Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams

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

Saturday, November 30, 2013


If rain held color, taste and smell, each drop would be a memory of you. But shattered raindrops run like tears and your image slowly blurs, like chalk paintings washed away in spring.

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. We were to do a 33 word free write.


Monday, November 25, 2013


The precipitation was more ice than rain. Snow threatened. Ted pressed a hand to the window.

"Waiting for Santy Claus?"

Ted wheeled around. Shelia. Antlers on her head. A bracelet of bells that jingled as she reached for his wrist, searching for a pulse.

"How much time have I got?"

"I ain't the doctor, honey. Ain't even a nurse."

"Will I last until Christmas?"
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Sunday, November 24, 2013


Twenty-four degrees for the high today. In our house, where there's no insulation, the cold finds a way in through the cracks in the walls and around the windows. We learned quickly, this year, to dress in layers. To wear scarves inside. To gather in one room, beneath quilts and comforters, waiting for the space heater to work its magic.

We're cranky and irritated, cooped up, all of us, in one room with two energetic dogs and a cat. We need to get out. 

We bundle up in hats, scarves, boots and gloves; clip a leash on one of the dogs; and head for the woods.

Our breath comes out in great puffs. Our feet crunch the frozen ground. We can hear the stillness of the world as it quiets. Ahead of us is a man without a hat, his three dogs darting through the trees, barking and yipping, zipping towards us before veering away again. Besides him, besides us, the woods are empty.

The mud puddles are filled with water and frozen over with ice so thick I can't break it. But the water in the creek still flows. We cross, careful not to get our boots wet, and climb up the bank.

The water at the reservoir ripples in the wind, wind that tears at our faces and fingertips. The sky begins to spit snow.

We head towards town.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Beacon Hill

"I left Beacon Hill when I was three." She laughs. "I can barely recall."

He prods. "What do you remember? Tell me one thing."

"I remember the robins clinging to the trees."

He smiles, encouraging. Gentle. "One thing more."

This one thing more. His way, always, of digging deeper, deeper, deeper, until, by the end of the time she finds herself exhausted. "I remember the roses that grew in the garden of the next door neighbor. He would let me touch the petals, and they were so soft. So, so soft." Her voice trails off for a moment before she continues. "I remember one morning, just after a rain, or maybe it was raining still, a misty sort of rain you don't really notice." She looks at him. Is he paying attention?
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Red Flash

I saw the sky was painted grey;
raining tears of white.

I saw the grass was painted brown;
tips, curled down, were blue.

I saw the flash of cardinal's wing;
red projecting hope.

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

This weekend, writers, it's up to you. We want you to choose a word and use it three times in your 33 words. However, it must be either a verb, noun or adjective and the form of the word cannot change, it must appear exactly the same three times. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Well, I'm not too sure that an introvert would really make the best choice for a superhero, do you? I mean, can you picture Superman holed up in his room reading books? Captain America knitting and thinking about life? Thor, for God's sake, refusing a dinner date?

No, I don't think that the life of a superhero would be the life for me.

It's overrated, all that glory. All that stress. All that commitment. You have to constantly be ON all the time.


I prefer to be in the background.

Doing things here and there where I'm needed.

Nothing big: Taking out the recycling. Picking up bottles some kid threw out the window of his car. Helping old ladies cross the street.



 I want to be in the background.



 Maybe I'd like to fly.

Just once, mind you.

Just once.

This was written for today's One Minute Writer because I'm feeling lazy today and one minute of writing feels about right. The prompt was "If you somehow became a superhero, what would your power be?"

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


He sets his tea cup carefully in the saucer and makes a face. "I don't like the way this cup clicks every time I put it down. It's like a period, marking the end of every sip."

"No, dear," she says. She pauses over her cup, her perfect red lips poised to blow regally upon her tea. "The click is a comma. Commas indicate pauses. Periods are for endings. When your tea is gone."

"It's gone after one sip. These cups...what do they hold, an ounce of liquid? I would prefer a mug." A mug with coffee. One of those giant mugs he'd seen in the bookstore the other day.

"Mugs are common. So is coffee."
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Monday, November 18, 2013


Cara glances at the spoon her mother holds towards her, a spot of lime Jell-o at the tip. She sees herself upside down, a long drawn-out face, a wall of books behind her.

"Cara." Her mother shakes the spoon. The Jell-o moves in response, little reverberations spreading out like an accusation. Cara opens her mouth. A baby bird.

"I'm too thin," she says after swallowing.

"You're beautiful."

"I can still see, Mom." She sighs. "You know what I just realized?"

Her mother dabs at Cara's face with a napkin. "What's that?"

"I see the world through reflection."
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The cat knows Mrs. Wilson is dying: Cats know these things.

"Remember especially the sick."

The cat--we may as well get his name out of the way: Leonardo, Leo for short--blinks at the television, tuned to a cable broadcast of last Sunday's Mass. Leo curls up beside Mrs. Wilson and begins to purr.

Does it seem inappropriate to you, this purring? It felt inappropriate to Leo, but he soldiered on, not wanting Mrs. Wilson to feel abandoned as she parted this world. Truth be told, his heart wasn't in it.

The purring felt forced, the way Mrs. Wilson arranged her face into a smile every Christmas when she unwrapped the gift from her daughter-in-law: another bottle of that God-awful perfume Lilly got at the dollar store every year. Mrs. Wilson would make a fuss over the perfume, holding it to the light saying, "How did you know I was running out, Lilly?" before stretching her mouth into an even wider grin and adding, "Isn't timing a funny thing?"

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Friday, November 8, 2013

The God of Internet

Thirty-three gods.
So passé.

I have deposed the gods of honesty and compassion,

People no longer worship them.
     Now they turn to me.

I'm the god of internet.

I shall stand alone.

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

"Buddhist cosmology tells of Trāyastriṃśa, or the Heaven of Thirty-Three gods, which rule over the human realm.  This weekend we're asking for exactly 33 of your own words about a god of your own devising that shares heaven with the other thirty-two gods.  Make it yours and have fun with it."


Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7, 2013

The wind blusters.

The clouds are gray.

I shiver in my coat,
     yank on my hat,
          wish I'd thought to bring a scarf.

The mittens I wear are mismatched
     pink and white
and belong to one
     (perhaps both)
of my daughters.

The dog,
     I notice,
          has chewed a hole
into one thumb.

I step into the woods,
     head for the creek.

The water has risen in the rain.

I toe across flat and mossy rocks
               trying to keep my feet dry.

I pass the bridge.
     The owl's nest.
          The fallen tree.
               And emerge.

No fishermen are at the lake
     today: The icy wind has chased them away,
          empty bait containers,
               a forgotten lure
     the only evidence that
          they were here a day ago.

The pair of ducks is gone as well,
     the widening v they cut into the calm and
          still water ripped and rippled away by the wind.

The heron, too, has disappeared,
     the bird with two grey feathers missing
     from its left wing.

     Sentenced to flights
          short and low, his feet skirt the trees as he passes

Today, I round the lake
          Grateful for the sudden
          appearance of the sun that
               warms my back,
reminding me of
     hot mugs of tea
          and the soup I have
simmering on the stove,
     a mishmash of things left over,
unedited words
     strung together
          and stirred
               and bubbled
in hopes that they'll collaborate and decide to coalesce
     into something
          of meaning.

This was written for this week's Write at the Merge prompt: "The third day comes a killing frost." ~William Shakespeare

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Autumn's Craft

Lovely autumn.

Your craft and wile seduce me into celebrating the falling of the leaves:
the oranges and the yellows;
the reds and the purples
     heartbreakingly deep;

anticipating the cold-tinted mornings
and brisk afternoons,
dark evenings playing rummy around the kitchen table over
     steaming mugs of tea.

Lovely autumn.

You call me to the woods again and again,
my feet shuffling through leaves thickly carpeting the path
so that I can no longer see my way.

I am guided by a hole high in a tree where, perhaps,
an owl restlessly dreams while I walk, shifting in its sleep,
always on guard.
     On guard always.

I am guided, too, by the tree lying prone upon the ground.
Piece by piece, it is melting away to become one with the earth
to indeed change into earth, reminding me of who and what
     I will one day become

broken down atoms collaborating to form something new.

Lovely autumn.

The fishermen sit around the lake watching the wind tear
ripples across the water's surface
while the willow tree bends to admire her shimmery reflection,
for she is yet adorned in leaves.

The fishermen tell me they've had no luck today but still they sit,
watching and waiting.
And it is lovely.
     All of it is lovely.

* * *

But finally there are no more leaves to rip from the trees,
no more leaves to block the inevitable iciness of the wind.
All the leaves have lost their color;
dry and brown skeletons
     curling in upon themselves

tissue melting away
until only the veins of the leaves remain.
And the holidays pass and the busyness settles.
and my life is full of quiet and stillness.

My breath fogs the windows.
Lake Erie brings forth snow.
The world turns frigid and white and stark.

And suddenly the thought of becoming one with the earth,
-broken down atoms collaborating to make something new-
seems bitterly cold and
     frighteningly alone.

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


Friday, November 1, 2013


She falls into rushing river, fingers seizing shapeless air, river dashing her beneath the wooden bridge bearing blue graffiti: forever young.


Someone must fulfill the prophesy.

Do you blame me my choice?

* * * 

Gruesome flash - or blink - fiction for the Trifecta Writing Challenge: Thirty-three words continuing the story based upon these lines from Maggie Stiefvater: "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die."  

November 1 gusted in with howling wind and heavy rain. The stream in the nearby woods is nearly impassable and the roots of the silver maples cling to the banks.