Plant Life

This little piece of flash fiction comes to you from Woegman’s World of Witty Wonder and his Turn-a-trope Tuesday.  For this one, we had to take the trope “unwanted revival” and turn it on it’s head, or something.  Basically, the trope is when a character is dead or comatose and not happy about being revived.  I wasn’t planning on doing it, but I wanted a challenge and I had a rather slow day.  Once I started thinking, it didn’t take long for this to reveal itself.

One thing I am learning, though, is that I seriously dislike coming up with titles.  I’ve titled a few other flash fiction pieces on my blog that I wish were different now.  I’m sure I will dislike this title in a few days as well, but I’ve got nothing, so it is what it is. 1013 words (I went a little over) that I hope fits the theme.

Plant Life

“Did you know it talks to me?”

Anna was sitting next to Jack on the couch and looked up at his words. She followed his gaze to the spindly, green-brown plant sitting on the table looking half dead. It was tilted at an awkward angle and looked like it might collapse at any moment. Why she hadn’t disposed of it to this point was beyond her. When she moved in a few months ago, she had asked if she could throw it out, but the only answer she received was a cold stare. So, it remained and continued to barely survive on not so regular glasses of water and small amounts of sunshine from the window next to the table.

She laughed. “That’s surprising, considering how much the thing gets watered.” She felt heat rising off him and wondered if she had pissed him off. “Are you sure we can’t just get rid of it? I don’t know if you’re going to be able to revive it at this point.”

“No. We can’t.” He stood up and went to the sink to fill a glass of water.

“You know, honey, I think I’ll go to the store and get a new pot and some fresh soil. Maybe it just needs a new home.” She must have surprised him. His head jerked up and he stared at her with a growing smile.

“You would do that for her?”

“Oh, it’s a ‘her’ now? Should I be jealous that not only is it still here, but it’s apparently talking to you too?”

“Come off it. A plant can’t be a ‘he’.”

“Sure it can. You’re just more comfortable with a ‘she’.” She winked at him and jumped up with the half-hearted idea of making her way to the store to buy new digs for his stupid plant. If she didn’t know better, she would think she was a tinge jealous of it. And, just for the record, she was not going to start calling it a she; not in this lifetime!

**

Anna grudgingly brought home a new pot and some potting soil that contained “everything necessary for a plant to thrive” and promised to “feed for up to six months”. Continuing her efforts to make Jack happy, she got to work and before too long, the plant was safely ensconced in its new home.

Standing back, she analyzed her handiwork and was surprised to see the thing was already tilting crazily to the right. She turned her head this way and that, studying it. It was almost worse than when it was in the old pot. She set it right and added a bit more soil, but as soon as she dropped her hand, the thing drooped to the right. Shrugging, she walked away to wash her hands. Maybe it just took time to assimilate.

She passed Jack as she was leaving the room. “Hey Babe, the plant is repotted and I gave it some water. The rest is up to you, big boy, cause I suck at keeping plants alive.”

He looked like he was deep in thought, and he kept walking as if he hadn’t heard. Rolling her eyes, she went into the bathroom and shut the door.

**

The new pot wasn’t working. It had been a month and the thing was even more brown and crackly than before the re-potting. Leaves were falling off at an alarming rate, and the crazy tilt had become a drape over the side of the pot. She had made a concerted effort to water it regularly but it didn’t seem to matter. The soil was always bone dry and it was starting to smell. Worse, gnats had taken up residence.

As if that wasn’t weird enough, Jack had completely withdrawn from her and was acting strange. Several times she had come across him staring at the plant, mumbling. When she asked what he was doing, all she got was a blank stare before he returned to his mumbling. He was currently at the table, softly caressing a leaf that looked like it was hanging on for dear life, gnats swarming around his hand.

He must have felt her gaze because he looked up at her. “She wants it back.”

“Who wants what back? What are you talking about?”

“What did you do with the old pot?”

“I threw it away. Why?” He went back to staring at the plant, his hand still rubbing the leaf. She took a deep breath when what she really wanted to do was throw something at his head. “Jack, are you okay? Please, talk to me.”

Without turning around he mumbled, “She doesn’t like it. She wants the old one back.”

“Are you kidding me? You are not seriously talking about the plant! What is wrong with you?” She stormed up to the table, pushed past him and grabbed for the plant. “I’m going to throw it away. This is beyond stupid…”

His hand grabbed her arm hard, cutting her off. “Don’t.”

She looked down at his hand restraining her arm and back up at him. “Do you even realize how crazy this is? How crazy you’re acting?” She yanked her arm out of his grip, grabbed her purse and keys and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

**

In bed the next morning, Anna was lying on her side facing Jack. She knew he was awake, but his eyes were still closed. Not wanting to force the issue, she continued staring at him, hoping to find an answer to this terribly odd situation in the contours of his face. After a few moments, her gaze traveled down his neck, following the line of his bare arm as it rested above the blanket. Noticing something that hadn’t been there before, she sat up and leaned down to get a closer look. Inches from his arm, she went completely still. Was that a leaf?

Her eyes darted up and met his eyes now staring at her; they were eyes she no longer recognized.

Cold… Lifeless…. Green…

Rising Free

Another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction challenge.  When I read it on Friday morning, I laughed out loud because it was too perfect.  My sister and I had an appointment to get tattoos on Friday at noon and she was planning on getting a Phoenix.  It’s pretty literal, I suppose, but her tattoo was forefront in my head and the words just sort-of happened.  For those that read my blog and don’t like the “bad” words, this one has some, so read at your own risk.

I give you 990 words on the Phoenix – dedicated to my sister and her rather fabulous tattoo.

Rising Free

The buzzing vibration settles onto my leg and I feel the first bite of the needle as it pierces my skin. Inwardly shaking, my body tenses, waiting for the scratching pain that doesn’t disappoint. Taking deep breaths, I close my eyes and settle into the pulsating, jagged rhythm. Strange to think I worked for this small torturous moment, that I deserve it somehow.

I have played so many roles; some of them lovingly, some of them in resentment, pain and fear. They are all different parts of me, and they have defined me and brought me to this moment whether I wanted them to or not.

Dutiful child, so right, so good; never disappointing Daddy. That was, of course, until I finally did. I sit here happily, knowing this moment will piss him off and not giving a fuck.

Religious zealot found roots in dutiful child and blossomed into, what is the term? Goody Two-shoes? Yeah, that was me. Literally killing myself doing the right thing and in turn sharing my beliefs with others. I’m not sure when my spiritual beliefs changed, but they did.  Thank you God, or Gods, or Goddess… who even knows?

I was the unharmed one, the one he didn’t touch; watching as everyone else received help and support while I was left to my own devices. That is, until he changed the story and I became just as fucked as the rest. That dizzying moment when you realize… are there even any words to describe that kind of betrayal and loss of innocence? I haven’t found any.

I am a mother, of course, to two kick-ass children. I gave everything in my role as stay-at-home Mom and army wife, playing both Mom and Dad when he was gone. My life revolved around them, day in, day out. Until, one day it dawned on me that they had grown and I didn’t know my role anymore.

I am and have always been a loving wife. To this day, I do not know how we survived. There were the long absences, my doubts and my struggle to find self-worth. I look down at our hands molded together and I squeeze as the needle etches lines into my skin.

I have been through hell and back and the story is taking shape on my thigh, transforming into the beautiful creature that has appeared to me in visions multiple times, almost screaming for her place in my world; a chance to become real. The flow of ink across my skin becomes the line of each individual feather and I trace each one with my eyes, anxiously anticipating the finished masterpiece. I take my time, watching the needle scratch and claw its way across my delicate skin.

The creature flowed into my dreams a few years ago and slowly made her way into my waking moments. She needs life; needs to take shape. As I continue to watch, the vision slowly takes hold again and I see the creature coming to life before me, slowly rising off my leg. I don’t know how it happens, but I begin to know her thoughts as she knows mine and I see what she sees, looking through glistening, cerulean eyes. She wants freedom to glide across the heavens in wild abandon.

Converged, we seek the sky, tracing the path of our inevitable flight into beyond. I lift my arms only to find they are no longer arms. Wings unfurl, feathers shivering with sizzling energy. I glance down for a moment and I gasp in awe, blinded by my vivid, red-gold coloring. I watch my tail feathers sweep the ashes beneath, raising a silvery cloud that billows and swirls around me as I lift off.

I take flight, soaring into the brilliant blue, fluffy white vapor softly caressing my upward journey. I rise up and up and find bliss in weightless recognition. I still play every single role, only now, it’s changed. I’m changed. I may not have chosen all of them, but I now choose how they’re played – in loving acceptance.

I am Daddy’s Daughter.  He can choose to embrace me anytime, as long as he chooses me, not the daughter he thinks I should be.

I am Spiritual. Life is a constant journey and I find security in uncertainty, my place firmly cemented in the energetic vibrant universe as it slowly turns, changing and morphing, yet staying altogether the same.

I am Harmed. I realize this will never really go away, but I choose to embrace the parts that were abused and broken knowing there is no safer place in the world than the love surrounding me, healing me daily.

I am Mother. I love and support their growth and change, and they are now supporting and loving mine. I am no longer everything to them and I am learning to accept that they are no longer the driving force in my day to day. They taught me to look for me because they couldn’t be everything to me, not forever.

I am Wife. I know that I don’t need to sacrifice myself to be what he needs. I love him and I find comfort in knowing he loves me still, he loves me anyway, despite and because. He’s my rock, my biggest supporter and best friend.

Blinking my eyes, the vision fades dramatically. There is no soft glazing over and gentle landing. No, I flounder and fall, crashing unceremoniously back into the moment. Feeling my body jerk, I glance down anxiously, expecting wings and feathers and orange brilliance. Instead, I find myself back on the table, my husband’s hand still holding mine.  He looks questioningly into my eyes and I smile through the searing heat of the needle still working lines into my skin.

My life’s journey, forever engraved on my thigh. It’s a story and a wish; my promise to myself to always love me because I’m fucking worth it.

Not My Milestones, Not My Words

That thing called life went and punched me in the face again… or maybe it was the gut… heart?  It was definitely all three or maybe just one…

I’m not sure why it is that my children’s milestones in life affect me more than my own.  Everyone said I would have a mini breakdown when I turned 30 and then again at 35 (I would say I’m aging myself, but having a kid graduate high school actually does it for me); but that didn’t happen on either birthday.  Turning 40 in a few years might be a different matter, but I seriously doubt it.  Those days everyone eschewed as overwhelming or depressing were nothing more than standard steps in my somewhat ordinary life.  No, it was when my daughter turned 16 that threw me the first time.  When she turned 18, I’m surprised I didn’t hide in a dark room for days.  My son turned 14 last month, is now taller than me and I don’t recognize his voice.  My youngest turned 10 last year and he knows so much more about things than his older siblings did at the same age that I find myself shaking my head and laughing because there is really no help for it – this could be an entire post all on its own.  I am loving the hell out of watching my children grow and become functioning humans in society, but as much as I am full of joy and wonder at their growth, I find myself asking did I do enough, are they going to be okay without me, am I going to be okay without them… Needless to say, it makes for some somber moments all wrapped up in the joy experienced when they turn another page or accomplish something great.

I attended my daughter’s high school graduation Tuesday night and my world has been spinning out of control ever since.  (Not really, but sometimes that’s what it feels like when your heart bursts it’s imaginary seems and spews lifeblood from nooks and crannies you seriously didn’t know you had)  My daughter, whom I like to refer to as my beautiful baby girl, is intelligent, talented and already has a solid plan for the next four years.  She knows exactly what she wants and I have no doubts she will be wildly successful in her chosen path and the countless other paths she will choose on each phase of her journey through life.

Before the graduation ceremony, I sat down to write her a poem or even just some wacky words from Mom and I came up with absolutely nothing.  I stared at a blank screen for at least an hour and started to do that thing where you beat the shit out of yourself because you can write all day long but when it comes to writing for someone you love, someone who means the world to you, and you come up blank? What the hell is wrong with you?  That went on for a while before I decided to change direction.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, it was all just too much.  I decided, instead, to use other people’s words to say it for me.  Words that she would recognize and love because they were part of her childhood and in some small way they helped define her.  I am sharing them with you because who knew there were such wise words to be found in children’s movies?  Well, actually, a lot of people did. Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t realize you could write a whole narrative of your child’s life from birth to going away to college from one movie’s quotes.

And so I give you my perspective on Adelle’s life thus far told by Toy Story:

There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere
You’re my favorite deputy
Eh… I don’t think those were Lincoln Logs
I’m going for fearsome here, but I just don’t feel it. I think I’m just coming off as annoying
I think you’ve had enough tea for today
What, did you take stupid pills this morning?
Excuse me. I think the word you’re searching for is “Space Ranger”
The word I’m searching for I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present
Who are you calling busted, buster?
There’s a snake in my boot
This is the perfect time to panic!
Reach for the sky
I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection
Impressive wingspan
That wasn’t flying! That was falling with style!
To Infinity and Beyond
Oh, I hate all this uncertainty
I’m packing you an extra pair of shoes and your angry eyes, just in case.
Good riddance you loony

**

I also found some great words of wisdom from the Lion King, one of her favorites:

You know, kid, in times like this my buddy Timon here says you got to put your behind in your past.
Oh yes, the past can hurt. But, you can either run from it or learn from it.
Hakuna Matata
Remember who you are
Well, somebody once told me that the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us
I laugh in the face of danger
It means you’re a baboon and I am not
You follow old Rafiki – he knows the way!
You must take your place in the Circle of Life
Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance
Change is good. Yeah, but it’s not easy.

**

And last, but certainly not least, I quoted her favorite childhood story.  When I read it to her as a child, she would stare at me in (dare I say) horror because I would cry my eyes out every single time.  I still can’t make it through the book without shedding some tears.  The book is Love you Forever by Robert Munsch.

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be

**

I’m a proud Mama, and I’m enjoying this phase of parenting.  It’s just not always easy to stand back and let them fly.

Mirror’s Curse

Another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction challenge.  For this one we had to randomly pick two words out of two different columns that would serve as the title and write 1,000 words to fit it.  I have to admit that I did a random number generator on-line on Friday and came up with something horrific.  I was still mulling it over when I was hanging out with my sister at her house on Saturday and she got excited and pulled out a d20 and told me to roll.  There’s just something about rolling a dice that isn’t quite the same as clicking a button on the computer to generate a number, so that’s the one I’m going to go with.  I got Mirror and Curse when I rolled, which I was actually able to work with.

I’m honestly surprised the story went in the direction it did.  It’s funny what happens when you mull two words over in your head.  Below is approximately 900 words.

I probably need to do some sort of trigger, but I’m not sure how to do that without giving it away, although I don’t think it’s very subtle.   Perhaps it will help to say I want to dedicate the story to my nephew Mikey who would have been 12 this year.

Mirror’s Curse

The sound of shattered glass crashing onto the tile floor echoed through the room. Reggie wrapped her arms around her, trying to stop the shaking. She hated mirrors. She couldn’t look into one without seeing a future event in her life. Sometimes it happened in days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months; but each time she saw something, it eventually manifested in her life.

Most of her visions were benign; simple things; things that normally happened in a person’s life. She was walking on the stage in a cap and gown. She was smiling at the beautiful, dark haired man on the park bench who was now her husband. She didn’t like knowing things before they happened. It was a strange reality in her life, but she had learned to cope. At one point, she had removed every mirror in her home and studiously ignored them in public. It was harder than she realized. She could go weeks, sometimes months without looking, but she eventually found herself in front of a mirror. The hardest part was it didn’t always reveal something. Sometimes it was just her reflection staring back at her.

It had been several weeks since she had looked into a mirror. She didn’t even mean to do it this time, but she had. She wanted to believe the shattered pieces of the mirror would in turn shatter the vision she had just seen. Maybe it was wrong. Maybe, just this once, it wouldn’t actually happen.

It’s not like she could have children. They had tried. After two years, they had resigned themselves to not having a child of their own and maybe even adopting. They hadn’t decided yet. The reality of never feeling a child growing inside her was still an ache she hadn’t come to terms with. She wasn’t sure if she ever would. The doctor’s said there were ways, but with the vision she had just seen, she wasn’t sure she wanted to test fate, or whatever it was that let her see things in mirrors.

**

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. You are going to be parents in a little over seven months.”

“Oh my God, baby!” Reggie threw her arms around Damon, crying and laughing with him. It had been years of tests and trials and more money than they had, but it was happening. They had created a life and it was growing inside her.

She had tried to come to terms with never having a child of her own. They had even filled out multiple adoption applications only to be told no each time. In the end, she realized she wanted a child; wanted to feel what it was like. Damon wanted it too. He had supported her decision to stop trying, but she had seen it in his eyes – the longing she could feel as well. He didn’t make her or tell her she had to. He didn’t have to. She wanted it just as much, maybe even more than he did.

Even after the decision was made, there was still a part of her that didn’t really believe she would end up pregnant. It hadn’t been easy. And as each year passed, the vision she had glimpsed in the mirror faded. With the fading memory came the rationalization, and finally she convinced herself it had been a mistake. It’s not like she didn’t have visions anymore. It happened with the same regularity it always had, but none had taken so long to manifest. All the others had happened in a relatively short amount of time. But it no longer mattered. Nothing was going to take away from their happiness. They were finally going to be parents.

**

Their perfect miracle was born in the fall. He came into the world like most babies do, wailing and thrashing arms, searching for the safety and warmth of only moments before. The first thing everyone in the operating room noticed was the orange red hair plastered to his head. It was the same orange red hair that they couldn’t bring themselves to cut until he was over a year old and it was flying around his head like one of those troll dolls that were popular with kids.

People smiled when they saw him. How could they not? He had sparkling blue eyes and an ethereal smile that lit up a room when he was in it. He was an angel.

Reggie and Damon were happier than they could have ever imagined. Their beautiful baby boy filled their home with laughter and wonder. He drove them crazy, too. He fought naps and cried when he was tired or hungry. He did normal baby things, but somehow, to them, he wasn’t like other babies.

One day, Reggie was slowly pacing up and down the hallway rocking him to sleep when she happened to glance in the hallway mirror. It was just her reflection this time, but she was reminded of the vision she had tried to shatter so long ago. Faded and distant, she stayed firm in the belief that by shattering the mirror she had broken the vision’s hold on her reality.

**

Exactly one year, six months and 14 days from the day he came into their life, Reggie watched in horror as the mirror’s vision played out.

They weren’t given an entire lifetime with him, but there was a lifetime in each smile; each touch; each baby giggle that made them laugh; and every single small word he had learned. They would cherish every moment they were able to have and he would always be a part of their life. Their perfect miracle.

Their angel.

Life Happens… It’s Okay

I haven’t written anything for the blog in exactly a week and I’m feeling rather down about it, like I’m failing myself and my readers (not that there are many, but still…), which I suppose I am since I made a goal and it’s something I really want to do so why am I short-changing myself?  Long, run-on sentences or not, last week was crazy, what with having the kiddos and what I consider my insane workout schedule.  I was able to keep up with the workouts and my kids (barely), but the writing went to hell.  Not to mention, last week was my busiest week at work and the time I normally take to jot something down during the day (on my break, of course) didn’t happen.

I always thought having older children would be easier somehow.  Yeah, not so much.  Instead of nice quiet playtime at home, or running around the house keeping up with your small demons, now it’s carting said demons all over town or going to this or that – “Mom, I need shoes!” and “Mom, can you take me here” and “Oh yeah, Mom, I forgot I have an award dinner for school.”  Not that you don’t do those things when they’re small, you do.  I think it boils down to doing things on your time frame (younger children) or their time frame (teenagers).  Every time I feel like my life is in order and I have a plan, it all goes up in smoke at the demands of my kids or whatever life requires at any given moment.

The good news is, I completed two full weeks on the exercise schedule for Tough Mudder.  I don’t remember ever exercising this much.  Just when I think my muscles have calmed down from the last workout, I go and run two or three miles and it starts all over.  There are upsides, though.  I am remembering the reasons why I fell in love with running.  My run on Thursday was amazing!  I kept waiting for my body to rebel or for my brain to tell me I needed to stop, but it didn’t happen.  I hit that runner’s high big time and it felt great!  Saturday, I was back to slogging through a three mile run and not knowing if I could finish, but memories of my last run kept me going and I was able to finish.  I’m not sure what causes great runs and why there are runs you don’t want to remember, but I would really love to know the answer.  I want to have great runs all the time!

I thought a small amount about weight loss and body toning when I first started, but it wasn’t my reason for doing it.  It is inevitable, though, considering I went from running maybe two or three times a week (but not always) to working out six days a week consistently.  The changes are already starting, I’m just not one to weigh myself consistently or measure my thighs and arms or whatever it is people do to keep track.  I made the mistake of weighing myself last week and there was no change, which I guess is a good thing?  I am, however, noticing my clothes fitting differently and certain places are getting smaller (sadly, it’s not always the ones you want…).  This being an upside, I will take the changes and be happy as they come, of course.

In the writing department, I almost finished the short story for Chuck’s weekly challenge on Saturday but I’m having doubts about where the story ended up.  It turned into something sad and painful and I found myself wondering if I should finish it, much less post it.  I’m still in the middle of that debate.  I’m planning on taking a look at it tonight to finish it up and see how I feel about it.  One thing I am learning about writing is to walk away when it becomes too much.  Many times, distance and time can offer clarity where sitting ass-deep in the middle of it only buries your ass deeper – or something like that.  (I think that sounded better in my head…)  The key is to come back before a week or a month or a year goes by. It’s only been a day and a half this time, which could be considered progress for me.

My thoughts tend to beat the shit out of me rather than lovingly support me and allow things to progress as they are.  I made quite a few changes all at once and I’m still learning how to be Mom, girlfriend, writer and exerciser/runner as well as working a full-time day job all at the same time.  I’m adjusting and it’s okay.

I’m hoping to have a short story if not the short story mentioned above posted by tomorrow.

Thanks again for reading and the overwhelming support.