Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Perhaps Next Week

I had the crazy notion to paint the kitchen ceiling a couple of weeks ago. I gathered ladders and tarps and brushes. I lined the wall with blue painter's tape along the wall. I grabbed the ceiling paint from the garage. I blasted the radio and began.

Two hours later, I stood back to admire my work. I washed brushes and pads and rollers. I dragged the ladder to the garage and folded up my tarp.

“Looks good,” my husband said, when he came home from work.

“I don't know,” I said. “Don't you think it looks kind of shiny?” I switched on the light.

He squinted at the ceiling. Was he reaching for his sunglasses? “Maybe when it dries completely, it won't be as bad,” he said.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Yellow Balloon Revised

Each time the memory tried to surface, Henry forced his brain to skirt it.  He wrapped it up tightly, sealed it in plastic and shoved it to the back of his mind.   

But his stupid, stubborn brain would circle the memory, seize it, shake it; deliver small unexpected packets of it the way the internet chops information into bits before sending it. 

Snippets came to him; sharp pinpricks that sent him reeling.

There was the monogrammed handkerchief.  Cotton.  Pink.  Flowers embroidered upon the edges.

There was the seven-digit sequence. 

There was the feel of peach skin; the scent of strawberries; his certainty of his hatred for chocolate.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Five Minutes

I entered the restaurant. A spotlight shone on the single table. Music played in the background. Opera of some sort. I wondered where my brother had found the recording. 

The table was covered with a white cloth.  There was a red rose in a gold vase.  A sweating glass of ice water tempted me to drink. I reached for the glass then withdrew my hand. “Drink nothing,” my mother had said. “Your brother is conniving.”

I pulled out the chair and sat. 

A man appeared suddenly.  A waiter.  I did not recognize him, but then again, my brother had stopped hiring people from the village. The man wore a white shirt, neatly ironed and tucked into black silk pants. There was a thin black necktie around his waist. A black apron encircled his waist. His hair was arranged in the old way, when fashion had been important. “Good evening, sir. I will be your waiter this evening.” 

My brother. Master of artifice. Leader of my village.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blind Spot

The cabin door banged open. 

“Big Joe!” Momma jumped up and began gathering the tarot cards scattered across the table. “We wasn’t expecting you for two weeks.”

Big Joe grabbed Momma by the nape of her neck and smashed a fist into her cheek. “I told you not to bring that foolishness into my home.” 

Momma crumpled into a heap upon the dirt floor. 

“That’ll teach you,” Big Joe said, kicking her in the ribs.  He went into their bedroom and shut the door.

I helped Momma to the couch.  I wet a washcloth and squeezed it out.  “I can kill him, Momma,” I whispered, pressing the cloth against her swollen cheek. You ain’t got to put up with this anymore.  Just say the word.” 
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Monday, September 24, 2012


Note to self:

Laptops do not wish to have their powercords rudely yanked by two unruly dogs.  Laptops do not particularly enjoy crashing to the floor.  Most of all, the health benefits of a steaming mug of green tea do not apply to laptops, particularly after said crash.

(It does not revive them).

And while you're noting, also note this:

It is not a good idea to suddenly begin backing up said laptop after wiping the mug of streaming green tea from the keyboard.  That sizzling sound you hear is the sound of the green tea meeting the motherboard and all its thousands of electronic parts.

Now would be a good time to extract the hard drive.

In the morning, I will run to the store for an adaptor cord and salvage what I can. 

But in the meantime, the sun is shining and the wind carries a cool breeze.  The sky is full of September clouds.  Autumn leaves wait to crunch beneath my feet.  Unruly dogs clamor for a walk.

And, in a couple of days, when I'm back and running with the old clunker I gave to my daughter because it doesn't have wireless, perhaps I will laugh about this.

 Words lost are merely words lost.

But what I have gained is time: time away from the Internet.  Time away from email and Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.  Time to do what I was supposed to have been doing all along: Setting down words.

And backing them up.


Friday, September 21, 2012


Faithful worshippers turn hopeful faces towards the sun. Heralds of autumn, they stand immobile while the flock congregates and feasts until beauty fades then disappears. Necks bend not in sorrow, but in promise.

This was written for this weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

"We want you to give it back to us in your own words, using your own subject matter.  Describe something that is three different things at the same time.  Oh, and do it in 33 words."

I'm hoping you can guess what I'm describing.   


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Lilly Jean sat beside Howard; flipped open her menu. “I ain’t saying good morning to you, Dumbass.”

Howard swiveled upon his stool to acknowledge his stepmother, a woman three years his junior, and was accosted by her cleavage. He turned away; added three packets of sugar to his coffee.

Must you store your drink there?” Bitsy nodded at the sports bottle tucked in Lilly Jean’s ample bosom. “You’re nauseating my customers.”

“I don’t think so.” Lilly Jean reached into her purse; withdrew a pick. “Ever since I came to town, business has picked up for you.” She fluffed her hair then whipped out a can of hair spray.

“You’re not spraying that in my diner.”

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Last Tweet Ever

Picture a gigantic field.  Hold the image steady in your mind for a moment.  Got it?  Now, fill that field with immense rocks.  Boulders, really.  Boulders wearing thin, grey coats.  Imagine those coats are second-hand; worn away in spots.  See the white and the pink and the flecks beneath.

Now, shove all the trees in your mind to the perimeter of the field.

Place a handful of people in that field of stone.

Hand each of them a hammer.

Have them strike at a rock.

What will happen?
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Saturday, September 15, 2012


Ruby, Mae and Beauregard stopped Mister’s cart today.
“Ballyhoo!”  Mae importuned.  “Our steed has run away.”
“I’ve insufficient room,” he frowned.  “What’m I to do?”
“Disregard our Beauregard.  N'that will make us two.”

This was written in response to this weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The Rule of Three is a writing principle that asserts that, in writing, groups of three have the most impact. This week's challenge is to write 33 words using the Rule of Three somewhere among them.  It is up to you to interpret the rule, just make sure to use exactly 33 words.  

And if I were allowed to toss in an extra 12 words, they would be these: 
“And toss old Ruby off the back.  Then there’ll be just Mae.”

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Lilly Jean laughs and shakes her head.  “Man come in t’other day.  Pin striped business suit.”  She looks at me and shakes her finger.  “Never trust a man in pin stripes.  Ain’t that right, Spank?”

Spank nods.  “Pin-stripes is designed to make a average man look more than he is.  But I ain’t never worn ‘em.”

“See that you keep it that way,” Lilly Jean says sternly. “If you want to stay with me. Anyways, this man come in and jest stands there for a minute as if he can’t quite figure on where to plant himself.  ‘Well grab a chair,’ I says to him, giving him a little wave.”  She smiles at Spank.  “Most men can’t resist that wave.”

Howard rolls his eyes at Bitsy, as if to say, Well I can
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Things Upside-Down

David wakes moments before the alarm clicks on.  He pats Tessa’s side of the bed, hoping to find it occupied.  He’s disappointed.  He’s not surprised: For the past three hundred and forty-seven days, he’s looked for his wife on the other side of the bed.  Of course, despite the gossip at the office, he doesn’t actually believe she is coming back to him—to them.  But in that tiny sliver of space between dreams and reality, lives hope.  He settles easily into this hope every morning before forcing himself to wake.  Now, he blinks into the darkness, listening to the morning headlines on NPR, hoping to catch the Phillies score before Teddy comes in, demanding breakfast.

Three alarm fire at an apartment building.  Armed robbery on South Street.  He needs to get these kids out of the city.   


David sighs and pulled back the covers.  Teddy crawls into Tessa’s side of the bed.  David draws him close, wrapping his left arm over Teddy’s tiny body, nuzzling his hair with his chin.  “You need a haircut.”
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Friday, September 7, 2012


The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be.  Of course it was all.  But she’d wanted more.  She lifted the hammer into the air and brought it down against the glass table.  If she couldn’t have it, neither could the sun.

This was written in response to this weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  

For this weekend's challenge, we'd like you to read the 33 words below and then add 33 of your own words to move the story along.  Have a great weekend and good luck!
The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


She let herself in, shedding the remnants of her workday as she walked through the apartment: purse, scarf, the thin sheaf of paper they called a newspaper.  She missed curling up on the couch with the Times.

"Hello, Lou.” David called from the living room. 

She watched him in the glow of the television screen.  “How long has the power been on?”

“Ten minutes.  Why didn’t you ring?”
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Green and Green Alone

Eloise stands at the window staring out at Hump Featherstone sitting atop his tractor sniffing the wind.  The corn at the edges of the field is brown and withered and this reminds Eloise of her hands.  She reaches to the window sill for her cream and rubs some into her hands, absently smoothing away the dryness.  “The cricket song is slowing, Jason.  You know that that means.” 

“Fall is coming.”

She turns and smiles at her grandson, coloring at her kitchen table.  Well, truth be told, the child is scribbling: The sun is a mass of purple.  The grass is red and orange. 
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Three words

In three words I can describe everything I know about writing: butt in chair.

Quick challenge from Trifecta Writing this weekend: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about--."  And the last four words are yours to choose.