Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Agnes rubbed at her swollen left wrist and closed her eyes, as if to shutter out the throbbing.

"What's wrong, Grandma?" A wide-eyed boy, no more than seven, stood before her, his tiny hands resting on the worn blue arm of the chair in which his grandmother sat.

"Fetch me my heating pad, David. I got a pain birthing in my wrist."

David ran to his grandmother's bedroom and retrieved the pad. This he plugged in, and arranged over his grandmother's wrist.

"Not too hot, child."

David nodded and pushed the yellow button--warm--which made a satisfactory click in response.

"Oh, that's better, David," Agnes said, after a few moments had passed. "You're a good boy."

The words filled David with sudden warmth and pride. He smiled.

Agnes opened her eyes and patted her lap. "Come on up, David," she said. "I got me some scarecrow legs for sure, but you don't weigh but a minute." She laughed. "Why I bet that book we're reading weighs more'n you."

He climbed into her lap and stroked her cheek with feathery fingers. "Grandma?"


"You reckon that heating pad will help me?"

Agnes frowned. "You got you a hurt somewhere?"

David blinked and pointed to his chest.

"Oh, David," Agnes said. "There's two types of pain. There's a pain of the body, like this here wrist. Then there's a deeper pain: a pain of the heart. Ain't no pills nor no heating pad gonna' take away that pain."

"We both have a pain of the heart."

"Yes, David. We do."

"What takes it away?"

"Only time, child. Time and lots of love." They sat in silence for a time, each of them lost in the memory of that awful night when David's parents were killed. Agnes barely had time to mourn her daughter before she began to fight for custody of David." She closed her eyes again. Lord, help me to raise this child up proper. Every day was full of doubt. What am I going to do? I ain't got but a first grade education. She'd fought hard for the child, lying to Social Services, getting the neighbor lady, the one with the lawering daughter, to fix up the documents right: High school diploma. A year of community college. The rest--good citizen, a regular churchgoer, model employee--all that, Agnes was proud to say, was true.

"Pain lets us know we alive David. Reminds us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, like a chocolate ice cream cone."

"Ice cream doesn't last long, Grandma."

"No it don't, David. But neither will the pain."

He turned to look at her. "You know what, Grandma? You're pretty smart."

Agnes beamed. "Why, thank you, David." She flexed her wrist experimentally. "I believe I'm feeling better now." She reached for the book on the cocktail table and handed it to her grandson. "Where did we leave off?"

"Chapter Four." David opened to the bookmark he'd fashioned from construction paper and buttons from Agnes's sewing box.

She took the book, wrapped an arm around her grandson and pretended to read the words that swam before her eyes, making up the story as she went along, relying upon the pictures to fashion her story.

And David, following the words on the pages, pretended he could not read, so as to enjoy the tale his grandmother wove.

"Some day, you gonna' read to me, child."

"Some day." And David nodded and snuggled up closer to his grandmother.

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Cheney at http://hellocheney.blogspot.com gave me this prompt: Write about the birth of something.

I gave SAM at http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com this prompt: Write the blurb for your current WIP.


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crystal Dreams

The stranger sat across from me and set down a bottle of beer. "You've been in the desert far too long."

I looked up. "Why do you say that?"

He appraised me. "Rusty skin. You have the desert embedded in you."

"You got a problem with that?"

"Ah. Even your language has changed. You are indeed a chameleon, Dr. Jacoby." He grinned. "Most people who come to Sedona are seekers. But you--You're hiding. Why here?"

I shrugged. "In a town full of kooks, it's easy to blend in." I took a sip from my beer bottle. "I'm just another weirdo."

"Selling rocks. That's a far cry from plastic surgery."
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cracked Pavement

Carolyn double knots the laces on her running shoes and steps from her apartment building.

"Morning, Caroline." Harold sits on his front stoop in his pajamas, smoking.

She sits beside him, waves away the offer of a cigarette.

"Just six o'clock and the parking lot is almost empty. Where these people got to go so early? Work'll still be there waiting for them at nine." His laugh, an easy rich baritone, never fails to make Carolyn smile. "What do you make a' that bike there?" He gestures to the dumpster with his cigarette and the length of ash falls to the stairs.

She squints. "Indeterminate color. Rusted in spots. Flat tire."

"Think I can fix it up?"

"I know you can, Harold." She stands and brushes the dirt from her sweatpants. "See you soon."

"You be careful crossing that street. It's dangerous."
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dreamers' Club

"Last night I dreamed of Johnny Depp," Lavergne said.

Ruthanne laughed. "Welcome to the club."

Lavergne paused in her work, her buffing rag smothering the business end of the spoon that would, in eighteen minutes and thirty-seven seconds, catch the sluggish sugar poured from a dispenser dotted with ketchup and fingerprints,. "What club?"

"Dreamers' club." Ruthanne cracked her gum. "People begin to dream when they realize their lives are limited. Maybe they're out of options. Maybe they've reached the halfway point in their lives and are wondering: What have I done that is remarkable? Johnny's telling you something, Lavergne. Telling you about what's missing."

"It was just a dream."

Ruthanne nodded. "That's what we all say. Dreaming's easier than making things happen. Cheaper too. I got braces to pay for. College bills, too. I ain't got time to dream. 'Sides, we need what's missing to appreciate what we got."

"What do you mean?"

Ruthanne wiped the counter with a damp blue sponge then held it up, studying its flesh. "See these holes? It's the holes in this sponge that give it structure. You got holes in your life, too."

Lavergne frowned. "I don't want holes in my life."

"We all got 'em. Regrets. Choices. Missed opportunities. All that builds up your life. It's what makes you you and nobody else."

"I can't live that way, Ruthanne."

Ruthanne nodded and dipped the sponge into the dishpan, filling the holes of the sponge with water. "Then quit dreaming, kid. Get out of here."

"You're firing me?"

"I'm setting you free. Now go, before I change my mind."

Ruthanne watched Lavergne untie her apron and walk out the front door before setting down the sponge and picking up the telephone. "Angie? Listen, I got a hole in my schedule. Think you can pick up the breakfast shift for me?"

"You finally fire that kid?"

"You could say that." Ruthanne laughed gently and cracked her gum.

"She'll be back, sooner or later."

Ruthanne nodded. "I know it."

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was club.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Perches for Crows

In the End, the people began harvesting from themselves, opening up tiny sections along their waistlines to extract the fat that would run their homes for another day. Then the power went out forever, and the overhead lines were just perches for crows. The people left their useless houses and stood on concrete sidewalks staring at each other with wide and wondering eyes, blinking blindly in the star-shine.

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  We were to write a story in three sentences.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013


"It's a Pre." The nurse's voice was full of finality. "Ten toes."

"It can't be." The mother gasped. She looked from the nurse to the doctor. "I'm a Trans. Brian is a Trans. The chances are..."

"Occasionally two fully-Trans parents will produce a Pre," the doctor said. "I'm sorry." He took the child and handed it to me. "The social worker will take over now."

"But what will happen to it?" The father reached, but I was too quick.

"Next time," the doctor said, as I fled the room and headed to Disposal.

As soon as I passed the last set of cameras, I veered left. "Hurry," someone urged.

I didn't need reminding.

"The red door," I whispered to the child. "We just have to get through the red door."
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Saturday, June 1, 2013


They stare at the city, contemplating the power of nature and of man. Bombs can destroy whole cities. Corn can be engineered. But grass can split apart asphalt in search of the sun.

For this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge, we were to write 33 words to accompany this picture:

 / Love Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

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