Nanowrimo: Day 12

I’m so behind, it’s maddening. I’m still three days behind, but I was six when the day started, so at least I’m making up some ground. I would like to catch up tomorrow, but that’s unlikely. I just hope I don’t get further behind.

November has been brutal, writing wise. First, I had a presentation to prepare. Then I had present it, in Oklahoma City, more than five hours away from home. I wrote Sunday, worked Monday and drove to OKC, no writing done. Tuesday was the class and presentation, then the drive back to Amarillo. No writing done. Wednesday was a long day, and I ended up working a full 12 hours, spent the night in Amarillo again, then a full day on Thursday. Too exhausted to write, and the first night home since I left on Monday.

I meant to write on Friday, and I took my laptop with me to Amarillo, and set up to write at Roasters while I waited for a friend to drive in. We were going to meet for lunch, and I thought it a perfect time to get out of the house, drink some coffee and write. Nope. My computer’s battery was dead, and I left the charger at home. Crap!

I ended up going to Walmart, buying a composition notebook and a pack of pens, and sat down to write out a vague roadmap for my novel. While I’ve stated on countless occasions that I’m a pantser, I’m feeling as though having no plan isn’t working for me. I need at least a general outline of what I want to write. I may not follow it exactly, but at least it’s a guide.

So now, finally, Saturday comes, and I can write. I should have written more, but I’ve played too much online. Damn Facebook. I’m still please with what I have so far, the outline giving me some direction on where I need to go with the story. I decided as I was outlining that the story needs to be organized into three parts. So, maybe planning is helpful.

I have a long way to go before the month is over, and longer until I get to the end of the novel. I wish I didn’t have so much happening to distract me from my writing. This coming week is Inventory Week at work, and it’ll be long days and nights until Thursday. The following week is Black Friday, again a lot of long days to prepare. The last week of November has me going back to OKC for another project. I need to be beyond the 50K mark before then. I don’t know if I’ll have time to write on the 29th or 30th!

 

Hours to go

Nanowrimo starts in a little less than five hours. Unfortunately for me, I’ll be in bed asleep. I have to be up at four so I can be at work by six. Luckily, I’ll be out early in the afternoon, and I’ll have plenty of time to write. A group of writers will be meeting tomorrow at Roasters for a write in, if you can call a three people a group. Hopefully we all show up. It’s be better if more do.

I was having trouble coming up with something to write this year. I wrote a few short stories this past week, trying to spark something, but neither inspired anything. It was more an exercise in working through some negative emotions that had been bringing me down for a while. What it did was bring me back to one of my favorite short stories, Harvest Moon, which I wrote back in 2013.

The story follows a woman who is visited by the spirit of her teenaged love, who died when they were both attacked after sneaking out late one night. On the anniversary of his death, her spirit leaves her body and she walks to the secluded field, the scene of his death, to endures his pleading for her to leave her life behind and join him, he being unable to move on, his destiny tied to hers.

I’m not one to write supernatural stories, but this one struck a chord with me, and I’ve shared the link on my Facebook and Twitter several times since I wrote it. For me, it’s a story about being stuck in the past, unable to move on, enduring the torture of reliving the same heartbreak time and again. She haunted by the memory, haunted by his ghost, unable to live in the present, unable to change the past.

I have no idea how the story will actually play out. Well, that’s probably not true. I have a few ideas. I will have to flesh out the characters more, especially her husband and children. I’ll probably also come up with new names since I hate the original names I came up with, Evie and Bryce.

What kills me is that I have to wait a few more hours, really almost a whole other day before I can start to write. I want to write now. I have a clear vision of how I would like to start. I don’t want to lose it! I wish I didn’t have to go in so early. Even an hour would be better than nothing.

But at least I have something to write about, a story to tell. As I write, I’ll figure out what questions I need to answer, what problems need to be solved. What is it that keeps my protagonist attached to her life? Who is the antagonist? What role does her family play in keeping her in this life?

I have a whole month to discover it. I’ll continue to write until I’m done. I have thirty days to write fifty-thousand words, a little less than two-thousand words per day. I’ve done it before, no sweat. Okay, I’ll be sweating a little. November is a horrible month for me. Let’s see where it takes me.

Short Story: Fortitude

I’ve always admired those who possess an inner strength, a source of conviction in themselves that sees them past the dark moments in their lives. My mother had it when she kicked that bastard of a father of mine when she caught him cheating on her with the neighbor’s daughter, my former babysitter. I witnessed it firsthand when my sister’s husband was sent to Afghanistan, returning in a flag-draped casket.

My grandfather displayed a quiet sort of courage when my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS, staying by her side as her physical strength failed her. He helped her around until the moment she was bedridden. Cleaned out her trach when she was put on a respirator. I saw him feed her through a g-tube in her stomach, changed her diaper, sponged her clean and combed her hair. He never complained, even as he saw the love of his wife succumb to the disease, dying finally of respiratory failure shortly after their forty-ninth wedding anniversary.

I’ve seen so many examples of courage, and I envy them that strength for it’s something I lack. I was born a coward. I don’t know how else to say it. I’m weak. I’m pathetic. I’m that guy no one likes because I can always be counted on to slink back into the shadows when it counts, and I hate myself for my own weakness.

I have a 9mm in front of me, next to the half-empty fifth of Jack. I just stumbled back into my hotel room, a trailed by the ice I spilled as I came back, locking the door behind. I downed the tumbler in one gulp, threw a handful of ice and splashed another measure into my cup, drowning myself in licor, wallowing in my dispair. I’ve been in tears for the past few days, hiding here, ignoring the constant calls and texts on my phone.

Rejection is something I’ve never learned to deal with. I’m not talking about getting shot down by somebody, or not getting something I wanted. I’m speaking of falling in love and having my heart ripped out of my chest. The kind of heartbreak that makes you want to kill and seek revenge. I had experienced it a couple of times before, and tried to kill myself both times, but I was discovered by my mother at the last moment, and locked in some psych hospital until I got over my suicidal thoughts.

That’s when I learned how to deal with it. I learned to read the signs, learned to read the body language of my lovers. I learned to anticipate when they were done with me and I learned to steel myself and dump them first. There was something satisfying in seeing them begging me to stay, eyes shot red with tears, their egos unable to cope with being dumped, even when they were already planning on dumping me.

It was a rejection of a sort, but I took control, and that made the difference, I think. But this? I could never have predicted it. It was a wholly different sort of rejection. She still loved me, or she said so countless times as I ran from the room. I heard her sobbing on each message she left on my phone. I heard her heart cracking in her voice, but I didn’t give a shit. She broke me first.

I had left town for a few days, my job sending to negotiate a contract with some  son of a bitch with deep pockets and a need for a new supplier. The negotiations went quicker than I had anticipated and came home a day early. I didn’t tell my fiance, wanting to surprise her. Instead, I was the one who was surprised when I heard her upstairs, recognizing the sounds of her moans in the throes of ecstasy. I hoped she was playing with herself, like she usually did, several times a day in fact, but I didn’t think so. I recognize her every moan and grunt, with me and when she plays with herself. This was different.

A slunk upstairs, praying not to see her in bed with some other guy, and my prayers were answered in a fashion. Instead of another man, I found my sister’s face buried between her legs, my fiance’s eyes rolled back. Nothing could have prepared me to see my naked sister, her ass in the air, mocking me as she went down on the woman I loved. I must have made some sound as what I saw hit me in the gut, and I sobbed as my heart fell into the pit of my stomach. My sister turned in horror as she saw me and tried to cover herself, but I didn’t have eyes for her. My eyes were locked onto the woman I had allowed myself to fall in love with, though I had long promised myself never to allow myself that unfortunate weakness.

But I had, and here I am, drunk and wishing I had the courage to either face the world after being humiliated by my once fiance and that bitch of a sister, or put the barrel down my throat and pull the trigger. Pills and drink won’t do this time, nor will cutting my wrists. It has to be the gun and the one bullet with my expiration date written on the casing. I want the pain to end.

It’s been two days and no one knows where I am. I parked my car and hitched a ride out of town, taking only the gun I keep on me at all times. I paid for the room with cash, and everything else for that matter. I didn’t want a way for anyone to track me. I don’t want to be found. I just want it all to end.

I’ve played with the gun, running my fingers down the barrel, caressing the potential instrument of my dispatchment with loving strokes, before setting it down and picking up my Jack again. Two days of toying with my eminent death, wondering whether or not I can do it, but not wanting to face the world mocking my embarrassment. The pain is too much to bear.

I jumped to my feet as I heard voices outside the door, picking up the gun to protect myself. “Johnny?” I heard my mother’s frantic voice pleading to me from the other side of the door. “Are you in there?” I shrank back as she pounded on the door. “Please open up! Don’t do this to me!”

How did they find me, I wondered. I put the gun into my mouth, tears streaming down my face. All I need was one moment of courage to ease myself into oblivion. Let the others worry about cleaning up the gore I leave behind. No one gave a damn about the mess they put me in. One moment is all. All that’s left is to pull the trigger. My whole body shakes with anticipation and fear. Either this or a lifetime of dealing with the aftermath of their betrayal.

I close my eyes as someone breaks down the door and they rush in. Now or never, courage and strength and the eternal darkness. Now or never….


Short Stories

Next story –
Previous story – Nice Guy

Counting down

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participantI have no idea what I’m going to write about. Does that surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me, but it does have me worried. Maybe something will come around, but what if it doesn’t? What if this is the year I lose? I can’t lose. I have to write 50K words. I can’t fail!

NaNoWriMo starts on Tuesday. 30 days, 50K words, which is what many consider the minimum word count for a novel, hence the name, National Novel Writing Month. I think it’s madness to attempt it, but I can’t help myself. It’s a personal challenge to just sit and write with abandon, foregoing any thought of scrapping what I’ve written.

As I sit here trying to write this, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll write. I have no clue. Hopefully something will be sparked between now and then. Probably a million ideas will come and go, none holding my attention for long. Though I’ve always thought of myself as a pantser, I wouldn’t mind having some time to at least think about what I’m going to write, some vague roadmap that’ll take me from beginning to the end. I want a complete story, and not my usual collection of stories abandoned halfway through.

It won’t help that November is a horrible month to begin with. I work retail, at The Home Depot, and our inventory is on the 17th. On the 8th, I actually have to go to Oklahoma City for a Leadership Development class with the district team. Why did I agree to that!? Oh, and let’s not forget Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the start of the Holiday season. Let’s write a freaking novel! That’s not at all insane! I hope to be back to normal come Tuesday, and then it can go out of whack again as I try to pound out something somewhat coherent.

 

 

Short Story: Nice Guy

Lance sat alone, stirring his Jack and Coke with his finger, gazing morosely at the clock above the bar. He would have preferred to have stayed home, not wanting to meet the woman whom had already kept him waiting almost half an hour, but she had begged and pleaded until at last, in exasperation, he gave in. He regretted his weakness.

After waiting another five minutes, Vanessa finally showed up, looking slightly harried, but otherwise unapologetic for being more than thirty minutes late. She walked to the table and waited for him to acknowledge him, but he continued to play with his drink. Finally she cleared her throat. “Lance?” she said inquiringly.

“Vanessa,” he retorted flatly, keeping his eye resolutely on his drink. “Have a seat, I guess.”

She waited for him to stand, thinking he would at least do that one gentlemanly duty that common courtesy demanded, but seeing that he had no intention to do anything but keep his attention focused on the glass in his hand, she pulled the seat out and sat down.

“Thanks for agreeing to see me. I thought for sure you’d turn me down.”

“I did,” he grumbled, “repeatedly. I only agreed to shut you up.”

“Oh,” she look embarrassed. “Sorry.

He shrugged. He finally looked up at her, and the years had taken their toll. It had been more than fifteen years since they last met, and he remembered it well. They had been on a few dates over the course of a few months, and he adored her. For her part, she pretended to be interested in him, at least until he arrived.

Kenny was his polar opposite. While Lance was academic, Kenny was athletic. Lance was artistic and Kenny was unimaginative. Lance was quiet, shy, and introverted, and Kenny was loud and the life of the party. Lance had trouble finding a woman to date while Kenny had women begging for his attention.

Lance didn’t give him much thought, though he should have. She had dated him a few times, but he tried not to let it get to him. They weren’t exclusive, yet. That last time he saw her, he had wanted to get her to agree to go steady, which he later regretted as well. They hadn’t even slept with each other. He had barely gotten a swift kiss good night. He discovered later from a friend that Vanessa had slept with him even before they had gone on their first date.

“I like you, Lance,” he remembered her telling him. “You’re a nice guy, a real sweetheart, but you’re too good for me. You deserve better.”

The seemingly gentle rejection still rankled, even all that time. How many times had he been called a nice guy but some girl rejecting him? A dozen? More? He had lost count even before going out with Vanessa. After her, well he had about given up.

Her relationship with Kenny had been volatile from the start. He drank too much, cheated on her, and rumor had it, he had physically assaulted her a few times. Still, after a few months they married, and she had two kids with him before leaving him after he had tried to strangle her in a fit of rage.

Then came Karl, who was of the same mold as Kenny. Then there was James, Freddie, and too many more too keep track. Lance hadn’t wanted to know, but his friend kept bringing her up, unaware that he was digging the knife further into his gut, and pouring salt into the still gaping wound.

“Are you listening to me?” Vanessa asked, breaking into his dark thoughts.

“What? Oh, yeah,” he stammered before asking, “What were you saying?”

“I was asking you what you had been up to? I can’t believe you’re still single. I would have thought someone would have snatched you up ages ago. You’re such a nice guy. A real catch.”

He shrugged. “That’s the thing about being such a nice guy, I suppose. No one wants one. They all rather date abusers and rapists and the like. I’m done being the nice guy no one wants, so I gave up. Haven’t really dated in years. I don’t see the point.”

“Don’t be like that,” Vanessa scolded him. “I don’t see why anyone would reject you for being a nice guy.”

“You did,” Lance said, barely containing his rage. “So has just about ever other bitch I tried to date. Might as well have called me a fucking unlovable loser. It would have been more honest.”

Vanessa sighed. “You need to stop this. You’re not….”

“What the hell do you want?” Lance interrupted her.

“What?”

“You begged to see me. I want to know why.”

“So were’re not going to catch up?”

“You lost you chance by being over thirty minutes late. Now, what the fuck do you want?”

She looked annoyed by his rude behavior but shook it off. With difficulty she looked at him, and replied. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have rejected you. Truth is, I thought you were cute and a great guy, but I was stupid, and naive, and I thought I wanted something more.”

“What do you mean by something more?”

“No offence, but I thought you were safe, and maybe even a little boring.”

“Oh, why should that fucking offend me?” Lance scowled before gulping down his drink in one go.

“I said I was sorry,” Vanessa said weakly, tears welling up in her eyes. “I was wrong. He wasn’t exciting. Kenny was an abusive prick. He was a lying, cheating, manipulative alcoholic. He almost killed me and the kids several times before I worked up the courage to get away.”

“Yeah, and straight to another abusive prick’s bed.”

“You don’t have to be so rude!”

He shrugged and began to play with the fresh drink the bartender set before him. “Is that it? You’re sorry? Kind of a waste of time, if you ask me.”

“No, there was more, but under the circumstances.”

“Oh-ho! There’s more! Then pray tell, what could be so important that you would want to see me after all these years?”

“I was hoping, maybe, to make up for a mistake.”

“What mistake could that be?”

“Not choosing you in the first place.”

He glanced up and scrutinized her. There was no hint of anything but sincerity in her tone and demeanor. It didn’t surprise her. He had expected it the moment she called him. He knew it was coming and had never hoped so hard to be wrong.

“I liked you, and I know that I could have loved you, but I was young and stupid. I chose excitement over stability. I preferred flash over substance. I’ve suffered for years because of it. I want to make it right.”

“How?”

“I know it’s a long shot, but I never got over you. Not really. You are my biggest regret. You’re the one I wanted to be with, the one I wish I could have married. I knew it the moment me an Kenny got together.”

“And yet you married him.”

“I know,” Vanessa squirmed.

“And then you went out with one loser after another,” Lance continued bitterly.

“I know,” Vanessa replied uncomfortably.

“And you expect me to believe that you wanted to be with me the entire time? You wanted to be with me, but how many did you fuck in the meantime? Yeah, one after another, but here I was, alone, with no fucking prospects, because I’m some fucking noble loser nobody wants. Yeah, you wanted me alright. You wanted me so much that you slept though half the town.”

“Yeah, I did,” she snapped angrily. “I did, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want you. I was so ashamed of my actions, and too proud to say I’m sorry. I knew I hurt you. I couldn’t get the memory of the way you looked at me the last time we met, and I couldn’t forgive myself. I fucked up, okay? I loved you and I let that slip though my fingers because I was too stupid to realize the truth.”

“And what? You think this makes up for anything? It doesn’t. Not by a long shot. If you’re hoping for some tearful reunion, you can go fuck yourself. Everyone else has. Well, everyone but me.”

“You’re such an ass. What happened to you? You changed.”

“What happened?” Lance laughed. “What happened is you. You and all the other bitches like you, that’s what happened. Nice guy, huh? Fuck you. I’m done being nice. If no one wants me, well dammit, I’ll give you an even better reason to not want me. Fuck you. Fuck all of you.”

“And I thought, maybe we could at least be friends.”

“Don’t. Don’t pretend to give a shit. I know the real reason you’re here.”

“Oh? And what is that.”

“You were hoping I was stupid enough to take you in.”

“What gave you that ridiculous idea?”

“I don’t know, maybe it’s the cancer currently killing you. Yeah,” he leaned in, a sneer appearing on his face, “I know all about it. You’re dying and you have no one to take care of you. No one wants you. You don’t really have much of a reputation left to salvage. Town skank isn’t really much to trade on, especially with death looming over you. No one wants you. I know I don’t.”

Vanessa blanched as she straightened up. “Who told you?”

“I have my ways. Don’t think that just because I no longer live in town that the gossip doesn’t reach my ears. You’re only here because you’re dying. I’m your last resort. That’s all I am, so don’t insult me by pretending otherwise. You didn’t care about me then, and you don’t care about me now. Goodbye.”

“That’s it? Goodbye?”

“That’s it. I won’t good guy you like you did me. No, I’ll tell you the truth. You’re beneath me. I’ll agree with you, that I deserve better than you, not that I’ll ever find anyone. Better alone than be some bitch’s no other choice. Goodbye.

***

The next morning Lance was woken by a phone call. “Hello,” he yawned.

“What the fuck happened last night?” A female’s voice came on the other line, sounding frantic.

“Melanie?”

“Who else? What happened with Vanessa?”

“What makes you think something happened with her?”

“Because, they just found her.”

“Who found her?”

“Her parents. They found her in the garage, with her children, dead. The drugged them, and then herself, turned on the car with the garage door down, and killed herself and the kids. What the hell happened?”

“I refused to take her back.”

“You what?”

“She wanted to meet, hoping I would take her back. She thought I was stupid enough to forget that she rejected me, and forget the parade of men she ran through after her marriage ended. She though I’d take her in just to watch her wither away and die. Fuck that!”

“Yeah, okay, but you understand that she’s dead?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So? Are you really that callous that her suicide doesn’t affect you?”

“Maybe I am. She killed herself. I didn’t do it. Why should I care?”

“Because, she murdered her children.”

“They’re not mine. I mean it’s sad, I guess, but they’re not mine. What should I feel sad? She didn’t give a damn about me.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“Whatever. I’m going back to sleep. I had a long night.”

He didn’t wait for a response before hanging up. He smiled. She was dead. Of course, she hadn’t killed herself, but at least people were believing it. It had taken a while to convince her that he was sorry, and to get her to let him in. From there, it was a simple matter of drugging her first, and then the kids, with allergy medication and sleeping pills, carrying them to the car, and turning it on.

He had been a nice guy once, but something had broken long ago, something her arrival stirred up. No, she hadn’t loved him, and damn her for thinking he’d let her waltz back into her life when she had nowhere else to go. Revenge was sweet, a delicacy to savor. Whatever happens next, he knew that he’d never be a nice guy again, and began to wonder who he could do in next.


Short Stories

Next story – Fortitude
Previous story – Obedience