Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt # 12 Good Bye Self Doubt

My Resignation

After years of unhappiness, you’ve finally had enough and have decided to quit—but

we’re not talking about your job. Write a letter of resignation to someone other than your

employer—your school, your family, your favorite sports team, etc.

 

I, Jenny Rae, am herewith writing my resignation notice to my inner critic. After many years of letting you hold me back, tell me I can’t do this, can’t have that, or that I am not good enough. I am finally done. I can do it. I can do whatever I set my mind to. I am the happiest I have been, in the best shape I have ever been in, and am living life, taking risks and not living in fear of what if, or worry.

There is a place for criticism but I will no longer tolerate negative self talk, or artificial limits placed on my abilities. I can publish that novel or another one. I can get an agent. I can live anywhere. I can and will have financial freedom to do what I want to do. I want to experience life without being chained by self doubt, anxiety and worries. I am no longer going to live in fear or doubt.  I will call on you as needed on a freelance basis to improve my writing, but will no longer be a slave to you.   I quit being employed by my self-doubt and disbelief. I can no longer blame any failings on others, and no longer will I be allowing myself to get in my own way.  Good bye self doubt, shut the door on your way out.

Sincerely, Jenny Rae.

Advertisements
Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt #11 Strange Things

The Stranger

You’re walking home from work one night and taking shortcuts through a labyrinth of dark

city alleyways to meet someone on time. Suddenly, a stranger parts the shadows in front of

you, comes close and asks you to hold out your palm. You oblige.

 

I got off the bus reluctantly. I just left my shift at the video store and it was all ready getting dark.  I had agreed to meet a friend at a nearby bar just to say hi. I regret not saving up for a car. I hate walking in the dark. I had only lived in Tacoma for a couple months so there were still a lot of unknown territories and unknown places filled with unknown people with unknown motives. I was alone in the darkness seeing figures raiding the garbage in front of the McDonald’s. I jokingly called them zombies but now in the darkness it didn’t seem so funny.  In all truth it was a sad affair. They were homeless hungry people so terribly hungry that they would lick the used wrappers of an Egg McMuffin for sustenance and here I was making it into a joke.  I felt bad but at the same time a little scared because desperate people can do desperate things. I didn’t want to find out just how desperate they were.

So I heard the bus make its whoosh start up sound and creak away to its next destination up the hill. I started walking, mace in my pocket. I came from a small town, and so had a natural paranoia about the city. And this city wasn’t shiny like Seattle.  This was Tacoma, gritty real, dirty, urban, blue collar. People worked here, lived and died here. Sometimes in the streets sometimes elsewhere.  It had an appeal to it. It wasn’t phony. The city knew what it was. It’s industrial past glory was there for everyone to see; the old factory buildings, the constant jokes about the aroma of Tacoma. The Tacoma Dome, the largest wooden dome in the world or at least in North America was one of the highlights. It had the Glass museum with that fabulous bridge of blue rock candy thingies overlooking the busy highway. Sometimes I would get a bagel and eat there watching the traffic. All those people hurrying about not seeing the beauty. Just in a hurry to get someplace else.

Now I walked briskly past the zombies not looking them in the eye holding my coat tightly across my body.  Cars would occasionally slow down and the driver would call out, “Hey baby, why don’t you get in, I will give you a ride…” Cheesy wink and all. I said no thanks, and kept walking, making sure I wasn’t on the edge, within grabbing reach. I was a woman alone in a strange city full of strangers, trusting no one.   I walked by a policeman arguing with a Puyallup Indian man about how he can’t light the grass on fire, both arguing about rights and who can do what. I kept walking not wanting to get involved. It was none of my business if the fire was lit or not, if the man had a right to religious freedom or not, if it was public property or not.  I just kept walking.  I approach a local convenience store.  Maybe I would get a soda, or some gum. Nope, I saw the man put the metal gate out and turn his sign off. Must be past 10 o’ clock.  Oh well I think. It was getting pretty dark, my keychain had a flash light on it, but still I thought maybe I should cancel and go home, when out of the shadows a man approached me quietly, slowly.

“One moment. Miss Rae is it?”

“How do you know my name? “ I look around behind me; see the store owner was no longer in his window.  I was all alone.

“Hold out your palm.”

For reasons I did not understand I felt a strong compulsion to comply, and held out my hand, palm up.

“That’s better.”  The man drops a beautiful sapphire amulet into my hand. The chain looked old, and heavy, the stone shone in the streetlight, looking black in the darkness except for the gleam of the light which was almost like a beacon in the darkness.

“Are you a friend of Amy’s?” I ask weakly, thinking maybe this had something to do with my friend.

“You won’t be meeting her tonight. Take this home right away. And do not mention this to anyone.”

Now I am thinking this is some criminal enterprise.  An item from a burglary perhaps? I nod to the man. He tips his hat, a greasy baseball cap and goes back into the alleyway, blending into the shadows.  I am left alone on the streets hearing an occasional car and the scurrying of something or someone nearby.  I decide to cross the street and start running, my heart pounding. I just want to go home.  I live in a small building that has a card key required to enter. I swipe it wait for the beep, let myself in, shut the door and race to my room.

This building is old, maybe from the twenties. You could feel it in the creaking of the floor boards, see it in the small rooms. It was an old hotel so the place was a hallway of doors. Old fashioned arched doorways and hints of yesteryear in the wall paper and the feel of the place.

I thought to myself if this place was haunted, I would not be shocked, but that was part of the appeal. It had a hidden ethereal beauty. Like a lot of Tacoma it had a past, and looked back more than forward but it had a history that couldn’t be replicated.  I saw other buildings being torn down and replaced by new condos. Gentrification. It was encroaching, and someday might swallow my beautiful old haunted hotel.  Almost made me cry to think of it. How would the well-to-do condo dwellers deal with the zombies? Would they have them relocated, or locked up? Shoved up the hill into Hill Top? I am sure that community would love that.

Everyone just wants a safe place to raise their kids. I recall the empty yard where the girl was abducted and killed up there. The bus would go by and I could see the memorial grow.  White picket fence and all, and it couldn’t keep the girl safe.  In her own backyard.

I generally bused straight through Hill Top. It was a largely African American community; MLK Street went straight through there.  No doubt in my mind the condo dwellers would push the zombies up there. Not their neighborhood, not their problem. I felt an overwhelming sadness in my heart. For the poor little black girl I didn’t know. For the Zombies who had lived normal lives once, had families, mothers, and fathers. I even felt bad for the condo dwellers, at the same time hoping they would be haunted by the people they were displacing.

People are made out of energy; it cannot be destroyed, merely transferred or moved elsewhere. It has to go somewhere.  It was very common to run into someone on the street or the bus that would be talking to people that weren’t there.  At first I thought I had entered another dimension where Schizophrenia was more commonplace than the flu. But no, it was that Western State Mental Hospital in Stillicum, right next to Tacoma, couldn’t maintain and take care of a lot of its denizens, so the harmless ones were released to fend for themselves. And they ended up on the streets and the buses.

Surely these people had families once, were members of society? At first they were scary like the zombies. But after awhile, I wasn’t afraid anymore.  I realized that what they were experiencing was as real to them as my reality was to me. The old lady who stared at me on the bus. I thought she was staring at me.  When she got off the bus, she started yelling at her invisible friend. That was who she was glaring at. Not me.  I wonder if her friend’s name was Harvey the White Rabbit? Whoever it was, she was angry with it.  And there was the lady who sat on the bus bench rocking back and forth with a radiant smile on her face. I always wondered what she saw that was so amazing. Her reality must be spectacular. She always looked like she was next to heaven. I wouldn’t want to leave that for this reality either I don’t think.

I shut my door, bolting it. I turned on the light and looked around my studio apartment. I sat on a kitchen stool carefully untangling the necklace.  In the light the blue was more noticeable, but it was still a very dark blue, looking at it was how I imagined it would feel like to peer into a black hole. I could feel my soul getting sucked in. The chain had a silvery color to it, and old fashioned silver filigree surrounded the stone which was an oval shape. It was large and heavy. Heavier than the eye felt it should be. Like something magical.  I felt a wave of paranoia strike me, I got up and checked all the windows, rechecked the door.  I even looked under the bed. I was still all alone. What was I going to do with this?

This had to be worth a fortune. I looked at Pooka the Goldfish conspiratorially. He was rescued from the video store, someone dumped him off in one of those Petco bags, and it was warm and filthy. I thought for sure he was a goner. But, even though I knew nothing about fish, and put the poor guy in Tacoma City water, he flourished, and came back to life. It is amazing what a little love can do; especially to the downtrodden and abandoned.

It occurred to me that I completely stood up Amy and this wasn’t the first time. I was a horrible friend. Easily distracted, and painfully anti-social.  I should text her, or maybe even call her. Eh, not now. I had to find a place to put this thing. It almost felt like someone handed me a stolen loaded gun used in a crime. This necklace felt like that, full of dangerous energy.  I do not know why or how, but it was all I could think of. Pooka jumped up and hit the metal grate I was using as a lid for his glass bowl which made a distinct ding. He was telling me, “Feed me.” Only goldfish I knew that demanded food.  I absently put some flakes in and went back to the necklace. I glanced at my phone.  3 missed calls, and a text. “Where are you? Not Again. GGRRR.” Yeah, Amy was used to my unreliableness.

I hear a sudden loud knock at the door. I jump, put the necklace into my pocket and approach the door slowly, looking out the peephole.  It was late, and it was a secured entry apartment building, so who could it be? A neighbor out of milk maybe?

I see the stranger with his baseball cap and tan trench coat.  He had an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, and a steely blank expression in his grey eyes. He looked mean in the hall light. I liked him better in the dark.

“Who is it?” I say trying to project calm into my voice.

“I think you know. You have the item? I’d like it back now.” The man glanced toward the front door of the apartment building with concern and agitation.  “Can we hurry this up? I got someplace I got to be.”

I looked at the man through the peephole, and I knew what he wanted, and I knew he wanted in. I stared at him a while, watched as he got angrier and more anxious. He started pounding on my door demanding entry with a sudden urgency. Then I heard the door to the building open. I heard steps come down the hall. I saw the man go a pale white. All the blood draining from his face.  The next thing I saw I will never forget. It was like the man disappeared before my eyes and I heard a whoosh like the bus going by and he was gone.

The lights flickered for a moment like a giant power surge just happened. I felt something inside me go cold. My left hand was in my pocket, feeling the necklace.  I looked out the peephole again. Everything seemed quiet. I didn’t see the other person nor did I hear steps leaving. Strange. I slowly opened the door after unbolting it. I peeked out into the hallway. I saw an unlit cigarette lying on the floor. Nothing else remained.  I shut my door and re locked it. My heart pounding I pushed the couch against the door, adding as much furniture as I could move. I had to feel safe. Whatever that was it wasn’t going to come in here.

I finally laid down on the bed feeling exhausted. I woke up to my alarm the next day still in my work clothes, looking around at my trashed apartment. Everything was shoved against the door. I felt my hand in my pocket. I felt my other pocket. I checked my jacket. The necklace was gone. But there was no way anyone could have gotten in here.  I retraced my steps. I started moving things back in case it slipped out while I was moving things. I heard a knock at my door again. I looked out the peephole over my couch which was still blocking the door. It was the manager looking concerned. “I am getting complaints about moving furniture in the night, and loud noises. Are you okay in there?”

“Has someone been in here? I mean, this is a secure building right?”

“Miss Rae, you know this is a secure building. You have a key. Sometimes people will let people in when I tell them not to, but otherwise, yes it is. Now what is going on in there?”

“Oh nothing,” I tell her. I couldn’t trust her, I decided. She had a key to the apartment, maybe she took the necklace for all I know. She looks worried but finally leaves. My phone starts ringing; my cell phone also starts going off. I just start yelling stop, stop calling me! I look at the time. It is work; I am supposed to be at work. What is wrong with me? Where did the time go? I have to move this couch out of the way.  I go to move the couch and remember the necklace. Where did it go? Why can’t I find it? I start looking for the necklace again, moving the furniture. It must be here somewhere.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt # 13 The Break Down

Day 13

Breaking Down

A tire blows out as you’re in the car with someone on the verge of his/her own breakdown.

Stuck in a small town, you’re about to do something you haven’t done in years.

 

The tire suddenly went bang. I turned on my turn signal and pulled over to the side of the road.  Henry was in the passenger seat brow furrowed. He had never been mechanically inclined. Another reason my parents never approved of our marriage. The old Toyota had been reliable for a long time. But like all things, there is the day when things suddenly happen. And this explosion had been overdue. Much like Henry’s mood. The grey clouds had been gathering for quite some time.

We decided on this road trip to get away from our troubles.  We had tried so many things. To rekindle the fire to keep the momentum going.  The tire going bang woke me out of my trance like state. Suddenly I had to call AAA and wait.  We were out on the highway, literally the middle of nowhere. The nearest town was unpronounceable.  Lilliwaup or Dosewallips  or something or other. We were trying to get to the ocean.  We were trying to get to somewhere else to find ourselves again.  We were trying.

We were happy once I thought. Before reality hit. Before things became hard. Before we lost what we never really had. Hope for the future.  The promise of a bright future, a career for Henry, a baby for me. Both lost and gone in a moment. Like the tire. But not so easily replaced.

I get out after making the call. Who knew how long we had. The door shuts suddenly loud on the quiet roadside. We were far removed from civilization as we knew it. He said nothing.  “Let’s go for a walk.” I say, reaching out.  He barely looked up.  “Come on, Henry.” I plead, wondering where he was at.

He slowly gets out of the car; I hear the door slam decidedly. It sounded so final his brow still furrowed.  Was it really too late for us? It had only been a couple short years but it seemed like we were all ready very different people.  “ I feel like I don’t know you anymore. Why won’t you talk to me?”

“Maybe I don’t see the point of talking. Talking doesn’t solve anything. Everything is still going to be waiting for us when we come back. All the bills, empty house. Empty crib, more and more bills. “

“I don’t understand why you agreed to this road trip if it was pointless.” My voice became shrill and sharp like a harpy.  I hated how he made me turn into this angry shrill thing. I hated what I had become. Where did the optimism go? Where did we go?

“Maybe I am tired of fighting. Maybe I had a brief glimmer of hope. Maybe I wanted to make you happy. But I think I have hit my limit. You want me to talk about it? Okay. How is this for talking about it? I am done. Done with all this.” He gestured at the trees, and wilderness around us.

“What are you saying?” I get concerned not sure if he is talking divorce, or something more. I detect edginess to his voice; a grief that scares me. I didn’t recognize this person in front of me. Was he always this way? Or did I somehow make him like this? Maybe we were slowly killing each other?

“What are you saying?”  I look at my phone. Maybe I should call someone? I was still waiting for AAA. “Come on let’s walk a bit. Maybe we are close to someplace we can eat, while we wait.” I note the marker the car is parked near, and grab hold of his hand and we start walking. He goes silent again, not answering my question.

I know something is wrong, perhaps something had been wrong for a long time and I was blind to it. Maybe I didn’t want to see it. The string of jobs he couldn’t keep. The sudden desire to sleep in, and go to bed early. The listlessness. You would have thought he lost the baby. I had to be strong for both of us. I had to figure out how to pay the bills.

The hospital bill was the hardest. A reminder of what could have been. What was hoped for? But, no I couldn’t crumble. I wasn’t allowed to crumble. I resented him for that. For not allowing me to be the victim. For being greedy with the grief. For forcing me to be strong. I wanted to fall apart too, I thought to myself.  It was unfair. I sounded like a spoiled child. A child, I sighed at my own thoughts.

I cannot escape reality for long. I heard the crumble of asphalt under my boots and it seemed so loud all of sudden. A flurry of quail exploded in the near bushes scared off by our walking. A café was up ahead, a sort of greasy spoon café that preyed on stuck and lost travelers the way a spider waits for flies.  We walk up to it in silence bringing our pain and loss following us like an ever present shadow that won’t go away.

A sign with western style lettering says ‘Please seat yourself’ and so we do. We take a couple bar stools at the long wooden counter. I answer for both of us, “A couple Dr Pepper’s please, and we are waiting on AAA.” The waitress looks at me like I’m crazy. “Nothing to eat, dear?” I see her glance at my morose husband who says nothing. “Maybe a slice of your apple pie,” I point on the menu. She nods in approval walks into the back and comes back with the sodas and two plates and a big slice of pie.

I take a bite gingerly. “Mm. This is really good. Go ahead, Henry. You should try some. This is more than I can eat.”

“Naw, you go ahead. I know you can eat for two.” That hits me like a slap in the face. I look at him in astonishment. “Uh, what?”

“You heard me. I’m done here.” He gets up and walks out. I watch him in confusion. Where could he possibly go? And why the cruelty? The pie turns to ash in my mouth. I find I can no longer eat it. I leave some cash on the counter and run out after him wanting a confrontation. Wanting to yell at him and hit him. I was beyond frustrated.

“Henry! Where are you going?” I look around. I don’t see him. Part of me wants to let him go. Sometimes I think it would be easier to start over than to fix the mess that we created. My cell starts buzzing, I answer. “Yes, flat tire. Yeah, I’ll be right there. I’m at this Café. Yeah. I’ll be right there.” They were at our car. Probably the only car in the area so not hard to find.  I look around but Henry seems to have disappeared. I yell, “Okay, this isn’t funny. I am going back to the car. AAA is there changing the tire.  You know, doing what you should be able to do. So, I hope you are going to the car and not sulking like some gawd damn baby.”

I regret it as soon as I say the word. It was too late, it had left my mouth. I stomped to the car angry at him the whole way. I signed the forms and the AAA guy thanked me and left.  I got in the car slamming the door as loud as I could, started the engine, turned on the radio as loud as I could handle. It was playing Adele with a ton of static. Not the greatest listening experience but I wanted to have the biggest tantrum ever.  I see a couple police cruisers drive up sirens on. I turn the radio off, and look at them and they look at me.

“Ma’am, we have a report of someone who was seen jumping off the cliff side. Did you see anything? We got a call from the Café up the road?”  The ocean was far down the road. We wanted to get to the ocean. Down the winding upward road, you could see it. The sparkling water so near yet so far away.

“Someone jumped? Down there?” I looked over the side of the road; there was a metal railing to protect cars from driving off.  I felt a sharp pain in my heart like a part of me died somewhere down there.  “I guess you better talk to the people at the café. I didn’t see anything here.”My voice was shaky but firm.  I watched as the police continued up the road.  I got ready to turn the car around. It was time to go back home.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt #10 The Dollar

I wandered the mall trying to find that elusive unique gift. You know that one that no one thought they really needed, but after they have it they can’t live without it? That unique I know you better than you know yourself type of gift. I roamed Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Kohl’s, and several little boutiques. Every time something called out to me, at the last second it just didn’t seem to fit.  I knew Charlee loved colors. Especially colors that made her think of spring. Fresh flowers and that sort of thing.

I was thinking maybe scarf, you can’t have too many of those and you didn’t have to worry about sizes. Or maybe a hat, or a belt. Or maybe a perfume? But, then maybe that is too personal. I could be way off on the scent and then I would experience that awkward, “You really shouldn’t have…” With the expression that says, yeah, like, you really shouldn’t have…” Literally, not tongue in cheek.

Same with dresses. So much could go wrong. I would save the receipt, no matter what I decided. No repeats of last year. The silence was deafening as she looked at the egg plant colored rain coat. Yeah, you shouldn’t have…thought I would ever, ever wear that. Lesson learned. Don’t go too quirky, don’t go too boring. Remember the beige sweater? Who could not like a neutral sweater? Apparently Charlee.  Another year I got her a coffee mug. Problem was, so did her best friend. The year of the coffee cups taught me to try to find something no one else would think of. But at the same time not to go too far off in left field. Remember the rain coat became my new mantra.

Finally I settle on this tiny shop next to the perfume store. It looked like As-Seen-On-TV mixed with random nick-knacks like hello kitty clocks and waving animal solar powered dealies. You’ve seen them in windows and on car windows. Dancing daisies and stuff like that.  I see one of the Felix the cat clocks give me the side eye as it was ticking reminding me I was running out of time.  I went to a corner that had fortune stuff, lucky bamboo shoots in little porcelain jars next to banzai plant kits. Hmm. She would probably kill that poor plant before the month was out. I couldn’t have that death on my conscious.

My eyes went to a little book shelf. One book stood out. It was a dark purple color, kind of a velveteen material. In gold lettering it said Be What You Want to Be. Hmm. Sounds self-help-like. But she likes that sort of thing. It looks good to have a few books like that lying around. Makes you seem like you are working on yourself.  It was risky though. What if the purple is too much like egg plant? What if she reads it and hates it, and then decides she hates me? I am terrible at this. So I decide to open the book and see what it says inside.  I flip through it. To my amazement, it is empty. So, it is a journal maybe? The future is unwritten sort of thing? I decide she would like the soft velvet cover; maybe it would inspire her to journal.

I pick it up and take it to the counter which was a long glass affair with random porcelain figurines inside.  Future thrift shop memorabilia I think. Isn’t that where all this stuff ends up in the end? If it doesn’t go straight to some giant land fill somewhere of forgotten treasures. I briefly am reminded of the land of forgotten toys from the old clay-mation holiday cartoon. Was it Rudolph or one of the others? The thought is gone as quickly as it came. Dancing Jack-in –the-Box and all the other misfit toys. Gone. Half remembered but not important enough to keep in the movie, or my memory.

I hand the cashier, a grey haired lady with thick glasses, a twenty dollar bill. She opens the register with a bell ring and gives me the change, a ten, a five, and two ones plus miscellaneous change.  She reminds me of the old lady on the packages of Grandma’s cookies. She just seems like that sort of old lady. I take my change and notice one of the ones has something written on it. I figure it is one of those “Follow George” from this website and don’t think much of it. I put them hurriedly in my pocket and leave the store. I go to my car, place the little lavender bag with the book on the passenger seat as I start the car up. I sigh, just enough time to get to the party. Charlee all ready hates it when I am late, and I am late most of the time. Time management is not my strength.

I pull up to the nice three bedroom house with perfectly manicured landscaping. A house I helped pay for but rarely spent time in. I could see the balloons from here and the other cars lining the drive way. Last but not least I hope. Purple is still her favorite color isn’t it? Kids grow up way too fast these days. It used to be so easy, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake or something like that. Maybe it was Carebears and Rainbow Brite?  The years tend to run together now, and now I am unsure of my present.

I get out of the car, clutching the bag, oh crap. I didn’t wrap it. I’m an idiot. I rummage in my glove compartment, find a gift bag for just such emergencies and at the last second, maybe I should put money in the card I all ready bought and signed. I get out my change, and look at the one dollar bill again.  The words on the bill gave me a chill. I looked out my open car door uncertainly.  The bill said in carefully boxed letters, “I am watching you. If you want Charlee to get her present meet me at 4th and Pine. “It didn’t say when. The party was about to begin. I couldn’t help but wonder how this ended up on this bill. Charlee was a fairly unique name for a girl with an uncommon spelling. What would be the chances and how would the person know about the present?

I wrapped the present, and left it on the door step. I had to figure out what this was about. I looked around suspiciously.  Was I being watched? How was this possible? I shakily got back in my car, a beat up old Honda Civic from the nineties and backed out of the drive way. Charlee will hate me. But if there is a psycho following me I can’t have them around her. I should go to the police. There has to be a logical explanation. I drive to 4th and Pine Street. It is quiet. There is a small park there with a few derelict swing sets and playground equipment. It looks creepy empty. Like the pictures of the Chernobyl Ferris wheel years after the nuclear meltdown but not in such bad shape. Just frozen in time, waiting for the ghosts of children to come and play.

I had missed my share of birthday parties but never for such a bizarre reason. Usually I missed them because of work, or stupidity. Yes, stupidity. I always regretted it.  I sighed. I got out slowly looking around. I walked to the fence, checking my cell phone. I saw the missed call and text messages. ‘Where are you? Don’t you know how important this is to her?!?! Whats wrong with you???’ It was a valid question.  I kept one hand on it, so I could hit the emergency button. I didn’t know what I was walking into, but I had the uneasy feeling it was like Alice in Wonderland. And I had no idea how deep this rabbit hole was going to be.