Category Archives: Daily writing prompts

Goodbye 2018!

December has been a busy month. I guess that’s not unusual for us but the holidays for us involves traditions that we just won’t give up no matter how packed our schedule is.

Every year we have a cookie making party. This year we had 8 teenagers spend the weekend baking cookies and cakes – okay, mostly cakes because what they really enjoy these days is decorating cakes. There was flour everywhere and they used over 30 eggs. There are still 6 open cans of frosting in my fridge that need to be thrown away.

We also visit the lights at a park with family friends every year. We have been doing this since 2013 and even though the girls we bring are now 15 and 17 they still get excited about going. The 4 girls pose for hundreds of pictures at the same places they’ve been standing for years and looking back we can see how much they’ve changed.

We fit these activities in on top of Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating and more.

As if that weren’t enough, we fostered kittens, three this time. They were with us for over 3 weeks and although they started off timid and scared they eventually grew to be more adventurous.

My daughter held a yard sale the weekend before Christmas where we sold some of our furniture – 3 book cases and a sectional sofa, making room and clearing clutter. We began renovating my daughter’s room, removing everything including the carpet. I’ve never seen so much sand under a carpet before! Where does it come from? We changed the walls from purple to grey and finally painted the baseboards that have been the horrible yellow that was there since we moved in 8 years ago. I took down the old shelving in the closet to make room for more functional storage. My younger daughter’s room is next…after we finish.

I stuck to running a couple times a week and am up to 5 miles now. I can hold yoga poses I had once thought impossible. I got back out on my bike Christmas day and did 20 miles in spite of the tires being flat. I feel strong and fit.

On top of everything the girls had another trip to NH for their third funeral this year. While it was sad saying goodbye to yet another grandparent this one was not only expected but in many ways a relief. Their dad’s father had been suffering for a long time and he is now at peace.

We have definitely finished 2018 with a bang. I look forward to what 2019 will bring!

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Traditions.

A Love That Endures

“No! Please. Dear God, no.” His cry was one of anguish few of us ever really experience.

His wife lay in her hospital bed, surrounded by beeping monitors. The smell of disinfectant would have made him light-headed if he had been paying attention. The air hung heavy with thoughts left unspoken.

We’ve been together 53 years. How could God take her from me now? The man sobbed openly, without shame.

He sat in a hard chair, pulled as close as possible. He held tightly to her cold hand, rubbing his thumb over the loose skin. As tears fell he wiped them away without noticing. His eyes never left her face.

The doctor stood silently watching. Normally he would have left already, maybe sent a nurse to check on them periodically. But his heart broke for this man. He couldn’t have avoided giving him the grim prognosis, could he? He wasn’t sure how her heart kept beating as it was. She could be gone any moment. It was his duty to dispense the news honestly.

If only someone would love me as much. His mind wandered to his own failed marriage. Had he ever loved with such selflessness? He never knew love could be so strong, so enduring, so infinite.

“Sir, help me. Please.” The old man implored.

Brought back to the present the doctor found the other man standing unsteadily, pushing on the unconscious woman. “What-” he began.

“Help me!” His harsh tone surprised the younger man.

The doctor placed his hand on top of the old man’s, stopping it. Once he looked up they maintained eye contact. In all his years as a physician he had never seen such raw pain. “How can I help?”

“I want…” He paused, tears overcoming him. “I need to hold her. One last time.”

Together they eased her to one side of the bed, leaving a narrow space on the other. Awkwardly her husband climbed up beside the patient, laying on his side. The doctor lifted her head gently so the man could slide his arm under her neck. The old man pressed himself to her, whispering in her ear.

Feeling like an intruder the doctor turned away.

Just then the monitor that had been steadily beeping in time with her heart stopped it’s rhythmic beat. Instincts kicking in, he spun around ready for action. Approaching the bed he said, “Sir, you’re going to need to move.” When there was no response he quickly reached for the old man’s wrist, anxious to move it off her chest so he could try to get her heart beating again, buy them a few more minutes. To his horror the old man’s hand was limp. Feeling for a pulse he realized they were both gone.

Maybe it was for the best. With a heavy heart he left the room.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Infinity.

Behind Closed Doors

She looked around her cramped one bedroom apartment. Dark stains ran across the ceiling where the roof had leaked – or rather where it still leaked on rainy days. The smell of damp gym socks hung faintly in the air. Her landlord refused to take care of the mold growing near the entry door. Light filtered dully through the dirty windows lending a brown hue to the room.

She sat on the second-hand sofa she had picked up on sale at Salvation Army. Rusty springs creaked under her weight, even though she’d lost nearly 10 pounds since she moved in. Weighing 120 at 5’ 6” she couldn’t afford to lose more. A butterfly could land on these cushions and still sound like a ghost rattling chains, she thought. The fabric under her bare leg felt like burlap as she moved unconsciously away from the brown splotch that seemed to grow bigger of its own accord. Soon it would be impossible to avoid.

She rested a foot on the battered coffee table she’d rescued from the dumpster. One of the wobbly legs was shorter than the others but she kind of enjoyed rocking the table back and forth. It soothed her frazzled nerves. Leaning her head back and closing her eyes she pushed it away, then let it fall toward her. Push, fall, push, fall, push, fall. Focused on the repetitive movement she almost missed the mouse that scurried inside the wall behind her head.

A few weeks ago she would have screamed at just the thought of those beady-eyed creatures. Now when they crossed her path she didn’t even flinch. For the most part they went their own way. The exception, of course, was the kitchen. It took a while but she learned how to keep what little food she had from her tiny roommates. Now she opted for cans and jars mostly. She kept cereal and bread in the fridge. Since the refrigerator was barely cooler than the rest of the apartment she never bothered to buy milk or yogurt so there was plenty of space and the mice couldn’t get to them there.

Push, fall, push, fall. Over and over she rocked the table. This is better? she wondered to herself. Were things really so bad?

The answer was yes. Not just a regular yes…but a resounding YES! As bad as her living conditions may be her previous situation was worse. Much worse.

She may have been living in a beautiful home with expensive furniture, but it wasn’t hers. She had been a slave. Sure, the word they used for it was “wife,” but if the truth were told she had been treated no better than the poor souls who had fought for so many years to gain freedom. Only she didn’t have Dr. King on her side.

Because her skin bore no visible scars they had said it wasn’t abuse. For years she had believed them. “He’s just joking,” they’d say when she was hurt by his cruel criticism. They didn’t know him like she did.

They didn’t see what he would do when he came home after she had spent all day cleaning his beloved house and his cherished possessions. They didn’t know that he would look for any tiny crumb, any speck of dirt, any excuse to find fault. And then he would destroy all she had done. He would throw knickknacks on the floor – only hers of course, never his – crushing them beneath his heavy boots. He would rip pages from her favorite books and scatter them around the room.

She had learned to ensure the trash had been taken to the neighbors’ can as on more than one occasion he had dumped trash over her glistening kitchen floor. She thought she had won when she began taking the trash out every day before he got home. But he wouldn’t let her get the best of him. Oh no, he simply went out to the trashcan and brought it inside, pouring out coffee grounds and half eaten food.

But if it were at the neighbors’ there was nothing he could do.

In front of everyone else he was charming, the perfect husband. Perhaps a little demanding but that was to be expected since she didn’t work. After a long day at the office didn’t he deserve to have supper waiting for him? It really was the least she could do. She was fortunate he wanted to support her. She had everything anyone could ever want! That’s what they told her and she believed them.

Her life was in a shambles but they told her it was paradise. Her husband was ruthless but they called it love.

Push, fall, push, fall, push, fall. She rocked the table faster as she remembered the night she told him she wanted a divorce. It was the first time he actually lifted a hand to her. She was sure he was going to strike. She almost hoped he would. At least then there would be proof. But he knew that too.

In the end he’d told her to go, to get out of his house. It didn’t matter that she had spent 17 years cooking and cleaning for him. It was irrelevant that he wouldn’t let her work because he wanted her at his beck and call. The house, and everything in it, belonged to him. She had nothing.

“Go sponge off someone else,” he’d shouted as she walked down the driveway.

She almost turned back. Where could she go? But she knew it was too late.

She had no friends to turn to – he hadn’t allowed her to have friends of her own. She had no money. She hadn’t worked in almost 20 years. She was alone and penniless. What had she been thinking?

The first night she spent alone, shivering under a bridge in spite of the heat, praying for morning to come. Once it did she set out to find a job – any job. She applied everywhere, telling them her phone wasn’t working and she’d be back to schedule an interview. Within a few days she had been hired at a local diner. Although she was still sleeping outside she kept herself clean, using a public bathroom in the park when no one was around.

She kept her tips in a tin can she buried under a rock. After she cashed her paycheck she added that as well. Slowly she saved enough to move into her crappy apartment. Gradually she was rebuilding her life.

Push, fall, push, fall. Suddenly the table crashed to the ground as short leg broke off completely. It doesn’t matter. I’ll get a new one, she thought. She pushed it away and stood. It was time to get to work.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Shambles.

Staring at a Blank Page

As many of you know, I have been working on my novel now since June. The ideas for the story came fast and furious, flowing with little effort. Every day I would write 500 to 1000 words, sometimes more. I used the word of the day for inspiration, and I was happy with what I came out. The pieces had been written out of order, but I had put them together in one document in order. When I started to read through it I realized it still needed a lot of work – a full rewrite instead of just an edit as I’d hoped.

A few months ago I stopped responding to the word of the day prompt so I could focus on my masterpiece. I started the rewrite and what I wrote the second time was so much better I was motivated to turn it into something truly great. Pretty quickly I got about 20,000 words into the new story, and it was good. Really good. Better than I thought I could write.

And then I got stuck.

Life happened. My mother passed away. While we weren’t close, I didn’t handle this well (does anyone?) and suddenly I felt other areas of my life starting to unravel. I disengaged from WordPress. I missed time with my kids. I had issues with my rental. And although I have great friends, I didn’t get the support I needed (largely because of how I was dealing with the situation).

I spent a week in NH dealing with the practical things that need to be done when someone passes away. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. I took the week off from writing – there was no time and how could I justify writing at a time like that? I came back and still had a week off from work to get myself together. I went away to Savannah and Charleston – a trip I’d planned before my mother passed away. I was alone and had fully intended to spend the time writing. I did everything but write. I ran. I wandered around the towns. I read. But I didn’t write. Not a word.

And still I made excuses. I was healing. I would get back to it.

It has now been 2 months, and still I struggle to get back to writing. I don’t post to WordPress. I have added some to the story but I keep getting distracted – emails, texts, dinner with friends, running. I spent 4 days at the beach where I finished my last book and still I found other things to do. I ran on the beach. I hung out at the bar down the street and met some interesting people. I listened to music. I did yoga. But I didn’t write.

And now I’m adding to my excuses. Work is busy. It’s Christmas and I need to buy presents. It’s cold and I don’t have any clothes that fit so I need to go shopping.

Plus we’re fostering 3 kittens and one of them – even after a week – hisses at me when I enter the room and any time I go near her. She needs socialization or she will never be adopted.

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And so I play with the kittens instead of writing. Or I have dinner out. Or I go running. Or I go to yoga. Or shopping. Or I do anything but write.

And so the page remains blank. I miss the days when I could write for hours, lost in the story. Some day I will do that again. I just don’t know when.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Masterpiece.

It Amazes Me How Much Can Happen in a Year

As 2018 comes to a close I have been reflecting on all that has happened this year. This more than any other year has been one of dramatic personal change and growth in all areas of my life. It has been absolute proof that real change is not only possible, but completely within our control.

Physical Fitness: This year I lost over 40 pounds, took up running (I can now run between 4-5 miles), and have been practicing yoga. Now that the cooler weather is here I will put away my paddle board (I’ll miss you!) and get back out on my bike. The key for next year will be maintaining what I’ve achieved.

Writing: As my loyal followers know I self-published my first book (click the image below to find it on Amazon) this spring. I set an ambitious goal and I published ahead of schedule. I’ve been working on my novel that was conceived through the Word of the Day, although much to my chagrin I am months behind where I had hoped to be by now. That being said, what I’m writing now is so much better than what I was writing just a few months ago the extra effort will be well worth it. Look for it to be available in 2019!

Travel: My kids have been asking to travel more and in 2018 I made this happen for them. We took an amazing trip to Georgia with their friends, a trip that will be one of those lifelong childhood memories for them. I took them to Washington DC which was someplace they had wanted to see. Although they didn’t particularly enjoy the city there were a lot of first for them on that trip, including their first train ride which they loved. We also vacationed in the mountains in NH and hit many of the tourist destinations those who live in NH often forget about. As much as I love being with my kids, I take time for me as well and traveled without my kids: hiking on the Appalachian trail, camping outside of Savannah and Charleston. Where will we go next?

Emotionally I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, even though I’ve had a few tough hits this year, including the recent passing of my mother. Financially I’ve recovered from the purchase of the rental property last year. And I’m once again on a writing retreat at my friend’s beach condo in the hope of getting back on track with my novel…something I seem to be avoiding even now.

I would like to be more involved with WordPress once I figure out a new purpose for this blog. In the meantime, I will be working with my sister on her blog Accessible ABA, in some capacity. And I will continue to work on my novel.

What will 2019 bring?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Chagrin.

A Whiff of Hope

Today has given me hope, just a whiff but there nonetheless. After weeks of stress piling on top of stress today was surprisingly normal. Some problems got solved, progress was made. No huge strides but for the first time in a while I have a vague memory of what life was like “before.” Memories of feeling grateful and at peace, excitement about the future, confidence in myself.

It’s starting to come back. It might take time but I can feel it, see it in the haze in front of me, smell it like the whiff of burgers on a grill somewhere in the distance on a hot summer day. It’s there, waiting for me.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Whiff.

What Happened When He Got Me Alone on the Beach?

I have been spending a lot of time these days reading about how to write better. I like the way I write, my voice, but there is still a lot to learn. As I am learning I am also working on the rewrite on the Clay/Caleb story. And when I say “rewrite” I mean just that. I am essentially rewriting the entire story but I think it’s coming out great.

Today I have been working on the scene where the main character (now named Jessica) meets Clay. Below is the part of the story where Clay and Jess are dancing. This is the main reason I haven’t had as much time recently to post on WordPress.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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The people dancing around us began to blur, like I was in the center of a carousel that spun ever faster around me. I stumbled, unaware I had moved until I almost fell. Something kept me upright and I sank against what was either Clay or a randomly placed telephone pole.

A thought slogged through the mud and muck inside my brain but couldn’t come to the surface. There was something I was supposed to be doing. What was it? Think!

A breeze hit the sweat on my neck, sending a shiver down my spine. I looked around and realized I had made my way to the water. How did that happen? The waves kissed my ankles as they ran up to greet me.

The horizon tilted like the labyrinth game I had as a young girl. How I had loved tipping it one way then the other, careful to keep the marble from falling in the holes. The game was less fun when you were the marble.

“Whoa. Easy there. Why don’t you sit down for a few minutes?” The voice came from above.

“God?” I asked.

Laughter.

Okay, not God. Still, sitting sounded like a good idea. I landed awkwardly with a splat, my elbow stuck up by my shoulder until it was abruptly released. The water receded, then came rushing back. I kicked my feet, sending a spray of water sailing into the air.

Suddenly I couldn’t stop giggling. As the water continued its attack I hit it with both palms, scaring it away. I dug my feet into the soft sand and gazed up at the stars twinkling like the fireflies I had tried to catch by the pond on my grandparents’ plantation.

I felt as carefree as I had when I was that little girl. Where had she gone?

I felt a weight being lifted off of me. The burden of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations eased. The crushing loneliness I’d felt since their death receded with the next wave and floated out to sea.

“Feeling better?” asked the voice from above that I now knew wasn’t God.

Looking up I saw Clay’s face, one half illuminated by the moon, the other half still cast in shadow, giving him an almost sinister look. All he was missing was the mustache. The moment passed as he crouched down beside me. Up close he was stunningly good looking and I found myself wondering how it would feel if he kissed me.

“Do you think you can stand?”

I nodded.

He held out his hand but I just stared at him. As he waited, a flush swelled from my chest and up my neck, warming my cheeks. He’s waiting. Do something!