Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

For the Love of Chocolate: A Fairy Tale

In case you missed something:

For the Love of Chocolate Part I

It was last fall. It was one of those days folks describe as ‘crisp’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘delightful’. It was still warm, but the nip of autumn was present in the air. The sun was shining through the canopy of leaves that still protected our forest. The leaves had started changing colors and a few had even begun to fall.

The human hikers were out in full force and my friends and I were having a lot of fun. I was flying up to the tops of the trees then resting on the falling leaves as they floated freely to the ground. The elves and imps had to stay closer to the ground (no wings, as you know) so they were having a grand old time teasing the human hikers.

One group of hikers caught my attention in particular, because it was a family: a mom, a dad, and two young girls. We didn’t see many human children and we loved them – all of us did. About five or six fairies as well as a whole army of elves and imps followed them, engaging in a little mischief along the way, down the trail. The imps dropped off first, then the elves; soon my fairy friends were starting to drop off, too. I was getting tired, but I was willing to bet those human kids were getting tired, too, and I felt pretty sure that when they got tired there would be a rest and a snack.

When they finally did stop, my friend Shari was the only one of the wood folk who was still with me. The human hikers sat on a fallen tree and opened their backpacks. They all took out their water bottles and took a long drink. The mother held the cool bottle first to one then to the other side of her face. She reached into her backpack and pulled out a candy bar for each of the children. They unwrapped them quickly while Shari and I looked at each other with anticipation. Flying unnoticed over the heads of the children, I raised my hand for a silent high five. Shari met it.

We watched the children eat, waiting for them to drop a single morsel. They didn’t. Shari wanted to give up and head for home, but I’d smelled chocolate and I wasn’t going to be content until I’d tasted some. I was getting really hungry, so I decided to go straight for the source. I knew it was dangerous, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I wanted chocolate.

I flew for the mother’s backpack.

Shari tried to stop me, but I flew right past her and straight into that pack. Oh, the smell in there! It was amazing! I recognized the scents of chocolate and peanut butter and raisins. I tried to find the source but it was dark in the backpack and I needed to rely on my nose rather than my eyes.

I heard Shari yell, “Joyce! Come on!” with a definite tone of desperation in her voice, but I ignored her. I’d honed in on a bag of chocolate covered peanuts that had not been carefully closed. I lifted one up. It was bigger than my head. I wasn’t sure I could fly with it, but I was sure I was going to try.

“JOYCE!” I heard again, just as the dim light around me turned to pitch black. I’d been trapped in the human mother’s backpack.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Ok, kids - this chapter contains the first sex scene I've ever written. I am nervous and vulnerable. Be gentle with me, ok?

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition
Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections
Chapter 7: The Real World
Chapter 8: Hooligan's
Chapter 9: Joan
Chapter 10: The Hospital
Chapter 11: Thanksgiving

Chapter 12.
Marnie’s Condo

When they got in the car, Marnie reached across the center console and hugged him. “Thank you for that – that was wonderful. Better than I expected.”

“Your dad said he’d see what he could do about helping me find work.”

“Oh Cal! That’s awesome! My dad has a lot of connections!”

“I assumed so.”


They drove to Marnie’s condo in relative silence. At every stop light, Marnie rested her head on his arm. When he walked her to her door, she invited him in for a nightcap.



Marnie went to the kitchen to grab a couple beers and Cal looked around her living room with his hands behind his back. He looked at the titles of the books on her bookshelves and was mildly impressed. Who was this woman he was getting involved with? She returned with the beers and they sat close together on the sofa. Cal put his arm around her and she melted into him. What a nice fit.

This was the first time they’d actually been alone. That wasn’t technically true. They’d been on the bike alone, but they couldn’t talk. They’d talked for hours on the phone, but they weren’t together. They were alone for a couple moments in the barn, and… Marnie sat up. She didn’t want to move too fast. She’d made that mistake before.

She opened a drawer in the coffee table next to the couch where they’d been snuggling and pulled out a small silver-plated mirror and a tiny silver spoon. She removed a small baggie from the drawer and tapped a small mound of the white powder onto the mirror. May as well get this party started. She offered the spoon to Cal first and he took two quick snorts. She followed suit.

She snuggled back into him and they talked – together – for the first time since they’d started whatever this thing they were starting was. When they lapsed into silence, Marnie shifted her position so that she was facing him. She wanted to fill that silence with kisses. She reached up and grazed her hand across his cheek. He turned and kissed her palm. She tightened it into a fist, saving the kiss. What was she, thirteen? Cal brought out a side of her that had been dormant for years. He smiled and kissed her closed fist. His hair had fallen over his eyes and it was completely disarming. That was ok. She wanted to be disarmed. She wanted to surrender, she wanted…

Cal sat up this time. “Ok?” he said, picking up the small spoon again.

“Oh, yeah, sure.” She responded, brushing her hair back into place. “You ready for another beer?” she asked after taking her own turn with the spoon.


Marnie felt his eyes on her as she walked out of the room to the kitchen. She walked just a little more slowly and exaggerated the sway of her hips just a little bit; not enough to be raunchy, but enough to be noticed. It was, she realized, not intended as a tease. It was just such an utterly feminine way to walk and Cal sure had her feeling like a girl.

She returned to the sofa with the beers and they both took a long swallow followed by another short snort. Marnie tilted her head back and shut her eyes. Cal kissed her exposed throat gently. Damn, that was a cool effect. The drip down her throat coupled with the kiss on the neck made her head spin. She grabbed Cal’s shoulder – more to steady herself than to pull him in. His kisses traced a line from her throat to a spot behind her ear; a spot that sent an almost electrical shock through her whole system. No one had ever kissed her just like that in just that spot before. This was magical. Her knee rose, seemingly of its own volition, her foot grazing Cal’s hip. Man, if he could make her feel like this with a kiss, she couldn’t begin to imagine what he had in store for her when the clothes fell off. His arm encircled her waist and pulled her closer. His lips found hers and she dissolved – a quivering paradoxical mass of weakness and strength. She was straddling his lap, now, one hand entangled in his hair, the other on his lower back, pulling him closer. His readiness was evident and matched by her own.

A million thoughts tried to race through her head. Logical thoughts. Reasonable thoughts. Thoughts about implications for the future. They were all stopped in their tracks by one word, repeated over and over with increased levels of desperation by her overly enthusiastic libido: yes, Yes, YES!!!

His mouth left hers and began a slow and deliberate path down her throat again. When his path was blocked by her shirt, she pulled it over her head. He looked at her appreciatively for a moment before picking up the kisses right where he’d left off. His hands came around and cupped both of her breasts, pushing them together and kissing her more vigorously along the line of cleavage this produced. She took a brief moment to be thankful that she’d had the foresight to wear a pretty bra. In the moment it took her to be thankful for this, he’d unfastened it in one swift gesture. His lips continued their journey, taking the time to savor every kiss. Marnie was in a frenzy at this point she wanted him – needed him – now. The time he was taking was somehow infuriating and delicious at the same time. She couldn’t believe his last girlfriend had left him. She would never walk away from this – even if she wanted to, she’d never be able to. He owned her.

She felt his breath on her nipple before she felt his lips. As his lips closed on it and his tongue encircled it she moved both hands to his head. He looked up and saw the longing in her eyes – the passion that came from someplace deeply ingrained – a passion that may have proven evolutionary theories, so animal was it in nature. He pulled away and smiled at her, that same animal gleam in his own eyes, as well. He pulled off his own shirt and she gasped. She ran a finger tentatively down his muscled torso to the top of his jeans. She tried to be as deliberate as he’d been, but she didn’t share his sense of discipline. She fumbled with the button at the top of his jeans, but she also didn’t share his finesse. He took the opportunity to undo the button himself. Marnie stood up and slid out of her own jeans, leaving them in a heap on the floor. Cal kicked his off. He looked her up and down with the same languishing manner she’d come to expect from him. He placed his hands on her hips and pulled her to him, still standing, as he sat forward on the sofa. He kissed one hip bone and slowly, almost tortuously, made his way to the other. Marnie was quivering at this point and felt that if he removed his hands from her hips she might not have the strength to stand on her own.

Cal stood at this moment, too, and gently guided Marnie back to the sofa. He moved on top of her and she wrapped her legs around him, pulling him in. He entered her the same way he kissed her – slowly, deliberately. She met the movements of his hips with her own; increasing the intensity as he did. He kissed her lips, her eyes, her breasts – randomly now – not with the sense of purpose he’d displayed before. She embraced him with her arms as well as her legs, pulling him in further, further – becoming lost in the synchronous dance of their lovemaking. She abandoned all sense of self and succumbed to her passions. When she’d abandoned herself fully, her body responded with a sweet release. Her nails dug into his back and she no longer met his movements, her hips frozen in the position that kept him in her most deeply. As she called his name, he took one last thrust and abandoned himself to his release as well.

He collapsed on top of her and kissed her face – her eyes, her cheeks, her nose, her forehead and even her lips once or twice. She stroked his hair when he relaxed his head onto her chest.

“That was…”

“I know…”

After a few moments of post coital bliss, Marnie excused herself. When she returned to the living room, she tossed a towel to Cal and he cleaned himself off appreciatively. He slipped his jeans back on and she pulled his shirt over her head. It was far too big and fell to mid thigh. She planned to ask if she could keep it.

“You want another beer?”

“Maybe just one more.”

When Marnie came back with the beers, Cal was playing with the silver spoon.

“We are never going to sleep tonight, are we?”

“Sleep is overrated.”

Marnie awoke sometime early the next afternoon, her arms and legs engaged in a tangled mélange with Cal’s on the sofa. They’d never quite made it to bed. She smiled and kissed his head, while carefully disentangling herself without disturbing him. Wow. She’d have to call someone about the upholstery on her sofa tomorrow. White had seemed like such a good idea at the time…She went to the kitchen and started the coffee. She was a little hung over. She was quite disheveled. There was a distinctive knot in her back from spending the night sharing a small sofa. And she couldn’t stop smiling.

As she waited for the coffee to brew she allowed herself to review the events of the evening. Thanksgiving, indeed. In the heat of their passion, they had neglected to use a condom. She knew that was stupid and allowed herself a moment to consider the potential consequences of it. She was on the pill to regulate her periods, so an unplanned pregnancy shouldn’t be an issue. She hadn’t been with anyone since… she thought back…well, it had been a long time, for sure. She was pretty sure he hadn’t been with anyone since his ex, and she knew he was faithful to her. Of course everyone also knew that she had not returned the favor. Yeah, what they’d done was pretty irresponsible. They’d take proper precautions next time. Which, if she had her way, would be right after breakfast. How many times had it been last night? Three, at least. Damn, that Cal knew his way around a woman.

As if on cue, Cal entered the kitchen, his hair sticking out in every direction, rubbing his eyes. “Mornin’, beautiful.”

“Mornin’ yourself! Coffee?”

“God yes.” He sat at the kitchen table and leaned back, smiling. “You look good in my T-shirt.”

“How do you take your coffee?”


“Hope it’s not too strong” she said, placing a mug in front of him.

“Impossible” he responded, warming his hands around the mug for a moment before lifting it to take a tentative sip. “Perfect.”

“I do try.” She said, executing a mock curtsy in his direction before joining him at the table. He reached across the table and put his hand over her free hand. She intertwined her fingers with his. She liked the contrast of her small hand in his large one. She liked this.

“A guy could get used to this.” He said, as though reading her thoughts.

“Go right ahead.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the Love of Chocolate: A Fairy Tale

I’m a wood fairy.

People always seem to think we forest folk should have names that reflect our woodsy home, but that’s just silliness. The truth is that we name our young using the same guidelines human people use when naming theirs. We have family names, names reminiscent of our homelands, names that reflect things we love and names we “just think sound good”. Sure, I have friends named Buttercup and Breeze, but their parents have a tremendous and particular fondness for the wild mushrooms, if you know what I mean. The mushroom children in our world are like the flower children in the world of human people. They’re cool, and usually very sweet, but they don’t speak for all of us. They’re not the norm. Come to think of it, there is no norm. And I guess that’s pretty cool.

Me? My name is Joyce. I was ostensibly named after the human poet James Joyce, because my parents – heck, my whole clan – are a bookish sort. My mother confessed to me once, though, that I was really named after the poet Joyce Kilmer – you know – the human woman who wrote Trees. So maybe, in a roundabout way, I have a woodsy name after all.

I live in a tree with my parents, my younger sister Maya (I told you my parents liked human poetry, right?) and my baby brother Billy. You’ve got it. Billy as in William. As in Shakespeare. Maybe Billy will be their poet. Maya and I have both been – rather a disappointment in that particular arena. We both like to read, for sure, but neither of us are poets or even particularly interested in poetry. It just doesn’t move us. Our parents don’t push it. They know different folks are moved by different things. They’re cool with that. That being said, I don’t think they’d be particularly disappointed if Billy followed in their footsteps.

Our tree is located in a forest far from the beaten path. A lot of other forest folk live nearby – other fairies, elves, imps, and of course, the usual forest animals. There are four distinct seasons where we live. My friends and I love watching the changing of the seasons. We compete to be the first to see the first signs of the next season – the first flowers of spring, the first fireflies of summer, the first leaf to change color in the fall, the first snowflake of winter. Of course human children look forward to the same things. The difference is that we can sit on the flower petals and have tea parties. We fly and play tag with the fireflies. We use the fallen leaves like sleds to slide through the forest after a good rain. We tumble to the ground with the snowflakes.

Yep. Four seasons of fun for the fairy folk in our forest. Hey! Alliteration! That’s a poetic device, right? Maybe my parents have cause for hope. Probably not, though.

We get another first, however, living in the forest as we do. I look forward to this one more than all the others combined. I’m talking, of course, about the first human hikers of the season.

The first hiker usually arrives sometime after the first spring flowers, but before the first firefly has been spotted. Now I’m sorry to tell you this, but some of my friends like to play tricks on the hikers. That’s usually the realm of the imps and the elves and the naughtier of the fairies. They’ll push roots up to trip the hikers, causing their arms to flail as they try to regain their balance. They’ll fly around the hikers’ heads, making little noises that cause the hikers to stop and look around, then shake their heads, sometimes exclaiming right out loud that their imaginations are playing tricks on them. Unless my friend Imagination was in on the joke (He’s an elf who actually lives in a mushroom. So. Yeah.) they’re totally wrong.

It’s mean, but usually harmless. Elves and imps tend to love tricks, but they don’t want to really harm anyone. Once, when a human hiker actually did fall, they healed him with magic and then erased his memory of the whole ordeal. So even though I’m not big on messing with the hikers myself, I usually don’t protest too strenuously. No harm, no foul.

I like everything about the hikers. I like the way we hear them before we see them, breaking sticks and crunching leaves with their enormous boots. The animals, of course, do this too. But with the hikers, it’s different. Perhaps it’s because their weight is distributed over two legs rather than four, I don’t know. When we see them, it always surprises us how BIG they are. Sure, some of the animals are even bigger, but humans look so much like us. It’s unnerving and exciting to see modified versions of ourselves, but so large.

I love the voices of the human hikers.

I love that they sweat. None of the forest folk sweat, perspire, or even glow (though we have been known to sparkle on occasion), so we’re intrigued by it. We live pretty far back into the woods, so by the time hikers make it to us, they are almost inevitably sweating.

We find it delightful.

But the BEST part about human hikers is their food. Sometimes they will stop to rest and have a drink and perhaps a snack. Quite often this results in crumbs falling to the forest floor. Keep in mind that forest folk are quite wee – these crumbs are a veritable feast for us. We’ve had bits of peanut butter sandwiches, whole raisins, granola crumbles and – oh bliss! Oh rapture unforeseen! – chocolate.

If I ever WOULD write poetry, it would almost surely be an ode to chocolate. We have tried to use fairy magic to come up with some sort of facsimile, but our success has been limited at best. There is no woodland substitution for chocolate.

My love of chocolate, actually, provided the impetus for the biggest adventure of my life.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Fridays

I heard you missed me - I'm back...

Actually, it only took one friend saying, "Hey! What happens next to Marnie?" to light a fire under my ample butt. This is not my favorite chapter - which is probably why I stopped posting when I hit it. But Cal had to meet the family somehow, right? Be sure to tune in next week, when we talk about sex, baby...

Chapter 11

Cal arrived at her condo exactly on time. He had taken a little extra care with his grooming today and he looked yummy; nervous, but yummy. His wavy hair, usually tousled, had been tamed into place. A quick glance at the driveway indicated why: where she’d expected to see Cal’s bike, she saw instead a late 70’s model Camaro. Well this was a surprise. “Where’s the bike?”

“It might rain.” Marnie looked skyward then raised an eyebrow at him. “Ok, I didn’t want your family to think I was some sort of hoodlum. I thought this might make a better impression.”

“It’s making a good impression on me!” Marnie said as she locked her door and activated her alarm system. She ran to the passenger door and ran her fingers along the car appreciatively. “This is gorgeous!”

“I like it. I like the bike better, but, you know…”

“Good impression.”

“Yeah. Plus it’s starting to get cold. It was about time to bring it out anyway. So you like it?”

“I love it. Let’s go!”

As they rode, she got him up to speed on the Joan situation. “I don’t think we’ll be seeing her around for a while, if ever. I’ll miss her, but I guess that’s good. I mean, you know, for her.”

“I guess.” Cal was just relieved that there weren’t going to be any charges. “Speaking of which – do you want a little – uh - fortification before we get to your parents’ house?” It was pretty clear that he did.

“Oh, hells yes.”

He pulled over in a neighborhood park and they both took a couple little snorts from their fingernails. Marnie was slightly disappointed. No tap, tap, tap. She felt less tense almost instantly. She knew coke wasn’t supposed to relax you, but that had always been her initial response to it. Relaxation followed by a confidence that she could take on the world. How could something that did that be wrong?

Cal started the car up again and Marnie directed him to her parents’ place. As he pulled into the long circular driveway he said, “Shit, Marnie. I don’t know if I’m ready for this…”

“They’re very regular people. You’ll like them. I wouldn’t feed you to the wolves.” She smiled confidently and crossed her fingers in the hope that she was telling the truth. The fact was that they were both entering unfamiliar territory. She hadn’t brought a boy home since college. She’d had a serious boyfriend then – they’d even talked marriage. She brought him home with her every time she visited and her family had loved him. Everyone assumed they’d be getting married – including Marnie. When he put a ring on her finger on her twenty-first birthday, no-one was surprised. Her mother and her sisters swooped in immediately and started making wedding plans. His mother became involved as well. Then Marnie found more and more indications that he’d been seeing some red-headed whore behind her back. Well – she probably wasn’t actually a whore. And it’s quite possible that she wasn’t actually a redhead. But she was definitely fucking Marnie’s fiance. Bitter? Oh no. She was completely over it. But she was no Corrine. She wouldn’t be cuckolded. He was gone and she’d never looked back. But she also hadn’t ever felt strongly enough about anyone since to take them to her parents’ house. And here she was bringing Cal after less than a week. On paper, it didn’t make any sense. But Marnie knew it was right.

Lupe opened the door before Marnie could. “You must be Mrs. Hammond. I’m Cal.” Cal said, extending his hand before Marnie had a chance to make the introduction. Marnie rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Lupe looked at Marnie and raised her eyebrows. “Nice to meet you. My name is Lupe.” Lupe turned and went back into the house towards the kitchen. Cal realized his mistake as Mrs. Hammond came to the door to greet them. She was a handsome woman; impeccably dressed with every hair in place. She extended her hand to Cal, “So nice to meet you, Cal, I’m Lucinda Hammond. Please come in.”

Marnie tried to visualize her home – her parents’ home, she reminded herself – through Cal’s eyes. The entrance hall was large, with high ceilings and a marble floor. There was a crystal chandelier centered above the space. As a child she had thought that the colors the prisms produced when the light shined through them were private little rainbows just for her. When she got old enough to realize what they really were, that became intriguing as well. She played a lot in the entrance hall because it was big and basically empty. There were no vases or fragile things to be wary of. She could throw her arms out and twirl and dance with her own private rainbows. She thought this room was beautiful and wondered if Cal saw beautiful or just big and cold. She looked to him for a clue, but he was following her mother and his eyes were looking everywhere.

She led him through the formal living room – a room Marnie had never liked. It was beautiful, she supposed, but it always seemed so stiff. When she was young and had wanted to play in this room she was always warned about breaking things. Antique this, heirloom that. She was always warned not to jump on the furniture – not that she would’ve wanted to. It was all hard and stiff. Of all the rooms in her parents’ house, this was the one in which she felt most uncomfortable.

They continued down a hall that was filled with ancestral portraits. As they neared the end of the hall they gave way to more current photographs. The artful arrangement belied any sense of inconsistency. It flowed. This hall led into the great room which was where everyone usually gathered. This room was the polar opposite of the formal living room – warm and inviting. There was a fire burning in a large stone fireplace, as if to make tangible that sense of warmth. The furniture was overstuffed and comfortable. The color scheme was warm spicy shades of golds, greens, purples and reds. Corrine was sitting alone in the room, a cocktail in her hand. She looked tense. She always looked tense.

“Cal? This is my sister Corrine. Corrine? Cal.”

Cal nodded an acknowledgement and Corrine raised her glass to him. “Can I have Lupe fix you a drink, Cal?” Mrs. Hammond asked.

“A beer would be fine.”


“I’ll have a vodka martini.”

Mrs. Hammond summoned Lupe and she appeared. She gave her Marnie and Cal’s drink order and asked to have her own refreshed. Cal and Marnie sat on the sofa together and Mrs. Hammond took the chair next to Corrine’s.

“Where’s Alan?” Marnie asked.

“He’ll be here” Corrine answered, avoiding eye contact. “He had to run in to the office to handle some sort of…”her voice trailed off at this point, “thing. He’ll be here in time for dinner.” She then added even more quietly, “or at least dessert.”

“And the E’s?”

“Where do you think?”

In unison the two sisters proclaimed, “in the basement, playing with the Wii!”

“Is Brittany there too?”

“Is Brittany where?” said Brittany.

“Oh, hey Brit! This is Cal. Cal? My sister, Brittany.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Pleasure. Where are the E’s?”

Corrine pointed towards the basement door.

“Of course. And Dad?”

“In the den. He should be out in a minute.”


“He’ll be here.”

Lupe re-entered the room with their drinks on a tray. She had included a martini for Brittany as well. This was not an erroneous gesture. She had offered Cal a frosted glass along with his bottle of beer, but he refused it. Conversation, such as it was, ceased as the drinks were distributed.

“Cheers” Marnie said, clinking her glass against Cal’s bottle.

“First of the day.” Added Brittany, taking a sip of her cocktail and sighing. “Damn, Lupe, no one makes a martini like you.”

Lupe returned with a tray of canapés. She offered them to everyone then placed the tray on the coffee table.

“So Cal!” Brtittany opened, sitting on the other side of him on the overstuffed sofa, “Tell us all about yourself.” She leaned forward with her elbows on her knees and her eyes fixed on him. “Don’t leave anything out. Inquiring minds want to know.”

“Brittany Louise Hammond, you mind your manners!”

“Yeah – Brittany LOUISE!”

“Oh, like you guys aren’t curious. Where are you from?”

“I grew up on a farm out in the country. Marnie and I rode out there Sunday, actually. My brother and his wife still live there in the same house I grew up in.”

“It must’ve been fun, growing up on a farm.”

Cal shrugged. “Fun. I guess. It was a lot of work, but it was good honest work, you know?”

Mrs. Hammond nodded. She did indeed know.

“It was fun having all that space to run and all those animals to care for, but it sometimes got lonely. We were pretty isolated out there, you know?”

Mrs. Hammond nodded. She did indeed know.

“But my brother and I? We learned to do all kinds of stuff, so that was cool. We learned to be pretty independent and self-sufficient at a pretty young age.”

Mrs. Hammond nodded again, but didn’t say a word. She, too, had loved growing up on a farm. It was all she’d known. But when she’d learned that there was a bigger world out there she worked hard to become a part of it. She wanted more than the farm had to offer and she’d worked hard to achieve it. And here she was. She’d done it. She’d done better for her own children. She’d given them a better life – one in which they hadn’t had to work hard for everything they got; a life of privilege. She was proud of that.

“What brought you to town?”

“Well, my brother is a good bit older than I am. When our parents passed on, he took over the operation of the farm. I was sixteen at the time and I stayed on and helped him. But when he took a wife, I started to feel like I was in the way. They were trying to start a family of their own and I was always just around. When I finished school the next year I decided it would be best if I moved on out. They never fought me too hard on that.

I came into town and got into a technical school while I worked part time jobs doing whatever I could to pay my rent while I went to school. Turned out all of the skills I’d learned on the farm transferred real well. I was a good handyman.”

Mrs. Hammond and Corrine exchanged looks and raised eyebrows at this point. Marnie was dating a handyman. Lovely.

Cal looked to Marnie and she nodded for him to continue, resting her left hand on his knee, a gesture that was not lost on her mother or her sisters. “I finished school and got a real good job at the factory as a skilled laborer. The money was real good, too.” He looked around and stammered, “Not, you know, but – you know – pretty good. I was doing real well till the economy crashed. A lot of guys were laid off in front of me – that was the good thing about having a specific skill – but eventually the lay offs hit me, too.”

Marnie’s dad chose this very moment to enter the room. “Marnie! Brit! And you must be Marnie’s fellow – Cal is it?” he made his way over to Cal to shake his hand.

“Yes sir. Cal Grasso. Nice to meet you, sir.”

“Pleasure’s mine. Cinda? Would you ask Lupe to fix me another drink? How ya doin’t there, Cal? You need another?”

“I could use another, sir, thank you.”

Marnie sat back and relaxed. This was going just fine. What had she been worried about?

“So what’s your line of work, son?”

Lupe chose that very moment to ring the dinner bell.

“Did you want us to wait for Alan, dear?” Mrs. Hammond asked, taking Corrine’s arm.

“No” Corrine said, studying her shoes for a moment then jutting her chin out proudly. “No, let’s eat.”

Evan and Elizabeth came bounding up the stairs and stopped short when they saw Cal in the dining room.

“Who’s that?” asked Evan, pointing.

“Please do not point, young man, it is very impolite. We have discussed this.”

“Sorry. Who’s that?” he asked again, indicating Cal with a nod of his head.

“This is my friend Cal. Cal, these are Corrine’s little monsters, Evan and Elizabeth.”

Cal raised his hand in greeting. “hey”

“Are you her BOYfriend?” asked Elizabeth, cocking her head at him.

“Mind your manners, Elizabeth, I swear…”

“Do you KISS him?”

“Oh for God’s sake!” said Corrine at the same time that Brittany said, “Boy, does she!” Brittany and Elizabeth dissolved in giggles, Evan scrunched up his face like he’d smelled something bad, and everyone else at the table looked down to avoid the whole thing.

Lupe presented a beautiful dinner. The Hammonds and Cal engaged in beautiful dinner conversation. Marnie couldn’t believe everything was going so smoothly. The E’s had returned to the basement and the women had adjourned to the family room. Mr. Hammond had invited Cal to watch football with him in the den. Alan remained a no-show. Lupe returned to the kitchen to clean up a little bit before serving pie and coffee.

Brittany spoke first, when the women were alone, “he’s ca-ute, Marnie!”

“Tell me something I don’t know.” The girls clinked the wine glasses they’d brought with them from the table.

“He is quite nice looking.” Corrine acquiesced, “but the whole job thing? That doesn’t bother you?”

“Look, he’s a hard worker. He fell on hard times. He’ll find something.”

“And until then you’ll support him?”

“Support him? I’m certainly not supporting him! He supports himself. He had a little bit saved. And he’s looking hard for work.”

“How serious is this, Marnie?” asked Mrs. Hammond

“I don’t know, Mom. I really like him a lot. But it’s brand new. We’ll see.”

“I like him, too”

“Me too.”

Corrine sighed, “Me too.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Fridays

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition

Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections
Chapter 7: The Real World
Chapter 8: Hooligan's
Chapter 9: Joan

Chapter 10.
The Hospital

Marnie woke up Thanksgiving morning and called Cal before she rolled out of bed. She told him that she was going to the hospital to visit Joan and, no, she didn’t want him to join her. Her reasoning was that if there was legal trouble she was in a much better position to deal with it than he was. She did not state this aloud. She closed by reminding him to pick her up at noon to head for her parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. She offered him one last chance to get out of it. He declined and wished her luck with her visit with Joan.

She grabbed Joan’s purse as well as her own and was on her way. As she pulled into the Visitor’s Parking Area she considered how much shorter the ride had seemed in comparison to last night’s wild ride. She walked to the entrance then shuddered. She hated hospitals. She realized that this did not make her in any way unique. She walked through the big automatic doors and walked up to the information desk. The desk was being manned by two elderly women who gave her Joan’s room number, directions to the room, and a wish for a happy Thanksgiving. She wished them the same. She stopped in the gift shop and picked up a large floral arrangement, took a deep breathe, and headed for Joan’s room.

When she found the room and Joan was the only one in it, she breathed a sigh of relief. She had really not wanted to encounter Officer Ormond, but had fully expected him to be in attendance. This was good. Joan appeared to be sleeping. Marnie placed the flowers on her nightstand where she’d be sure to see them. She threw both purses on a visitor’s chair in the corner of the room and sat in the chair closest to Joan’s bed. She gently took her hand.

“Hey, Marnie.” Joan said weakly, opening her eyes and smiling faintly. “What are you doing here?” Speech was clearly difficult for Joan at this point. There were tubes in her throat as well as an IV in her arm. Her face had been scrubbed clean of makeup and her usually teased-to-the-moon hair had been combed into a smooth ponytail. She was quite bruised all over, and Marnie wondered how much of that was a result of her and Cal and Andy throwing her around. Joan had clearly had a rough night.

“Hey, Joan! How ya feelin’ this morning?”

“I’ve…” Joan smacked her lips and grimaced, then made a concentrated effort to swallow. “Can you get me some water?” she said, indicating a small Styrofoam pitcher and a cup with a straw on her bed table.

“Is it ok for you to drink? With the tubes and all?” Marnie asked as she poured a cup.

“It’s ok. I can only handle a little.” She sipped gratefully on the straw. “Thanks, hon.” Marnie just nodded.

“So fill me in! How did I come to be here? Swear to God, Marnie, they keep asking me but I don’t remember a thing. I vaguely remember going to Josh’s. You weren’t there, though… what do you know that I don’t know?”

“When we got there, you were already pretty out of it. What had you taken?”

“I don’t know – that’s the thing. I got these pills from a guy. I was having some problems with Nic and I just wanted to take the edge off, you know?”

Marnie nodded. She knew.

“So I met this guy – I’ve used him before, you know? It wasn’t like some stranger or something. Can you give me a little more water, hon?” All this talking was clearly taking its toll. Joan looked exhausted.

“So you don’t really know…”

“I don’t. What do you know?”

“Like I said, when we got to Josh’s you were already pretty out of it.”


Marnie felt a blush creeping into her cheeks. “Cal. Me and Cal…”

Joan smiled. “’bout time.”

“Well, it’s no big deal. We’re just hanging out. Anyway. When Cal and I showed up you were pretty much out of it. But you were drinking – just a beer – and you did at least a couple lines. Then you just sort of passed out on the table. We couldn’t wake you up, we couldn’t get any response from you. We were all pretty scared.

Josh didn’t want to call a squad because he didn’t want his house associated with an overdose. God knows what all he’s got stashed there, you know? So Andy suggested bringing you down here in his truck. He and Cal carried you out and the three of us brought you here. We kind of dumped you at the ER door…” Marnie looked down at this point, “Joan I’m not sure why we did that. No one was thinking straight. I’m really sorry. Really. But it looks like they’ve taken good care of you.”

Joan nodded and indicated that Marnie should go on.

“We kept your purse. Again, I don’t know why. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I brought it back for you.” She said, pointing at the purse on the chair.

“Aw, thanks hon.”

“Cal and Andy didn’t want me to, but I called your husband.”

“And I’m glad you did.” Marnie turned around quickly at the unexpected voice from behind. “Jerry” he said, extending his hand, “Jerry Ormond.” Marnie took his extended hand to shake it, but he pulled her up and enveloped her in a quite unexpected hug. “It sounds like you saved my girl’s life.”

Marnie wasn’t sure how to react to this. This was not what she expected at all. Jerry was a middle-aged man, balding on the top and thickening in the middle. He looked like he’d been up all night. He released Marnie and went to the other side of the bed where he kissed Joan gently on the forehead. “Mystery solved?” he asked her.

“Not entirely. But I know how I got here, anyway. Oh! And Marnie brought my purse. Oh, I’m sorry Jerry. This is a friend of mine. Marnie. Marnie? I guess you’ve figured out that this is Jerry.”

“Marnie, I don’t know how to thank you enough for all you’ve done for her. Really. How can I repay you?”

“Jerry? Not arresting me, frankly, is payment enough.”

“We’re gonna put her in rehab when she’s released.”

Marnie nodded. “Good. That sounds good. Guess I won’t be seeing you for a while, then.”

“Tell everyone…” she stopped, tears filling her eyes. “I’m sorry, Jerry.” His eyes were full, too.

“I’ll tell everyone what they need to know.”

“Thank Andy and Cal for me, would you?”

“Of course.” Marnie hugged Joan gently, avoiding all of the tubes to which she was attached. “You take care of yourself and get well.” She searched in her purse and produced a business card. “If you want to reach me, call me here. Don’t look for me at Josh’s.

Now I have to get going. Cal is picking me up at noon to go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving dinner. Oy!”

“You kids have fun.” Joan said.

Jerry walked Marnie out into the hallway. “I really am grateful to you. For bringing her here – for calling me – that can’t have been easy.”

Marnie nodded and Jerry continued, “Obviously you’re not in any trouble for this, but that’s only because …” he looked over his shoulder into the room where Joan appeared to already be asleep. “It’s bad what happened to Joan. They had to pump her stomach. They said she would’ve died if you hadn’t brought her here last night.”

Marnie bowed her head and gulped her mind filling with ‘what ifs’ as her eyes filled with tears. “You seem like a good kid. Get out of this scene. Go to rehab yourself if you have to. I can tell that you’re better than this. You’re not in trouble. You saved my Joanie’s life. I’m concentrating on that part. Not on the part where you knew she was risking it and you let her. Not on the part where you risk your own. But you do, you know. This isn’t a game. Joan could’ve died. You could die. You could be arrested. You could end up in jail. I’m thankful to you. I like you. But I couldn’t stop that from happening if you got busted. Straighten up and fly right, kid.”

Jerry patted Marnie on the shoulder and she walked quickly down the hall. He was right, of course. She shouldn’t be doing this. She shouldn’t be hanging out at Josh’s. She was going to straighten up and fly right. She and Cal would straighten up and put it all behind them and move on with a nice shiny life together. Soon. Maybe soon. But probably not just yet. It wasn’t like she was an addict or anything. But then neither was Joan. Shit, partying a couple nights a week and having a little fun just shouldn’t be this hard.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If You Dream of Fairies

If You Dream of Fairies is a story I wrote for my daughters and niece last summer. I will present it here in serialized form. It was my first foray into fiction.

In case you missed something:
If You Dream of Fairies - I
If You Dream of Fairies - II
If You Dream of Fairies - III
If You Dream of Fairies - IV
If You Dream of Fairies - V
If You Dream of Fairies - VI
If You Dream of Fairies - VII
If You Dream of Fairies - VIII
If You Dream of Fairies - IX
If You Dream of Fairies - X
If You Dream of Fairies - XI
If You Dream of Fairies - XII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIV
If You Dream of Fairies - XV
If You Dream of Fairies - XVI

Liz woke from her dream with a sense that it had perhaps been something more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Several weeks later the girls were enjoying a late fall afternoon in the garden. The snapdragons, petunias and impatiens of summer had given way to the mums of autumn. The garden and yard were carpeted with fragrant and colorful leaves. The air was cool and crisp, but the sun was shining brightly. They knew that this would be one of their last afternoons in the garden this year.

Keebler barked at the tree and both girls turned their attention towards it.

The door was open.

Maria looked at Liz with an expression that combined shock and awe. She looked back and forth between the door and Liz, her mouth dropping open a bit as she did.

“You tried to tell me…”

“You weren’t ready to know, I guess.”

“For real? Fairies?”

“Fairies. They love us.”


“I don’t know why, but they do. And we’re lucky for it. We’re charmed.”

“I want to see them.”

“I doubt we will.”

“You’ve seen them…”

“I have. I needed to. I don’t think we’ll see them any more.”

At that moment a wee tiny head emerged briefly from the tree and an even tinier hand pulled the door shut.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Liz and Maria grew up, as all children eventually must. Their parents retired and moved to be closer to the shore. The girls stayed in their homes. The sea shell fairy that Maria had brought back from the beach took a place of honor on Liz’s mantle. They always maintained the garden together, not that it’s very difficult to maintain a garden that’s been charmed.

Eventually they got married – within three months of each other. Each served as the other’s maid (then matron) of honor. They had their first babies – baby girls – close together, the second summer after their weddings.

It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to lay those baby girls on a blanket near the edge of the garden while they sipped their tea and gossiped and shared stories a few feet away.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The end.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Fridays

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition

Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections
Chapter 7: The Real World
Chapter 8: Hooligan's

Chapter 9.

Cal called both Monday and Tuesday and they talked for lost hours. They talked the way people do when they’re getting to know someone new. Someone they think is delicious. Someone they want to soak up like a sponge. They talked about everything and nothing and they hated to hang up, although Marnie refused to engage in the ‘you hang up first’ game. Cal talked about his kids and his job search and growing up on the farm. He talked about losing his parents. He talked about how he met Josh and Andy. Marnie loved his voice. He could’ve read the phone book and she would’ve listened. She loved his stories. He talked about his dog, Riff, and the dog he had growing up. And when he asked about Marnie, he listened to her answers.

For her part, Marnie talked about her sisters and her parents. She talked about college and how she’d grown apart from most of her friends but still stayed in touch with a couple. She talked about how she met Josh. They agreed that they owed Josh a thank you – without their connection to him, they never would have met. They talked about how weird that was, because he was so unlike both of them. She talked about her job. She talked about her grandmother.

Cal was an open book. Marnie was more guarded. It wasn’t that she had secrets to keep – although who doesn’t? – it was just that she wasn’t sure how he’d react to stories about her privileged upbringing. She didn’t want to blow this before it had a chance. No one was more surprised than Marnie, therefore, when she heard herself say, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”

“Ted and Susie are spending it with Susie’s family, so I figured I’d just hang out at home and watch football.”

“Why don’t you join me?”

“Join you?”

“My mom always sets out a huge spread. Believe me – there’s room for one more.”

“I don’t know…”

“No imposition! I’d love to have you there. I mean – I understand if you don’t want to…”

“No, I want to.”

“My family can be a little – I don’t know…”

“All families are like that.”

“Not yours.”

“Not Ted and Susie. You haven’t met anyone else.”

“Fair enough. Well, if you’re sure you’re up for it…”

“I’d love to meet the family that made you who you are.”

“I’m – I’m not my family, Cal. Remember that, ok?”


“Alright. Let me call Mom and tell her to set another place.”

“You want me to pick you up to go to Josh’s tomorrow night?”

“Yes. Absolutely.”

There was a full contingency at Josh’s when they arrived Wednesday evening. Sonya was hovering over Josh possessively and it was pretty clear that Josh was not digging this. Andy stood up and came to meet them at the door. He had been talking to Cal over the past couple days, and he enveloped the two of them in a bear hug. It felt like a stamp of approval.

Joan was already at the table, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. She looked a little out of it. Between drinks and drags, she rested her head on her arms on the table. “How long has she been here?” Marnie asked, concern creeping into her voice and her face.

“She was like that when she got here. We’re not sure what’s up.” Andy answered. He looked a little concerned, too. “Hey Joan!” She didn’t respond. “Joanie!” he tried, much louder. She lifted her head in slow motion and looked at Andy with one open eye.”

“This isn’t good.” Marnie stated, her brow furrowing, “I don’t like this.”

“Joanie, sweetheart, you okay?” Andy asked, sitting next to her and putting his arm around her. She waved him away.

“She just needs a little pick-me-up.” Sonya said. “Get some toot in this woman, stat!” She said to Josh.

Josh cut out a few lines and offered the mirror to Joan first. She raised her head and took a snort, then another. She smiled at Josh; “Thank you, baby.” She patted his hand, and put her head back on the table.

Marnie and Cal exchanged a worried glance, then took a seat at the table with Mike, Kristen, and a young girl they’d never met. She was introduced as Kristen’s roommate, Jen. The mirror made it’s way to them. Marnie inhaled, tilted her head back and shut her eyes. She opened them when she heard Cal’s familiar tap, tap, tap.

When the mirror made its way to Joan again, she didn’t sit up. “We should just put her in a bed – or on the sofa.” Sonya said with an air of authority and ownership that clearly didn’t sit well with Josh.

“She can’t crash here, idiot, her husband is a cop. You’ve got to think sometimes, Sonya.”

“Fuck you.” She said, quietly. The insult had stung. She knew he was annoyed with her and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why. She’d crashed here for the past three nights and had made his meals and done his dishes. She’d even brought a toothbrush and some clothes over so she didn’t have to run home so much. And the sex was amazing. So why was he treating her like she had no right to be here? Dick. Ungrateful dick.

Andy approached Joan again. Her cigarette had burned to a stub in her hand. Andy removed it and snuffed it out in the ash tray. “Joan? Joanie? JOAN?” Andy looked up, panicked, “You guys? I don’t think she’s ok. I think we need to get her to a hospital.”

Josh went to the table to assess the situation for himself. He sat next to Joan and said very quietly and patiently, “Joanie? What did you do? Talk to me here. Let me know what I’m talking to.” Kristen started to remind him that he was talking to a who not a what, but when Joanie did not respond she wisely realized that perhaps semantic arguments were best left for another day.

“Oh, shit.” Said Josh, rising and pacing the room manically, “Shit shit shit. This can’t be happening. JOAN, DAMMIT, DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!” He covered his face with his hands. Sonya put her arm around him and he threw her off. “You don’t get it, do you? Her husband is a fucking cop! We’re fucking dead meat!”

Sonya sulked in the next room. She knew he was right, but he didn’t have to be so fucking mean about it. It’s not like any of this was her fault.

Marnie went over to where Andy was attempting to tend to Joan. She was completely unresponsive. Marnie searched for a pulse but couldn’t find one, which wasn’t terribly unusual because she could rarely if ever find her own, either. Still. Joan wasn’t right. Her skin felt cold and clammy. “For real, Josh, we’ve got to call a squad. She’s gonna die here without some help. I’m calling.” She picked up her purse and dug in it for her cell.

“Think about this!” Josh screamed. “If we have a squad come here we’re all fucking accomplices to whatever fuck…her husband is a fucking cop…” he repeated, collapsing into a chair with his head in his hands.

“How about if I just take her to the hospital and drop her off, then?” Andy suggested. “Cal and Marnie can ride with me. We’ll just drop her off without ID. They’ll take care of her.”

Josh agreed. Cal and Andy picked Joan up, no small feat as she was completely dead weight. They carried her to Andy’s truck and laid her across the back seat. Marnie sat at her feet and Cal jumped in the front with Andy. Marnie stroked Joan’s hair and whispered reassurances that it was all going to be ok. Everything was going to be ok. She was quite cognizant of the fact that this was more for her benefit than for Joan’s. She just needed to feel like she was doing something. The ride to the only hospital in town seemed endless. Andy stayed within the speed limit and stopped at every stop sign. No way was he going to risk being pulled over tonight, with the passed out, overdosed, half dead wife of a police officer in his back seat. No one had much to say. When they pulled into the Emergency Room entrance, Andy ran in and quickly grabbed a wheelchair. He pushed it back to the truck where Cal and Marnie had been working to pull an unresponsive Joan out of the backseat. They managed to get her slumped into the wheelchair. Cal pushed the wheelchair to the entrance and left her there, just inside the automatic doors, while Andy pulled the truck up to the door so Cal could jump in quickly.

When they were a few blocks away from the hospital, Marnie started to sob. She was sitting in the front between Andy and Cal now. She had been strong when she needed to be, but she didn’t need to be anymore. She succumbed to the feeling of helplessness and fear that had been building up. What if things didn’t work out ok? What if Joan… she couldn’t even complete the thought in her head, it was too much. It was all too much. Cal put his arm around her and pulled her head into his chest. Joan was their friend, and they had just dumped her and hoped for the best. It wasn’t right. “I need to call her husband.” She said. She started rooting through Joan’s purse for a cell phone. They had agreed not to leave her purse with her at the hospital – let them treat her like a Jane Doe. Marnie couldn’t remember now why they’d decided to do that. It had seemed like a sound idea at the time.

Cal took the purse from her. “They’ll figure it all out, honey, don’t worry.”

“He’s her HUSBAND! He deserves to know!”

“He’s a COP! It will be our asses!”

“I’m sorry. I have to do it.” She retrieved the purse from Cal and he didn’t resist her. She found the cell phone and looked through Joan’s contacts until she found the name she was looking for. Jerry. Joan occasionally talked about Jerry. Officer Jerry Ormond. She hit send.

“Hey, honey! What’s up?”

“Officer Ormond, this isn’t Joan. This is a friend of hers.”

Jerry’s voice changed in an instant. “Where’s Joan? Who are you?”

“I’m a friend. Joan was – we just dropped Joan off at the ER without ID. You need to get down there and ask about Jane Does.”

“What the hell happened? Who are you?”

“Jerry? Officer Ormond? She’s been doing drugs. Coke that we know of, but we suspect something else. We don’t know what, or we’d tell you, I swear. We think she overdosed. We took her to the hospital – we wanted her to be taken care of.”

“No – you’re lying…” She could hear the desperation in Jerry’s voice. He didn’t want to believe it.

“I’m not, Jerry, Officer Ormond. I’ve told you all I know. I thought I’d call you and let you know so you could get down there and identify her before they went to the trouble and expense of trying to figure out who she is. I’m very sorry, sir. But you better get to your wife.” Marnie clicked the phone shut and put her head in her hands. Cal rubbed her shoulders.

“You did the right thing, babe. He had a right to know.”

“What a fuckin’ mess.” Andy added. The ride back to Josh’s went a lot more quickly. The room became silent when the three of them walked in. If the expression on every face could be summed up in one word, that word would be: WELL?

They relayed the story together, interrupting each other to clarify points. They all agreed that they’d done the right thing. The mirror made its way around the table a few more times, but the party never really built up any momentum. It’s difficult to feel festive when a cops wife has just OD’d in the house and you’ve dumped her, unidentified, at the ER. They were all in it together. A big, ugly secret hung over them like the sword of Damocles. Everyone took off as soon as the last of the coke had been passed around, eager to be away from it. Sonya clung to Josh. He allowed it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If You Dream of Fairies

If You Dream of Fairies is a story I wrote for my daughters and niece last summer. I will present it here in serialized form. It was my first foray into fiction.

In case you missed something:
If You Dream of Fairies - I
If You Dream of Fairies - II
If You Dream of Fairies - III
If You Dream of Fairies - IV
If You Dream of Fairies - V
If You Dream of Fairies - VI
If You Dream of Fairies - VII
If You Dream of Fairies - VIII
If You Dream of Fairies - IX
If You Dream of Fairies - X
If You Dream of Fairies - XI
If You Dream of Fairies - XII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIV
If You Dream of Fairies - XV

That night Liz dreamed of fairies. But this time, the dream was different. A little fairy flew up to her, circling her head just as the fairy had done in the garden that summer. But this time the wee creature landed on the ground and began to grow. She grew until she was about a head shorter than Liz. Liz’s eyes grew wide as the fairy smiled at her. She hadn’t thought it possible for a smile to be more beautiful than Maria’s, but this fairy’s was. This smile was pure beauty and love. It enveloped Liz with a sense of warmth and well-being. Liz had never really been unhappy in her life, but this was different than not being unhappy. This was pure unbridled contentment. It was more than that. This was bliss.

The fairy put her hand on Liz’s shoulder and spoke. Her voice was as sweet as the bird’s first song in the morning.

“Dear, sweet Liz,” she began, “I’ve tried to talk to you so many times.”

“Why…?” Liz couldn’t complete the sentence or even the thought.

“I was too small. You couldn’t hear me. I had to think of a way. I think this will work.”

Liz nodded her agreement.

“We’ve watched over you and Maria since you were wee babes. We used to flutter over you all the time, we loved you so much. Your soft baby skin reminded us of the flowers. You were such sweet, lovely babes. I think some fairy dust inadvertently fell on Maria the first time she was brought to the garden. We don’t have as much control over where it lands as we might like.

Once a person has been touched by fairy dust, there’s no taking it back. That person is charmed.

Some of us wanted to sprinkle some on you, too. Some thought it would be fun to watch a charmed child grow up next to an untouched human child. Do you understand?”

Liz nodded again, unable to find words.

“But when you discovered our door, we decided it was fated. We needed to charm you as well.

Babies are charmed instantly and completely, but older people require a little more effort. When mommas bathe their little ones, the fairy dust sort of just gets rubbed in. When you jumped in the shower you washed a lot of it off. You’ll probably never have to clean that bath tub again, by the way.”

“So that’s why I got a raise in my allowance.”


“Charmed indeed.”

“Indeed.” The fairy and the girl exchanged familiar, comfortable grins.

“We tried to sprinkle the dust without you noticing, but you were so attuned with us. We couldn’t sneak anything past you, sweet, smart, observant child.”

“Keebler helped.”

The fairy bestowed a smile on Liz that was somehow even sweeter than the original smile had been.

“You’re charmed now. You’ll probably not see us again. You may even forget about us altogether.”

Liz shook her head vigorously in the negative.

“No, sweet Liz, the time for fairies is drawing to a close. It’s as it should be.”

A single perfect tear made its way down Liz’s cheek.

“Don’t cry, dear one,” the fairy said, gently touching the tear and making it disappear. “Everything is as it should be.”

She shrunk back down to fairy size and flew away.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Worse Half

My family always camped over Memorial Day weekend. We had a multi-generational group that we went with - some of whom I would see frequently, some only once or twice a year. It was the official kick-off of the summer camping season. It was a trip I always looked forward to and enjoyed. We went to a State Park where there were many hiking trails of various lengths and of various levels of difficulty. There were campfires and stories and mountain pies. And for three years, there was Jeff.

Jeff was my boyfriend and eventually my fiance in college. When Memorial Day rolled around during those years, he joined my family for this trip.

I remember one of those trips - he and I had gone off to hike one of the longer trails on our own. We hadn't anticipated how long it would take us and dusk started to fall while we were still in the middle of the woods. I panicked a little, but he assured me that we'd be fine. I didn't believe him. I didn't feel fine. When we broke out of the woods and into the little picnic area with a stream that led to the campground, my sense of relief was practically palpable. He was clearly relieved as well, despite the confidence he'd expressed while we were still in the woods. He became playful at that point and sort of pushed me into the stream. Now we were back in civilization, such as it was, but we still had a half mile or so to walk back to the camper. Having to do so soaked to the skin, after my perceived ordeal in the woods, left me none too pleasant.

He didn't understand. He was just trying to play. That was what was the matter with me, I was told, I always took things too damn seriously. I mentally added it to the litany of things that we had already established were the matter with me. I tried to initiate play in the stream several times over the rest of the weekend, but it was too little too late.

Jeff broke things off for good just a couple weeks short of graduation, leaving me heartbroken, insecure, and unsure of where the future might lead. My parents convinced me that joining them for this traditional camping trip would be fun - that it would help me get my mind off of things. I didn't see how taking the same trip without him that I'd taken with him for the past three years was going to get my mind off of things, but I was feeling so raw and vulnerable that I agreed. It would be better to be around people than to sit home alone. It would be good to be around laughter. It would be good.

We pulled into the campground and, as we disembarked from the camper we were greeted by one of those people I only saw once a year. He said hello to me, then looked over my shoulder grinning while asking, "Where's your better half?"


My parents hadn't told anyone.

I ran off crying to the bathhouse with all the drama of a young fiance freshly abandoned. Our poor family friend stood at the camper; left to wonder how such a simple friendly greeting could have caused such an extreme reaction. Chicks, man. I sat on the cold concrete and sobbed to the daddy long legs, "Not only am I not whole without him - I'm not even the good part."

More than twenty-five years later - happily married to Tom and with two girls who are my world - I see this all from a different perspective. But I try to keep those feelings accessible as I talk to my beautiful daughters about remaining a whole on their own; even when the temptation to immerse themselves in the pleasures of being a half is strong. Being half of a couple is wonderful. Being a quarter of a family is pretty swell, too. But there is nothing more important than being a whole you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Fridays

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition

Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections
Chapter 7: The Real World

Chapter 8.

The four women had just been seated and their drinks had arrived at the table, courtesy of a slightly overenthusiastic waiter. Vodka martini’s all around.


“First of the day!”

“Marnie?” came a man’s voice from a couple tables away, “I thought that was you!”

Josh. What were the odds. She watched the eyebrows of all three of her companions rise in unison. Well, except Brittany’s. She couldn’t see Brittany’s eyebrows with all that hair covering her pretty face. But they were rising, all right. She could feel them.

Marnie half rose and gave Josh a hug. “Josh? This is my mom, my sister Corrine and my sister Brittany. This is Josh.”

The three women acknowledged him and he looked them over. “I just wanted to say hi. See you Wednesday, Marn?”

“Probably. I’ll let you know.”

“Ok. Nice meeting you. See ya!”

“Is that your young gentleman?” Corrine asked.

“He is rather devastatingly handsome”, Brittany added, leaning over a bit to watch him walk away.

“If you like that type...” Corrine threw in. The way her lips pursed implied that she did not, but the way she followed Brittany’s gaze said something else entirely.

Marnie laughed. “Josh? No, God. No. Josh is just a friend of mine. Josh is… a bunch of us hang out. Josh? Just, no.”

“You just have a whole” – her mother made a circular gesture with both hands – “thing going on, don’t you?”

“If you’re implying that you don’t know every detail of my life, you’re right. I highly doubt I know every detail of yours, either. Cheers!” she added, lifting her glass and trying to change the course of the conversation. She had never really meant for those two worlds to collide. Who could’ve guessed Josh would be having a beer at the very same place she had asked her family to meet her for lunch. Well, on the upside, maybe the topic of Cal would be an easier transition. She wondered if Josh was holding. A little toot might make this conversation easier, too. She didn’t risk asking. If her mom and sisters saw an exchange being made, she’d never hear the end of it. And they’d see. They didn’t miss a thing. Her martini would have to do. She took a swig, squared her shoulders, and relayed the events of the last couple days. She left out the part about starting at Josh’s and said she just ran into Cal at The Vista.

Something crossed her mother’s face as she waxed rhapsodic about the farm. Was it regret? Was it nostalgia? Marnie wasn’t sure, but she knew she’d somehow struck a chord.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If You Dream of Fairies

If You Dream of Fairies is a story I wrote for my daughters and niece last summer. I will present it here in serialized form. It was my first foray into fiction.

In case you missed something:
If You Dream of Fairies - I
If You Dream of Fairies - II
If You Dream of Fairies - III
If You Dream of Fairies - IV
If You Dream of Fairies - V
If You Dream of Fairies - VI
If You Dream of Fairies - VII
If You Dream of Fairies - VIII
If You Dream of Fairies - IX
If You Dream of Fairies - X
If You Dream of Fairies - XI
If You Dream of Fairies - XII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIII
If You Dream of Fairies - XIV

Liz and Maria spent time together the rest of the summer; reading, playing and dreaming in the garden. They never spoke about the fairies, although each glanced furtively at the fairy door from time to time, particularly when Keebler drew their attention to it.

When the time came to go back to school, they did it as they did everything: together.

Liz got a little more attention than she was used to, having grown up in Maria’s shadow. People kept telling her she was beautiful, which she thought was, quite frankly, really weird. She hadn’t had much practice with accepting compliments. Girls kept asking what she did to make her hair so shiny. She figured no one would be calling her Frizzy Lizzie (when Maria wasn’t around, of course) anymore. Boys were looking at her then looking away when she caught them. She’d seen boys look at Maria that way before and it had always made her roll her eyes. Maria always denied it. Now that it was happening to her, she found it oddly flattering.

Her mother kept telling her she was “growing into herself”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One afternoon shortly after school started the girls were doing their homework at the table in the garden. Maria looked up and said, “I think Justin Maples likes me.”

“Everyone likes you, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“I might like him, too.”

Liz put her book down, never losing eye contact with Maria. “For real?”

“For real.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing. Wait. See. I don’t know. I shouldn’t have said anything. It’s dumb.”

“He’s cute, though.”

“Way cute!” Maria said, dissolving into a fit of self conscious giggles.

They hugged, squealed, and attempted to return to their homework.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Fridays

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition

Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections

Chapter 7.
The Real World

Marnie felt as though she was floating, as she hung up her jacket and scarf and made herself a cup of herbal tea. She checked her messages for the first time all day. It was funny how it hadn’t even occurred to her before now. Twenty-one messages appeared on her cell, almost all of them from her mother and her sisters. Nosy bitches would have to wait. She wanted to have tonight to just drink it all in.

In the moments between lying down and falling asleep, Marnie’s thoughts alternated between “this is crazy stupid” and “this is crazy awesome”. The only thing she was sure of when she finally drifted into an uneasy sleep was that this was crazy.

The next day, Marnie had a predictably hard time concentrating. She sat at her desk, she answered her calls, she looked out her window and she thought. She thought things like: “looks like a nice day for a ride…” and, “I wonder what Cal’s doing right now….” and, “that was one helluva kiss…” and, of course, that thought led to others and not a lot of work was getting done. She decided to go ahead and return her mother and her sisters’ calls. She knew what they wanted to talk about and – hell – it was all she wanted to talk about, too.

As she picked up her phone, an IM came through on her computer from Corri. Corrine’s screen name was Enirroc1997. Someone had told her that using your real name online was dangerous, so she had simply spelled hers backwards and added the year she and Alan had gotten married. Marnie wasn’t sure what amused her more – the paranoia that had led to Corrine using an alias or the fact that Corrine actually thought that spelling her name backwards was clever. Ah, why did one have to amuse her more than the other? Both reasons were funny as hell.

Enirroc1997: Hey Marnie – you there?

MarnieH: Morning!

Enirroc1997: Morning? Where the hell have you been? You didn’t answer any of our calls. And you ran out on brunch mighty fast.

MarnieH: you were WORRIED?

Enirroc1997: Well, yes! As a matter of fact we were! I am!

Another chat window opened.

Britwit: MARNIE!!! WTH???

MarnieH: Hey Brit – I’m chatting with Enirroc , too – let me invite you in.

Britwit: enirroc. snort…

MarnieH. You here Brit?

Britwit: yep. u here, enirroc?

Enirroc1997: I will never know why you two find it so funny that I want to keep my family and myself safe from online predators…

Enirroc1997: Anyway, we’re not here to talk about me.

Britwit: tru dat! u have a lot of splainin to do, miss marnie!

MarnieH: since when do I answer to you guys?

Enirroc1997: Since you ran out of brunch and left us with Mom and all of her questions – questions for which we had no answers, I feel compelled to add.

Who IM’s words like “compelled” and phrases like, “questions for which we had no answers”? Oh yeah. Corrine.

MarnieH: No big. A friend asked me to take a ride on his bike out to his brother’s farm.

Britwit: a friend?????

MarnieH: yep

Enirroc1997: A GENTLEMAN friend?

Britwit: a bike?

MarnieH: My friend is a guy, yes.

MarnieH: we rode out, yes.

Britwit: the guy ur bringing to thnx dinner?

MarnieH: I don’t know about that. It’s just – it’s not…shit, you guys – I don’t know what it is.

Enirroc1997: Watch your language, Marnie, the FCC might come after you.

MarnieH: I assure you that the FCC is not monitoring our conversation and neither is anyone else.

Enirroc1997: It must be nice to be so sure of everything.

Britwit: where is that eye-rolling emoticon when I need it?

MarnieH: 

MarnieH: Anyway, he’s very nice and we’re just hanging out.

Britwit: cute?

MarnieH: Devastatingly.

Enirroc1997: Money?

MarnieH: God, Corri – why do you have to be so superficial?

Enirroc1997: Oh, I apologize. Discussing his devastating good looks is deep but inquiring about his means of supporting himself financially is superficial. I’ll make a note of that.

Britwit: corri, u r 2 much.

MarnieH: I better call Mom, if she was actually worried.

Enirroc1997: Telling her you rode to the middle of nowhere on the back of a veritable stranger’s motorcycle should be very reassuring.

Britwit: srsly, corri, how do u even TYPE all that?

Enirroc1997: “Srsly”, Brittany, it doesn’t take that much extra effort to use actual words.

Britwit: wutev

MarnieH: yeah! And sit up straight! And I don’t know why you wear that hair over your eyes like that – you have such a pretty face!

Britwit: lol

Enirroc1997: You really would look prettier with your hair off your face, Brit.

Britwit: roflmao

Enirroc1997: “Wutev”.

Enirroc1997: So, seriously, Marnie – what does he do?

MarnieH: I need to call Mom – you guys free for lunch?

Britwit: i m

Enirroc1997: I suppose I could tear myself free.

Marnie: Hooligan’s at noon?

Enirroc1997: That seems appropriate.

Britwit: ur a hoot enirroc!

Enirroc1997: “Wutev”

MarnieH: Ok, see you both then. Should I invite Mom?

Enirroc1997: I suppose that would save time. She’d just be pumping Brit and I for information anyway – may as well let her hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Britwit: lol ur a horse!

Enirroc1995: lol ur an idiot!

MarnieH: Alright! Noon then! Should be fun!

She exited the chat and dialed their parent’s home.

“Hammond residence”

“Lupe? It’s Marnie.”

“Miss Marnie! Thank God you’re ok – Mrs. Hammond has been so worried!”

“Can I talk to my mom?”

“Yes, yes, I’ll get her!”


“Hey Mom.”

“Don’t you ‘hey Mom’ me, young lady! Your sisters and I tried to call you all day yesterday. Where have you been?”

“Mom? You do know I’m almost 30, right?”

“Darling, you’re still my child”

“I’m sorry I worried you – hey – I’m meeting Corri and Brit for lunch – want to join us?”

“That sounds like fun, actually. I suppose Lupe can hold down the fort. Where and when? I assume you’ll be explaining what was so important that you had to run out on brunch so abruptly.”

“Hooligan’s. Noon.”

Marnie heard her mother sigh.

“I’ll be there.”

“See you then.”

Marnie tried to return to work, but returned to looking out the window instead. She remembered the smell of the hay in the barn and the feel of the sheep’s wooly coat. She thought about Cal’s hands as he pulled her up – how strong and confident he was. She thought about that kiss – how he had kissed her lips, but she had somehow felt it in her whole body. She thought about what it would be like to touch his skin – to feel him…whoa there! Slow down! This was no way to get any work done. What the hell was this? It’s not like she’d never kissed a boy before…

She returned to her computer and stared at the screen. It didn’t make sense. Now kissing Cal – that made sense. That was the sort of idea she could get behind. Not much money in it, though. And heaven knows he wasn’t bringing any in. Was Corrine right? Did that matter? It had mattered to her mother. She left her farm life in a heartbeat when her father came along with promises of a better life. Marnie loved her father, but as far as a better life? She wasn’t so sure her mother had traded up. She’d never seen her parents act as naturally loving as Ted and Susie had acted yesterday on the farm. She imagined her dad casually patting her mom on the bottom as he helped with kitchen chores and shuddered. She couldn’t even work up the visual. Her parents lived in a different world.

It had mattered to her sister. Corrine had chosen her mate carefully, based on potential. Alan came from money. There was a position waiting for him when he got out of school. Money and the right names open a lot of doors. Corrine knew this was the lifestyle she wanted and she wasn’t about to settle for less. Alan had been her first real boyfriend and her only lover. If you could call it love. Alan was always more of a provider than a lover, although there were girls all over town who might disagree with that assessment.

Marnie sighed. She’d known money all her life. She was privileged and she knew it. She had no business feeling superior to Corrine, because she had allowed money to open doors, too. She took that for granted – and why not? It had just always been so. Would her grades alone have gotten her into the school she chose? Maybe. Would she have been able to afford school at all if Daddy hadn’t footed the bill? Probably not. She would have been waiting tables or pursuing a trade. Would she have gotten this job in this office if her last name hadn’t been Hammond? Possible, but unlikely.

Yes, money helped. Money paid for that beautiful condo on the hill and the never ending maintenance on the Shelby in the garage. Money provided the always up to date and stylish wardrobe she was accustomed to sporting. Was this going to offend someone like Cal? When he first picked her up, she saw a glimmer of – what? – something – when he saw her living conditions. She didn’t imagine they were easily comparable to his own. Was she ready or even willing to compromise on that? And what the hell was she doing here, anyway? They’d had one date – sort of – and one kiss. She reminded herself to keep it in perspective. She had never even seen where he lived. He might live in a mansion, for God’s sake, and just be slumming at Josh’s for kicks! On the other, more likely hand, he might not. Besides – this was a lot of conjecture based on one stupid kiss (there was nothing stupid about that kiss).

Ok. Work, Marnie. Get something accomplished, here. You’re acting like a school girl. A cute boy kissed you. How nice. Get over it! It’s Monday! Work!

Marnie didn’t listen to herself. She looked out the window and tapped a pen against her desk. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. Her cell rang. Cal.

“I was just thinking about you!” Marnie said, her smile splitting her face and her fingers absentmindedly twirling her hair.

A brief note about this chapter: Anyone who has ever attempted to text with me, knows that my texting style most closely resembles that of Corrine. I am not proud of this. Needless to say, I don't text much. I enlisted the help of my thirteen year old daughter to try to make Marnie and Brittany's styles more organic to their characters. Some of the changes she made made me cringe, but I think they were ultimately good. It was so much fun working with my kiddo! Thanks, Lea!