Excitement stirred in the air like mashed potatoes between mixer beaters prior to Thanksgiving dinner in the not-too-distant future. But the girl sat outside the classroom door, settled on the floor amidst a cacophony of noise that usually occurs in the school hallway before any holiday break. Most kids rushed around in a frenzy of anticipatory energy, while Kenzie slumped against the wall with one earbud coursing music into her ear despite her nose being buried in the pages of John Steinbeck.

Ms. Alford leaned down to tap Kenzie’s shoulder before opening the door to her classroom. “You know that book report isn’t due until a week after you return to class,” she told the student.

Kenzie pulled out the lone plug and looked up at her English teacher. “I like this story. Not as boring as that other one. No super sad migrant workers,” she said.

Turning the cover over to see the title, Ms. Alford nodded in reply. “You can come on in if you’re here to see me.” She noticed the same ragged jeans the girl wore almost every weekday, holes worn in the knees, and thought of that style being popular back in her own days of high school. This ninth-grader seemed to have no other choice but to wear the dirty pair. Ms. Alford ashamedly recognized how, in her own shallow teenage past, she’d have been embarrassed at untreated acne and an apparent bathroom-mirror haircut.

Kenzie obviously cared more about her grades than her looks, an admirable quality in itself, but probably had no other choice for personal priorities. Her daily survival seemed more evident. The teacher asked her, “Are you trying to work ahead?”

“Just bored, I guess,” she replied. “Gotta watch my brothers when we’re off. They saw their tutor this week, though, so we’re gonna be good.”

“Oh,” Ms. Alford asked, “they’re doing better in Math?” She smiled at her, trying to be supportive.

“They’re okay,” Kenzie said about the twin 12-year olds. “We like it when the tutor comes, ’cause she brings the backpack from Caring Connections. We’ll have something to eat over break.”

Alford flinched. With the impending time away from school, the kids wouldn’t have two regular meals per day they got with public education’s free lunch and breakfast program. The tutor must also represent the community charity that brought backpacks of canned goods to low-income students.

The girl held the dilapidated copy of her assigned reading. Many students owned electronic readers, the newest cell phones, drove their own expensive cars. Kenzie simply loved her used I-pod and borrowed paperbacks.

Who knew what the children faced at home. Alford only heard rumors from the counseling office about attacks some suffered, incarcerated parents, and sensed tension leaching from them as their heads collapsed on desktops. Stress settled on those students like the drool that pooled beneath their tired faces.

Ms. Alford imagined her own upcoming feast, relatives who’d visit and be happy to see each other, their family game night, all the laughs and love they shared. She wondered what Kenzie and her brothers had to look forward to on Thanksgiving.

The teacher realized the limits of her power but  didn’t know if she’d ever let go of feeling responsible for her students’ well-being. Alford hoped to at least stir their interest in literature, make them hunger for knowledge, would possibly write some college recommendation letters for those lucky enough to continue their education. How could she hope to enrich their minds with physical needs much more imminent?

“Let’s check my bookshelf,” she smiled reassuringly and told the girl, “to see what you can find to read over the break. Maybe something fun, a little escapist reading.” She turned away so Kenzie wouldn’t notice her eyes brimming with tears.

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – attack Studio30

Image – Seyemon via Flickr


Filed under fiction, writing

Going on a Run


In recognition of deer season in the Midwest …

Originally posted on katy brandes writes:

Image benjamin sTone via flickr

Those boys met up every year for deer camp — both buck and anterless — and had done so for 20 or more years. They’d spend the mornings hunting, or “waiting” as J.T.’s wife called it, and the rest of the day and night drinking. She’d have a big breakfast waiting for them with eggs, bacon, biscuits and hot coffee to ward off their hangovers. It was a wonder they could ever get up at sunrise to make it happen, but they were die-hards about their effort.

Deer season was one of the reasons they worked hard year-round and brought home their measly pay. The daily grind of an assembly line certainly wore on a person’s nerves … and knuckles … and knees. The annual trip with its companionship and shared commiseration made the drudgery and mandatory overtime a little more bearable.

J.T. owned a strip…

View original 864 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Keeping Watch

copper fittings

He squinted his eyes to get a better look at the blue metal building from a safe distance. All he could see was a rusted scoop tractor parked by the door but nobody milling about the structure. “Where do you think he keeps that ol’ shit-eating dog?” he asked his partner in crime, as they hid within a copse of trees just off the property. They preferred their presence go unnoticed there, as the duo planned to break into the place.

“Don’t worry about that mongrel. It don’t have enough teeth to nip either one of us, much less land a bite that’d do any damage,” Cyrill tried to convince him.

They sat still and didn’t say another word to each other for several minutes, anticipating a visitor to the building or the owner himself. The pair hoped no one would arrive. Staking out the place proved to be a much more tedious task than originally thought.

“You know, this might not be such a good idea,” Tony offered. “Maybe we oughta just call it a day.” He nudged Cyrill in the back with one shaky hand from behind and dug in his front pocket for a cigarette with the other hand while glancing down at his wavering knuckles. Taking a last drink about 5:30 that morning, before daylight peered over the horizon, meant Tony’s body either wanted another one or desperately needed some sleep. They’d sat hidden in the overhanging branches for about three hours, and his ass felt frozen to the ground below it.

Cyrill turned to glare back at him and crossed a fat, tobacco-stained finger across his lips to shush him. “Shut the hell up, why don’t ya? If anybody’s in there, they’re gonna hear ya.” He’d have never told Tony about the heist if he knew how much belly aching he’d do.

The man waved his hand back and forth in front of Tony’s face and turned away from him, whispering sharply, “Damn, Tony. I can smell your breath from here. Eat a Tic Tac, man!”

Tony’s hand continued to shake as he covered his gaping mouth with it. “’Scuse me,” he replied. “Didn’t mean to upset your delicate sensibilities.”

An undeveloped plan followed the pair out of the bar after closing time. Knowing the bar owner meant they stayed on drinking well after the public left. Too many whiskeys meant they left half-cocked and ready to rip off Old Man Jenkins of all the copper inside the warehouse of his plumbing business and sell it for scrap. Cyrill and Tony’s small-time burglary could still get them put back in County Lockup. Neither man had found work since last released from jail, so they needed any quick cash they could scrounge. Quite a risk for so little return, but their bad habits stayed with them after their previous incarceration.

Tony glared when Cyrill finger-shushed him again. “I just think this is a bad idea. We should get on back to those ol’ boys. Have another beer maybe.” He nodded empathically, trying to convince Cyrill of the error of their ways.

“Go on,” Cyrill said, “if you ain’t got the stomach for it.” He sniffed in disgust and settled himself against a tree stump, shoulders hunched forward, and stared intently at the metal building he continued to watch. Their mission seemed quite fruitless.

The rumble of a rusted-out exhaust pipe woke them both up a few hours later. Old Man Jenkins’ truck stopped on the gravel path several yards from where they sat slumped. Its owner opened the door with a creak and stepped out to address the duo. Hands on his hips, he shook his head and asked, “Now, what have we here?” A fat mutt of a dog tumbled out the door after him, promptly sat down, and briskly scratched behind his ear at an itch that took some digging to remedy.

Tony and Cyrill shook off a hungover sleep still clinging to them and stumbled to standing. Tony practically fell into his friend in front of him, who coughed and spat a long line of phlegm out to his side. They both stammered but couldn’t come up with an explanation of their intentions between the pair of them.

Jenkins assessed the situation as best he could. “I don’t quite know what you’re doing,” he grunted, scratching his head. “My dog don’t seemed too troubled, though, so you must not present too big of a threat.”

He kicked up a cloud of dust in their direction and said, “How ‘bout ya get on outta here, anyway, the both of ya? Do that and I won’t call the Sheriff.” The dog stood up and shook itself all over, floppy ears flipping back and forth across the top of its big head.

Sensing they should take the man at his offer with no more interaction, Tony and Cyrill moved quickly back up the driveway from whence they arrived in the dark of early morning hours. Jenkins motioned toward the truck and opened the door for the dog. “Come on, Pearl. Let’s go back down to the shop. You done yer work for the day.”


Image: Tony Hisgett via Flickr

Studio 30+ writing prompt – undeveloped Studio30


Filed under fiction, writing

Someone to Watch Over Her


“I don’t want to see you ever darken this door again,” her father shouted at Delilah as she stood dazed in the front yard, dead grass crunching under her footsteps in the autumn chill. He didn’t appear to care if the whole neighborhood heard their family row.

She stooped to pick up all the clothing she could carry, a couple t-shirts, a jacket, and two pairs of jeans that wouldn’t fit her much longer. Her mother must have at least put together the overnight bag beside the front door that held her makeup bag and some underwear. For that, the 16-year old was grateful. The girl stuffed everything she could fit inside the bag and sunk down to her knees on the lawn, not knowing where to go.

Her dad glared at her in disdain and said, “No daughter of mine is going to get knocked up and expect to come live back here. Go back to that boy who done got ya into trouble!” The door glass shook when he violently slammed it to finalize his point.

Delilah looked up from her spot on the ground, searched the sky to beg God’s help in deciding what to do, and spied the tiny brown ceramic squirrels perched on the roof’s eave. Her dad had affixed the puffy-tailed mother and baby rodents there, and she’d always feared they’d fall down in a strong wind and break. Instead, they now stared down at her accusingly.

A crow in a tree behind the girl squawked its own disapproval at the scene. Delilah had known no other home than the dingy single-story structure before her. A bevy of children existed within those walls. Too many for their parents to control.

Delilah thought back to the halcyon of growing up there with her sisters, playing outside with Barbies, and using cardboard for dollhouses and tissue boxes for little beds. She reminisced over good times they experienced as innocent kids. They used any scrap of fabric salvaged from Mom’s sewing basket as a makeshift outfit or blanket, resourceful as they were with few toys.

She remembered tea parties with discarded cups and chipped saucers they begged for before the wares went to the garbage. Pinkies raised, the girls sat in the garden with the squirrel duo envying the gathering from atop the house. The sisters sipped water while wearing old hats, straw ones with holes or a brother’s ball cap to portray the only man interested in attending such an affair, pretending their soiree included canapes and creamy petit fours.

The brothers bothered them little if roaming the neighborhood or playing stickball in the street. Harassment occurred in the dark of night with Mother unaware. Three sisters shared a single bed, but Norman would slip his hand up beneath the covers without waking up Frannie, Delilah’s older sister. She’d never have let Norman bother Delilah like that had she known.

Delilah learned to distrust Norman and other boys like him. He threatened to hurt their youngest sister if she told, so Delilah lived silently with the abuse to keep the little one safe from him. Her father never suspected a thing. He didn’t realize what Norman did to her when their parents weren’t home.

Her dad didn’t know much of anything, because he never paid any attention. All the girls begged for his affection but only got it on Christmas morning with a slight hug, a peck on the cheek and the slightest smile the man could muster at them. Delilah often wondered why he even wanted to have kids at all if he could only stand to be around the boys.

Those boys were hardly ever disciplined. He didn’t keep Norman from hurting her. And now he wondered why she gone to her boyfriend for love and attention?

“You never cease to amaze me, Daddy,” Delilah muttered defeatedly even though he didn’t hear her. He’d gone back to his television and turned up the volume to shut out the world and signify to any nosey neighbors that the show was over.

She had no other choice but to move on and hoped her friend Jenny’s mother would allow her to stay at their house for awhile. Her boyfriend’s parents were against them dating, much less her expecting his baby. They would freak when they found out, so she didn’t dare ask for hospitality there.

Delilah searched the ground around her to see if anything else she owned was scattered about it, discarded like so much trash, and found a rock within arm’s reach. She picked it up and chucked it toward the Mother squirrel on the edge of the roof. “I hope you fall,” she told it. She sobbed into her sleeve and thought, “You should’ve noticed, Mother. You should’ve seen.”

*Click the link above to read previous installments in Delilah’s Dilemma.

Studio 30+ writing prompt – halcyon Studio30

“What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life

in our bodies, we are determined to rush

to see the sun the other way around?”

Elizabeth Bishop


Filed under fiction, writing

Wavering Doubt


Tricia accepted Kevin’s marriage proposal not long after college graduation. Having known each other since freshman year convinced her of their union’s likelihood to succeed. She grew up an only child, and Kevin had five siblings, so the couple had a great basis of comparison to decide they wanted a child to make their family feel more complete. Set on starting a family right away, they tried to conceive for two years before ever considering an adoption.

Breathless from his rush home from work to deliver the news, Kevin told his wife, “You’re never going to believe this, Tricia. My co-worker friend and I were talking about the possibility of a private adoption. He knows someone whose son got a girl pregnant, and they’re going to give up the baby.”

Skepticism usually got the best of her. “Slow down, Kevin,” Tricia replied. “Are you talking about us – like we could get their baby?”

He continued the story with great aplomb. “Now, keep an open mind here. The boys’ parents don’t want their son forced into a marriage so young. They want him to go to college. I think it sounds like the perfect opportunity for us, and they seem like great people.” After months of speaking with agencies, Kevin hoped to make the transaction as simple and painless as possible. He tried his best to assure his wife of the deal’s simplicity.

Tricia was dubious and eyed him suspiciously. “So, what? We just call our lawyer and have some papers drawn up like we’re buying a new car? If something sounds too good to be true, Kevin, it usually is.”

Shaking his head vehemently and clasping her hands in his, Kevin replied soothingly, knowing the key concepts to mention in order to control any conversation with his wife. “It will be practically effortless, and I’ll take care of everything,” he said. “Just wait and see. All you have to do is shop for a crib and finish preparing the nursery.

His condescension unnerved Tricia, but she realized how Kevin keeping matters under his control was important to him. Otherwise, Tricia’s attitude was badly canted against his hints at superiority. They’d lived together long enough to figure out her husband’s mind games. Still, she acquiesced, “We can at least discuss it with our lawyer.”

A quick six weeks later they signed adoption paperwork and met a social worker at the hospital where little Molly was born. Tricia worried so long that something would inevitably go wrong, and now they were set to take home a newborn. The immediate onset of motherhood overwhelmed her, as most couples wait months to finalize such details, but she also felt some relief when they received their daughter.

A fine blond fuzz covered her perfect little head, and the baby’s tiny finger and toenails were so delicate. One look in those deep blue eyes and Tricia fell in love immediately. “I can’t imagine you belonging to anyone but me,” she told the sleeping infant tightly clenched in her arms.

Tricia suffered the girl’s young lifespan in fear of Molly finding out her birth mother’s identity. What if Molly found out who she was and wanted to be with her instead of Tricia and Kevin? A paranoid fear overwhelmed her at times.

She worried that the woman hadn’t wanted to give her up in the first place and would stop at nothing to get her daughter back. That’s how she imagined herself feeling if the situation was reversed.Tricia was afraid Molly’s “real mom” would someday find the girl and brainwash her into leaving them, disappearing with her into oblivion, and she could barely stand the notion of losing Molly.

Kevin found Tricia crying at times, a sickly pallor to her face from not eating for days, she worked herself up into such a frenzy. “Tricia, honey,” he begged her, “you have to tell me what’s the matter. How can I help you if I don’t know what’s wrong?”

She sobbed, “You just don’t understand. I have no assurance.” She didn’t trust him with her feelings and never shared those fears. Years went by with her wondering about Molly’s maternal origins, agonizing over whether that woman would sneak back into Molly’s life and steal her affection.

Only Kevin knew the reality. His co-worker hadn’t put him in touch with an adoptive family but had sealed the deal himself. The man he contacted, in truth, was Molly’s own grandfather. His son got the young woman in trouble and meant to simply fix the problem for him. The boy’s mother forced her husband and son to make the issue go away, as their precious reputation in the community mattered more to her than the child’s well-being. Kevin and Tricia conveniently agreed to letting legal counsel make quiet arrangements.

Kevin lied to Tricia by omission of that pertinent information, though. Her suspicion of the details was indefinite but not unfounded. It just all happened too easily.

Now, all these years later, a late-night greeting at her adult daughter’s door unveiled the truth about the woman who actually bore Molly — a down-on-her-luck teenager who let her boyfriend and his parents talk her into forfeiting her illegitimate baby. In turn, the act changed her daughter’s destiny.

“I thought I didn’t care to know about my real mother,” Molly pondered, “but now Byron’s revelations have piqued my curiosity. What drove Delilah to do what she did? Why couldn’t she care for me?”

Even though she’d never tell her adoptive mother what she was about to do, Molly bit her lip and slowly opened the desk drawer where she’d stored Byron’s telephone number.

(Click the “late-night greeting” link above to read the previous installment in Delilah’s Dilemma)

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – brainwash  Studio30

image: T. Pierce via Flickr


Filed under fiction, writing

Seeing Ghosts

images9NLVBF3RA night-time knock on Molly’s door brought an unexpected shock but long-anticipated revelation. The man’s face showing through the peephole looked sincere enough when he said the gift he possessed might answer questions about her birthright. The statement sent  a chill down her spine, and she gasped, “You knew my mother?”

Molly invited Byron into her living room, not with trepidation but surprised excitement. She’d long dreamed of finding out her birth mother’s identity but never expected the news to come from an unshaven visitor with a hangdog expression.

Shocked at how much Delilah and Molly looked alike, his head wagged back and forth at the striking resemblance. Those deep, sorrowful green eyes. For a second he thought maybe he’d crossed a threshold back in time 20 years or so and found Delilah herself. Maybe she wasn’t actually dead.

He gave his head a shake to clear the impossible thought from his mind, but he stared straight at her face. “I don’t mean to be rude … you are her split image. It’s unbelievable.”

Byron proceeded to explain his past relationship with her mother, how all these years later he’d paid for Delilah’s burial out of a guilty conscience, how he’d gone back through State adoption records to find the girl and end up on her doorstep. He was purposefully vague about the circumstances of her death, though, not wishing to create any more upheaval in Molly’s life than his coming to see her in the first place.

“Your mom would want you to have this, I’m sure,” he said. The man opened his clasped hand to release a dainty gold chain with a round pendant emblazoned with the letter “M” on it. He’d claimed the necklace when tearfully identifying the woman’s body at the City Morgue a few weeks prior.

The two sat across the coffee table from each other, Molly in for some long-awaited information. “I’ve hoped for this day to come,” she told him, “but I’m surprised you knew my real mother so well.” She choked up a little and blushed. “Now you’re here. In person. It’s hard to take it all in.”

“I’d like to tell you more, if you don’t mind,” he said. The details unfolded of how Delilah served her penitence long after she turned her six-month old baby girl over to an adoption agency. She ate, slept and breathed that huge weight of guilt for the rest of the time he knew Delilah. It niggled away at her, and she never forgave herself for giving up the baby.

“You’ll understand if I don’t offer you anything to drink,” Molly told him. “I wasn’t expecting anyone tonight, and this is all quite a surprise. I don’t know how to respond.” She sat on the worn plaid couch, elbows planted on her knees and her head swinging in disbelief.

Byron’s divulged more details as he understood them from a disclosure Delilah made years prior. They dated for a few months before he invited her to move in with him. Humiliation kept her from letting anyone get close, but a few margaritas one night loosened up her willingness to tell him about her past.

She said pressure from others convinced her of the selfishness of keeping an illegitimate baby with no means of self-sufficiency or a husband to provide for them. Accusations of her not knowing the father exacerbated her guilt. She knew him all right, loved the boy very much, and had dated only him, but his parents couldn’t live with the embarrassment of their son’s irresponsible behavior. Delilah came from the bad part of town where people lived with whom any self-respecting son of theirs would never associate. They wouldn’t have it.

Never looking back, Delilah vowed to make a life for herself on her own and moved away. She lived her remorse through constant self-loathing, as she knew she couldn’t afford to care for the baby girl. She ultimately surrendered her child to a better existence with competent parents who couldn’t have a child of their own.

Self-reliance played the ultimate trick on Delilah, though, when her vortex of circumstance meant she later earned money via desperate and despicable means. No way would she let herself face the shame of returning home after the miserable experience.

“She never wanted to give you up, Molly,” Byron told her. “Your momma woulda done anything in her power to make things turn out differently. She just wanted you to have more than she could give.” He cleared his throat and paused, hoping the girl would take him seriously. “You don’t know me from Adam, but it’s important for you to believe me.”

Molly nodded and thanked him for going out of his way to find her. “I appreciate your concern, but this is all just too much to absorb at once.” She motioned toward the door. “Please forgive me. I have to ask you to leave now.”

Byron respected her wishes but left his contact information with her in case she had questions later. “I appreciate you inviting me into your home,” he told her. “Please remember what I said.”

Pride got in Molly’s way. She never asked him if he knew her father’s name, a tacit truth between them. Neither one really wanted to know who he was. Not knowing meant they could both continue resenting an invisible man. Molly would keep missing a father she never knew, the same as she always had her birth mother.

Missing her mother would be different now, as their introduction was simultaneously a final goodbye. It would be odd to grieve the death of someone she never knew. She closed the door behind her unexpected visitor and, as far as she was concerned, that chapter of her life.


Click on the highlighted link above for the previous offering in the multi-part story, Delilah’s Dilemma.

Studio 30+ writing prompt – remorse/penitence Studio30 

image: S. Grebinski via Flickr


Filed under Uncategorized

Past Regret


He asked Byron, “How did you ever meet her in the first place?” Byron squinched up his eyes and thought for a moment before answering, “We used to date a long time ago. Seems like a lifetime ago. Well, I guess it was.”

The curious questions came rapid-fire. “And why did they call you again?”

“My name and phone number were apparently in her purse,” he answered. “I’m genuinely surprised she still had that with her. Maybe I kept the old landline for a reason after all. God, it’s been ages since we last saw each other.”

Byron sat in the passenger seat staring out the side window. He hadn’t overcome the shock yet and had to call a friend to drive him. The drizzle outside matched his mood, and he watched rivulets of water wash across the window pane.

An often wretched woman, one might dismiss Delilah as if she were some street performer whose gaze they avoided to not risk being indebted to acknowledge her. The K-Mart clothes left a deceiving impression. Fashion budget much less important than survival, her priorities differed from other women. Time and circumstances had not been kind.

“She lived a tough life, but she was brilliant and strong. I just can’t believe this is happening.” Byron rested his forehead against the coolness of the side glass hoping to bring some relief to an oncoming ache. “Delilah figured out her own worth and eventually got rid of me,” he admitted aloud.

It took her exactly a year to figure out Byron’s techniques. The lies, the other women. He knew how she’d felt about him. He realized that, if asked, she wouldn’t give a shit less, a fiddler’s fart, a good Goddamn, a flying fuck, a tinker’s damn about him.

Although he tried to reach her later and make things right, Delilah would never take his calls. Byron knew about her past but thought the things she did to take care of her daughter did not define her. They moved in together before she discovered her misgivings about him to be true.

“I trampled her heart, you know,” the man admitted out loud. “And after all she went through with losing her daughter. No wonder she never forgave me. I was such a schmuck.”

He remembered Delilah’s soulful green eyes, the way she bit her lip when she was unsure, her haunted beauty. He thought of how much she aged beyond her actual years. Her sweet little girl being taken away was more than Delilah could stand. Their breakup broke her already shattered heart.

Byron breathed a heavy sigh, his conscience reeling. “She had nobody else. I just should’ve been there for her.” He realized he deserved every ill feeling his ex-girlfriend had about him.

His friend released a hand from the steering wheel to grasp his shoulder in a reassuring grip. “Don’t worry about all that now. We’re almost there,” he said.

Never would Byron have imagined that five years later Delilah would involve herself with a fugitive who got in a shootout with the police and that he’d be on his way to identify her body at the city morgue.


(The link above goes to the first installment of Delilah’s Dilemma.)

Studio 30+ prompt – street performer  Studio30

photo: Wikimedia Commons


Filed under fiction, writing

Cupid’s Revenge


“Trust me, you’ll think he’s great,” her friend said convincingly. A mutual acquaintance set Delilah up on a date with Franklin, citing the two had a lot in commons. She claimed their senses of humor were comparable, but the woman knew they were both lonesome. The friend didn’t mention Franklin’s past, his short jail stint, as she knew him only as her husband’s co-worker and found that detail irrelevant in light of their situations.

Delilah didn’t realize that Franklin had gone off the deep end, as they say, after his father’s sudden death. He took it hard when his patriarch developed an intense infection from a Locust thorn that gouged him while clearing a fence row. The man went septic, died soon afterward, and his son spent months questioning the fairness of life but didn’t find the answer in the bottom of a whiskey bottle where he searched for it.

He felt the world conspired against him and fought back in a booze-addled rage until the day he awoke on the floor, luckily face down in his own vomit instead of on his back lethally ingesting it. Turning his life around led him to a new job, and in turn, meant his co-worker’s wife introduced him to such a wonderful woman.

Delilah hadn’t seen that side of him and never knew he was quite the rabble-rouser in his day. “The past belongs in the past, honey,” he told her when their relationship grew serious.

She said, “I just wanna know all about the man I’m gonna marry, Franklin.” Testing the waters, she hoped to find out if he’d truly accept her. The truth was, she hid secrets from her own life she hoped to keep from her fiancé, the baby she’d given up for adoption as a teenager, things she’d done for money in desperation.

Their wedding day arrived with neither one the wiser. Franklin’s co-worker was his best man, and the co-worker’s wife who had introduced the couple served as Delilah’s attendant. The two beamed with happiness and congratulated themselves on their successful match-making skills.

“I’ve waited my whole life for this day,” the expectant bride whispered in his ear upon when she stepped beside him and slipped her hand through his crooked elbow at the altar.

They’d scrimped and saved enough money for a wonderful honeymoon in a tropical paradise and left the wedding ceremony in a heated rush for the airport. Franklin, lost in his newly-wedded bliss, sped down the Interstate in attempt to catch their flight. His euphoric state became a miasma of emotion when he saw the trooper’s flashing lights in the rear-view mirror.

“Oh, no … Franklin, it’s all right,” Delilah coaxed, trying to settle a rising temper she’d never seen in him before. He pounded his fists on the steering wheel at the officer’s approach, a crimson complexion clashing with his beige linen wedding suit. His new wife tried stroking Franklin’s shoulder to calm him but recoiled when he struck out at her in reflex. Blood splashed across her lapel as her lip split, and she shrieked in shock and pain.

Everything else happened too quickly for her to accurately recall later. An outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court after Franklin’s last arrest meant was soon revealed when his license ran through the law enforcement database. Delilah never knew about the snub-nose pistol her husband had stashed under the front seat and was horrified when he brandished it at the command to step out of the car and put his hands behind his back.

“I love you, darlin’, and I’m truly sorry,” Franklin told her before rolling out of the driver’s door and firing shots at the officer. His past finally caught up with him, but he wouldn’t let the law steal his happiness.

The most joyous day of Delilah’s life simultaneously became the most tragic.


Studio30Studio 30+ prompt – rabble-rouser

(image: bridalguide.com)


Filed under fiction, writing

A Fine Line

She sat staring out the window with a glazed look in her eyes, a fiendish grin on her face that would champion the Cheshire cat. Some would say the girl was downright devilish. Wrongdoing never held a place in her plan, simply meeting her goal would make her happy.

“I knew I wouldn’t meet her expectations,” she told her friend. “It wasn’t about making a good impression. That could never happen.” Her friend nodded in agreement.

The police had relinquished custody to her friend. Released on her own recognizance, they said, but in truth turned her over to a more mature person who possessed no criminal record herself. The girl’s juvenile record followed her, and the past caught up with her once again. She’d never be able to repay the favors she owed her friend.

“They picked me up by the office’s back door. You know, down by the railroad tracks. Where the dumpster usually hides the view from the street. I thought I could go unnoticed there,” Rachel’s confession continued.


Her friend acquiesced to listen in silence, almost like a priest behind a confessional screen and not a confidant across the kitchen table. The woman sipped her tea, quiet in her contemplation. She struggled to understand Rachel’s motivation for such an act.

“I thought if the doctor wouldn’t return my phone call, I would do something to make her take notice. Professionals have an obligation to their patients, right?” Her friend nodded slowly, hoping not to agitate the girl any further.

“The rock somehow broke the window. I didn’t even realize I had it in my hand,” Rachel muttered, her gaze fixed on the side yard outside the window through which she still stared. “I kind of feel bad about it, but then again I don’t.”

The slightly sinister smirk returned to Rachel’s face, but her friend wanted no part in condoning the behavior. Her previous nod shifted to a disagreeing shake from side to side. “You know you’ll be expected to pay for the damage, and you’re damn lucky to be released to my care.”

Rachel shrugged and tossed her head slightly aside. Remorse wasn’t her style.

The older woman sighed deeply, desperate to reach the girl somehow. “This self-fulfilling prophecy is getting you nowhere,” she said. “Nobody in that clinic will agree to see you now. How do you plan to find a new counselor?”

Rachel’s attention faded. Something beyond the cigarette-stained glass pulled her thoughts away from the conversation.

She vaguely remembered seeing broken glass scattered across the pavement and hearing it crunch beneath her step, but she didn’t know how it got there. After grinding the shards with the heel of her shoe, she squinted at squad car lights flashing in her eyes and wondered what they wanted. Rachel had smiled up at the officers and simply said hello.

Studio 30+ writing prompt – fiendish

(image: news10.net) Studio30


Filed under fiction, writing



Lela jabbered incessantly all day long about nothing at all – just liked the sound of her own voice. Always telling people what to do, acting like she knew what’s best for everyone. Like Madame Lela, the Clairvoyant, according to her boyfriend. As much as that girl talked, a person would think fortune-telling ran in her family.

Clark got tired of it. So he left her, right out of the blue. “Bet she didn’t see that one coming,” he told a buddy. “Just this once she didn’t know everything, the cow.” He used a few other choice words, being quite the muckspout he was, not to be repeated in polite company. His friend went along with him and laughed at the crude humor at Lela’s expense.

They had each other’s back, so Clark’s group rejected Lela outright when he did. She never knew the complete truth of why Clark broke up with her, and she remained devastated for weeks — moping around the house, lighting one cigarette with the other, and binge-watching old seasons of M*A*S*H on Netflix. She went into raving histrionics when Radar walked in the O.R. to announce Henry’s plane went down over the Sea of Japan. That one always got to her.

The day came when Lela caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, though. Her reflection spoke volumes about her weakened state, and she didn’t like what it had to say. No voice was necessary for it to cudgel her already damaged ego. Red-rimmed eyes with gray half-moons shadowing beneath them stared back at her. A chocolate-induced breakout accompanied an otherwise sallow complexion, and she barely recognized the woman in the oval-shaped glass.

“That’s it,” Lela told the visage. “No more of this pity party. Hot Lips Houlihan would pine after no man.” She vowed renewal and threw away the remainders of her Reese’s stash, washed with medicated face soap, and used a little Preparation H on those puffy bags. In a few more days Lela felt ready to face the world as a new woman.

Her self-talk worked wonders, and she soon joined friends for happy hour. Relishing their camaraderie and conversation, her confidence soon returned. Lela found the companionship of people other than Clark and his friends to be exactly the positive influence she needed.

“This bunch has such interesting things to say,” she thought. “I can barely get a word in edgewise.”

Lela silently vowed to go home and cancel her Netflix subscription if the current experience foretold her impending social life. She pondered out loud, “Why didn’t I agree to go out with you all sooner?” The woman next to her winked and said, “Must have been that extra weight you had tying you down. Wasn’t his name Clark?”

“Yeah,” she agreed. “I just knew that was destined for a quick ending.” Lela smiled and finished her drink.

Studio 30+ writing prompt – clairvoyant

Studio30(photo:  Melissa on Flickr)


Filed under fiction, writing