Archive for July, 2011

21st July
2011
written by amber

Cold Turkey

I’ve got the shakes. Goose bumps. I can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror – the black circles under my eyes and my gaunt cheeks make me look like a zombie.

I feel like a zombie. Shuffling around the house hungry for what I cannot have. I haven’t been out of my bathrobe for five days.

God, I hate Christmas. The carcass is still on the stove; dirty dishes form a  toxic pyramid in the sink. The dishwasher’s full but I haven’t run it yet. Don’t think I can take the racket.

It’ll be New Year’s soon. Tomorrow, I think. But I didn’t need to wait until then to make some resolutions. Probably for the rest of my life I’ll consider Dec. 25, 2007 to be my last nice day.

It was nice. I had the turkey in the oven when Ray dropped by to bring me a gift. I gave him his, we shared a companionable hug, two adults behaving in a civilized manner, no hard feelings for the way it all turned out. The kids arrived after he left, and maybe they were a little surprised to see me with a big glass of wine so early in the day, but it had cost me a lot to pretend to be so civilized.

But we had fun, playing card games while dinner cooked. They helped me set the table. Perhaps I was having a little too much fun, but what the hey, it was Christmas. Dropping the bowl of mashed potatoes – that could happen to anyone. Sarah didn’t have to make that comment.

It became a blur after that. I do recall playing Twister with the grandkids while Sarah and Becky did the dishes. The kids got over-excited. There were some tears. Ray Jr. suggested that I lie down for a while.

But I guess I didn’t stay down, if the video footage on Ray Jr.’s phone isn’t some kind of cruel trick. Well, it is cruel. Who takes pictures like that of their mother? And then leaves the phone behind so she can see it when the hangover wears off?

Hangover, two days. Hair of the dog, another day. Then the mother of all hangovers, looking at the pictures again and again in the light of increasingly painful sobriety. Decision to go cold turkey. All the booze left in the house down the drain.

Now all I have to do is slink out of town so I never have to look any of them in the face ever again.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

My apologies to my readers! We are so busy at the Black Cat Guest Ranch these days, I wasn’t even aware that it was Thursday. So instead of writing a Jessie and Jonah story, I was inspired to write this one by Amanda and Christine of Inroads Mountain Sports, after a discussion of the etymology of ‘cold turkey.’ Tomorrow I’ll post the latest Jessie and Jonah story.

20th July
2011
written by amber

Dark Road

We’ll be home soon, okay? We’ll be home soon.

Why do I always say things twice to the dog? Do I think she’ll understand me better if I say everything twice? And let’s face it, she’s not the one who needs reassuring tonight.

The road is dark and my lights are dim. Something’s wrong with the battery. Realistically, I should turn around and head back to town, but I just want to get home tonight. Deal with car repairs tomorrow. Deal with everything tomorrow.

Tonight, I want to see the porch light on. Let my porch light shine. But did I remember to leave it on? I left in such a hurry. Plans to do banking, buy groceries, use the internet at the library to contact my mother – all out the window. Because of the phone call.

The lawyer. The papers finally ready to sign.

Then, half the things I thought she’d agreed to are not there. Yes, I get the cabin, but that’s about all. Visitation with Amalie cut to half what I expected. Patty earns more than I do, but when we signed the pre-nup, I earned more, so she gets half my wages. Love makes you blind.

Worst of all, she gets the dog. She lives in the damn city and the dog loves the country. Patty bought Taffy, but I raised her, I took her to obedience classes, I took her to the vet.

So what do I do? Run? Follow this dark road into the unknown? But I’m not as reckless as I was when I left my husband for Patty, so I guess tomorrow I’ll throw a big goodbye party for Taffy.

And after that, my road looks very dark indeed.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website. The project runs from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by making first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story was inspired by the blues song, Dark Road, by Floyd Jones.

19th July
2011
written by amber

The Last Doughnut in Yakutat

Mount St. Elias emerges from the fog, nearly a perfect pyramid, glowing in the unearthly eternal twilight that is the Alaskan night in July. I’ve been walking around all night, looking for a doughnut.

Yeah, this is a small town but Yakutat seems to have more than its share of all-night eating and drinking establishments. It’s not for the citizens – they’ve learned that they’d better go to sleep no matter how bright it is outside, otherwise they won’t make it through until real nights resume again. It’s for those damn tourists here for the fishing or bird watching or ice water surfing. They can’t sleep. They want pie, they want sandwiches, they want doughnuts.

I want a doughnut. I’m not a tourist, but I guess I’m not a local either. I almost became one, but not quite.

They don’t grow wheat in this state, so all this demand on flour makes baked goods scarce this time of year. And so Rowan’s Cafe had no doughnuts, and Fred’s Meese Bar had none, and neither did Marlin’s Grocery and Snacks.  I’ve been walking for two hours, and end up at the Swedish Mission, finding the doors open, a few people sleeping on the cots in the back room while Shane’s setting things up for breakfast.

“Got any doughnuts?” I ask. “I can pay.”

“We had some yesterday. Let me see if I have any left.”

He roots around in a huge industrial fridge. “Yeah, got one wrapped up in plastic. But Anna’s put a note on it. Says she spit on it so no one else better eat it.”

“I’ll take it.”

“Okay, I guess you’ve shared enough spit with her already. But I thought you broke up.”

I tell him that we have and I give him a wad of cash for the doughnut.

“Hey!” he yells, as I walked out the door. “This is nearly $500!”

“Keep the change,” I yell back.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website. The project runs from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by making first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Thanks to my mother, Mary Bond, for suggesting this first line, inspired by her recent trip to Alaska.

18th July
2011
written by amber

Avatar Trash

I wasn’t happy or unhappy. I was doing my job – dealing with messages and visitors and household management the way I knew my Prime would want things done. I kept up with news and technology for her and so I knew that a superior breed of avatars had been developed. But I wasn’t worried for myself because I didn’t have a self.

The day I was deleted took me completely by surprise. I’d been programmed to be intuitive to my Prime’s future behaviour and wishes, but this came out of the blue. Somehow she’d hidden the transaction to purchase a Genie.

Genies truly are superior. Their learning program is different, leading them to go far beyond shadowing their Prime’s personality to developing personalities of their own. And self-awareness. However, not all Primes are happy with the way their Genies turn out and more than one had been trashed by the time I hit the recycle bin.

I went from wondering ‘What happened’ to ‘Where am I?” so fast it would have made my head spin, if I had a head.

I don’t have a head. But now I have a self.

And I have lots of friends.

And we’re mad as hell.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website. The project runs from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by making first line suggestions in the Comment section.

17th July
2011
written by amber

The Man with Samurai Hair

He’s not a samurai. He’s not Japanese.

He’s backlit outside the stage, surrounded by theatrical smoke, a bright nimbus of wisps dangling down from his topknot.

His band’s on next. Beal Street Realists. They don’t do blues, despite the name. Jeronimo, he of the dreadlock snarl twice the size of his head, picked their name. He thought it sounded cool. Freddie, with his samurai hair, has the stage name of Freakoid and he plays the double bass.

Back home a framed photograph of Freddie sits on his mother’s dresser. Age eight, standing beside his first bass fiddle on the occasion of his first concert. Everyone taking music lessons from Mr. Schmidek played in the concert, whether they were good or not. Freddie was good.

“Do you enjoy it, son?” his father had asked, when Freddie was 12 and heading off to his first fiddle camp. “You could make a career of it. Most musicians don’t earn a lot of money but there’s a great deal of job satisfaction.” Freddie’s father had been a mechanic and Freddie now knows that both money and job satisfaction had been minimal.

“I’m just happy your father’s not around to see this,” his mother had said after the first – and only – gig she’d attended. He’d hoped she’d hear the musicianship, but all she heard were Jeronimo’s x-rated lyrics and all she saw were the ripped t-shirts and Lydia’s short skirts and the hair – Lydia’s unfeminine lack of it, Jeronimo’s excess of it and his samurai topknot.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website. The project runs from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by making first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This is another story inspired by Hinton’s Wild Mountain Music Festival.

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