“Release the Dragons” – Flash Fiction

Jack’s study is wallpapered in a  1940s paper that features a lot of Van Dyke brown and golden apples. It’s a bit fuzzy and feminine, but because of the browns, it retains enough masculinity that Jack can deal. Had the papering been in roses and pinks, he would have torn it off long ago.

There are bottles of scotch lined up on a shelf, specialty types and expensive, and they add to the ‘his study’ vibe, at it really is all Jack. The rest of his house might be feminine, considering it’s his wife’s domain, but thankfully the study is all his. Down to the strange decorations on his wall; African masks and Native American spears, cigar boxes tucked into the book shelves, stacked books, a messy desk, dim interior. The study is Jack. Jack and the study are one.

The scent of the room is warm. Not so much as musty, but dust has a warm smell, and the crammed interior leads to there being more dust than might be in the rest of the house. Jack’s wife gave up on trying to keep his study neat and tidy. A little dirt never hurt anyone.  The books are new smelling, with glue and fresh paper and ink, but there are also older books. Books with yellowed pages and spicy with age. Leather covers with the warm and sharply metallic scent from the leather. There is a leather chair, worn from years of Jack sitting in it to their dogs  claiming as their own. An open cigar box smells of the sharp resinous smell of Spanish cedar and the unburned smell of tobacco. There is a warmth and coziness to the room and it is homey feeling without the pretentious feeling that it needs to be homey.

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and Jack is enjoying a small glass of scotch while he reads the latest historical book  on the Second World War. He has a great love of that particular war and has too many books on the subject. His wife, Sadie, is baking cookies in the kitchen and there is the warm smell of vanilla and burned sugar when the back door buzzer goes off, startling Jack.  The damn thing sounds like a fire alarm buzzer, it’s about as dramatic as one, and his three grandsons get a huge delight ringing the thing.

Jack sighs as he hears the trampling feet and voices garbled into a cacophony of sound. There seems to be a barking dog in the midst as well.

“Release the dragons,” Jack mutters as the heard of grandsons, a new dog, and a friend from school all pile into the hallway outside his door. He hails them, downs the rest of his scotch and slowly gets up.

Saturdays are for his grandsons even if they are about as disciplined as a herd of dragons.

 

I was complimented on how I describe a room and write it out recently. I think I have to give that credit to Zane Grey and Emilie Loring, whose work has inspired interiors and exteriors enough that I like writing about spaces. I want to have you, the reader, picture it in your head like I describe, but I realize each of us is different. Ah, one can dream.

So, for now, enjoy this snippet of flash fiction.

Kate

Gossamer Wings and Bathing Selkies – Flash Fiction

It’s gossamer wings he sketches with a bright, brand new No. 2 pencil. Airy, delicate things attached to her frame. As she stands poised over the water, in a modest bathing suit, cherry red, and a red bathing cap, she’s from another age as she prepares herself for the cold punch into the mountain lake. For now, she’s warm on the granite rock, but the lake is fed by snow melt.

But as he sketches her, she’s a fairy, unreal and a pixie. She’s not just ready to leap into the water, but standing on a lavender bloom poised to take flight. His fingers smudge the oily pastels into the paper, spreading the fantasy as reality, with a whoop suddenly dives into the clear water.

He pauses for a moment, his fingers hovering over the paper as she surfaces, laughing and gasping. He’s tempted to grab another blank page and sketch in a selkie as she glides seal-like through the water. If only his muse would hold still, he might be able to capture the magic in her.

I pulled the prompts Gossamer, lavender, No. 2 Pencil, and yellow this last weekend at the writing group. Mel said this was a pretty good use of the prompts.  I think I’m inspired by Celtic stories still, hence the selkie. For those curious, the film Ondine with Colin Farrel is marvelous for the selkie tale.  And when I was picturing the fairy wings, I was thinking of Cicely Mary Barker‘s fairies. I’ve always loved them.  And old fashioned bathing suits from the 20s.  I had this vintage poster image in my head, but I’m not even sure it’s real. It’s funny how you can imagine something you think you’ve seen, but you’re not sure it’s real or made up.

PAD Day 12 – Serious/Silly – When We Were Young and Silly

Could there be anything more perfect than bookshelves full of books? Only being in a story that is crammed full, with all the nooks and crannies. One of the isles of the Ashland Book Exchange.

Good Wednesday morning allI! I was in Ashland, Oregon yesterday and while there I stopped in at The Book Exchange, a marvelous used bookstore, and one place I feel I must stop when I visit there. It doesn’t hurt that it’s kind of like a cave. I wish I would have taken pictures, but if anyone goes onto the website, you can see the interior. Or see the one picture above from their site.

While I didn’t find the second and third Outlander novels, nor Alice Through the Looking Glass, which was what I was hunting for, I did walk out with two other books I have been hunting for, for quite a while.  A.A. Milne‘s “When We Were Young” and “Now We Are Six“; two marvelous little books of nonsense and children’s poetry. Though honestly, some of it is so relevant to being an adult since I can now understand some things I didn’t as a child.

They were especially fun to find as they fit with the prompt for Day 12 of PAD – write a silly poem or write a serious poem. I think honestly they are not quite silly, nor not quite serious, but kind of in between.  So I hope you enjoy.

 

 

When We Were Young and Silly

I’m reading something silly in an A.A. Milne book
It’s rather sweet and charming with an old-fashioned look.
When we were young, but now we are six, is how it goes,
Those ages when life was simple and free as time flows.
Daisy teas and acorn cups, and rivers of milk and honey,
Of sandbox cakes so fancy, when time was warm and sunny.
The years were endless, time moving like a slippery snail,
Trudging through the months, waiting for Christmas without fail.
Now we are many more years than six could ever be,
I miss the simple and the silly in all the things I’d see.

And……

Bookstore Ghosts

The bookstore whispers in a somber note
of authors past and living ghosts.
Though the bustling of active sales
the quiet pervades each nook and fades.
A creaking floor alludes to others there
a turn shows there’s no one anywhere.
Each book calls you to touch and linger
to find those stories that are matches to tinder.
Burning you up with magic between pages;
how could black words on white make such changes?
Your life is not yours as you leave with ghosts,
Stacked up in tomes filled with dusty motes.

Ah, I think it turned out pretty good in the scope of things. I’m happy with it. And I was excited to be in Ashland, even if Mr. B was like one of the most impatient guys ever while I was in the bookstore. I could have easily spent an hour or three there.

Kate

On The Persian Rug – Flash Fiction

tumblr_mxqu06swUg1t5bhezo1_500He found her lying on the Persian rug in the old library. The late afternoon sun shone in through the tall windows creating rectangles of brightness on the old red and gold rug. She lay there in her green sweater and low rise jeans, worn so soft they moulded to her every curve. Her sweater, a bright leaf green, had ridden up revealing the shadowed indentation of her navel and a two-inch strip of smooth and toned abs.

Her dark hair was spread out in a fan around her head; a halo  of night. In her right hand, resting between the curved mountds of her breasts, she clutched her small, black mp3 player. The earbuds were in and she was tapping her tennis shoes in rhythm. Her eyes were closed, but occasionally her velvety lips moved as she lip synced.

He was amused as he watched her, so relaxed, lying flat on the floor. He round an arm chair and sank into the red velvet seat to wait for her to finish out whatever she was listening to. He wasn’t in any hurry. The day was done for him and there was something relaxing and soothing about watching her spread out on the floor.

It was a quarter hour longer till she stopped her toe tapping. He had just settled fully into the seat, readying himself for a nap when she sighed and took the earbuds out and opened her eyes.

She tipped her head back and saw him watching her with a slow grin.

“How long have you been there?” her husky voice asked.

“Not long.”

“Why didn’t you let me know you were here?”

“Because. I like watching you.”

She turned a slight shade of rose pink, but didn’t answer as she tried to gracefully sit up and wrap the wires around her player.

“Shall we go get dinner?” He asked as he grabbed her hand to pull her up.

“Okay,” she replied and they walked out of the old room, her arm tucked into his, leaving the golden rectangles to shift and fade as the sun slowly sank.

“I’m very afraid of dying.” – Flash Fiction

Just a little piece I wrote in today’s writing group. I had the prompt of Bossa Nova, mulberry, and page 157 which in Paul Coelho’s book , The Devil and Miss Prym, gave me the title of the piece.

The atmosphere of the room is smoky and dim as he sits in the worn leather chair sipping a glass of port. The port is aged and thick. Richer than mulberry jam spread on toast. The rich sounds of a bossa nova song come crackling out of the old speakers. The crackle is either from the scratched record or the ancient stereo. Who knows, and nobody cares. The music needs the static to tone down the oppressive beat, the trumpets hitting too high a note here and there.
“I’m very afraid of dying,” he says conversationally, to no one in particular.
The younger man, sitting opposite him sipping his whiskey eyes him with an arched brow.
“You are going philosophical? How much port have you had?” the young man asks. He’s not really young, but forty to his sixty seems practically juvenile.
“Phil, when you get to be my age, you’ll get it,” the man says.
“And what brought this on?” asks Phil.
The man sighs. Even he’s not sure. Maybe he has had too much port. Or maybe seeing his friend go through so many treatments only to waste away until nothing is left but skin and bones and pain and sorry. Till your mind gives up and one day you just don’t wake up.
Phil can’t understand. He’s never had to lose someone. Never hardly been sick.
Just wait till your sixty, thinks the man. Heck, wait till you’re fifty and you can’t get out of bed each morning without everything hurting. No, young people just don’t get it.

 

My parents always talk about how when you reach fifty it’s all down hill.  Boris said he felt it at 48. Honestly, at times I feel like I’m already feeling it, but I am dreading getting older. And other than that, this is just something that came out of the prompts. Nothing more.

Kate

Under The Clock Towers – Flash Fiction

clock tower

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, United Kingdom by Omar Yassen

Shafer nursed his pint of Guinness at the worn bar under the Clock Towers that sheltered the old tavern. The pub had been there so long the wood bar was dark and greasy from years of dirty palms and spilled drinks. Dents and gouges marked the wood giving it character and a sense of presence to the smoky interior. Old men of a certain age sat huddled in groups, round tables or in the hard wooden booths. There was an air of silent comradery to the mumbled conversations that filled the pub with a hum that had neither a beginning nor an end. It was as it had always been, ever since Shafer was old enough for his first pint.

That was long ago; though not so long that he was ready to join in with one of the groups of men. That and he was still a loner. Always had been. Maybe it was his occupation that kept him from joining in. He knew too much about everyone there. He knew who had been unfaithful to which wife, or who owed so much on their bill at the pub. He dealt in information, using it like currency. Though he never used it for favors. He was, at best an honest dealer.

People came to him for information, he gave it to them, and they paid, leaving happy with the news, or at least, satisfied, albeit disturbed at times. But he couldn’t help how people took his information. He never promised to sugar-coat it. He was blunt and to the point. If people didn’t want to know the answer, they shouldn’t ask the question.
Despite what he knew, people still treated him with a modicum of respect. He supposed it was because they were afraid he might report any illegal activity to the authorities, which he could have done numerous times. But he had a reputation of discretion and he liked to keep it that way. It was bad for business if you were a snitch.

The door to the pub swung open and an icy blast of January cold blew in through the door, biting at the heels of the charming woman who stepped in hesitant and unsure. She quickly shut the door behind her as some of the patrons emitted growls of displeasure at the cold surrounding their old bones

Shafer watched her as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She was as lovely now as when she had come to him two weeks ago. Dressed in a long, forest green wool jacket, buttoned up to the neck with brass buttons, she looked very prim and proper. And so out of place in the pub that Shafer decided to be nice and rescue her from her fortress of uneasiness. He tapped his glass creating a slight ring and her eyes flew towards the sound. He saw a smattering of relief in her eyes as she recognized him and made her way around the tables to the bar.

Normally he would have met her in his office, but the walls there had ears, especially with the information he had found out. Here, at least, no one cared that much about secrets. Beer had a tendency to loosen the tongue and nothing was ever taken seriously.

“Mr. Shafer,” the woman greeted, her eyes darting around the room.

“Mrs. Ballington.”

“You said you had some information for me?” She questioned as if unsure of the message he had sent her telling her so and where to meet him.

“I do. Would you like a drink?”

“No. No, thank you.” She nervously moistened her lips

Shafer sighed. He hated to do this with such a decent lady.

“Could you just tell me?” she nearly whispered.

“Yes. Your husband is having an affair. In fact, he’s having three.” He sighed again as he saw the way the words hit her and she started to crumble.

 

Wow. So I don’t normally finish a piece of fiction thinking, “wow,”, but this time I certainly did as I read this on Saturday at my writing group. D and I sat there and I just knew it was a good piece.I want to finish it, but I’m not sure how, or where I’d go with it. But with the word prompts of clock towers, forest green, and Guinness, I went from being totally uninspired an hour prior, to being super excited at the end. I’m loving this flash fiction moments that hit. They are really inspiring.

I sort of saw this as a piece that could take place at any time, though with the coat the woman wears, I think steampunk. A long green jacket that goes almost to the floor, with those brass buttons that I picture as being shiny. And I see the woman as an auburn haired lady with her hair up almost Gibson girl style.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll see if I can make this go further.

Kate

I Said Yes by Emily Maynard Johnson – A Review

_225_350_Book.1834.coverI Said Yes : My Story of Heartbreak, Redemption, and True Love By Emily Maynard  Johnson is Emily’s story of how she went from meeting the man of her dreams, losing him, having his child, being on the Bachelor, the Bachelorette, and finally finding ‘true love’.

Let me preface by saying I have only recently started watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and I have never seen Emily’s seasons. I really know nothing about her, so I’m not biased one way or the other with her in particular.  I will say I am now a Bachelor fan after starting watching in 2015 with Chris Soules.

The story chronicles Emily’s growing up years, from boarding school to dealing with health issues of Bell’s Palsy and ADD; from having social anxiety troubles and learning problems to family moves and various other things.  We meet Emily from about age ten and experience her life till she meets Ricky Hendrick. Their unique romance catches your eye right away since Emily was 16 and Ricky 22.  You feel the tragedy of Emily losing Ricky to a plane crash in 2004, then the joy of finding out she is carrying his daughter.

There are the trials and joys of raising her daughter as a single mom, then having a friend sign her up for the Bachelor.  It’s while Emily is on the show where we find out what really goes on while being on the show. Emily details what we don’t see while watching the shows. We experience the heartache and excitement of being one of the girls on the Bachelor, then being the Bachelorette, which while interesting, isn’t as glamorous as we all think.

Emily chronicles her time after the shows when she meets her husband to be, who is not a contestant, and we finish off with the start of their life together.

Ah, sounds sweet and marvelous. While I thought this book was going to be this wonderful story, similar to When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy,  which is on how looking to God  brings you to your faith and the person you are supposed to marry, sadly, this is not that book. First off, this book is mostly about being on the Bachelor and the Bachelorette.  The first part of the book does go through Emily’s life up to meeting Ricky Hendrick and having his child and raising her daughter on her own, though with her parent’s support.   However, most of the book is devoted to being on the shows.

While the premise of the book leads you to believe that it is going to be a book of how Emily has trusted God to bring her to the man she is going to marry and to live the life, most of the book focuses on other things. Yes, there is a smattering of token points on how she wasn’t looking to God to direct her, to yes, she felt a movement in her spirit. On the whole, I would say there are about 12 pages total devoted to the topic of God, which might be a bit high in my estimation. In my opinion, that is serious deception on the part of the summary. I felt that even the summary  of the story on the dust jacket leads you to believe that this book is more about redemption and faith than the Bachelor. I think in the end Emily is trying to get that ‘true love’ comes from God, but I was left a little confused what she meant. Did she mean the true love was with God or with the man she has ended up marrying? I was never quite sure.

I found the writing a little juvenile in style and I was disappointed that there wasn’t more faith and waiting on Christ and such. My first impression was that the book was written by a teenager.  In my opinion the style is too simplistic and lacking a lot of fundamental facts, mostly in regards to aspects of Emily’s life. The book focuses mostly on bad choices and the Bachelor. If I were going to give this book to anyone, it would be fans of the Bachelor and Bachelor Nation, along with any woman who thinks it might be fun to try out for the show. For those girls, the ones who want to try out for the show, the book is more of a warning of why you should not go on the Bachelor.

All that being said, it was a quick read, and fundamentally interesting, but seriously lacking in what the book seems to be promoted as.

I would  give this book a 2 out of 5 stars because I’m not impressed. While it wasn’t my style and annoyed me, it’s not a ‘bad’ book.  It’s just not quite as good as you would think.

 

Kate

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Purple Mountain’s Majesty – Flash Fiction

Here is a piece I wrote just this weekend during my local writing circle. I have been making up my own writing prompts using scrapbook paper  and a prompt, a color, and a number on the little slip of paper. For those wondering about great colors… Try Crayola colors on Wikipedia. I love the titles, always have, Midnight Blue being an absolute favorite, along with Mint Green and Chartreuse.   Or try paint chips. A wealth of color names and ideas come from paint chips. Well, the writing prompts went over great, and one of the ones I chose had Crayola’s purple crayon, Purple Mountain’s Majesty, on it. So here’s the inspired piece of flash fiction.

Via Robby Hare blog

She sat at her morning spot, the nook on the east side of the house. Not really a nook so much as a seat under the window with a wide enough ledge to set her coffee cup. It was her time of  uninterrupted moments. Her time without a husband calling for something to be ironed or where were his cuff links. It was before the mountain sunrise. It was almost before the stars had set. The time between time.

She sat reading Amar Singh’s Diary about Imperial India. She had picked the book up on a whim at a library book sale. Maybe the color had intrigued her. Or maybe it was because it was about India. She always wanted to go to India but had never really put the idea into motion. So she read about it.

While she read, she idly flipped one of her son’s crayons over and over in her left hand. Somehow, her nook had been confiscated recently to be an art studio. There were crayons in cups on the window sill and abstract drawings taped to the wall. Jeremy was a mini Picasso. Or just a very ordinary five-year-old boy.

She glanced at the crayon in her hand. Purple Mountain’s Majesty was the color. How fitting to be holding a color that matched what she could see and what was her favorite view. A shadowed purple, not as clear as Lavender or lilac, but so pleasing. The color was waxy and warm in her hands. She set the crayon down just as the first diamond ray of the sun peaked over the jagged mountains.

Yes, the view was most definitely Purple Mountain’s Majesty.

 

Enjoy.

Kate

Explaining Art

Or in this case, not explaining art.

The introduction to the 35th-anniversary edition of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand starts as follows,

Ayn Rand held that art is a “re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgements.” By its nature, therefore, a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond. ~ Leonard Peikoff

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet I explain my writing.

First off, let me just say that Ayn Rand’s style of writing, while daunting with how much of it there is, is amazing. She writes like no other I’ve read. Magical and pulling you in.

I have found as I write, especially as I blog, I feel the need to explain myself. I preface my writing. I explain why I wrote something the way I did, or what motivated me to do so. I tell what I was thinking about, feeling like I will never have the reader really understand me unless I explain it away. I’m the type of person to explain a joke in more depth than just telling the joke. I’m the one who has to get down to the nitty-gritty of a dress instead of just saying, “a blue dress”. I have to go into way too much detail.

I guess I always feel like I won’t be understood, which is crazy, because if I write with just enough detail, won’t the reader be able to understand?  Do I need to reader to understand exactly how I am picturing what I write? I’m sure I don’t imagine Hogwarts to look like how J.K. Rowling  pictured it, but does she care? Can you care?

Honestly, it gets to be a little exhausting to get all the details out there about how you envision something. No, my characters will never be imagined how I describe them because each person thinks about things differently.

And each situation that I write will be experienced a different way by each reader. I can’t control how you think. Nor do I really want to. Sure, if I’m describing someone as looking like Brad Pitt, well then, you can imagine Brad Pitt. But all my other various situations, you can’t.

I didn’t really think that much about my prefacing everything I write until more recently when I realized at my writing group that I had to explain everything I was writing. Do I really need to? I think it comes from not feeling confident with what I have written. I always worry that maybe it isn’t good enough, so I had best explain it. I even did it this last week when I was at the writing circle because I wasn’t feeling very confident with the scene I had written. Not because it wasn’t good, but because there was no actual context for what I had written. I had had a scene in my head from a dream, it worked with an idea I had for a novel I have been writing for years, so I wrote it. But it takes place far into the novel. And it has no other scenes or ideas surrounding it. It just is.

See, even there I am explaining myself. Why? Do you really need to know all of what I am thinking? But yet I feel the need to explain why I wrote something.

Does Van Gogh’s Starry Night’ need explaining? Does it need a ‘preface’? Do we need an explanation on why Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ are so perfect? No. Do we even need a reason why The Great Gatsby is one of America’s most wonderful novels?( I say that after reading Jesse’s post on the novel. I suggest you read it if you love Gatsby as much as we do.) But do any of these great works of life need a preface?

No.

So, maybe I ought to stop explaining.

Kate

Reality of Dreams – Flash Fiction

So there I was, sitting in my writing circle. I can say ‘my’ because I’ve gone twice, I know the lovely ladies, and I have plans to make it a ‘must’ every week.  So I was sitting there with my circle this morning (Saturday) with express plans to write some flash fiction.  I grabbed the piece of paper with the number 85 on it and went around the room pulling books off the shelf and turning to page 85 for a prompt. I found two that worked for me and this is the piece of flash fiction that came from it.  Incidentally, I was envisioning Andrew Lee Potts from SyFy’s Alice that was a few years ago.  I adored him as Hatter, a scatterbrained and kind of cute/sexy ‘mad’ Hatter.  He made the part so wonderful that he is what I picture when I think of the Mad Hatter.

So Hatter is who I picture in this piece.  Enjoy.

 

Timothy sat in one of the two Louis the Fifteenth chairs that were in the center of a winter garden. The early morning light was blue and frosted fog. He looked down at himself, startled and yet complacent to see he was wearing a mourning suit, complete with tails and a grey top-hat. All around a fine snow fell, not on him or the chairs, but around the circle of stone housing this hidden garden. The sun was a weak diamond in a milk ice sky.

“Oh boy,” he though on a sigh, “Now where am I?”

These dreams, or transportations, were happening more frequently these days. What was the dream? Reality or the dream itself. Did he really belong here or was there something dreamlike to be said for sitting in a garden on very expensive chairs?

Would he wake up back in his normal life with a stale cup of coffee in his hands and a deadline to beat? Maybe that was the dream. Or more accurately, a nightmare. At least here, all he had to do was think about something and it appeared.

He glanced down just as a snifter of brandy appeared in his hand. Yes, this was definitely a much better place to be. He wondered how long he would stay this time. But he wasn’t going to waste a good brandy on thinking about what ifs.

He took  a healthy sip, closed his eyes, and settled into his seat as the burning liquid warmed him in the cold winter morning.

 

So, there it is. Honestly, my first start was very different, but I am so happy with this and now it makes me want to continue and write about Timothy. What is he? Where is he going? What does he do? Who else might be in this dreamlike land? And is he dreaming?  So many questions!

Kate