Today’s Author Write Now!: Wounds

Karen frowned as she entered the living room. “Hey! Why is the door wide open?” She slammed it closed, latched the chain lock, and punched in the code to arm the security system.

Nathan, her teenage son, thumped down the stairs in his quest for the kitchen and food. “Sorry, Mom. Must have forgot after Billy left.”

She drew in a deep breath to repeat a lecture she had given both her children numerous times. Nathan recognized the “look” and redirected her attention. “A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.”

Karen exhaled with a sputter. “Where?”

Nathan bolted for safety, tossing off, “It’s on the coffee table” over his shoulder.

She pursed her lips at her son’s nonchalance as she tossed the keys into a basket on the stand by the doorway. She strode over to the coffee table and flipped through the stack. Insurance, bill, bill, therapist, bill…ah. The return address read Jackson & Taylor Law Offices. She ripped open the envelope and scanned the letter.

Her heart paused as disbelief and anger swelled in her chest. “That son of a bitch!”

Nathan popped his head out of the kitchen. “What’s wrong, Ma?”

“Nothing!” The paper crumpled in her fist and Nathan retreated back into the kitchen, muttering under his breath. Karen ignored her confused boy and dug into purse for the cell. Wallet, mace, and safety whistle flew around the room before her fingers found what she searched for. She jerked it out of her purse and hit the number for her therapist.

Her stomps marked the trail she took around the room as she paced, waiting for someone to pick up. “Dr. Brannigan’s office. How may-?”

“I need to talk to Dr. Brannigan now! It’s Karen Tompkins.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Tompkins. He’s in a session righ-”

“I don’t care!” Her adrenaline crashed and anger wormed into desperation. “Please. Tell him…” She collapsed onto the brand new sofa. “Tell him it’s an emergency. Please…I don’t know what to do.”

“Hang on, Mrs. Tompkins,” the nurse said in a softer voice. “I’ll go get him.”

“Thank you.” Karen wiped her eyes and noticed where she sat. She scrambled off the sofa and into her easy-chair, breath heaving.

“Karen?”

Karen closed her eyes in relief at the sound of Dr. Brannigan’s voice. “He’s…he’s suing me! The bastard is suing me!”

“Hang on. Who is suing you?”

She slapped the leather arm of her chair in frustration. “Him! The man who broke in and…and…killed James. He’s suing me because James wounded him in the fight and he’s claiming ’emotional distress.'” A bitter laugh barked out. “Ha! Do you believe that? He’s in ’emotional distress.'”

Dr. Brannigan’s soothing baritone vibrated in her ear as he spoke. “Karen, he doesn’t have a case. Nobody in their right mind would give him anything.”

“I still have to go to court, get a lawyer, and all it takes in some con-man with a law degree to convince twelve idiots not smart enough to-”

“Karen. Stop.”

“I don’t have the money…and the kids…did I tell you I can’t even sit on the new couch because it reminds me of where he died? I can’t go through this…the kids can’t go through this again.”

The doctor sighed. “I know, Karen. I know.” His voice lowered and took on furtive tone. “Listen, I may be able to help. You meet some…interesting people in my line of work. Normally, I wouldn’t do this, but…”

Karen strained to hear the words she had longed for for some time. “‘But’ what, Lyle?”

“Nothing.” His voice became crisp and businesslike once again. “I…I’ll help you out, Karen. Don’t worry about anything.”

Dr. Brannigan ended the call, and Karen clutched the phone to her chest, old wounds ripped open and seeping into her soul. Hatred for the man who shattered her life warred with guilt over falling in love again, swirling in combat to create an aching vortex of confusion.

“Mom?” Nathan knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

She patted his arm and forced a smile. “It’s okay, baby. I’ll be okay.”

“What was that letter?”

She glanced at the crumpled mess in her hand and tossed it into a wastebasket. “Nothing. Just something stupid. Dr. Brannigan said he’ll take of it.”

Her forced smile became real at the thought.

For Today’s Author – Write Now! Prompt: A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.

Twice a week they have a sentence prompt and encourage you to write for at least five minutes on whatever comes to mind. Head over to Today’s Author and check it out.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

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Today’s Author – Write Now!: Familiar

Andrea huddled under the domed roof of the passenger shelter, failing to ignore the twin annoyances of misspelled graffiti and rain spattering on her legs. Stupid weatherman…twenty percent chance, my tuches. She wrapped her arms around her body, attempting in vain to keep out the cold breeze that whistled through a broken window.

An older gentleman sat on the bench, beard peeking out from behind a scarf as he devoured the latest novel featuring a long-haired bohunk and fainting maiden on the cover. An African-American woman in a business suit stood on the opposite side of the enclosure, ear buried into her cell while engaged in futile efforts to keep her six-year old from splashing in the rapidly growing puddles. Andrea avoided making eye contact with her fellow waitees, and they returned the favor.

She dared to let the hand closing her collar release so she could check her watch. The wind chose that moment to lustily gust, and she felt droplets of water running down her collar and into her cleavage. Idiot bus driver! He should have been here fifteen minutes ago!

An oncoming rumble and the sound of tires sluicing through mini-ponds along the sidewalk announced salvation. She stepped behind the old man, not quite under his umbrella, but close enough she could shield herself somewhat. Blue smoke belched as the bus rolled to a stop, familiar squeaks of the door extending the invitation inside. Andrea eagerly RSVP’d, as she hurried up the entrance steps.

“Sorry, folks. New to this route and got a little behind.” The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him. Andrea shrugged off the nagging feeling as she searched for a seat. She frowned when she realized the only one left was directly behind and to the right of the driver.

“Sit down, lady, so we can go already,” some punk with a green mohawk and too much metal in his face spouted off. Andrea flushed red and eased onto the bench-seat. The bus jolted as it took off, and she dug into her purse for some tissues. She opened up her coat, sank her hand beneath her collar, and wiped the water from her chest.

The back of her neck prickled and she looked up to see the bus driver’s eyes on her in the mirror above his head. “Hey!” she snapped. “How about you keep your eyes on the road?”

The driver jerked his eyes down, and the nagging feeling she knew him returned, crawling up her spine. He just has one of those faces, Andrea. Keep it together.

She turned her thoughts to her baby, Sean. Six-years-old, he lifted her spirits every time she picked him up from daycare and he ran to her, arms wide, yelling, “Mommy!”

Conversely, it broke her heart every time she took him out and he would see other kids with both parents. “Mommy, where’s my Daddy?”

When those questions came, she wished she had a tale-teller’s talent for lies dressed as truth. How can I tell him he came from a one-night stand and a broken condom? I can’t, and I won’t. Ever.

The call of “Fourth Street” slapped her from her musing. She glanced at the bus driver one last time before scurrying off the bus. She strode quickly to the daycare center and signed in at the desk. “Mommy!” A small whirlwind of legs and arms wrapped around her waist.

“Baby!” She lifted him up to give him a hello kiss. The bus driver’s eyes stared back at her, and she gasped. “Honey, wait right here. Mommy forgot something on the bus!” She clasped her hands, silently pleading with the provider waiting to the side, as she backed toward the door. The daycare employee smiled. “It happens to everyone. Go on. I’ll watch him.”

Andrea bolted out the door, rain pelting her face, and ran down the sidewalk. If I hurry, I can catch him at the next stop. She skip-hopped as she pulled off her heels, then raced on at full speed.

The back of the bus filled her vision, and she saw the tell-tale smoke of it beginning to leave. She waved her arms frantically in the air. “Wait! Wait!”

The bus paused and the door opened. She reached the door and fell against it, using it to prop her up. “Sev-huff, huff-en years, huff, huff…son. Andrea.” She looked up the driver, eyes begging his understanding.

“I’m sorry, miss. I’ve never seen you before in my life.”

Andrea straightened as she regained her breath. “NYC, seven years ago. We slept together and I got pregnant. I never found you after that night. We have a son.”

Sadness and pain filled the driver’s eyes. “I have a nephew?”

Andrea opened her mouth, but words failed her as they so often did. The driver understood anyway. “You must be thinking of my younger brother, Michael. He went to NYC at that time, and everyone says we look so much alike we may as well be twins.”

Andrea eagerly leaned farther into the doorway. “Where is he?”

A tear rolled down the driver’s cheek. “He died from a drunk driver two years ago.”

Andrea stumbled backward at the news. Dizziness swept over her and her knees buckled. Callused hands grabbed her, gently lowering her to the ground. She stared at the now familiar eyes. “I’d like to meet my nephew, if you approve. I’d like to tell him about his father.”

She smiled and leaned her head against his now rain-soaked shoulder. “I think we’d both like that.”

***

For Today’s Author Write Now prompt. The prompt:

The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him.

Head on over to Today’s Author and join in the fun!

The “rules”:

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Today’s Author Write Now for Nov. 22: Ignorance is Servitude

Hollywood had it wrong. Spaceships didn’t descend and obliterate cities. No plucky human hero stumbled on the secret weakness, allowing the human race to fight off the alien threat. Heck, the invasion had already begun, but nobody noticed. Most still don’t notice. I only know about it because I used to be a doctor.

I guess I still am, although the Hippocratic Oath no longer holds much meaning for me. No, I am first and foremost a freedom fighter now. I have surrounded myself with others I have managed to convince of the truth. Together we fight against our unseen overlords, fighting the good fight in the hopes we can free ourselves.

Sometimes I despair we just make matters worse.

It all started, we believe, with a meteor shower. An innocuous and common enough occurrence that nobody, except for astronomers, really paid notice. Of course, people scrambled to find remnants so they could claim to own a piece of space-rock, while scientists collected samples for study.

One of my former patients, a man by the name of Jeremiah Timmons, loved astronomy. He collected one of the fragments from ground zero. I like to think of him as Patient Zero, at least in my own little drama. He came to me two years ago. “Dr. Archibald,” he cried, tears streaming. “My head’s killing me! Nothing I take works! Please, can you give me something?”

If I knew then what I know now, I would have filled a needle with air and injected him with it, giving him an embolism. Instead, I ordered a MRI. I sat in the control room, watching the scan in progress. I’ll never forget Mr. Timmons’ screams as a small cylindrical object burrowed through his spinal cord and out of his neck, attracted by the magnetic scan.

The tech shut the machine down, while nurses and I charged into the room. We checked Mr. Timmons; the trauma to his spinal cord proved too severe. He died, the lucky bastard.

One of my nurses, Cynthia Freeman, grabbed what came out of Mr. Timmons. I glanced over, long enough to see the small silvery object, kind of like a tiny screw, open its end wide and fly into her ear canal. Like a fool, I didn’t believe my own eyes.

Cynthia, to my amazement, didn’t react. “Nurse Freeman, are you alright?” I asked.

Her eyes looked glazed for moment before resuming their normal sharp focus.  “I’m fine Dr. Archibald. I’ll just go get a gurney for Mr. Timmons.”

She walked out of the room before I could say anything else. I turned back to the confused and worried faces of the MRI staff. “This wasn’t anybody’s fault. We didn’t know he had metal in his body, and he didn’t tell us. I’ll make sure I mention your…”

Nurse Freeman strolled back in, without a gurney. I opened my mouth, but my words died as she swiped a scalpel across the throat of a technician. I hesitated, but she didn’t, and soon everyone in the room lay dead or bleeding out on the floor. She came after me and I just stood there until survival instincts kicked in and I moved at the last second. Instead of my throat, she caught my shoulder.

I staggered out and back into the control room. I turned on the MRI and watched what happened to Mr. Timmons replay itself a second time. Cynthia’s screams battle with Jeremiah’s in my dreams.

This time I didn’t turn the machine off. I stumbled over, ignoring the glassy death stares accusing me. The object wiggled and squirmed, trying to free itself and infect me. I grabbed the scalpel, and, fighting against the magnet, managed to stab the damnable thing.

I collected it for study and got the hell out of there. For two years I’ve studied this creature and others we’ve managed to capture. This is what we know:

They reproduce asexually, using the minerals found in the human body to create more. If you are anemic, well, I’m sorry.

Their spawn are actually spores that spread the same way as a virus. If you’re around an infected and they sneeze, again, I’m sorry.

They are empathic and feed of our emotions. Strong emotions, especially negative, nourish them and make them more powerful. They actually give off  “vibes,” for lack of a better word, that excite the chemical centers of the brain that control emotion.

They have infiltrated our society up to the highest levels.

They have turned society against us, calling us kooks or conspiracy theorists. They hunt us.

We hunt them right back, but I hold no illusions. Humanity lost a war it didn’t even know started.

The next time some old man holds up “The End Of The World Is Nigh,” tell him it already happened. Now you know the truth. Look over your shoulder, good luck, and, I can’t say this enough, I’m sorry.

***

This is my contribution for Today’s Author and their Write Now Prompt:

The invasion had already begun, but nobody noticed.

And the obligatory rules:

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Head on over and join in the fun if you’re feeling frisky!

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Today’s Author WriteNow- 10-16

Dispatch: 911. What is the nature of your emergency?

Caller: Hello? Hello?

Dispatch: Yes, ma’am. What is the nature of your emergency.

Caller: Uh…my boyfriend. He won’t leave. He said he was leaving an hour ago, but he’s still standing in the driveway.

Dispatch: Is he threatening you?

Caller: No. We, uh, we had a fight. I told him to get out. Go back upstairs, Claire. Now!

Dispatch: Do you live at 716 Linden Drive?

Caller: What? Oh. Yes.

Dispatch: What is your name, ma’am?

Caller: Kelli.

Dispatch: Ok, Kelli. Is your door locked?

Caller: Yes, but he has a key. (unintelligible) Hey! I called the police! They’re on their way!

Dispatch: Kelli. Kelli! I’m going to have to ask you not to antagonize him.

Caller: Sorry. (unintelligible)…he doing? Oh, God!

Dispatch: Kelli, tell me what’s happening.

Caller: Claire! Lock your door and get in your closet! Oh, God! He has a gun!

Dispatch: Kelli, keep calm. Do you have an upstairs or room that can be locked?

Caller: (unintelligible) (crying sounds) He’s at the door! Oh, God! Please, help me.

Dispatch: Units are en route. Kelli, you need to find a place to hide.

Caller: Claire! What are you doing? I told you to hide upstairs! (scream) Oh my God, he’s inside. (male voice) Think you can (unintelligible)…me? (gunshots)

Dispatch: Kelli? Kelli!

Caller: (male voice) Kelli can’t come to the phone right now…You stay there, Claire! It’ll be alright. I wouldn’t hurt you.

Dispatch: Sir, what is your name?

Caller: Stop crying, Claire! What? Bobby.

Dispatch: Bobby, please put the weapon down. You don’t want to scare Claire, do you?

Caller: No. I love that little girl. I love Kelli. She was going to take her away from me. I…I just couldn’t let that happen. I (unintelligible)…I love her. What did I do?

Dispatch: Bobby, please. Is Kelli still breathing?

Caller: No. There…there’s so much blood. Oh, God, baby. I’m so sorry. What did I do? (scream)

Dispatch: Bobby? Bobby! I know this is hard, but I need you to put your weapon down and wait outside of the house. Can you do that, please?

Caller: I…I…(unintelligible) Claire? I’m so sorry. What’s that? Cops? I can’t go back to jail! I won’t go back. Don’t worry, Claire. I’m going to see Mommy and tell her I’m sorry. (gunshot) (girl screaming)

Dispatch: Bobby? Jesus. Bobby? (shouting) Claire! Claire! Can you hear me? Jesus, please be okay.

Caller: Dispatch?

Dispatch: Yes.

Caller: This is Officer Wheeler. Looks like the suspect killed…

Dispatch: Is Claire still in the room?

Caller: Christ. Jeffries, get the girl out of here! Snap to, rookie! Her name is Claire. Sorry. Jesus, this is a mess.

Dispatch: Ambulances are en route as is Social Services.

Caller: Good. Kid’s going to need it.

Dispatch: Is she hurt?

Caller: The kid? Not physically, no. She’s covered in blood, but it doesn’t seem to be hers.

Dispatch: Christ.

Caller: I know. Listen, my rookie’s getting sick. I need to go take care of the kid and secure the scene.

Dispatch: Take care of her, please.

Caller: Will do, Samantha. Sorry.

call ended

Well, my light-hearted interlude was certainly brief. All of two hours. This is my contribution to the Today’s Author WriteNow challenge for October 25. The prompt: He said he was going to leave an hour ago, but he’s still in the driveway.

Note: According to a “ten-code” list I found here a 10-16 is the code for a domestic disturbance. If you know of a different code, please let me know.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

 

Today’s Author WriteNow Challenge-Ghost Writer

She stared at the blank page, unable to write a single word, even though she knew exactly what needed to be said. She could picture everything so clearly.

Her smile, that million-watt smile, full of teeth and humor, that lights up every room and soul she enters. The way her eyes sparkle like a clear night sky, full of love and mystery. That laugh, unrestrained and joyous.

She stood up and started to pace, worrying her fingernails. How to describe the commitment to school, athletics, and community that consumes every moment of the day. How to…

The furrowing of her feet on the carpet caused her finger to spark against the metal doorknob to the kitchen. She jumped, gasping, and stuck her finger in her mouth, letting nature’s coagulant sooth the sting. Anger welled inside her, unreasoning and black. She beat on the door with her fists, until she exhausted herself. She leaned her back against the door and slid down, tears mimicking her path.

“It’s so unfair!” she screamed to the empty house. “Why can’t I do this?”

The chime of the doorbell echoed through the house, followed by a tentative knock. She couldn’t muster the strength to do anything but sob.

The front door clicked open. “Mimi?” an uncertain voice called. “You home?”

At the sound of Donna’s voice, Mimi groaned aloud. Padded footsteps hurried through the living room to where she sat.

“Mimi?” She sensed more than saw Donna kneel beside her. A gentle hand stroked her hair. “What’s wrong?” Donna asked.

“I can’t do it,” Mimi cried. “I know what to say, but I can’t write it! I write for a living, but I can’t write this.”

The gentle hand in her hair became a firm hand on her back. She allowed herself to be lifted up. Arms encircled her and her head found the shoulder she so desperately needed. Soothing noises and murmured “It’ll be okay” accompanied her outpouring.

Donna rocked with her and slow-danced her back to her writing desk. Her computer sat at the center, pictures of her with her husband and daughter softening the otherwise drab work-space. Mimi sank into her padded leather chair, hair limp and shoulders slumped.

“Talk to me,” Donna said.

Mimi chewed her lip for a moment, fists subconsciously balled in white-knuckled fury. “I should be able to do this,” she said. “I should be able to write how she’s friendly and outgoing. How her parents are so proud of her that it’s painful to think of her growing up and leaving the house. How a whole town cherishes her presence.”

Mimi buried her face in her hands. “What kind of writer am I that I can’t write this down?” came the muffled question.

Donna knelt in front of Mimi and slowly pulled her hands away from her face. She waited until brown eyes met blue and caressed the face of her best friend. “She was all of those things, wasn’t she?” Donna said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are, you’re a mother first.”

Mimi stared back, eyes lined with red and circled with the coloration of a fresh bruise. Her lip trembled. “That’s the problem, isn’t it?” Donna asked. “Writing it will make it real.”

Donna’s eyes began to well and turn bright with tears for the pain of her best friend, and the loss of a girl she considered family. She held them back. Instead of crying, she turned to the computer, fingers poised over the keys. “Tell you what. You say them and let me write them. Maybe it doesn’t have to be real for a little while longer.”

Mimi swallowed hard. With a tremulous voice, she began, “My daughter Jennifer is…”

This piece is for the Write Now challenge found at the Today’s Author blog. The prompt is:

She stared at the blank page, unable to write a single word, even though she knew exactly what needed to be said.

Head on over and check it out. Better yet, take part and showcase your own story. Hope you enjoy!