Category Archives: Fiction

Why Do I Hesitate When I know I Should Escape?

A word slips through my mind. It’s a word my French grandmother used when she was torn in a decision. She used to tell me that often there was a moiety when making a choice; even when one option is clearly better than the other, sometimes there is one piece of the less favorable alternative that is smaller but confusing the situation nonetheless…

How could I still feel torn by leaving?

Yes, physically I have responded to him like nothing I’d experienced before. In that regard I suppose it makes sense. But is there more?

As I shove clothes into my backpack I know I shouldn’t be taking the time to consider all of this, but my mind won’t stop. I don’t have long before he’ll be back. My escape needs all my attention. Doubting my decision now could be disastrous.

Yet my hand pauses with my shorts in its grip, hovering over the opening to my bag.

For a time he seemed to honestly love me. Actually, he often treated me like a princess, catering to my every need. The tenderness in his touch, the gentle brush of his lips…how could these not be signs of true affection?

I shake my head trying to bring myself back to reality. It wasn’t love. Someone who loves you doesn’t manipulate you, doesn’t control you. It took me a long time to see what he was doing, being blinded by his charm. But looking back his domination over me was absolute. He has barely left my side in almost three months.

Sure, it sounds sweet, sounds like he’s completely devoted…but a healthy relationship doesn’t exclude everyone else. Were this truly love I would still be permitted to spend time with my friends, to do the things I like to do without him.

Let’s face it; this goes far beyond “unhealthy.” Why am I thinking about this as if the issues were somehow normal? He has done everything he can to keep me here with him; well, everything short of tying me to the bed which is why I need to leave while I am able.

Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome? I do feel for him in a way. He has such a sad lost look when I talk about doing something without him. I do understand his pain, his fear that I might leave and not come back. Isn’t that what I’m about to do?

Suddenly the front door slams and my heart stops. I’m too late. I’ve missed my opportunity and I might never have another one.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Moiety and is part of something longer I am working on.

He Has Me Confused and Aching With Longing

Finally reaching a large house on the beach that is surprisingly isolated from nearby buildings, he opens the door with a flourish. I stand in the entryway, a little dazzled by the high ceilings and the stark whiteness of the open space before me. Everything is white: walls, floor, furniture. Even the kitchen cabinets and counters are white.

I glance at him and he is clearly proud of his home, so I give him a big grin even though I find the lack of color somehow overwhelming. The structure of the room is beautiful and bright. I would prefer artwork, some colorful pillows or even some greenery to give it a more homey feel, but as long as he’s comfortable my opinion doesn’t really matter.

He beckons me into the living room at the front of the house. Favoring my left foot which is now throbbing from the cut, I join him on a soft white rug covering the hard tile floor. He opens his arms to me and I rest against him in a hug that also allows me to use his strength to help support my weight. I sigh as I lean into his bare chest.

After several minutes he gently touches my chin with the fingertips on his right hand, tilting my head up. His lips softly touch mine in a chaste kiss that should not have sent desire coursing through me, yet I feel the yearning build all the way down to my toes. My breathing is shallow as he pulls just inches away, his crystal blue eyes locked on mine.

I am unable to turn away from his gaze.

He leans closer. I expect him to kiss me again. I ache for him to kiss me again, deeper this time. But he bends lower, his lips brushing my ear, his breath sending shivers down my spine. In little more than a whisper he asks me if I would like to go upstairs. At first I’m confused. Is he asking what I think he’s asking? Part of me is definitely screaming YES! But I know I’m not ready to be intimate, even though clearly I am attracted to him. Deep down I’m old fashioned. I’m not someone who jumps into bed on the first date. And did this even count as a date?

His faint chuckle tickles my ear and causes my heart to flutter. What is he doing to me? I’m starting to feel faint with longing. Why is he laughing?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Flourish and is part of something longer I am working on.

If I Trust You, Will You Hurt Me Too?

My feelings for you overwhelm me sometimes. I want to be cautious, protect myself. I need to move forward slowly, taking time to get to know the real you. I truly haven’t known you that long, and there’s so much to learn. What are your hopes, your dreams? What are your fears? Who are you, deep down where no one has looked before?

I’ve allowed myself to be swept into a romantic fantasy before, and I almost paid the ultimate price. I was fooled by his charm, mistook his attention for affection. I wanted to believe what he was telling me and so I did, almost without question. I failed to see his true character because the one he portrayed seemed to be all I’d ever wanted.

I can’t risk that again, yet I’m drawn to you. I could talk to you endlessly, swaying on the porch swing, my head on your shoulder. I feel safe with you, not just because you’ve protected me but because you have opened yourself to me, showed me your vulnerable side. You have demonstrated trust in me and I yearn to reciprocate.

I know I should be careful, but my emotions burn with a fervor I can’t seem to control. My desire for you runs through my veins, warming my blood. My longing is genuinely physical, but it goes so far beyond lust. I don’t dare label this; I’m not sure I know the words to describe it even if I dared.

But there is fear behind the passion. True terror courses though me when we talk of the future. After what has happened, how can I trust again? How can I open myself up when by doing so I risk allowing you to hurt me?

Even in this way you are unique. We have talked about this, perhaps too much. You listen to my concerns…no, you hear my concerns. There’s a difference. In the past I haven’t been heard. Others have listened to what I said, then offered platitudes or swept my feelings to the side. You take the time to understand, to ask questions, to discuss solutions without forcing your will on me.

I don’t know how to release my anxiety. I don’t know how long I will need to know you, or how well, before I can turn hope into faith. Because I do feel hope. I feel it blossoming in my chest when we are together.

I don’t know where this will go, what this will be. But I want it, perhaps more than I’ve ever wanted anything before.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Fervor and is part of something longer I am working on.

Photo by James Garcia on Unsplash

Was This a False Sense of Security?

Stepping outside I hold my cell phone up in the air, as if the extra 18 inches will suddenly allow it to connect. Nothing. The dirt road ends at the cabin, making it more private than the ones further down the hill. Briefly I debate whether to walk. I can’t have lost service far from here, yet driving somehow feels safer, like my Honda Pilot will somehow protect me.

Still cautious but intent on reaching Jeff for help, I lock the deadbolt behind me. I pause at the top of the stairs leading down from the front porch, listening, watching. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary I scurry over to my car, using the key fob to unlock the door just before I reach for the handle, then slide into the driver’s seat.

I back into the turn around and point the car down the narrow path, holding the phone with my right hand in front of me so I can see when service is restored. My attention thus occupied I almost fail to see the fallen tree blocking the way as I turn a corner. With a cloud of dust the vehicle comes to rest with a jolt.

What the hell? Now what?

Glancing at the still useless phone I want to scream, or cry. Instead I pound the steering wheel until the pain in my clenched fists replaces the fear in my chest. I can handle this. It’s just a tree. There has to be a way around it.

Leaving the security of the car, I step into sunshine tinged green by the overhanging leaves. The feeling is eerie and I begin to wish I had chosen to flee to somewhere else, realizing with a sense of panic how vulnerable I am. I tuck my phone into the back pocket of my jeans to free my hands and walk purposefully toward the tree.

Focus. Solve the problem. Save the worry for later and figure out how to get around this.

Calmer, I examine the top of the tree. The highest branches just barely pass the right edge of the road, dangling over a steep slope. I wonder if I could simply drive over it, if the Pilot would be able to crush these smaller, thinner branches. I would have to be careful not to let the passenger side tires get caught in the ditch.

Still considering my options I hear a twig snap somewhere. I freeze, trying to determine where the sound came from. A rustle of leaves sends enough adrenaline through my veins to make me dizzy. The hair on my arms stand at attention, all my senses on high alert.

What are the odds that a tree would happen to fall right here? How likely is it that it would block the entire road? Am I being paranoid, or could this be a nefarious plan to leave me exposed here, alone in the woods, unprotected?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Nefarious and is part of something longer I am working on.

I Need to Get Help, But Who Will Believe Me?

Pulling myself together I start to formulate a plan. I am safe as long as I don’t leave the cabin, but I can’t stay here forever. I will need food and supplies, if nothing else. What I was able to fit in my backpack won’t last more than a couple days, even if I’m careful. There is Wi-Fi here so I can still work, if I can keep my hands from shaking long enough to log into my laptop. I’ll need money, maybe a lot of it so this will be important.

I write these points down on the pad in front of me, not because I won’t remember, but because I feel somehow calmer by making this list.

I know eventually I need to get help, but who can I trust? Who will believe he isn’t the charmer he appears to be? I tried going to the police, but they won’t do anything. Apparently I can’t even get a restraining order unless he actually hurts me first. By then it may be too late. Not that a restraining order would stand in his way anyway.

My brother-in-law, Jeff, knows some ex-military types, people who know about not just hiding but also fighting, people who are trained in handling difficult situations. Maybe I can ask him to introduce me to someone. Another bullet added to the page.

I keep thinking there has to be something I can do, some way to handle this, but this is so far outside my experience I can’t even begin to imagine how to proceed. Suddenly getting help seems like the next critical step, more important even than getting groceries to hold me over.

I pick up my cell phone, prepared to text Jeff but the battery is dead. Fishing through the front pocket of my bag I find the charging cable and plug it into an outlet over the kitchen counter. Leaning my elbows on the laminate I power up the device and wait as it scrolls through the boot up routine. When I finally get to the home screen I start a text but realize this is going to require a phone call. I had left without talking to anyone, including my sister and her husband. They know nothing about the danger I’m in.

As I click on the phone icon in my contacts next to Jeff’s name, I briefly wonder if they will believe me when I tell them. Holding the phone to my ear I’m surprised I don’t hear it ringing. Looking at the screen I notice there’s no service.

That’s odd. Even in this somewhat remote location I know there are cell towers all over. I had service on the drive up the road that leads to the cabin. Maybe I just need to go back down the hill until I can connect.

It’s not completely illogical this would be the case, yet for some reason my blood runs cold as I head for the door.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Introduce and is part of something longer I am working on.

Have I Just Ruined the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me?

I close my eyes and once again I can clearly see the crestfallen look on your face. The fact that I was the cause breaks my heart. Part of me wishes I could take it all back, unsay the words that have brought you so much sadness. But even if it weren’t too late, it had to be said.

I open my eyes and watch you walking away from me, your head down. I can’t tell if you’re as upset as I am or if you’re just lost in thought, reflecting on what I asked you to consider.

As I watch you move slowly toward the lake I am suddenly filled with doubt. Is it possible I just destroyed the best thing that ever happened to me? Thinking about it, I had hoped you would argue with me, maybe yell. I never expected you to just walk away. My stomach is clenched so tightly I feel like I might throw up. It takes every ounce of strength I have not to run after you and beg your forgiveness.

I can do nothing but stare at your retreating form. The bright sun hurting my eyes feels like just punishment. I can’t tell if the tears forming are from the dread that has filled me or a natural reaction to squinting against the setting sun, but they fall unbidden down my face. I don’t know, don’t care if anyone is watching. I am completely oblivious to anyone but you.

You stoop down as you reach the sandy shore of the lake, grabbing a handful of small stones someone had collected. One by one you hurl them into the water. I imagine I hear the soft plunk as they break the surface, but I know I’m too far away to actually hear.

What are you thinking?

Oh God, I can barely stand this. My legs start to tremble as again I wonder, worry about what I’ve done. Suddenly unable to stand I drop to my knees and bury my face in my hands. I am overcome with wracking sobs, finally releasing all my fear.

I don’t know how much time passes when I feel a hand on my arm, your hand. I slowly lift my tear streaked face and meet your gaze, only inches from me. I am speechless as we stare into each other’s eyes. With no warning your hand reaches up under my hair to cup the back of my neck as you pull me toward you. Your lips crush against mine with a passion that’s so intense I can’t breathe.

Suddenly my chest fills. Is it hope I’m feeling? Is it possible this will be okay? Or is this one last kiss, one to say goodbye?

Without breaking the connection you stand, using your other hand to guide me up. All thought is lost as you wrap me in your embrace and I melt into you. When you feel me relax you gently pull back, just enough so you can speak.

“I don’t give a fuck how hard this will be,” you tell me as you bear down on me again.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Crestfallen

Am I More Than Just an Obsession to You?

I don’t understand what is happening. I need time alone, to think, to figure out if my fear is justified or simply another attempt to push away someone who is trying to get too close. I know I have sabotaged relationships in the past, but did I really regret ending any of them? If I’m honest, no. Maybe I’m better off alone. Maybe deep down I don’t want to lose my independence. Maybe I don’t want to risk caring again just to have it all fall apart.

I swing open the gate and slowly I start down the steps toward the river to distance myself physically, to give myself space from what is happening. There are about 100 stairs that twist and turn, some steps taller than others, forcing me to pay close attention to what I’m doing. At the top of each new flight the handrails align with the top step, making me feel like I could tumble over the side. Briefly I wish you were there to hold my hand, steady me, protect me.

I shake my head to try to clear these thoughts from my mind but I can’t. This is exactly the problem. It was so easy to let you shelter me, keep me safe, fight for me. But now I worry that this is more limerence than love. Am I simply an obsession? Someone who made you feel good about yourself because I was weak? Could this be something more?

At one landing about halfway down I pause, wondering if this is far enough. I glance up the hill and spot you watching me from the porch of the cabin where we are staying. No. I definitely need to go further. With a sigh I continue down.

What are you thinking as you watch me?

I admit I needed help for a while. My divorce was more than I could handle alone. I was afraid my ex would hurt me and so I turned to you. You were so strong, and so willing.

But now I’m afraid. I’m scared that now that I don’t need you the way I did, you’ll still try to shelter me from any possible harm. I don’t want you to control me with obsessive worry. The imminent danger is gone and I don’t want to live in a bubble.

Maybe taking these rickety stairs was a test. Maybe I wanted to assert my independence, to make sure you wouldn’t try to stop me. I glance back to the porch but you are gone. Is it disappointment I feel? There’s something nice about having someone to lean on, someone to catch you if you fall.

Why do I automatically assume the worst? My ex was obsessive and controlling, but it’s not fair to assign those attributes to you as well. Truly you don’t deserve that. You have protected me but have also encouraged me to make each decision on my own. You have asked questions but have only offered advice when I wanted it. When I told you I was going to walk down to the river you didn’t try to stop me. You understood somehow this was something I needed to do.

Oh my God! I am pushing you away. You have done nothing wrong and yet I have let my relationship with my ex blind me to your true character.

I turn, suddenly in a hurry to get back up the stairs, to tell you that yes, I love you too! But I lose my balance and the railing isn’t high enough to stop my fall. I have just enough time to realize I’m about to plunge down the hill, when I feel a hand steady me, your hand.

You’re there, as you always are. I’m too relieved to worry about how you were close enough to stop me. I turn into your arms and lift my face, silently begging you to kiss me. When your lips touch mine I surrender to you. I know deep down this is more than just an obsession.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Limerence

The Thoughts That Flowed to the Sounds of the Stream

As I sit on the cool flat rock, the mellifluous sound of the stream starts to calm my racing mind. I wrap my arms around my shins, resting my cheek on my knee as my eyes drift closed. The musical melody of the slow running water washes over me as a tear escapes. I inhale deeply, breathing in the scent of pine and moist earth. More tears dampen the jeans covering my legs.

I’m not sad. Today has been an amazing day. Why am I crying? So much is going right in my life.

I have wonderful friends who sincerely care about me. I have never felt more loved in my life. We don’t always see eye to eye, we’ve had our differences, but invariably we support each other in the end. I have recently made new connections with people who are quickly becoming important to me as well.

This community, my extended family even if we are not related by blood, has believed in me. Both new and old friends have given me courage to start pursuing my dreams. They encouraged me to do what I’m most passionate about. It is because of them I have opened my mind to so many possibilities.

My heart aches as my mind wanders down this path. For so long I have wanted to be supported this way. How many years did I spend looking for happiness in all the wrong places? I attempted to find pleasure from food and alcohol. I tried to be content advancing in my career even though it wasn’t my passion. I sought validation through unsatisfying relationships. I looked to others for my happiness, unable to find it within myself.

These people I’m fortunate to call “friends” have seen the best in me. They saw my value, they appreciated my unique qualities, and by doing this they taught me that I am worthy. It has taken years, but through them I have learned to begin to love myself. I have accepted my faults, acknowledged my past mistakes, and have decided to be the person they have known I am.

Suddenly I realize the ache in my chest is from the walls I had built crumbling down. I sense my heart opening and it occurs to me that removing the barrier allows me to truly love myself. This is what brought the tears. They aren’t tears of sadness, but of joy. I feel content in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever felt. I FEEL in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever felt.

My eyes flutter open and I take in the scene before me. The sunlight filtering through the trees seems brighter than it had before. The birds chirping blends with the music from the stream in perfect harmony, the other little creatures of the forest dancing to their beat. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and I wish you, my friend, were here to share it with me.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Mellifluous

I Never Want to Lose the Magic of This Moment

I’ll meet you in the woods. No one needs to know; it will be our secret. Follow the path to the cabin that is hidden deep behind the trees. You will see the smoke from the chimney billowing softly into the clouds as I wait for you, impatient to say the least. Take your time, but no longer than you need!

In our secluded hideaway we can do anything, we can be anyone. We will be far away from judging eyes and wagging tongues. Here the opinion of others will no longer matter. You can be you and I will be me and together we will be amazing. We will feel safe, maybe for the first time ever.

I will make a nest of pillows in front of the fire where we can talk about our dreams and our fears until the sound of your voice lulls me to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. I want to know everything you’ve ever done. I want to hear your undisclosed desires, the ones you’ve been afraid to tell anyone. What were you like as a child? Where have you been? Who do you want to be? Tell me all there is to know.

In the morning we can walk to the lake to watch the sunrise. It’s not far; just a little off the beaten track. I might need you to help me negotiate the stream that feeds it, but I will reward you with a kiss like you’ve never known. The sun reflecting off the water as it rises above the trees will be well worth the effort. We can sit on the shore and watch the ducks for a while as we share stories of our past we had almost forgotten.

Later we can hike to the rocky mountain, the one just beyond the meadow filled with yellow, white and blue flowers. Let’s climb to the summit and enjoy the majestic view of this unspoiled land. Standing breathlessly with the whole world before us we can plan for the future, the possibilities as limitless as scene in front of us.

We can’t stay here forever, maybe only a day or two. What will happen when we leave? It’s too soon to tell, so for now I will savor this one moment and hope the spell cast by this magical setting follows us back to reality.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Negotiate

What Happens When We Explore the World Together?

Come play with me.

Let’s gallivant along the shore, running in and out of the surf. We can build a sand castle then watch the waves wash it away. Chase me over the sand and capture me in your arms. I want to laugh in carefree abandon then lay on a towel as the sun sets over the sea.

Let’s cruise the Mediterranean, visiting places I’ve only dreamed about. We can explore the towns where we stop then stand together on the deck as the ship pulls away. Hold me close and dance the night away. I want to sway together then stay up all night sharing secrets.

Let’s meander through the forest hand in hand, exploring trails long forgotten. We can climb steep hills and stand in awe at the view before us. Follow me to a pond fed by a waterfall then dive into the depths. I want to shriek in surprise as you pull me into the water then drag you under with me.

Let’s dance in the rain, jumping in puddles like children. We can splash through the deepest ones then twirl around until we are dizzy. Catch me before I fall and giggle at our antics. I want to forget all my worries then go home together to dry off.

Let’s ride bicycles through a foreign land, peddling over hills with breathtaking views. We can discover little villages and rest under a tree on the edge of a meadow. Lead me along a dirt path then have a picnic far away from everyone. I want to unwind in peace then continue our wandering journey.

Let’s build a snowman named Frosty, rolling snowballs as big as boulders. We can give him a face then wrap my scarf around his neck. Throw snowballs at me and run for cover as I throw them back. I want to win the battle then fall tumbling into a snowbank.

Let’s camp under a cloudless sky, gaze at the stars above us. We can pitch a tent in the woods then enjoy the quiet of nature. Sit by the fire and cook dinner over an open flame. I want to meditate in silence then tell ghost stories until morning.

Let’s stray from the beaten path and enjoy this moment, together.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Gallivant