Flash: Waves Against the Pier

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following post was written June 5, 2013.

ConCarolinas 2013 – On Sunday I attended a writer’s workshop. The panelists were:

Moderator – Joe Naff (http://www.moonwingmedia.com/) – Writes fantasy and supernatural thriller with strong female lead characters. (Eternal Forest; The Chronicles of Shyra (Series); The Gospel of the Font)

Panelist – Catherine McLean (http://www.catherineemclean.com/) – Write space opera. (Karma and Mayhem; Jewels of the Sky)

Panelist – Winfield Strock III (http://adventures-above-the-aether.blogspot.com/) – Writes steampunk. (Adventures Above the Aether, Aether Legion)

With this eclectic group of speculative fiction authors overseeing the workshop, we were instructed to write “A scene where the scene expresses the emotion of what is happening.” for fifteen minutes. Okay, I can do that. Below is what was written word for word; no time for editing.

***

Waves crashed around the pier, throwing a fog of salt water around Clyde. Angry tears trickled down his face, leaving tracks in the sea-mist sweat. Life wasn’t fair, he thought.

A scream escaped his wounded heart and was torn away by the unforgiving wind. Soon he would need to leave. The blood-red sunset promised a storm, no matter what the weatherman had said. He looked forward to spending the night in the creaky beachcomber shack he rented, fighting leaks and rattling panes.

She shouldn’t have left him. He had done everything right. From the first spell of summon to the last spell of binding, his high school sweetheart should have stayed with him until death parted them.

What had gone wrong?

An incoming wave driven by tide and storm pushed him back a step. His sopping jeans cling to his skinning legs like lichen. His bare feet slipped a bit on the slimy mold.

He couldn’t even summon her back. The last binding spell made her immune to hearing siren energy. She should have held steady.

(Words 176)

 

We did a round robin with the participants reading their pieces and giving feedback. Then we got the kicker for the second hour of the workshop. Write the same scene but with an opposite or strongly different emotion. Characters may be changed, but the location/scene needed to remain the same. Oh, boy. … I think I can do that. …. Ummm, okay …

***

Waves dashed in ahead of the storm, hurtling towards safety in the sand. Clyde remained on the mossy pier, digging his bare feet through the slimy green coating for firmer footing. He waited impatiently through the ruby sunset for full dark. The storm promised big ones to curl, dare and ride. Wind ripped at his pony-tail, lashing at his back and check.

Should he do this without backup? His partner had left him, refusing to even set foot in the rickety shack they rented each year, after they fought all the way from the city. Hell, Clyde didn’t even know how he was going to get back after the weekend. His high school buddy had left in a spray of sand and gravel.

An incoming wave rushed the aging pier, diving him back a step with its force. His wetsuit prevented him from felling the icy touch, but salt clung to his lips, wetting his appetite for adventure.

Soon, soon. The midnight ride through white crests and driving water would be his world. Centering him as nothing else did. Only in the blue, with water under and over him, when Neptune tried to bury him and he could laugh at the gods did he feel alive.

Unable to wait longer, he checked the tie on his ankle. He picked up the board and ran screaming off the end of the pier and started paddling into the failing light.

(words 238)

 

I really like the parallel I was able to pull. The screaming by the main character and the loss of a special friend. The timing of the second wave pushing him back. The mold/slime on the ancient pier and the existence of the shack to live in. The exercise was fun, and also showed I really need to work on adding more description to my writing. Flash needs most of it stripped, and my long-form writing has suffered because of my concentration on flash writing. I am really glad I attended the workshop.

(post initially published 6/5/2013; republished in new blog format on 7/2/2017)

Flash: I am Not the Crazy One

Image acquired from the Internet Hive Mind

Many people complain about morning people – us “perky” people who get up during daylight hours and function like it’s something humans have been made to do through hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Truly the weird people are the night ones.

True life story:

*ring, ring*

“hhhello?” I ask, my throat scratchy.

“Let’s go to the Beach,” the perky person on the other end states.

“Beach?” not really understanding the word. I peer at the glowing red numbers on my nightstand, squinting. “It’s 11:45 … at night.”

“Yes, we can get there in an hour. No traffic. It will be great – the boardwalk is open, lots to do.”

…. Real conversation … what I remember of it.

And I did go to the beach that night. When the dawn came in, I woke up enough to drive us home. *stupid night owl friends* – love you guys, but sometimes it is really, really hard.

(words 157, first published 6/25/2017)

Flash: Political Suicide

Corridor stock art

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The staffer ran after the Republican state senator as she approached the legislature floor still arguing his case in urgent whispered tones. “Please don’t do this ma’am, it’s political suicide.”

“Brett, shhh.” Grabbing his arm, Senator Evans stepped into one of the many side room surrounding the main floor and pulled her chief of staff after her, a man who represented her entire staff located in the capital office. She had two other loyal people operating out of her offices in the county seat and the largest city within her district.

Brett, Margaret, and Corrine had been with her since she first ran for office after her husband died. Twenty-one years later they still were with her; their careers and hers were indistinguishable. What she was about to do might mean they were all unemployed in three years. She hoped the window was enough to prove her right, but some members of the party would never forgive her for crossing the line. It was practically guaranteed someone would run against her in the primary if she did move forward with presenting the bill; just how big a someone and how much they are supported by “grass-roots” and backed by money would depend on how angry the state party was.

“We’ve been over this.” Rebecca hissed quietly adjusting her briefcase strap.

Brett raked his hand through his thinning blonde hair. “We talked about it Friday in general terms, but now you are going full steam with it.”

“I talked to a lot of people this weekend Brett, when I went home.” Rebecca gripped Brett’s shoulders. “It needs to be done.”

“Were the constituents for or against it?” Brett asked, knowing Rebecca didn’t always talk to the same people he did.

Rebecca shook her head then met his eyes. “I didn’t talk to any of the constituents, per say. I did my research. It’s what people pay their representative to do; research things they don’t have time to investigate.”

He deflated and dropped his eyes, knowing nothing would change her mind. “We need to explain to people, get the word out, before you support the bill with Senator Wilson.”

“It’s more important to stand united with the world now than to wait for the news to trickle to our people.”

“Even if it means going against the stated policy of our President?” Brett lifted his eyes a moment, bringing the Big Elephant into the room.

“Yes, yes it does,” she dropped her hands.

Brett repeated, “It’s political suicide.”

The senator gave a half-smile. “Good thing I am not a politician then.”

Brett blinked. “Ma’am, you’ve been in politics for over two decades.”

“Let me let you in on a secret, Brett.” Rebecca leaned forward for a moment. “I may be in politics, but I am not a politician.”

Brett ran his hand through his hair again. He had been an intern helping with her first campaign, just a freshman in college trying to grab some extra credit working for an old lady of twenty-five burning for justice after her husband died in combat. He had watched her raise three children alone while serving in the State Senate. He supported her, fought with her, cried with her; he knew her. He waited for the other shoe to drop.

“You see a politician worries about his job first, being elected the next time and the time after that. To me politics is only a tool.” She shrugged. “If I lose the tool, I will be disappointed, because I can do a lot with the tool but in the end what is being built with the tool is more important than the tool itself. This …” she patted her briefcase “… needs to be built.”

She continued, “What is the point of all this if I am too scared to act?”

The man nodded his capitulation. This is why he had followed her for twenty years instead of breaking off for his own political career. He watched her rush out of the room because of the delay he caused, hurrying to make the session before it started.

He followed a statesman, not a politician, and that terrified him as much as made him proud.

(words 699, first published 6/18/2017)

Blog: Made Me Look

I have several vloggers I follow on youtube – Acapella Science (the science singer), Action Movie Kid (family fun and special effects), Jill Bearup (on writing and fandom with her lovely accent), and, most recently, the Pop Culture Detective. His posting for today was especially insidious. (Fair Warning – Watching today’s episode, linked below, may wreck some of your favorite movies. It did not for me, since I had long ago realized these issues. I never saw the Bladerunner scene for anything other than what is described in the video; I saw it as an college-age female after … well, we don’t discuss such things in mixed companies, it might hurt our male friends to know. They’re fragile.)

You know, never mind. I watched Bladerunner after I had two experiences of being thrown against a wall by a male – once in college from a guy I had been friends with for over a year and once by a random guy in high school. The high school guy put his hands either side of me against the wall to hem me in and waited for a reaction. My friend, FRIEND, tried to strangle me because he was angry – I had been ragging him about school as teenagers are wont to do for a while and he exploded. Guys are stronger. The friend was actually shorter and younger than me, and I couldn’t break his grip. To this day, I still can’t have a massage on both sides of my neck at the same time. In any situation where a woman is alone with a man she is offering a trust beyond anything a person used to being in a position of strength can ever understand.

And, here is the truly crazy part, I blame myself for the friend one. I had been the one teasing him and I “should have known better”. Why?

Because our culture says it is the female’s job to avoid getting herself hurt. I won’t walk out a door unless my keys are in my hands so I can get either in the house quickly or in the car, and they, as I have been taught, double as a weapon. A piss-poor weapon because we are to throw them at the bad guy’s face, and then how are we to get away? I won’t go on about the rape culture; if you are on social media, you are aware of the issues. Thanks to social media, it’s an open secret.

Anyway, like I said, the vlog didn’t show me anything new. What it did make me do is look at my writings. I love romance and I love sci-fi. Both of these formats heavily lean on the predator-prey dynamic of the “woman doth protest too much”. Have I done this unconsciously, just like I absorbed it was me who is to blame about the friend getting angry? I had to look.

It’s so easy to fall into the classic “woman saying no but meaning yes”. I have consciously tried to avoid such scenarios. Just like avoiding my pet peeve of the couple not saying they love each other, or making assumptions without talking to each other, just so the author can keep them apart as a tension device. I endeavor to make my characters be mature adults. Even Dewayne in Honestly didn’t strike out physically, but left when asked to (and if I ever write the next story of that family unit, we will even see him mature a little, not a lot, but some). One of my readers mentioned expecting to see a physical altercation between Dewayne and Troy, and even during my initial writing I was thinking I needed to do that to prove Troy was the Alpha Male so often seen in romances. But as I wrote the story, the characters revealed themselves to be beyond the caveman-must-pound-chests … not by much admittedly with the screaming matches Kassandra and Dewayne regularly participate in, but they were real people.

So I reviewed my novella. In each scene Troy and Cassandra asked permission before closing, before touching. They respected boundaries and did nothing to weaken each other, such as playing games with the prosthesis. Each exchange was as honest and complete as they emotionally could handle at the time. (wipe sweat from brow) I had done what I had set out to do, write an erotica where both people were sexual, healthy beings.

Now the rest of my writings. Looking over the blog, the closest one is The Bleue Toscano Eggs of Power. In this one I was trying for the predator-prey vibe, since the couple about to become sexual were both super-power villains. But I also wanted it to show each was giving the other permission to move forward. They circled, touched, backed off, and bartered. Even with two forces of evil(ish), I managed to avoid coercion through mundane or magical literary devices. Meaning it can be done. American culture has it so women cannot wholeheartedly act sexually and this is unhealthy. It’s one of the reasons why I find erotica so freeing when done right.

We need to do it “right” more often, allowing the free and open “Yes” of women and men. Allowing tender touches and secret smiles, the sizzles and spanks. The only way to do that is “normalize” healthy behavior and phase out the unhealthy.

I promise to continue to write about Alpha Males who stand equal to their Alpha Females, if you promise to continue to tell me and other writers this is what you want to see.

 

Flash: Half-Hungry

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gwyn came out of the apartment bathroom to find Jeremy asleep on the couch. She smiled. The guy was just so sweet and nice; she couldn’t believe he had faced Anthony down when they went to get her things. Nearly broke her ex-boyfriend’s arm when he took a swing at Jeremy. When did he get so strong?

The last two days have been a whirlwind since she cried on his shoulder.  Getting her stuff, replacing all the things Anthony had destroyed, and the thousand and one things involved in changing her address. And Jeremy had been beside her through it all, while checking in with his business and covering any hours he couldn’t get employees to come in to help.

He was and always had been the one stroke of luck in her life.

She should let him sleep.

She tiptoed past the couch to get to the second bedroom in the apartment.  The living jungle. Jeremy had moved many of the plants into his room, kitchen, and balcony, plus a Prius car-load out to the nursery in his florist shop to make room for his guest cot and her new clothes, but the amount of green was still overwhelming.

A hand grabbed her leg below her short nightdress, while a sleepy tenor asked, “Where are you going?”

Trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore the shivers caused by Jeremy’s thumb caressing her knee, Gwyn whispered, “Off to bed. It’s nearly midnight.”

One black eye opened blearily. “Dinner … you need to eat something.”

“I’m good.” Gwyn’s stomach made a noisy denial of her statement. She had skipped dinner the night before, and every meal but lunch today – which Jeremy had made her eat between getting new bras and changing her driver’s license.

His other eye opened and his black eyes stared her down, while his lips twitched. Suddenly they both burst out laughing. Jeremy sat up on the couch and pulled her down into his lap.

“I can hear that.” He said between laughs.

Gwyn threw her arms around her childhood friend and gave herself over to the healing laughter. She so needed this.

Equally suddenly, the laughter stopped. She felt a bump under her ass that hadn’t been there before. And Jeremy’s black eyes were focused on her lips. Gwyn licked them instinctively.

They had dated a little through Junior High and High School, so she knew Jeremy found her attractive. Teenage boys didn’t have much control over the arousal reflex, but good teenage girls aren’t supposed to notice. He never did anything inappropriate though. Jeremy was her safe harbor.

Her nipples tightened as he moved his head towards her slowly and her pussy clenched. This was Jeremy, why was she reacting? Safe Jeremy. Nice Jeremy. His lips brushed hers lightly on the side and she moved to meet them. Jeremy whose shoulder she cried on. Jeremy whom took her in.

Light nibbles along her lip invited her to open her mouth. Gwyn sank into the next level of kisses with a sigh. Jeremy’s gardening-roughened hands cupped a breast through her thin white silk nightdress. His thumb rubbed a nipple, the chapped skin increasing the sensation caused by the abrasion.

Her head spun as the kiss deepened and she discovered his weight pressing her into the couch. Jeremy had stretched her out and pressed her into the white cushions; his shaft straining at his jeans against her exposed mound. The nightdress had hiked up and she wasn’t wearing underwear.

Jeremy released her mouth. He didn’t say anything, but their eyes met a moment. Gwyn understood he checking for any protest, any reluctance. But this was Jeremy, her harmless, innocent Jeremy. She trusted him to take care of her. Later, later she would do something to wreck what they were starting. But that would be her fault, not his. She gave him a quick peck on the forehead and waited to see what her friend would do next.

He stopped to nuzzle her breasts. His four-o’clock shadow made them extra sensitive as he sucked first one and then the other through the silk. He bit and sucked until she was moaning, writhing beneath him. His weight held the bottom half of her in place, forcing her to grab his strong shoulders with her hands and arch her body closer to his. He slipped a hand between them and found her slickness.

With his callused thumb, Jeremy rubbed her nub while the rest of his hand cupped her mound. She separated her legs to make more room for his palm and he took advantage to change hand position and dip a finger into her. Gwyn bucked against the hand. Jeremy sucked one tit deeply into his mouth then blew air onto the silk and nipple, all the while increasing the pressure on her clit.

Lights danced behind Gwyn’s closed eyes. She knew her fingernails were digging deeply into Jeremy’s shoulders but couldn’t control them. “Close, oh, god, Jeremy, so close.”

The mouth left her breasts and the thumb abandoned her clit. The tightening coil didn’t let her go and she squirmed for fulfillment when Jeremy’s weight released her.

Then she felt Jeremy grab her legs and pull her toward the end of the armless coach. Her nightdress rode up her back and bunched around her breasts, leaving her pussy and belly completely exposed. His strong hands pushed her knees apart, the bottom half of her legs now hanging over the coach, and he blew air against her most intimate parts. She arched up again, but his hands held her knees and hips firmly in place. She felt his stubble graze her inner thighs and then his mouth found her clit.

(947 words – originally appearing at Breathless Press 10/16/13 for the 8/19/12 Sunday Fun, published on the first blog on 10/20/2013; republished new blog format 3/12/2017)