator has to be a witness.  There can be no miracles.You do not have to use this prompt.  First or third person


Monday, February 20th, 2012

Just five minutes in and the water is already cold.  His water bill is over a hundred dollars and yet whenever he needs to shower there is never any hot water.  He hears the soft sound of “Rock-a-Bye-Baby” coming from the other side of the bathroom door; Molly must be putting Max down for his nap.  Rinsing the last bit of soap from his hair he sighs.  And then he hears a loud ring echoing from the living room. Without turning off the water he leaps from the shower, still dripping wet, throws an old bathrobe over his body and bolts down the stairs.  He leaves a slick trail behind him and in  his haste he slips on wooden train poised on its track and tumbles into the living room.  “Shit!” His robe has come undone and fallen on the floor but he snatches up the receiver on the fourth ring, just before the machine gets it.

“Can I fucking help you?” He bellows into the phone, the rage spilling out of him like vomit.

A meek voice answers hesitantly, “M-Mr. Charles?” It sounds like a mouse hidden in dust.

“My son is trying to sleep!  Don’t you people have any fucking decency?”  His face is now red as he stands dripping cold water onto the carpet.

The line is silent for a moment and he can hear his own frantic breathing through the receiver. “I-I was just calling to inform you that y-your son Davis did not sh-show up for school.”

“I’ll handle it!” He growls and slams the phone down.  He hears a soft whimper behind him and turns around.  Molly is standing silently, a look of stark surprise on her face.  Max is on her hip and has buried his face into her chest.  She stares at him, this wet, rabid creature glowing in agitation completely naked, and finds herself speechless.  Turning away, she walks back up the stairs to try and soothe Max, still not knowing how to react.  He opens his mouth as if to call her back, but he too is speechless.  He only pulls his robe back on and sits on the couch, sinking his head into his hands in shame.

He had told her last week that it was through; no more lashes, no more screaming.  He would get his anger under control, he wanted to be the best father he could for his four sons.  Empty promises now.  His eyes are still red, but not in anger anymore.  He had promised he would seek help, and yet he hadn’t.  The water upstairs turns off and the house seems unbearably quiet.  All he can hear is his own self-defeat.

Then he hears Molly’s voice, smooth and unwavering, like his mother’s used to be when she calmed him.  Soft notes drift down the stairs and he recognizes the melody.  Hot tears find their way down his face and with them fall all his rage.  Molly can always bring him to his knees.  The lulling song continues and draws him from the couch.  He moves like a ghost up the stairs and into the bedroom.   Molly is standing before the crib, her song gently rocking Max to sleep.  He touches her shoulder and pulls himself tightly around her.  He will be better because she deserves it.


Prompt: A man is in the shower.  The phone rings.  Rather than letting the machine pick up, he jumps out, snatches his dark blue bathrobe from the hook on the bathroom door, and races downstairs, dripping.  He trips on a child’s toy, and curses, wishing he had put a phone in the bedroom. What was he thinking?  He picks up the receiver in the middle of the fourth ring—the last one before the machine was to pick up.  The voice on the phone says . . . 

The Best Guy

Monday, February 13th, 2012

There was something about the way he hugged his daughter every morning that let Samantha know he was the best guy she had ever met.  She was probably the luckiest woman in all of the Metro area.  She held the morning good-bye kiss a little longer than usual and then waited on the porch as he drove away.  It was terrible to see him go, and Fridays were the worst because she had to wait until Sunday nigh to see him again.  Knowing she shouldn’t dwell in her selfishness, she turned back to the house to get her five-year-old ready for school.  Then her own day would begin.

Around noon Samantha found her mind drifting back six years ago when she first met Dean.  It was at a bar, even though in college she had sworn off all men in bars.  But six years ago she had just turned thirty and had officially given up hope of ever meeting the right guy or getting married.  Alone, she was drinking away her sorrowful thoughts and settling into the idea of being single for the rest of her life.  On her third drink, Dean sat next to her, but she was too engrossed in her own misery to notice him.

Three drinks later he had spilled his whole life story with her.  He was two weeks fresh from a divorce that left him with a summer home in Newport News, supervised weekend visits with his two boys and a bitter, broken heart.  She saw in him the same hopeless cynicism and took him home not two hours after he had sat down next to her.  It was a night of teenage recklessness, but she loved it and it was just what she needed.  The next morning as he left her apartment, she figured she’d never see him again, but they went out ever week for the next six months.

They were married the following June in a modest backyard ceremony just two months after she found out she was pregnant with Carmen.  It was a fast engagement, but now they were settled and couldn’t be happier.  Dean was the best thing that had happened to her.  He was an amazing father and she couldn’t imagine how his ex-wife could leave him out of his sons’ lives so much.  Every Friday evening, Dean had to drive an hour and a half to her house and was forced to stay in her basement just so he could see the kids because she wouldn’t allow him to take the children for a weekend.  His ex-wife was such a wolf with her children, snipping at anyone who tried to come near them.  Samantha felt awful for Dean, who couldn’t truly spend time with his boys and even worse that she could never be a part of their lives either.  Plus the fact that Dean had to stay overnight with that maniac of a woman made her heart yearn for him.  But he was too good of a father to just abandon his boys.  So he made the trip without fail every weekend.  He was such an blessing, so honorable.

Veronica dropped her keys on the foyer table and yelled out to her boys, “Guys! I’m home!”  She heard a racket from the kitchen and then two bobbing heads bolted from the doorway and into her arms.

“Hi mommy!” They cried, giving her kisses everywhere.

“Oh I missed you two so much! Where’s daddy?”

They grabbed her hands and pulled her into the kitchen where she saw Dean in the midst of a huge mess, but with a perfectly set table with a roast and all the side dressings.  Her face broke into a huge smile and she admired the effort her boys had put into a nice dinner for the whole family.

“Come here, gorgeous, you did such a good job.”  Dean came over and wrapped his arm around her waist, puller her close and gave her a deep, open kiss that made her drop her purse on the floor.  “God I missed you.  I wish you didn’t have to spend your whole week with that disgusting excuse for a woman.  You should be here with us, with your sons, with me.”

He pulled back a little and then kissed her on both cheeks.  “You know I want to be, I love it here, and I love you three with all my heart, but I can’t leave Samantha, we’d never survive without her money.  I have to do what’s best for everyone.  And I could never leave Carmen.  What kind of father would that make me?”

Veronica smiled and she knew, he was such a good guy.  He went and swooped up his two sons with one big grasp and kissed them both.  There was something about the way he hugged his sons every night that let Veronica know he was the best guy she had ever met.
Prompt: There was something about the way he… 

Twenty Two

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Silence.  Amber didn’t even know silence could be this awkward.  God, she just had to get on the elevator didn’t she.  Her mother was always telling her to take the stairs, but she didn’t listen.  If only she had, just this one time.

“I think you dropped something.”

“What?”  She didn’t look over, only tilted her head slightly to direct her ear closer toward him.

“My jaw.”

Amber choked back a mortified laugh.  Did she imagine those words?  Something like that would be heard in a movie as a joke it was so pathetically cheesy.  Five years and that was what he came up with.  A pang of sorrow clamped down on her chest, poor Abby.  She felt even worse for her now, having to go through all this and be flattered by it.  Now it makes sense howshe often wondered why she is friends with Abby at all.  At this point it must be pity and the sense of duty Amber was raised with.

She could feel him staring at the side of her head, but she didn’t twist enough to catch him with her peripheral vision.  The man would probably hit on a cactus.  Moving her bag higher on her shoulder she shifted her weight from one leg to the other.  An irritating tingle had begun to spread along the leg she had just relieved.

“The only thing I’ve dropped is my taste for men wearing Express.”

Was the elevator even moving?  She couldn’t remember a time twenty-two stories had taken this long to pass.  That was the last thing she needed, to be stuck in a stifling metal box with Cory Withers.  Again, she felt sorry for Abby.  Why had she put herself in the position to be alone with this absolute parody of a man.

“Clearly your taste in men was never strong to begin with.”

She could hear the fabric of his cheap pants shift as he changed his footing.  Imagining him shoving his hands in his pockets and slumping his shoulders like he was Joseph Smith among apostles made her want to vomit all over the elevator.  But then it would be unbearably rank, even more than it was now.  The elevator was most certainly not moving.

“I must beg your pardon, but the taste I question is not my own, but Abby’s.  My grief for her increases with every second I’m imprisoned in these walls.  Now I wouldn’t go so far as to assume you had anything to do with the elevator malfunction, but I feel the need to remind you that there are camera’s mounted in each elevator, so I wouldn’t try anything.”

“Don’t kid yourself, I would rather be seen giving hickeys to a chimpanzee than come anywhere near you.  And Abby is a common LA street whore who I pulled from South Street when she had track marks running down her arms and a pimp trailing her every move.  She’s about as credible as a sewer rat and smells like one too.”

“Hardly the words of a gentleman, Cory.”

The doors suddenly opened, though Amber had no idea to which floor.  Cory escaped quickly and disappeared down the corridor.  Amber flipped open her cell and dialed Abby’s number.  They would need mojitos after that.


Prompt: Trapped in an elevator, alone, with a person you would walk across the street to avoid.  Write a narrative dialogue

Just Another Night

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

The flesh on her arms broke out in goosebumps.  She dragged her sweater tighter around her shoulders and picked up the tray.  The drinks swayed slightly, but didn’t tip over.  That would have been more than she could handle right now.  Looking down at the veins of her hand that steadied the tray made her sigh with defeat.  They stuck out like mole tunnels from skin that more and more began to resemble soiled lace folding in on itself.

“What will you be having tonight?”  It was almost like a wolverine was scratching at her throat; she hoped the people sitting before her didn’t notice.  But then again, what did it matter, they would be gone soon anyhow.  Her pen hesitated on the pad as the young couple gave their order.  She wasn’t sure if he asked for fish and chips or the fish sandwich. She couldn’t remember when all foods started to the sound the same.  In times like these it was best to repeat the order back to them.

“Stella!”  She heard her name echo from the kitchen: her food must be ready.  With a loose smile she left the table, went to the back and checked the food.  It was all there, so she stabbed the ticket and brought the plates to 41 where a pleasant, plump woman sat with her two obnoxious sons.  She let the dishes fall a little too harshly against the table and the two boys jumped and looked up at her with wide eyes.

“Anything else I can get for you?”  At least they weren’t needy, just hungry little vermin.  She retreated to the back where she might hopefully rest her feet for a few minutes before she was seated again.  Luckily the rush had slowed down so she might be able to catch her breath.  With the thought of a break, her legs naturally quickened their pace, but before she reached the back, the teeny girl who worked the front caught her arm.

“Hey Stella, you’ve got three at 32.”  How was it that she was so perky all the time?  Stella wondered whether she had been as irrationally happy when she was that age.  So much for that break, it was a nice thought though.  She hobbled back to the middle of the floor, her feet protesting with each step.  At least there were not children at this table.

“What will you be having tonight?”  Again, she forgot to say her name, or even hello.  Not that it mattered, George wasn’t here and these people didn’t seem to care any more than she did.  She took down the order, taking more care this time to hear what they ordered and write it correctly.  She passed the first table on her way back to the kitchen, their drinks were running low and they stared as she walked by.  There was no food up in the window and only a few tickets waiting to be prepared.  Had she put in their order?  She checked the computer.  Hopefully they won’t notice.  She put the order in quickly hollering to the cooks to start on that one first.  Then she put in the most recent table’s order and rested against the cool metal table.  The pace was so fast here and yet time seemed to drag on endlessly.  A monstrous, acrid smell wafted from the depths of the kitchen.  They must be cleaning the fryers or maybe they burnt something, something disgusting to begin with.  She would carry the stench with her long after she took off her uniform.

All she wanted was to get her side work done and get home, but her feet refused to move.  Glancing over at her section, she noticed both her tables had full drinks.  Someone must have…

“I got ya,” he patted her on the back with a big smile.  He was such a nice boy, always helping.  He worked circles around anyone else here, and she was grateful he was working tonight.  She moved over to the salad station to begin cutting lemons, feeling relieved she had someone looking out for her, and a calm settled down as she remember the night would soon be over.


Prompt: Write a short character sketch (it may be from life), focusing on how your character makes a living. Put your character in a working situation and let us know by a combination of direct and indirect methods what that work is, how well he or she does it, what it looks like, smells like, and how the character feels about it.