Mother’s Day

Yes, it’s Mother’s Day. For me, having lost my own mother almost 26 years ago, it’s a day full of reflection and memories. My mother was my best friend and confidant. She was also someone I butted heads with like I’ve done with no other in my life. We were two sides of the same coin, hell, sometimes we fought over the same side and that’s when the fireworks would go off.

My mother was many things but the one thing I could always and forever count on was that she was on my side. I never doubted that, not once. It’s a feeling I’ve never found again since she’s been gone. Yes, I know, I have a wonderfully supportive husband and I’m not throwing shade at that. However, with Ma, I just knew that she’d sacrifice everything for me, and sometimes she did just that.

All these years later she is often in my dreams. She really comes through when I’m wrestling with something important…things that really only come through my subconscious. Often, the dreams are cryptic, but she never misses the mark. To this day I cherish and honour her wisdom, like so many did before me.

Mom, never doubt how much you’re missed. I hope you are having the time of your life in heaven. You are surrounded by friends and family. Too many have gone since your passing but it’s you I miss the most.

Take care, I will love you always.

It’s been a while

There is no excuse and I’m not about to offer one. Let’s just say it was a period of reflection and out and out laziness. I got over the flu and finished my winter semester courses and I just kind of shut down.

I love writing, I really do. I had been gung ho for more than a year and all of a sudden the fire dwindled. I don’t know why or how. Luckily it didn’t go out. I was still getting ideas and have them safely tucked away in an idea journal I have, I just couldn’t commit to writing them out.

My summer course that I had signed up for was cancelled and without the impetus of having to write for a course I just sort of shut down.

To be honest, I was terrified. I’ve had a couple of rejections and the self doubt settled in. The little voice was back. You’re not good enough and you never will be. No one wants to read your tripe. No one is interested. Nothing you do is original. You have no voice. Who cares anyway? Yada Yada Yada.

Well, I’ve bludgeoned the little guy. He won’t bother me again.

I’ve said it before…I write for myself and my own entertainment. Plain and simple. Case closed!!!!!

I was scared, really scared. I knew I was coming up on a precipice and I put the brakes on, doing my damndest not to go over. I enjoy writing short stories and they’re still there and I’ll still write them. However, my dream was always to be a novelist. No, I don’t want to be the a novelist, I want to be the next great novelist!

The fear of failure is paralyzing. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. It’s been with me for as long as I could read. I’m not going to say how long it’s been, let’s just say it’s been decades!

I have entire novels written in my head. Some have been with me since my teenage years. They are stories and characters that I love and cherish. Every time I’ve ever tried to bring them to life they always come out flat and one dimensional.

I’m just not ready to tell those stories.

A couple of weekends ago, Brent and I were off on one of our drives. We both enjoy exploring, heading out on a car ride, often without a destination in mind. We happened to be driving down Lake Street – a street I drive at least every weekday morning and we passed a shop I’ve passed by a thousand times. By the time we hit the service road to the highway (two minutes max) I had an idea for a story. By the time we hit Beamsville it had taken on a life of it’s own.

For the last couple of weeks it’s been brewing and stewing inside my little noggin. I’ve done a bunch of research on the internet and last weekend Brent was kind enough to support my madness and we spent a few hours touring the area it takes place. We both took a ton of pictures and I made my little notes on my impressions of the area.

Today I began the process of writing it down. It just flowed from my fingertips. I’ve just put my toe in the water…600 words in. But it’s there and it’s solid. Only another 120,00 to go :).

This one I can do. It’s not a story I’ve lived and breathed for forever. It’s not yet one of my “children”. It’s a story and I’m just telling its tale.

To use a relatively current colloquialism, I’m back bitches!

Hate it, love it, I honestly don’t care. I’m writing, doing what I love and nothing is going to stop me now!

Assignment in!

Well, after weeks of pondering and blood sweat and tears, I finally managed 10 poems on a central theme for my poetry course.

I submitted the lot this afternoon and I’ve already received my grading for it. I wrote about news and how it has changed since I was young. Certainly received a decent grade, but as per usual, not a lot of critiques or explanations:

Really like the premise of this collection.  However, the poems need to come to life with more imagery and use of metaphor.  They read more like explanations of a topic, rather than image driven, layered verse. Also, be careful with your use of the “I”.  Sometimes using the “I” can interfere with your use of imagery.

If this course has taught me anything it’s that I am not a poet. I enjoy the exercise but certainly not my forte. Here are a couple of my favourite examples out of the 10:

Drowning

I would swim crystal blue waters to find you

Elegant coral reefs full of life

I chose those close to surface

Sunlight dancing with you

Bringing out your pastel colours in the azure sea

I always avoided those deep dark chasms

With their brilliant colours to lure the unwary in

Sharks lurking around every corner

Every passing year it becomes harder to find you

The water is filled with words and pictures

That the sharks now hide behind

I find myself drowning

Drowning in a sea of information

Longing

A gentle lover

Always speaking truth

Difficult conversations spoken with care

You took me to my highest highs

And to my lowest lows

But always with love and a soft caress

Now you treat me with contempt

Harsh words and lightening strikes

There is no gentleness in your delivery any more

Truth has become lies

I no longer know where I stand

How I long to have my lover back

A kiss, a touch and a shared vision

Submissions

Since taking the plunge on submitting my work to various calls in November 2018, I have made 5 submissions. That is an average of just over 1 a month. The first time I did 2 was in February. I have plans to submit 2 in March. I already know where they are going, I just have to decide between 3 stories on which to tweak and tweak again and then to submit.

I find that I am beating myself up about the number of stories I write and send in. It doesn’t feel like enough. Albeit, I do work a full time job, have over an hour commute one way, so over 2 hours in the car each and every day and I am currently taking 2 creative writing courses this semester. Plus I’m married with two fur-balls to take care of, housework and errands to do and somewhere in there, a life to lead. It still feels like I’m slacking.

I guess it’s just the nature of my internal beast.

For the most part, I have loved the jobs I’ve held during my career. I’ve worked in both Finance and IT (usually at the same time, in one way or another) and they are both fields that keep you busy and on your toes. Overtime is just a way of life and rarely have I ever begrudged that. I LOVE a challenge and the only times I’ve become restless are when I don’t have enough to do. Or, more accurately, more than enough to do.

Creative writing is a different world entirely. It cannot be rushed. You can’t force ideas to come. You can’t hurry up and get a project written, it comes in it’s own time. I actually relish the fact that it forces me to slow down. I thoroughly enjoy the process from beginning to end and I don’t ever want to jeopardize that. Some of my favourite authors have suffered from the publish or perish syndrome. They start out writing one or two novels a year and then with the pressures from agents, publishing companies, fans and the almighty dollar, have taken to publishing 4 or more times per year. Undeniably, their writing suffers because of this.

I don’t want that. All I want is to write. If it’s all for myself, so be it. I really have no desire to be a truly famous author, it seems to me that too often your life is never your own after that.

I just have to learn that this writing thing should never be akin to the other jobs I’ve held. I need to take my time and just enjoy it. The only pressures I’ve had to write come from my own making. I guess I just need to learn how to lighten up a little.

Poetry Course

One of the courses I’m taking this semester is a poetry writing course. To say I’m out of my element is a huge understatement. I’m finding this course really difficult as it’s online and there is almost no direction whatsoever. All it contains is here is a poet, read their body of work and create poems like theirs. That’s it! Marks wise I’m doing OK but I’m certainly not enjoying this course.

I just looked at my next assignment. I have to create 10 (yes, 10) poems that are on a current social issue. Here is the actual assignment…

Writing Assignments:

Collection of Poetry (10), directed at a cultural, social, or modern day theme.

Rationale for Collection – one page analysis of your collection of poetry.

Due Date: March 29, 2019

How is that for clear instructions?!

I’m drawing an absolute blank on what to write about. Never has my inspiration been so far out of reach!

My first rejection

The email came in at 9:48 EST on March 3rd, 2019. The anthology series I had submitted a short story to sent me a very polite ‘Thanks but no thanks’ missive. He did remind me that they are taking submissions until April 15th and I’m welcome to send in another. I don’t want to read too much into that but a little tiny voice is whispering to me that my story couldn’t have been completely terrible or he wouldn’t have put that in. Then again, it could also just be a form letter too.

It was bound to happen and I certainly expected it. I’m actually surprised that I’m not that surprised. Does that make any sense at all?

Maybe it will hit me later, but then again, maybe not. It’s not that I don’t feel anything but I’m not really upset either. Somehow it seems like a rite of passage. After all, I have come across writers that claim that they have had a thousand rejections without one single publication. While I’m not sure of the veracity of that number, it encourages me to keep trying.

To be honest, I actually felt as if my first was too easy. It was less than a week from hitting send to my story being published. Where were my trials? Where was the blood, sweat and tears a writer is supposed to shed?

In fact, this rejection makes me feel more like a real writer than being published did.

I’m weird, I know, you don’t have to tell me.

Can’t come up with anything!

With all of the sickness I’ve had I haven’t been able to do much writing. I have a few ideas jotted down but that’s the most I’ve accomplished.

Problem is, I have a story due for my Plot Development course and I’m completely drawing a blank.

Maybe it’s just too broad. The theme for this week is a literary story. That’s it, no other prompt. A literary piece that is simply something about real life, something that could happen.

I’ve started about 5 different stories but they just aren’t going anywhere. I have two previously written but 1. That’s kind of cheating and 2. They’re too long.

Even the ideas I have jotted down won’t work as they are all fantasy and horror…doesn’t fit the bill.

Wow, this is frustrating!

Birdie

This was a personal story I wrote for my creative writing class. It’s one of my favourite memories from my childhood. With a family like mine I certainly have a ton to pull from.

Birdie.  Big Bird.  Aunt Birdie.  The Gestapo.  She was barely five feet tall and almost as big around.  She was bossy, brash, brassy and had very few filters.  She told it like it was and rarely held back what was on her mind.  She was the neatest of the neat freaks and God forbid your house had a newspaper out of order or a few pieces of crabgrass in your lawn when she came by.  She’d call to say she was coming over and whoever answered the phone called out “Big Bird is coming!” and the whole house got busy straightening up.  But she had the biggest heart around.  I loved that woman.

                She always hated the name Birdie.  She had an older brother, Michael and sisters Victoria and Doreen.  Where Birdie came from, she had no idea.  She figured that either her mother hated her at first sight or that even though she didn’t drink, she got drunk once in her life and that was the day Birdie was named.  Birdie didn’t even have a middle name to go by, Birdie is all she got.

                To give a bit of an idea of what she was like, Birdie once ran for City Council and won.  She lasted exactly one day.  Her biggest complaint was that she was treated like a woman by the old guard and quit at the end of the day.  But that wasn’t before she made 2 senior councillors and the City Mayor cry.

                The other thing to know about Birdie was that she was a true sun worshipper and a bit of a closeted exhibitionist.  I had an absolute blast driving to Florida with her, my Uncle Bill and my parents back in ’76.  Uncle Bill drove the entire way in my mother’s big Chevy station wagon complete with the real wood panelling on the side, pulling their pop-up trailer behind us.  Once on the interstate no one could figure out why all the transport trucks were pulling their air horns as they passed us.  I knew and chuckled every time one did.  Finally, Uncle Bill glanced in the rear-view mirror to see Birdie laying in the back, suntanning with only her underwear left on.  The transports were high enough that they had a clear view into the back of our wagon and seemed to be appreciative of what they saw.  From behind the wheel Uncle Bill shouted through clenched teeth, “Jesus Christ!  Birdie!  Put some God damned clothes on!”  I never did figure out how he could yell so loud when it looked as if he was about to break his jaw in half. 

                Every summer, we’d spend a few weeks at a cottage a friend of the family had.  There was a lazy little river at the back of the property that had a high, limestone cliff face on the other side.  The river connected two small lakes and there were no motor craft allowed, so it was a great place to go swimming.  There was one time when my other Aunt and Uncle came up with my cousin Sandy.  One of my nicknames was The Fish because I loved the water so much.  I was bugging the adults to let us go swimming, but everyone wanted to stay in the cottage and play cards.  Finally, Aunt Birdie relented and said she would go down to the river to watch us, she wanted to work on her tan anyway.

                Birdie went to get changed and when she came back into the kitchen, I sang the little song I had made up for her, just like I always did.  Aunt Birdie only had one bathing suit.

“Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Little Wittle White Bikini”

She did a little jig to show off, dark tanned rolls just a-jiggling, and down we went to the water.

Sandy and I had a lot of fun swimming, playing on inflatable rafts and bouncing a colourful beach ball between us.  It was a really hot day with the sun beating down and it wasn’t long before Birdie took her bikini top off.  The cabin was surrounded by woods and there was hardly ever any traffic on the river, so this was something she often did.  Birdie had her back to us, she was bent over pulling weeds from the undergrowth.  No matter who pointed out how fruitless the endeavour was, Birdie could never stop if there was something to do or to be cleaned up. 

                Sandy and I were 9 or 10 at the time and we both had a bit of a devilish streak going.  Sandy looked at me with a glint in her eye, tilted her chin in Birdie’s direction and called out, “Aunt Birdie!  There is a canoe coming!”  Birdie rushed over and grabbed her bikini top from the picnic table and quickly put it back on.  When she turned towards the river she couldn’t see any canoe, only two little brats killing themselves laughing.  She gently cursed us out, took the top back off and went back to her weeding.

                Like most kids, when something got that kind of reaction from an adult, you kept the joke going.  Every fifteen or twenty minutes one of us would call out, “Aunt Birdie, a boat’s coming!”  The joke quickly went stale and eventually Aunt Birdie just ignored us.

                We had been swimming for nearly two hours and it was time to go in for lunch.  Aunt Birdie was still bent over, her calloused hands were now smeared with green bits and clumps of dirt and the backside of her white bikini bottom was coloured the same from her wiping her hands on the only clothing she had on.

                Sandy and I were making our way to shore when I heard a splash behind me and a little to my left.  Two fishermen in a small aluminum boat were paddling their way over to the other lake.  I called out to my Aunt but she waved me off, she was very tired of the game.  The boat was just about to clear the woods and I called out more frantically to her, this time Sandy joined in.  Aunt Birdie didn’t even turn around when she told us, “I’m not falling for it again!”

                One of the fishermen coughed and the sound echoed off the cliff and down the water.  That was the only sound you could hear, even the birds stopped singing as they waited to see what would happen next.  Birdie stood up and slowly turned around.  She didn’t try to hide in the least, she just stood there defiantly, hands on her hips, mounds of brown flesh spilling over the top of that tiny bikini bottom, monstrous bosoms swaying, staring at the fishermen passing by. 

                I turned back to the little boat and the men had stopped paddling.  They were drifting along, each had their jaws hanging open in big Os.  A pregnant pause as each stared at the other before Birdie called out to them in a loud, brash tone:

                “What’s the matter, you never seen tits before?”

                I have never seen two guys paddle away so fast in my life.

                God, I loved that woman!

I’m sick of being sick

I know I haven’t been posting much the last little while but I do have a good reason. I’ve had the flu for the past 3 weeks.

The flu is so much worse than a cold. I get them rarely, the last time was almost 10 years ago, that between times you forget how bad they can get. Not only do you have the normal symptoms of a cold but along with it comes fever, chills, body aches, etc. Of course, as per my luck, I came down with it the second day into my vacation. Luckily it was a stay-cation so at least I didn’t waste money on a trip.

The first week was horrible. I felt like I was dying, or at least wanted to be put out of my misery. Every muscle and joint just screamed bloody murder. The second week was a little better, at least the fever had broke and the aches and pains had settled to a more tolerable existence. By the middle of the third week it ramped back up again. This time settling into my chest with crushing coughing spasms that wouldn’t let up. There were a few times where I actually got scared as the coughing was so bad I couldn’t catch my breath.

Now, just as the coughing has eased a bit I end up with some kind of conjunctivitis in my left eye.

All I want is to feel human again. Is that too much to ask?

Why you won’t see too many short fiction stories on here

Unfortunately it’s just the nature of the business. Almost all contests and open calls require that a story be unpublished. To many, even a Facebook post or a post on your own blog counts. There do seem to be a couple where this is not the case, but I’d rather not take that chance. So, until I’m published and the rights for my stories revert back to me, the stories you will find on here are the ones that I don’t plan on publishing.

I love taking creative writing classes as it gives me a chance to explore different genres. Take the following as an example. This assignment was very open…write a story in the romance genre…think steamy, trashy and the like. I had a lot of fun writing this but it’s not something I can see myself submitting anywhere.

As always, your comments and critiques are very welcome. Please let me know what you think. Trust me, be as brutal as you like, I can take it.

The Widow and the Busboy

Michelle Anderson

                The night was hot, oppressively so.  The one working ceiling fan in the dimly lit country diner was doing little to cool the air as it squeaked and squealed in protest.  It was as if it didn’t want to move anymore than anyone else did in the heat and it was letting its feelings known.

                Victoria sat alone, nursing her second cup of coffee, seated in the vintage vinyl booth complete with a beat up and chipped Formica table.  The whole diner was a throwback to the fifties with a jukebox in one corner and old record albums adorning the walls.  Even the faded linoleum floor looked as if it hadn’t been changed in 60 odd years or so.

                She sighed as she looked out the window, the summer winds creating whirling dust devils across the empty parking lot.  ‘It’s all their fault’ she thought to herself as she took another sip of coffee.  They were the reason she was in the middle of the prairies, on this hellish road trip.  Those ungrateful kids.  Hadn’t she already been through enough?  Hadn’t she suffered while she nursed her husband, their father, through his illness, accompanying him to all the doctor’s visits and hospital stays?  Hadn’t she given up enough of her life to be by his side through it all?  Then they had the nerve to protest the will and have their lawyers freeze all of the assets and the bank accounts.  That’s the only reason why she was here at this godforsaken diner.  Instead of being able to take the private jet to Calgary for the hearing, she was forced to drive her beat up old Chevy clear across the country, all the way from Toronto, by herself.  She didn’t even manage to get enough cash out of the wall safe to hire a driver or to take a cramped, commercial flight.  No, she wasn’t travelling in the style she was used to, she was travelling like a peasant.

                Victoria’s mind drifted back to that awful scene at the funeral home.  They had called her so many nasty names.  Names like gold digger, tramp, and even hussy.  Couldn’t they see how distraught she was?  Didn’t they know how much she had loved their father?  That he was the love of her life and she didn’t know how she’d go on without him?  So what if she was younger than even his youngest child?  So what if their marriage had only lasted six months before his untimely death?  Their love was so great and honest, it’s why he left the bulk of his estate to her.  Why did she have to travel to them and sit before a judge to plead her case?  That money was hers and they knew it.  They were only trying to punish her for something she couldn’t understand.  That and to assuage their own guilt about not being there when he passed on.

                The tinkling of the bell above the door as the last of the customers left the diner snapped Victoria out of her reverie.  She gasped as she looked up and caught sight of the most beautiful man she had ever seen.  He was bent over the far table, clearing dishes into a tub tucked under his arm.  Long golden locks cascaded down to his shoulders, muscles bulged and glistened with perspiration as he worked, and his ass was absolute perfection in his tight, clinging jeans.

                It was as if she had suddenly been awakened from a long sleep.  Desire coursed through her veins.  It was a feeling she hadn’t experienced in over a year, the love she had for her late husband being more of the platonic sort.

                The longer she looked at him the hotter she became.  It wasn’t just the temperature that was making her sweat now.

                He stopped what he was doing and looked at her from across the room, as if he could sense her hunger and it was drawing him in. 

                “Can I get you something else, ma’am?” his prairie drawl sending shivers down her spine.

                “I don’t think you have on the menu what I’m hungry for.” Victoria said, biting her lover lip as she looked him up and down. 

                He walked over towards her table, cowboy boots clacking against the linoleum.  Every step closer lighting up nerves through her body, making every inch of her tingle.

                “Do you get off work anytime soon?” she asked.

                He continued on past her table without saying another word, walked up to the door and with deft, clean movements he turned the sign over to the ‘Closed, Please Come Again’ side, locked it and pulled the shade down.

                “I am now.” he replied, turning back towards her.

                They were together in an instant, locked in a passionate kiss.  Her fingers threaded their way through his hair as his hands roamed up and down her back, finally settling on her high, tight buttocks, squeezing and kneading them through her jeans as he pressed her close against his lean, taut body. 

                Breaking off to take a breath, Victoria whispered against his ear “This is crazy!”

                He pulled back slightly so he could look deeply into her eyes. 

“Sometimes we all need a little crazy in our lives.” he breathed, using one finger to trace a bead of sweat that dripped down her neck, into the soft mounds of flesh encased in her low-cut t-shirt.  He followed his finger with his lips, burying his face in her breasts, breathing in her damp, musky scent.

                The passion and the heat were almost overwhelming to her as they kissed once more.  Their sweat mingling together as their hands explored each others’ bodies.  She came the moment his hand slipped inside of her jeans, fingers thrusting deep within her.

                She could hardly hear anything besides their ragged, harsh breathing and her blood pounding in her ears.  The loud banging coming from the back room was the only sound that was able to break through. 

                He pushed her back from him frantically and with wide panicked eyes said “Shit, it’s my wife!”  He quickly raced to let his wife in the back door, running his hands through his tousled hair and straightening his shirt as he went.

                Victoria smiled to herself, walked back to her table and left a wad of cash next to her coffee cup.  ‘He certainly deserves that generous tip.’ she thought as she quietly left the diner.