Thursday, December 30, 2010


Miranda is in her early twenties, newly married to an abusive husband.  This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote called, Love is a Battlefield.

“Don’t be disgusting,” Patrick said, pinching the cigarette I’d just lit between his two fingers and taking it from me, pressing it out in the ashtray I was holding.  Patrick hated cigarette smoke.
“I was just... I mean...” Shutting up because he wouldn’t hear me anyway... I watched him do a bong hit.  The insides of the bong were brown with accumulated resin, and as Pat sucked, the water bubbled thickly, making me think of sucking up phlegm.  The image, the sound, made my already pained and empty stomach clench.  
Why couldn’t I smoke in the living room just this once?  All I wanted was to relax after unpacking for two days.  My fingers stung with tiny paper cuts from boxes on boxes and my thighs and back screaming from bending and lifting and straightening and... Closing my eyes for a moment, I tried to breathe, not to freak out.  This was our first week in San Francisco.  We’d just spent six long days in a truck together.  We were trying to start fresh, renew our relationship, make it all okay again.  It had so been falling apart, what happened?  I remembered loving Patrick so much in college, going into his closet when he’d left for class and pulling his favorite sweater around my face, breathing him in.  I remembered brushing my teeth after having a cigarette so he wouldn’t have to smell it on me.  I remembered the first time I said, “I think I love you,” and he said, “Me too,” before passing out on my lap.  
I remembered holding my breath and not crying while he screwed me against a wall in a deserted corner outside of the Cloisters in New York, because he said he loved me and if I loved him I’d do it even though I didn’t want to and I was so ashamed because anyone could’ve come by and anyway I really didn’t want to.  
We were married now.  Three days already.  Pat had wanted to stop in Reno and play blackjack.  I got drunk.  He hugged me close and said, “Let’s go, let’s do it babe,” and off we went to Cupid’s Chapel of Love.  Ninety-five dollar wedding.  My eyes bleary, no makeup, hair gnarled and roots showing through the bleached blond, wearing a fatigue tee shirt with black sequined neckline and longish gauzy skirt Patrick hated, called fugly.  Now it was on our wall for anyone to see, forever, fugly me, our wedding picture, with Patrick next to me grinning and light reflecting off his big forehead, receding hairline at twenty-three.  
The wedding picture was one of only three things hanging in our new apartment, new city, new life so far -- there was also the dartboard, and another wedding picture, Patrick’s little treasure, which I hadn’t remembered him taking.  The one where I was naked, positioned spread-eagled on the hotel bed, eyes hooded, mostly shut, hardly conscious... our honeymoon.  Had he fucked me, or only taken a picture to hang over our new bed in our new home, new life?
“I need a cigarette.  I’ll be in my studio,” I said, opening my eyes, trying not to feel the constriction in my chest or the throbbing behind my eyes or the edginess of my heart beating a little too fast, and fear creeping behind me like a shadow of a tiger falling over me and the faint sound of toothy breath so near all the time, it seemed, waiting to pounce.  I kept my eyes straight forward, afraid to look behind me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Stephanie is a young writer-to-be with a domineering mother and a hurting heart.

I feel … ick.  Icky.  Blah.  Motionless.  Immobile.
Because of Christmas coming up?
Because I’m done shopping, and now it’s just a waiting time, and I hate to wait?
Because I want – no, I expect – to write everyday, and today I just don’t want to
Don’t want to don’t want to don’t want to
Maybe by feeling this way, I’ll learn something about myself, or about other people,
Maybe I’ll grow in my understanding of why my mother comes home and yells because my sneakers are not lined up by the door, one is askew and the other is touching the wall and sneakers are supposed to be lined up with their toes one inch from the wall and why don’t I do anything right?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Cassie is my youngest outsider girl, just seven and three-quarters years old.  She is to be the main character in a picture book I’m working on called, “I Like Her That Way”

Cassie: Sometimes Mommy is very busy writing all day, and she doesn’t have time to get dressed, she just stays in her sweats all day, dressing it up with a sequined scarf when she comes to pick me up from school.   She hasn’t even bothered to twist her dreads, she just has them pushed back with a headband, and they’re all sticking out this way and that way, and I like her that way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Eva is thirteen, stuck between being a little girl and a teenager.  It feels like her mother doesn’t care about her anymore…

Eva:  “You’re the worst mother ever!”  I shout, basically throwing myself up the stairs – I hit the wall with my body, bounce off, fling myself up another step, crash, thrump stomp stomp.
I want to throw my laptop against the wall, just to show her, but I can’t even throw it on the bed.  Aaagh!  I can’t believe she made me take my homework upstairs just because precious little John, her precious baby who’s not even a baby anymore, just because he’s using the computer downstairs, and my laptop lost its charge and now I’m putting it gently on my desk and plugging it in because even though I want to show my mother how little she means to me, I need my laptop. 
After it’s plugged in, I throw myself across the bed.  I stop crying, because she hasn’t come up the stairs after me, and she won’t hear me.  She doesn’t care.  She doesn’t care about me anymore. 
Before she had John, shit, even earlier this week…
I remember, sometimes she’d scream at me if I screamed at her.  I remember how much that scared me.
But this time she just calmly told me to go to my room now, and she didn’t yell, and she didn’t come after me.  It’s been like ten minutes, and she’s just downstairs watching TV with Daddy or playing a game on the computer with John, and she just left me up here.
I start doing my homework, but not on the floor, like she said, or my bed, where I could be comfortable, but standing up next to my desk.  My chair is covered with clothes I haven’t put away when she told me to. 
She used to put my clothes away for me.
She used to read me three stories a night.
She used to cry how sorry she was if I had a tantrum.
Now it’s like I don’t exist, it’s like…
“Eva!” she shouts up the stairs.
“What?” I say, and I don’t even sound mad, like, “what!”, instead, I sound relieved.
“When you’re done with your homework, come down, I want to read the Nutcracker to you and John.”
She always does this, she always tries to make me part of the family.  It’s like she doesn’t even acknowledge that I’m mad at her, and plus I’m thirteen and not a kid anymore…
“I’ll be right down!”  I say, and hurry up to finish my math homework.
I’m not saying she’s right.  But I feel a lot better, and I can’t wait to snuggle up next to her and anyway, she needs me to cuddle with her because she’s always cold, and she’s says I’m her heater, and I can go back to being mad later.