Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt 3 The Donut Shop Mystery

One Day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful

to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find

another cookie. This continues for months until one Day a different object is left—and this

time there’s a note.

 

“Hmmm. What’s this? A note on the desk. It is sealed, doesn’t say who it is from? Hmm. Could this be from the same person leaving the mysterious oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries? My favorite. A close call between the classic peanut butter cookie to be sure. There is a small locket by the note. One of those old time classic heart lockets that you can swing open the face and put a little picture, a super small picture in if you have one that small. I open it slowly looking around to see who was nearby. Maybe the cookies weren’t for me? Maybe I was eating something meant for someone else? But the whole secret admirer thing was way more romantic and titillating than a mistaken identity. Besides, no one had said, hey what are you doing eating my cookies?

Curious, I looked into the tiny locket. It had initials in it, no picture though. It simply said E.B. I looked at the sealed note. Plain envelope, no mention of who it is for, or whom it is from. The seal was a smiley sticker, a simple sticker that was yellow with a silly face, tongue hanging out with silly eyes. It was placed in the middle, it would be easy to open and reseal, I thought to myself. Curiosity killed the cat, good thing I’m not a cat…seems almost like the type of seal one would use for a child’s card.

I looked around one more time, and carefully peeled back the smiley face, and opened the envelope, inside was a small piece of thin parchment like paper. In delicate handwriting, cursive scrawl not typed, was a simple letter. I took it out, and looked at the words wondering who was leaving this here and why. The letter simply said, “ Dear whoever has been enjoying my cookies,

I hope I added some spice to a boring work day. Meet me for coffee at 2pm at the Donut Shop. Don’t be late, and bring this letter.”

Hmm. Should I go to the the Donut Shop at 2pm? What if it is a crazy stalker type? What if it is a person who is into something violent and I get kidnapped and kept in a basement for years? Okay, how often does that sort of thing happen? But, what if this is one of those times? Arrgh, who is EB?

I knew what I would have to do. I would have to discreetly go to the Donut Shop which was located across the street from my workplace. The person is either a co worker playing a prank, highly likely, or a secret admirer who is also most likely a coworker playing a prank. Or, an unknown creepy stalker guy who has been watching me come and go from the Donut Shop.  But then how would he get this stuff in here? Only employees have access back here? Nothing to do but go and find out.

I pull my long black wool coat close to me in a virtual self hug as I leave the office carefully. I say good bye to people at their cubicles who grunt without looking up as I walk out at the unusual time of ten til 2pm. I walk with purse clutched tightly in one hand, other hand in a pocket with a small canister of mace. You know, just in case. I hit the button to use the crosswalk, traffic lulls to a stop to the loud beeping of the pedestrian green light, and I walk with purpose, one foot in front of the other, like I have all the time in the world, attempting to project calmness, confidence, like I don’t have a care in the world. Just going to go grab a coffee, and possibly some coffee cake, and enjoy a break out of the office. I’m not meeting a random stranger from an anonymous note that would be foolish in this day and age. Downright reckless! Nope, not me!

I open the door slowly, here the tinkle of the door bell move as I did so. Looked into the eyes of a bored cashier by a long counter, her eyes lidded and glancing at me while texting someone on her phone. I look around at the tables, see people scattered here and there. Someone was sitting in the corner, with a newspaper over their face, all by themselves.  They had a long coat on and a hat, like some old time detective from a Bogart movie. The newspaper hid the face, but from the body language of the crossed leg and the build, I would say this was a man, old or young hard to say. I looked at the other tables, because I didn’t know who this person was. I still had the chance to change my mind and leave the shop. The cashier was still texting, and hadn’t said hi.

I went to an empty table, pulled out a chair and sat down, placing my purse on the floor next to me, glancing at a paper menu on the table. Drip coffee 1.99, refills 50 cents. Donuts 2.49 each, or 5 for a dozen. I get the letter out, resealed with its smiley face, and put it visibly on the table thinking the person might take it as a cue to come over and reveal themselves. The man in the corner adjusts the paper noisily, moves his legs as well, but doesn’t get up. Hmm. If not him, then who is it? I look around casually, or trying to make it appear casual, noting other people sipping coffee and reading or talking. No one especially stood out as suspicious except the weird guy in the corner. The cashier comes over noticing me for the first time and says, “Hon, you know what you want?” What a question! I don’t even know what’s going on here, let alone what I want.

I say simply, “A cup of coffee and a small piece of coffee cake. I’m on my break from work.” She gives me a look like if you think that will make me hurry you are mistaken, and walks back to the counter. The man puts his paper down now, and I take a peek to see if it is someone I know. The face doesn’t seem too familiar, but it does seem like I’ve seen it somewhere before.

“Excuse me,” I say loudly, “Sir, are you waiting for someone?”

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone, actually.” He says voice kind of gravelly. Sounds like maybe a smoker. Maybe early 50s.

“Does it have anything to do with this?” I hold up the note in its smiley envelope. His face turns into a smile and he walks over. “Can it really be you? My little Junebug?”

“What? I want to know what this is about? “

The man seems sad all of a sudden, and I see a tear form in his eye. “I have missed you so much. I haven’t seen you since you were 5 years old, and you moved away. Your mother wouldn’t tell me where you were, disconnected your number.  I have tried everything to find you for so long. I had all but given up hope when I saw your name in the paper for helping out that family through your work. I knew it had to be you even though the last name was different. I hoped it was you, but I was scared about what you would think of me, what you had been told possibly. I am sorry. I didn’t know how to reach out the right way. So, I had the waitress here send cookies over and she agreed to leave the note and locket for me.”

“Who are you supposed to be again?” I said incredulous.

“I’m your father. I know your Mom remarried, and you probably don’t remember me. I was working all the time back then, and I didn’t spend enough time with you. But surely, you remember?” The man looked hurt, and confused.

“What was your daughter’s name? Who do you think I am?”

“June. My little Junebug.”

Suddenly it all made sense. June was the person who used to have my desk. She had moved on to another office, into management I think. I had inherited a lot of pens and things left behind from her, but this had to be the saddest of them all.

“I’m so sorry. But I am not June. I am Tina. I think she used to have my desk.” I added lamely, holding the note out to the man. “Thanks for the cookies though.” I smiled awkwardly, looking at my watch. “Oh, looks like my break is over, good luck with the search.” I picked up my purse, left a couple dollars on the table for the cashier who was back looking at her phone, and briskly walked out of there. Darn. Mistaken identity after all.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt Boot Camp #1..Breaking up with Writer’s Block.

“Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me …I am going to commit to writing every single day whether I feel especially inspired or not.  I have spent way too much time giving myself excuses for not writing getting caught up in drama and little things and entertainment that is created by others. I am a creator and it is time for me to create rather than consume.  I need to brush the dust out of the brain to edit my novel properly.  I need to do some fresh writing.

I did more writing when I didn’t have a car. It is funny how when you are riding public transit or waiting for the next bus to come you feel the need to fill the void of that ten to fifteen minutes, but if you are comfortable at home it is just as easy to pop in a movie or binge watch Breaking Bad. There is something about being in between places that forces me to be creative and perhaps my life has become too predictable, too ordinary.  There aren’t enough gaps for stories to thrive. My time is scheduled, over booked, except for writing. Writing is my passion, my key to being centered and fulfilled and not making time for it often leads me to feeling listless or aimless.

For that reason among others, you have to go Writer’s Block. I have spent way too much time, money and energy on you and wasted precious time I can never get back. I know of no one else who has 4 novels sitting on their floor since 2001. And over a dozen short stories but none written this year. I want to do NANOWRIMO this year, no excuses. No maybe next year. What if I were to die in a freak accident next year? I want no more regrets.  I don’t want to look back wondering where all my time went. Wondering if I am leaving any contribution to society or any mark on this world. Anything for my son to be proud of? I am a descendant of Mark Twain, or his father anyway, and how many people can say that? I am sure there are some, but not many.  I have a writer’s legacy, I have been writing since I was 6. I went to the Cougar writing conference at 11. I got to see Peninsula College back then. I had a lot of encouragement from teachers.

I drew horses and unicorns and dreamed a lot. I made histories, names, and genealogies of fictional families, races, creatures.  Where did that go? I used to put myself to sleep by going through my own fictional soap opera called Zennis. Still haven’t written that story, and it is one door among a long hallway of dimensions waiting for me to explore;  so many stories lying dormant, waiting for my pen to bring them to life, to share the stories with others. I miss having a writer’s group, perhaps I should find a new one. It helped me to stay focused, to make time. Timed writes were helpful too, really allowed me to see other settings and forced me to think of other ideas I may not have without that pressure and limitation.

So, I am going to commit to myself, to get up at 5 am, and write until around 5 30 so that I can write without distractions and it is a time I can write on a daily basis since I often get up at 5 30 to get ready for work, it will force me to fit it in. If I am feeling truly inspired I will have a notepad with me and will write later. I used to keep one by my bed because some of my favorite stories actually came from dreams and if you don’t write them down immediately little details disappear, and sometimes whole planets and languages are just gone. And the only thing I can remember is that it was really cool. That makes me sad because I know it was a moment in time and the story is gone forever never to return.

When I was deep into writing my novel for the first time I fell in love with the characters, I lived and breathed with them, felt bad when they were hurt. They felt like real people. I was obsessed and focused and there were never enough hours in the day. I would get home from work and write until I went to bed, got up early so I could write before work, go to work, come back home and write some more. It got so intense; my husband at the time actually became jealous of my novel because I spent more time writing it than talking to him.  He passionately hated my novel, but would brag to others that I had written it.  It is hard for people to understand the total concentration required; the shutting off of everything but this one thing for hours. It seems crazy, like a neurosis. Maybe it is something a creative person could understand but a more traditional sort might have trouble with. Perhaps writers are crazy.

When you, Writer’s Block come in, it is like the fountain has been shut off, and no matter how hard I turn the knob nothing happens. It is like my heart has been removed, but I don’t die, but I am not alive either. It is a horrible stagnant feeling. But most often it just is a sign that I have drifted too far from my authentic self or got caught up in the minutiae of everyday existence.  The day to day grind kills dreams. Too much time worrying about bills, and tasks and what other people are doing or not doing, it removes me further from what I should be doing. It is easy to get caught in this trap, this nonexistent existence.  This killing of time, destroying worlds by not writing them down. Not creating history that will never be real but may really affect someone and speak to a deeper meaning or purpose.

I still feel that Science- Fiction especially lends itself to exploring deep issues with humanity and the world. It is like the ultimate what if scenario, the ultimate sand box experience. You put in hypothetical’s and explore what may happen under specific conditions. Fantasy often lends itself to exploring archetypes and history and the heroic quest. It explores something deeply primal and necessary, the human story.  It looks back while Science-Fiction looks forward. I love them best but have dabbled in suspense/horror as well. It can also explore the human condition and I love a twisted ending.

Part of the joy I get from the short story is the twist or the epiphany you get at the end. It is that sensation that the light has been turned on and now everything makes sense. I like that feeling and I like putting it together. A novel takes a different kind of approach. I knew how I wanted it to start, and I knew how it would end, but the middle only had a few incidents mapped out. A lot of little events became important along the way, and I found myself going on the path less taken often. So often that the novel is a mess, and perhaps a more experienced writer would have recognized the danger signs and know how and when to reign the beast in.  Now it is a massive intimidating behemoth that I am perpetually rewriting.

Sometimes I think I should give up on this dream, and start afresh. But it is hard; I keep finding myself wanting to do justice to those characters I spent so much time with.  I feel I almost owe it to them to get their story published. Their existence depends on people being able to get to know them like I have, and it is my duty as a writer to make them real, and allow people to care about them. So, Writer’s Block, I have no more time in my life for you, pack your bags, you have over stayed your welcome. There is the door, good bye and if I see you again, don’t expect a long stay.