Friday, September 12, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge: 'Unquiet'

Chuck Wendig, of the wickedly smart and funny writing blog terribleminds, hosts weekly flash fiction challenges. This week the promt is to write a 500 word half story. Then participants will trade stories and finish them. I'm posting what, an hour and a half before the deadline? Of course I am. 

This is the first time I'm participating. I'm nervousgiddyexcited.
If you'd like to, let me know what you think or offer criticism; I've decided to reopen comments on the blog. Also, gratitude and cookies to Geoff, Freyja, and Nell for encouraging the fictions. 

Away we go:


Silence no longer existed. At its most quiet, the house was a muffled pastiche of breathing rhythms and the percussion of snoring. Beneath, the rushing swoosh of blood and her own heartbeat. The collage of sound fell hard and thick when the child’s suckling finally slowed to a stop. These moments, when her daughter found sleep and released the Mother’s nipple with a soundless little pop, were the Mother’s favorites of each evening.

She’d curl herself around the baby, still and warm, and ease into half-consciousness. And then, inevitably, her muscles would protest their sudden slack and give a full-bodied jerk so hard it would bring a tiny scowl from the baby.

Then the anxious waking would begin. There was the wait between feedings: Two, three hours apart. Then the ugly ritual of not-sleeping repeating for nights on end. She’d lost count of how many concurrent nights she’d spent waking.

In the next room, her husband snored softly. Night like these, the Mother actively loathed him for his ease in sleep. He could doze anytime. If he were still for more than a few minutes, his glasses would slip to the end of his nose and his head would loll to one side. She hated him. She scooted the child away from her, carefully folding the coverlet away from the infant.

She hated the baby too. For the depth of her sleeping, the little feather breaths puffing from tiny lips.

The Mother rose, and swayed in vertigo. She hadn’t eaten in... she couldn’t remember her last meal. Her stomach was a writhing spiked thing, and everything tasted dry and metallic. She was thirsty though, and walked to the kitchen. As she moved, her peripheral vision swam with strange, unsettling shapes. When she looked directly at them, they would skitter to the edges again, taunting her. 

She shuddered. The shapes reminded her of the dark little hallucinations she’d seen everywhere before she’d gone inpatient at the psych department. She had thought of those as evil sylph-crows, though they'd clung to the floors and baseboards more like rats. She hadn’t seen them since stabilizing on medication years ago. Seeing these wicked cousins made her wish again that she could have stayed on her meds with the baby. If nothing else, they’d help her sleep.

The darkness of the room swirled around her, seething with the creatures. Here, without the nursery nightlight, she could look directly at them. They looked like snakes, with ridged spikes all around them and they twisted over and under each other, flitting into and out of existence. They were the ghost colors of after-images—red and green at the same time. 

She closed her eyes for relief, and it worked though it seemed odd that it should. When she opened her eyes, the undulating mass was there again. She set her jaw and filled a glass of water, reminding herself they were insomniac tricks of the eye. She felt ridiculous: A little girl telling herself her scary book was only a story.

She drained her glass and looked up.

One serpent sat on the counter, perfectly still. Its red-green eyes caught no light, but they were fixed directly on her.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Left Foot

So howyadoin'? I think I broke my damn foot yesterday. But only a little. I'm being obstinate and refusing to go pay for an X-ray for information that's essentially useless. The treatment for a teeny break in your foot is "Here, take these pain pills and stay off your feet." 

I pause for comedic effect.

How this happened was my pain was bad enough that I had taken a muscle relaxer. I felt steady enough to be in the kitchen by my adored butcher block table, grabbing a snack. Then a stab of nerve pain literally knocked me to the ground. 

When I stood up, I found I'd hurt my foot although the how of it is perplexing. It feels like I had it wedged between two unforgiving surfaces or struck it with a hammer. I also hit my shoulder on the corner of the table.

Honestly, I am unsure how I should still be alive. This body. It is a quirk or cosmic oddity. I am so clumsy in it you'd think I just woke up in it yesterday. 

I suppose it's likely that the asymmetrical limbs and twisty spine are responsible for a lot of my ungainly nature. I don't know.

Anyway, that is the story of how I'm now resting on my ass for two reasons. And this dose of meds is kicking in enough that words-hard-television-pretty.

Peace out, bl'eaders. I love ya.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Which I Am a Pop Philosopher

I, being positively drunk on alone time on this the first day of Molly's school year, have been babbling happily to Finn. I talk pretty much constantly, even when I have no puppy to justify this. But today I do (and I swear he seems as thrilled about Back to School Day as I am). 

So I was chattering away and suffering a post-nap grogginess and I mentioned to Finn, "I am slow thinky. I don't have good thinks. I usually don't—well—sometimes do. I have good thinks. I have Story Thinks. Best kind... If you're going to have good thinks, they should be Story Thinks or Science Thinks. Ooh! And at this point I decided I had created A Great Philosophy of the Two Kinds of Thinks: There are only two sorts of Thinks: Story Thinks and Science Thinks. Everything fits into one category.

I laughed at myself, and observed, this time without verbalizing it—and, yeah, I should be lying about that to preserve my narrative flow (such as it is what with the insane jumps my spastic stream-of-consciousness makes) but I'm not—that this is an amusing oversimplification. Then the epiphane (Gods damn you, spell check, let a girl spell it the Greek way if she prefers) dawned that this is why philosophy doesn't appeal to me as much as it seems like it should. It's oversimplifying pretty ideas and making extrapolations and applications when actual reality is infinitely complex and ultimately, according to my world view as realized only just then, resists quantification. 

So yeah, I was yammering to my puppy in a sleepy haze and cemented my personal ideology. It's vaguely Chaos Theory.

(Pausing for you to roll your eyes at the obviousness.)

But It's not so surprising I woke with abstraction in my brain. Whilst napping I dreamt that some dude—name on tip of my tongue but gone—had written a book containing an equation that predicted Everything. It was practically mystical in its universality. Specifically I remember it could be used to predict stock market trends and something about lumber that could save the ecology of the entire planet. The equation was accurate exactly 87% of the time. It basically ensured a Utopia. So of course, it was incredibly obscure and had a tiny cult following. I want to say the guy was called Neal Stephenson. I know that's not it but let's just go with that anyway because I'm fairly sure Neal Stephenson the fiction writer actually does know the source code of reality. Neal Stephenson is a source-erer. 

I win at language. TheEnd.

No, wait—A Post-Script:

Regarding authors named /niːl/, Bird and I were holding our thrice-weekly discussion, Concerning Neil Gaiman Who Is the Great Literary Genius of Our Time and zOMG How Amazeballz is Coraline, Jointly Our Most Favorite of Books that Are Not Harry Potter. She suddenly sparked with inspiration: "MOM," she announced, "I know why you love him so much!" Here, she assumes the posture of a power-mad Asgardian supervillain, holding aloft Loki's scepter, and yells,

"KNEEEEEEEEEL!!!!!!! gaiman," then falls apart in hysterics at her own horrific, adorable pun. I bowed (knelt) to her and dubbed her Tiny Queen of Word Play.

And now that is all. I'm off to try to drug & ice my right sciatic nerve into submission and begin this free online writing course. Join me if you will. 

Hail Eris. All Hail Discordia.