Setting aside my desires for yours.
Never wanting you to fail.
Putting you with twenty years of the same thing.
Hurting when you hurt.
Stopping everything to help you.
Being afraid for someone else.
Not giving up, when it looks like all hope is gone.
There comes a time when we become broken angels dancing in our own tears.
Hoping to cover up the pain, but drowning instead.
They say write raw
Write untarnished, write purple with fear,
Write your words the way they quiver on your fingertips
Write your adrenaline into page after page of slanted handwriting and ink blots
Write yourself empty, write heavenly,
And place your palms and nose and chest and feet on the infinities of self-release
Write your breath into rude interruptions, jagged on the tide of thought
Write your hands crossed against your chest
Write your tide, until it breaks, or until it recedes and leaves the shoreline barren and breathless,
And when you fall into its absence,
Write your place in the sand.
Do you ever notice
The good people always dying
The ones who go beyond life
It doesn't make sense
Seems to me evil gets to live longer
The innocent vanish
The great beings parish
For no reason
Life seems backwards to me
Take the evil out
Let the good ones live
Maybe we should all be evil
An evil person always exceeds
Infiltrating the good with poison
While the good ones die
K.j.a. (c) 2017
Yes, the dishes are piled up,
The laundry isn't done,
No, dinner is not made
The house is a mess,
The groceries still on a list,
The bills not mailed,
But, you better not say a word,
You better not make a sound,
For the baby is sleeping!!
Rebecca and the Renegade
Mamalachgook did not resist. Rebecca could feel his left hand move across her shoulder
blade to the middle of her back. His right hand cradled her head gently. He pressed her
to him until her breasts touched her chest. As Mamalachgook stroked her back with his
hand, she tingled as the blood rushed through her body. The pleasure of Mamalachgook's
lips transformed her to a state of euphoria. Rebecca was aware of nothing else but
Mamalachgook and the sweet sensation of pleasure, which pulsed through her. Hers was
an experience like none she ever had felt before. Rebecca found her hands running up
and down the hard muscles of Mamalachgook's back. She instinctively felt that this man
had the power to protect her - to keep her safe.
As desire swelled within her, a sense of shame suddenly gripped her. What was she
doing? What was it she wanted to do? The strange arousal of her private most being
shocked her. She pushed herself away from Mamalachgook, panting heavily.
"1, I ... well it's the first time 1," Rebecca tried to speak.
She looked at Mamalachgook. He looked as though he were flushed, in spite of the
bronze tone of his body. Strangely enough, Rebecca noticed he was panting. Did she
have the sarne effect on him as he had on hefi The thought that she might have such
power over him filled her with pride. Mamalachgook now held her by the hands. Her
fingerc could feel his calloused palms.
'l liked that very much," Mamalachgook spoke.
"As did l,' Rebecca confessed. Mamalachgook said nothing more. lnstead he began to
pull Rebecca toward him again. She began to float toward him, mesmerized by those
dark native eyes. The feeling of shame took over this time. She pulled away.
"No, Mamalachgook, it's not right," she protested.
"V1/hat's not righf?" Mamalachgook responded.
'To kiss each other, to be intimate as we ju$t were," Rebecca explained.
"Why?" The single word question stung Rebecca.
"My mother taught me it is not right to kiss a man unless I be betrothed to him.'
"What does this'betrothed' mean?" "|t means that he has asked me to marry him and I
have accepted. That we have entered an engagement period." Rebecca explained.
'You are right. You are promised to another.'Mamalachgook answered, as he releases
her hands and straightened up.
$tillfeeling the bliss of the pastfew moments, Rebecca blurted out 'But if lwere to marry
"What are you tatking about? I cannot take you as a wife. I must take you to the sachem.
Come, lefs go." Mamalachgook responded gruffly taking Rebecca by the upper arm and
shoving her in the direction of their destination.
Rebecca picked up her bundle and turned toward the trail. Mamalachgook's sudden
roughness convinced her - he wanted her" lntuitively, Rebecca felt her destiny lay with
this man. As she walked along the trail she began to visualize what a life with
Mamalachgook might entail. Could she marry him? How? Would it be an lndian ceremony
or a proper church wflding? No, sfre couldn't marry him. He was a heathen. Surely, God
would not bless the unian af a Christian and a nonbeliever.
Her thoughts then turned to what lay ahead. tMhat would become of her if Mamalachgook
detivered her ta the sachem? Would he torture her until she submitted to him? Then what?
Would she be farced ta bear his children? Rebecca looked back at Mamalachgook. Right
now, the view behind looked infinitely more desirable than what she envisioned ahead.
The trail widened for a time and Mamalachgook came up abreast of her. Rebecca
reached over and took his hand.
"Mamalachgook," she began.
"Why don't we become betrothed?" Rebecca suggested.
"You mean that I should take you as my wife?"
Mamalachgook responded. Rebecca could feelthe palm of his hand began to sweat. She
squeezed it to reassure him.
.Well we would have to have a proper period of engagement,' Rebecca continued.
Mamalachgook stared at her sternly but remained silent. Then he tumed back and stared
blankly down the trail as though wishing to ignore the words he'd just heard.
'Am I an unpleasant companion?' Rebecca probed.
"Do you like me?'
"Then why not ask me?'
"Ask you what?"
'lf lwill marry you?'
"Because I must do my duty to my sachem, or I cannot return to my people."
"We could go to Fort Pitt - just the two of us. After a proper engagement we could get
maruied by a minister there.'
Rebecca, although uncertain whether she should really marry Mamalachgook, hoped she
could convince him to abandon the journey they now undertook. She decided to use her
feminine whiles to help convince Mamalachgook. Stopping, she tugged on his hand.
When Mamalachgook tumed to face her, Rebecca threw both her arms around his neck
and pulled him to her kissing him hard on the lips. As Rebecca released her grip,
Mamalachgook staggered back and nearly fell. Then he put one hand to his head in a
.l suppose I could ask the sachem if I could take you for my wife,'he said.
"Would you?" Rebecca responded, then quickly kissed him again as though trying to seal
that thought in his head.
"Alright, we shall return to the village,' Mamalachgook answered.
The trip back to the village seemed to take no time at all. Along the way back,
Mamalachgook talked of nature and hunting. He spoke the Lenape names for the plants
and birds they encountered and Rebecca did her best to repeat the words after him.
Mamalachgook laughed as Rebecca butchered his language; but seemed not at all
The sun had disappeared into the trees by the time they came upon the camp. At the
outskirts Rebecca could see the squaws busy with preparing the evening meal and a
group of men were erecting a new hut. By the time they had gone twenty paces within the
camp, however, they had drawn a crowd of curious spectators. Ahead, the Chief was
coming out of his hut, apparently to see what the commotion was about. When the chief
glanced their direction his face scowled and pace quickened. He made straight for
"Why have you returned with the woman?" he asked.
"lwould like to take her as my own." Mamalachgook answered.
'And wlrat do you propose to gire me for her?" the chief asked.
"l have some 12 beaver skins from the hunt last winter," Mamalachgook answered.
Whisper (first two chapters)
Sofia stared over the head springs, the water misty with a morning haze. Her tears mingled with the raindrops and landed in the waters of Itori Springs in the heart of central Florida. A gator glided across the surface without a sound as cormorant cries echoed along the banks of the river. Time seeped by as she searched for the same answers that she would never find. Maybe the pain will stop if I jump in and never surface.
The slow drizzle strengthened so she sank into a chair and listened to the ping against the roof of the covered deck. The rhythmic beat put Sofia in a trance, her eyes wide open yet not seeing a thing.
The accident had changed it all, taking away her love, her future… almost her life.
A voice interrupted her reverie. “You doing okay this morning, ma’am?”
The park ranger glanced toward the sky. “This rain’s supposed to get worse before it gets any better.”
An awkward silence ensued. Sofia ignored him until he finally walked away. He glanced back at her before driving off in his golf cart.
Her fingers traced the inscription on the railing next to her. ‘Release, Receive’. The short and simple motto of the springs.
What good is it if it never comes true? I’ve released thousands of tears into this spring and received nothing.
A rustle in the bushes caused her to turn in time to see a big white dog burst out of the bushes, dragging a leash attached to its collar. A white pit bull, with black scattered across its face and back like chocolate chips, headed straight toward the bank along the water.
“Uh oh.” Sofia jumped up out of her chair and took a look behind the dog. Several people ran in the dog’s direction, but they were still a long ways off.
“Holy hell!” She ran to the edge of dock to see a white head bobbing in the water, chasing one of the water birds. Sofia looked to where the park ranger had driven off. Typical. Nowhere around when I actually need him.
She ran to the bank, hollering for the dog. She cussed as she sank in the thick mud along the shore. “And this is why I mind my own business.” A huge sucking sound mocked her as she lifted her foot. “Nice. Real friggin nice. At least I didn’t lose my shoe.” She watched the dog as it paddled around as if on a normal, everyday swim. “Dog! Can you get back over here?”
It turned, but suddenly went under. Sofia’s heart thudded in her chest as she fought to breathe. Terror clawed its way up her spine as she remembered the alligator. The dog surfaced with the leash taut on its collar. It thrashed wildly before going under again. In the clear water, Sofia saw the leash tangled around a fallen tree.
Where’s help? With a final glance behind her and seeing no one, Sofia sucked in her breath. I can’t just watch you die. She pulled her feet free and half belly flopped, half dove in, visions of the large gator circling through her mind. She swam to the dog and grabbed it from behind as it surfaced again.
“It’s okay, baby. I’ve got you.” She grabbed the leash and pulled, but it didn’t budge. The dog was yanked from her grasp as the current pulled it under again.
Sofia dove under, this time aiming for the dog’s neck. She managed to get the leash unclipped from the collar and helped propel the dog to the surface. She spit and sputtered as wet fur and a warm tongue attacked her face as she struggled to catch her breath.
“Get off me, ya drowned rat.” She put her hand in front of her face and flat palmed the dog’s nose. “Come on or we’re both gator bait.” With her arm around the dog’s torso in a semi-bear hug, they swam back to the bank.
A woman sank in the mud as she tried to reach for the dog. Sofia slid her hand between collar and dog and curled her fingers around the purple leather. She and Phoebe struggled through the mud. The woman also grabbed the collar, and the three stumbled up into the grass where others waited.
"I'm so sorry," the lady apologized as she pushed a strand of gray hair out of her face, "that you had to play lifeguard. Thank you so much for saving her! Phoebe ran off when Kady let go of her leash." She let go of the collar so the dog could lie down.
Sofia flipped her wet hair out of her face as she sank to the ground. She wiped the trickling water from her face with her free hand. "Kady sick of taking care of her dog?" Sofia asked snarkier than she intended. She watched the tall, plump woman tuck the errant strand into the dark bun on the back of her head.
The lady raised a brow, her deep brown eyes piercing Sofia. "Phoebe is a shelter dog. I'm Linda, the shelter manager. We bring a load of dogs from the facility on Sundays and volunteers walk them for a couple hours. Our bus is staged on the other side of the park." She pulled another leash from her fanny pack and clipped it to Phoebe’s collar, then handed it to Sofia.
Locked in a cage, unable to escape, just like me. Her fingers ruffled Phoebe's fur. And I’m not about to admit that I never leave this dock so I have no idea what she’s talking about.
Sofia’s attitude preceded her. “Well if she’s just going to let the dog run free, maybe Kady should give up volunteering.” She fidgeted with the leash, already exhausted from the mere interaction.
“Kady’s only six years old,” Linda replied with some attitude of her own. “And she’s…. special… so she walks this particular dog. Phoebe understands Kady and has never run off like that.”
Sofia softened at the mention of a child. “Maybe six is a little young to be responsible for a full-size dog?”
“You’d have to understand the circumstances.”
Not my circus, not my monkeys. Just hand over the leash, pat the dog, and walk away. She stood and wiggled her wrist, entangled in the leash.
Phoebe had other ideas. She sauntered away from the women, pulling enough that the leash stayed taut so Sofia couldn't free herself.
As her clothes and shoes squished and squashed with each step, Sofia almost jogged to keep up with the dog’s pace as they headed to the staging area. A Neuter Commuter bus used for transportation sat off to the side.
People milled around with all kinds of dogs who pulled and jumped in their excitement to be out of their cages.
A petite little girl with blond pony tails sat by herself at a picnic table near the sign-in table, a large umbrella semi-protecting her from the rain. Two park rangers stood nearby. Phoebe went straight to the table and put her head in a little girl’s lap, who bent down to rest her face against the top of the wet dog’s head.
“I guess you’re Kady.”
No response. The little girl didn’t even acknowledge her. She snuggled deeper, her long hair cascading over the dog’s face like a wig.
“You really should be more careful with dogs. You can’t just let them go.” Sofia undid a final tangle and got the leash off her wrist.
Not even a flicker of acknowledgment.
Annoyance rose. “I’m Sofia. I had to jump in the springs and save Phoebe after she chased a duck.”
At that, Kady peeked at her, almost in surprise. The girl’s bright blue eyes matched her own. They assessed her soggy appearance in a second before she looked back at her hands.
“Keep a hold of it so she doesn’t run off again.” Since the girl’s head stayed down, Sofia fit the leash over the girl’s tiny wrist. Kady’s fingers curled around it, but otherwise, she didn’t move.
A park ranger approached and handed Sofia a towel. “Great job saving the dog.”
With a slight smile, Sofia dried herself. “I’ve always wanted to swim in the springs.” And I’ve already talked to more people in the last fifteen minutes than I have in the last year. She turned and headed back toward the dock. “I’ll bring your towel back to you.”
Sofia hadn't made it far when she heard Linda. “You know, if you can’t control the dog, you shouldn’t hold the leash. She dragged you all the way across the park.”
“Touché, sarcastic comment duly noted.”
“Would you be interested in walking a dog?" Linda gestured toward the bus.
“No thanks. Besides – it’s pouring down rain. And while I’m already soaking wet, why are you all out here?”
“These dogs anticipate this time outside their cages all week. Rain or shine, they don’t care.”
Sofia scoffed. "I'm as damaged as they are. Not much to look forward to soo.... no, this misery doesn't need company."
Linda smiled gently. "At least the dogs still have hope and an immeasurable amount of love to give."
"Well, I don't, and I'd hate to depress them. So again, no thank you." She headed back to the dock. Keep your pity away from me.
Sofia stopped on the dock and shook her head as she saw her sister walk toward her. Frannie twirled a large umbrella, her pixie cut hair floating with each gust of wind, like a character out of Singing in the Rain.
So much for going straight home and getting dry. Annoyed by her inability to escape people, Sofia sank into a chair and waited for the inquisition.
“Hey, sis!” Frannie had moved from their hometown of Pine Bluff in New York a couple weeks earlier to be closer and offer unsolicited moral support. “What the hell happened to you?”
“Oh joy, my stalker’s awake early. And observant even.” Sofia swiped the towel across her head. “I decided to take aqua-aerobics early today.”
“Ouch, such sarcasm. One, it’s almost noon,” Frannie sat in one of the dock’s rocking chairs, “two, if I were a stalker, you wouldn’t see me, and three, even I know you’re not allowed to swim in the springs.”
“So very observant…” She wrapped her long hair in the towel, then rolled her eyes at Frannie’s questioning look. “A dog named Phoebe decided to take a dip and needed rescuing. If you must know.” In as few words as possible, Sofia reiterated the recent events, including the encounter with Kady.
Frannie stuck her tongue out. “So the hermit cares about four legged creatures and little girls. Now if we could just get you to interact with the two-legged adult variety instead of disappearing to this place all the time, which is gorgeous even with the rain.”
“I don’t disappear. I know exactly where I am.”
“Unfortunately, our crystal balls didn’t work in New York so we never knew. You won’t even carry your cell phone with you.”
Sofia sighed and bowed her head. “You’re not leaving, are you?”
“No, ma’am. Right here if you need to talk.”
They listened to the rain. After a few minutes, Frannie couldn’t keep quiet. “It’s peaceful here, I’ll give you that. Even with the rain.”
“This is where Phillip proposed.”
Frannie softened. “So, you come here every day to remember the happy.”
Tears sparkled as Sofia observed at her sister. “I can’t remember happy. I can barely remember Phillip. It’s like every day he fades just a little more and I can’t stop it. I come here, wait for the pain to go away, and see the Park Rangers stare and whisper. Every day they greet me and I wait for one of them to trot on over and say ‘hey, we’re curious, what’s your story?’ Nothing ever changes.”
“It’s their job to be friendly.”
Heat flooded Sofia’s face. “Their job is to make sure I’m not swimming in the springs or feeding the gators.” She scrutinized her clothes. “Or make sure I’m not food for the gators. Their job is to mow the grass and trim the bushes, not play shrink to the psycho lady who sits on the dock.”
“Maybe you’re overreacting.”
“And maybe you should just go back to Pine Bluff.”
“Sof, you can’t blame yourself because you survived and Phillip didn’t.”
Sofia felt like an ice truck had just slammed into her. “How dare you.”
Frannie straightened her shoulders. “I dare because while you have survivor guilt, I have guilt for going back north after taking you home from rehab. I never should have left you then but I thought you were okay. You have avoided anything that resembles human interaction since your release. You can’t shut everyone out forever because of what happened – your life didn’t end and Phillip would not want you like this.”
“So you’re here because you’re guilty? And don’t you dare tell me what Phillip would want. Go home. I don’t want you here.”
Frannie’s face crumpled. “I was just tryi—“
New tears flowed as Sofia rubbed her eyes. “Quit trying. I don’t have it in me to be nice.”
“I’m your sister, it’s okay.”
“He died,” Sofia whispered, “he died and left me. He was always supposed to be there for me.”
They headed home, windows down, radio loud, warm breeze against their sun-tanned skin. They wore the afterglow of a happy honeymoon and their first two weeks of marriage.
Phillip sang along to the radio, his off-key voice making the song his own. His sunglasses gave him a Hollywood superstar look. “You be my glass of tea, I’ll take you to the sea…”
Sofia joined in. “You’ll be my sugar bear, I’ll wear your underwear….”
Phillip turned down the volume. “You already do.”
“As long as you don’t wear mine.”
“Do you know how much I love you, my wife?”
Sofia beamed. “I love you more, my….. PHILLIP!”
A bear stood on the highway. Phillip yanked the wheel toward the shoulder of the road. The front tire caught the edge of the road and the car rolled.
Metal screeched and tore away, their bodies jolted, tree branches cracked and popped. A horrendous thud.
A group of dog walkers came down the sidewalk behind the dock. The dogs sniffed and pulled and their walkers laughed and got dragged along in their rain ponchos. She didn’t see Phoebe.
One of the walkers turned toward the others and a gust of wind blew the hood back. Sofia straightened in her chair as a pang of recognition jolted through her before he turned away.
Is that -- ? Her heart caught a beat of dusty emotion as the memory of a lost love stirred.
“What are you staring at?” Frannie craned her neck.
“That guy looks like… no it couldn’t be.” Sofia settled back into her chair.
“Do you remember Brandon, my friend from high school?”
Frannie laughed. “How could I forget him. Dad hated him.”
Sofia frowned. “Yeah, and I still have no idea why.”
“You two were pretty hot and heavy from what I remember.”
Guilt knifed its way through Sofia’s heart. “Well, anyways, there’s no way it could have been.”
“Maybe you should go check.”
Sofia snarled. “My husband died. I really don’t need to be sitting here reminiscing about an old boyfriend from a hundred years ago.”
“Phillip died, Sofia. Not you. And it’s been almost two years.”
“Let it go.”
Frannie rose and stretched. “Fine. Can we go get lunch now?”
With a final impulsive peek at the walker’s back, aggravation propelled Sofia out of her chair. “Fine! Whatever. We’ll go get lunch. I need to take a shower anyhow.”
Frannie threw her arms up in surrender. “Whoa, don’t give me attitude. I gave you your time but I’m hungry.”
“Oh, I forget that we’re obviously on your schedule now. What I want is irrelevant.”
Unscathed, Frannie hugged her. “You come down here, day in and day out. You need to go back to work, read a book, start painting again – find something better to do. Phillip’s insurance left you financially secure and your house was already paid off.”
Tears rolled down Sofia’s cheeks. “Phillip never even got to live in that house. I told him that we didn’t have to wait until after the wedding, but he insisted.”
“It’s okay to be sad, Sofia. You just can’t make living in regret a lifestyle. Take advantage of the blessing that Phillip helped create and do whatever you want.”
“And if I don’t?”
“You can’t just mope down here all day.”
“I know you’re my sister and it’s your job to be a pain in the ass, but watch how hard you push.”
Frannie spun around and marched away. “Forget it. Sit here in your wet clothes and pout.”
Great. Now I pissed her off. Sofia followed her sister’s retreating form. Why can’t they all just leave me alone? She resisted the urge to check the dog bus area again.
Sofia groaned when she stepped out of the shower and heard Frannie on the phone. Sure enough, the phone was thrust in her face when she came down the hall.
"No, Mom, I'm not coming back to New York." Sofia glared at her sister and resisted the urge to throw the phone out the front door.
"But honey, you could help us out with Pine Bluff. You know you like getting your hands dirty."
She would use the family business as a motivator.
Helen and Giovanni Santini started ‘Sprouts’ long before Sofia’s birth and had worked it into its current success. Helen knew Sofia loved the nursery and greenhouse as much as they did, and they had hoped to pass the business down to her one day. Sofia’s decision to attend college in Florida devastated them, especially after she met Phillip and planted roots.
"Maybe so, but I'm not leaving my home to come up there now. Why don't you and dad come here? Hey, I know! Why don't you come down for six weeks or so and stay with Frannie? I'm sure she can use the help to arrange her new apartment."
You bitch! Frannie mouthed at her as she sat on the couch with the remote, flipping through the channels with the television on mute.
Her mother droned on and on about things that could make her happy. Sofia fought to pay attention. She paced, but froze as she caught sight of the television where Frannie had stopped on a television movie classic.
Brandon had rolled his eyes at her as he saw Dirty Dancing on the television for the umpteenth time as they hung out for the afternoon at a friend’s house. Sofia raised her brow in silent question, popcorn midway to her mouth.
“How many times are you going to watch the same movie?” he mocked her.
“Until I know it by heart…oh wait, I already do.” Sofia rose from the couch and pirouetted across the room. She stopped to bat her eyelashes as him.
Brandon grabbed her arms. “Spaghetti arms.” He poked her arm. “Straighten that back. You need to be a picture frame.”
She laughed at his intentional screw up of the dialog and snapped to attention in a tight manner. “Yes, Sir. Forgive me, Sir.”
Brandon pushed her two steps back and yanked her three steps forward to make the dance into a game. Sofia giggled and let her arms go limp so she could stagger into him. She kissed him on the cheek and once again straightened her frame.
Sofia stumbled as Brandon let go of her mid-swing so he could sashay in an exaggerated solo. She giggled as he turned his back to her and wiggled his butt before pointing at her and using his finger to motion her over.
“Get over here, my dancing queen.”
She fanned her face in mock modesty and curtsied before she flew into his arms.
Giving her a twirl, Brandon pulled her close and dipped her low. As he pulled her up, their lips met.
Startled, Sofia dropped the phone. It clattered to the floor and her mother squealed.
“I need… to… go...” Sofia raced down the hallway and slammed her bedroom door before the threatened tears spilled over. Her back against the door, she sank to the floor and wrapped her arms around her knees. Where the hell did that come from? Why would I even think about Brandon?
“Sorry, Mom, I don’t know what happened other than Sofia dropped the phone. One minute she’s talking to you, the next minute she’s a million miles away.”
Frannie’s muted voices grated on Sofia’s nerves. She crawled up on her bed where her pillow offered sanctuary from the unwanted noise. Going back to New York was not an option.
Sofia pulled the comforter over her head when she heard ‘goodbye’.
Frannie barged in and flopped down next to her. “Mom said you should help me with my apartment because they can’t come down right now.”
Can I suffocate myself with my own pillow?
“And, Dad says you’ve had enough time to get your shit together or he’ll come down here to personally kick your ass.”
A ghost of a grin haunted Sofia’s lips from within her bed linen tomb. Being a man of action in his sixties, Sofia believed he would do exactly as he threatened.
“If that’s the case, then I still have the time it takes super dad to fly into town.”
Frannie pulled at the blanket. “What made you freak out there?”
Sofia closed her eyes and held the covers tight. “You stopped on Dirty Dancing. That was always mine and Brandon’s movie back in the day.”
“Wow, you really are thinking about him.”
“It’s weird. I haven’t thought about him since I moved to Florida. Then one guy who resembled him brings back all these memories.” Is that true? Have I ever really not thought about Brandon? Sofia squeezed her eyes tight.
“It’s not the end of the world, you know. Come on, Sof, cheer up a little bit and have a heart. I’m bored.”
With a huge exaggerated sigh, Sofia strong armed her blankets to her side and sent her pillow flying. “Fine, you little brat. What do you want to do?”
“Woo hoo, I win. Let’s go shopping.”
Sofia wondered how she had never killed her little sister. Almost five years apart, Frannie idolized her big sister. They had grown up working together in the nursery, which gave the girls a lot of together time.
Two hours later, Sofia reached into her purse for the Excedrin bottle. Although exhausted, overwhelmed, and defeated, she plastered on a happy face and played along to the tune of a good time.
To make Frannie happy, or so the report back to mom and dad is that I enjoyed myself?
In reality, she couldn’t wait to escape and retreat back into her safe little world.
~~~to be continued~~~
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Range: 16 - 116
Word Count: Approximately 82,500
My project is a good fit because it doesn’t follow the basic format of romance, which tends to be “those fighting at the beginning end up together at the end”.
Hook: Bad experiences do not create a bad life. The heart is regenerative in spirit and needs to remain open to love. My daughter says my stories are reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks, complete with the tears.
Brief Synopsis: An escaped shelter dog leads an emotionally reclusive woman to an equally damaged little girl living in foster care, and nothing can prepare either of them for the changes they are about to embark upon. When an unknown assailant tries to destroy their blossoming happiness, a detective - who happens to be an unrequited love from the past - must keep them safe. How far will a woman go to protect a child, and can a detective and four legged heroes save their dreams of becoming a family?
Target audience: Those who want to escape into a story and let the world pass them by for a bit.
Bio: Lorah Jaiyn started to focus on her writing career after developing a nasty case of empty nest syndrome. Her fiction has appeared online in various e-zines and in several print anthologies. Lorah has novels-in-progress that cover multiple genres, each blended with a romantic element. She spends her days behind a desk, and writes in the evenings while entertained by her muse and greatest distraction, Cena, her Jack Russell terrier. She enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors, being a mom and Gramma, and is a total Hallmark Channel addict. Lorah can be found on facebook.com/lorahjaiyn and Twitter @writerlorahj.
Platform: Personal appearances wherever possible, including art shows, Comic Cons, canine events, and local and regional bookstores. I have a very active group on Facebook, Lorah’s Lair, that expands to include the audiences of other artists and writers.
Education: While I don’t have a great deal of formal education, I do have a lifetime of real life experience, which my stories and characters reflect accurately. I am 48 years old from Jamestown, NY, and ‘Whisper’ is my first full length novel, but it will not be my last. I have several already in various stages of completion. I am a very sociable, friendly person who enjoys creating an escape from the drabs of real life for readers.
The man in the mirror
The sea lived in those eyes. They were powerful, reagle, and restless. The mirror chilled his fingertips as Brent gazed into the glass. If only they were his. His eyes closed and darkness comforted him. Brent didn’t need to see to know the dream had faded. Every time he opened his eyes and saw who he really was a part of him died. He had done all he could to give life back the color it once had, but still hope withered. He rested in the bliss. The air smelt moist and he licked the salt off his lips. The muffled sounds of life drifted past. Only the blind could truly see. Light invaded and reality concurred. In the scratched mirror stood a man with dark hair and a weathered face. His brown eyes stared into Brent's soul and found nothing. Brent inhaled and slicked back his greasy hair. It would do. He picked up his duffle bag and shouldered open the door. A hundred conversations assaulted him as he merged into the flow of life. He walked briskly as the sky began to shed its tears. “Train to, port kembla, now boarding.” chimed an automated voice from above. Brent stepped aboard and ducked into the lower deck. He scooted into an empty row and looked out the window, throwing his duffle bag on the seats beside him. “Cair if I join ya?” A tattered old man pointed to Brent's bag with his cane. Brent caught the man out of the corner of his eye, of course he cared, why else would a bag need two seats. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back. After giving the man plenty of time to find another seat Brent chanced a look. The man hadn't moved. He exhaled and scooted his bag over. “Thank ya kindly.” The elderly man fell back into the chair. The train hissed and Brent looked out the window as the platform began to slide by. “My names charlie.” Brent studied the graffiti outside. “Your name is Brent Wolf is it not?” He looked over casually “Yeah, what about it.” The elderly mans green eyes sparkled “Well sir I have come to offer you a proposal.” “Thank you for the offer.” Brent turned his back to the man. “Mr. wolf, if you are willing to listen, I believe you will find what I have to say quite interesting.” Gods angry voice echoed in the rolling clouds above. “ Go find someone else to Gip.” “Mr. wolf this is no trick. I’m certain what I have can help you. ” Brent sighed and turned to face the man “ Look, I’m not stupid alright so go sell your junk to someone else.” The man sighed. “Very well.” He struggled to his feet and placed a white card on the dirty seat. “For when you change your mind.” Brent glanced at the card and scoffed. The old man hobbled down the aisle humming “Hands stained red, hearts the same. Men who seek money and fame…” his song was pleasantly interrupted by the hiss of trains distaste. Brent pressed his cheek against the glass and looked to the skies. They billowed and swirled like smoke from a chimney. Brent closed his eyes. He was awoken by a cheery voice as it sang over the train speakers. “This train terminates at, Port Kembla.” Brent groaned and shouldered his duffle bag. He eyed the card and pocketed it. Don't want anyone else to buy what that old man was selling. The void car pulled up to the station and Brent waited impatiently for the door to open. It didn't. The train began to chug forward and pick up speed. “Hey!” Brent pounded against the door. He put down his duffle bag and jogged to the front of the train. “Hey you missed my stop!” He looked threw the small cabin door window. It was ghostly empty. Brent jerked back. Outside indistinct foliage flew past. He clutched a pole. Any second now the train would reach the end of the line. Brent braced for impact his knuckles went white. Five seconds, ten seconds, twenty He hesitantly let go of the pole. “Next stop, Wentworth station.” The train slowed and Brent wandered over to the doors. They parted revealing the green eyes of a teenager. The eyes widened and immediately the young man dropped his bag and knelt. The whole world stopped and instantly fell to its knees. Brent blinked and gazed into what was a world so still and silent it may as well have been a photograph. “Denarius.” A well dressed man with blue eyes and a forced smile approached Brent, arms open wide. A little girl ran in front of him “Move!” His voice darkened and he kicked a small girl out of his way. The girl flew in to the stations hard cement and began to cry. Quickly two men stole the girl away. “Denarius I’m so glad you have graced us with your presence. Come we mustn't stay with these pigs.” He gestured to the kneeling people around them and lead Brent toward his limozeen. Brent shook his head and pulled away. “Who are you? Where am I?” “I trust your trip was pleasant but I must say your mode of transportation was… an interesting choice.” “What did you do to that girl?” “Quickly we haven't time to waste” “ Who do you think you are! You can’t just treat people like that!” The man stopped “I’m am royalty. Surely you of all people understand this.” “I don't care who you are you can't just drop kick a little girl.” The man paused and stared into Brent's eyes “You're not Denarius. You're a criminal! I could have sworn…” Brent stood fists clenched a fire licking up into his eyes. “Guards!” yelled the man turning with a swirl of his cape. Two men grabbed Brent’s arms. “Hey, let go!” He thrashed against their grasp. “Put this man were he belongs.” and the blue eyed man stepped into the limozean. The guards hands were like vice grips, as they dragged Brent down the stairs. “ Halt.” the gate keeper stopped Brent's captures. “What are you doing with this man.” “He is a crimal, look at his eyes.” he peered into Brent's eyes “He is but a commoner, Release him!” “What?” One of the guards that held him let go and looked at Brent. “They were black! I swear!” “I said release him!” The remaining guard that held him let go. Brent rubbed his arms and furrowed his brow. My eyes are black? The commanding guard gestured to him “Don't just stand there like an Idiot, move!” Brent sprung to life and bounded up the stairs. The evening light cast long shadows as a river of green eyes flowed around him. “How did you do that?” A excited teen grasped Brent's shoulders. “Woah.” Brent jerked back and held the teen at arms distance. “Dude, give me some space.” “How did you make your eyes green?” “My eyes are brown alright! not green or black or anything else so just leave me alone.” “You're an amorphic.” A smile grin cracked and grew on the teens brightening face. “I knew it! I knew they were real.” “Look I just need to know where I am and how to get home.” “Of course.” The teen ran his hands threw his hair. “Follow me.” He bounced out of the way of traffic. Brent hesitated and followed. “Ok, ok, ok the myths say you come from a world where your eye color doesn't really matter right? Well here it's different. Either your eye color determines who you are or you determine your eye color I can't really tell the difference. My mom always said you decided who you would be before you were born but…” “What?” Brent stared skeptically at the young man “Right, right focus, so the point is here your eye color shows your personality. Blue is regal, green is lively, and black is strong. The blue eyes took over a long time ago and the black eyes have been fighting against them ever since. Us green eyes we just kinda go with the flow.” “How did I get here?” “Don't know but Legend tells of being from another world that was all these qualities and could change the color his eyes at will.” “So…” “So you're like the most special person ever!” “Fine, but how do I get home.” “The stories always had something about a riddle, You don't happen to have a riddle do you?” Brent fumbled through his pocket and pulled out the white card.
Hands stained red
Souls the same
Men who seek
Power and fame
The lost and weary
The broken heart
All have come
To play their part
But only when
They truly see
Can the captive
Be set free
“Woah! That's so cool!” The teen fidgeted with his fingers. Brent scowled at him “No not cool! How am I going to get home?” “You solve the riddle of course.” Brent closed his eyes trying to ignore the teens rambling in the background. Only when you truly see. Can the captive be set free. How do you truly see? Brent felt the warmth of the evening light as it soaked into his skin. He relaxed. All around him voices boomed but he tuned them out. A bird sang in the distance its melody cascading through the air to Brent's ear. He smelt the blooming buds as they unfurled and welcomed the world. Only the blind man could truly see. An image found his mind. Brent had blue eyes and sat upon a golden throne. His jaw was set and unmoving, and there was no mercy in his gaze. Brent pushed the picture away, it wasn't him. He saw himself again and his green eyes twinkled playfully. Dressed in commoner’s clothes he knelt before his taskmaster. In there was no courage in this man. Brent pushed the image away, it wasn’t him. He saw himself once more and his black eyes stared unwavering. His burly muscles tensed. Brent searched the man's eyes and found no joy. It wasn't him. One more man stepped on to the seen. His brown eyes confidently peered into Brent's own and a smile cracked on his lips. This was him. Brent put his hand on the man's shoulder and embraced him. He opened his eyes. “... so it could be that you're supposed to like find deep inner vibes but who knows. ” Brent walked toward the train determination in his step. “Hey. Where are you going?” The teen jogged after him. Brent stepped aboard the train. “What are you doing?” the teen stopped outside the door. “I’m finding myself.” The doors closed and the train chugged forward. The bustling station passed from view and a wall of green filled the windows. The car began to quake underneath his feet. “Sir I must ask you to leave.” Brent groaned and cracked open his eyes. The conductor shook him once more. “Alright, alright, I’m up.” Brent stretched and rubbed his head. “Sir I need you to get off.” “Ok, I’m moving.” groggily he wandered to the door. Brent stepped into the rain and its sweet fragrance brought his senses to life.. He took a deep breath of the cool air. “Did you enjoy your trip.” The tattered old man sat smiling on the lone bench. Cool streams dribbled down brent's neck and cheek. “Uh ya, It was pretty crazy.” Brent walked over to him and gestured to the old man's cane occupying the bench. “Can I sit? ” The old man looked at Brent from the corner of his eye. “No.” Brent chuckled and the thunder joined him.
1 person can make a difference.
2 people agreeing makes something real.
3 people to each souls person and
4ever is the only time.
5 is the number for humans that
6 chromosomes do not define.
The Spinning Wheel
The lone warrior atop the overhanging outcrop had been lying in wait since dawn. She had traversed the savanna in the early hours of the morning, when most predators were still asleep. But now, her skin glistened, and her breathing slowed. She reached for her waterskin, but withdrew when she heard an unusual bird call.
Down below, a single file of barbarians navigated the treacherous ravine. One tribesman, whose shoulders were adorned with a lion’s hide, caught her attention.
The second call was faint, but distinct.
She exhaled, pinched the arrow’s fletching, and crouched on one knee. In one fluid motion, she stood up, hooked her fingers onto the thickened string, and pulled it taut.
Khali was exposed, but she had to take the risk. This was her only chance. Success or failure, she would never see her family again. A light breeze picked up, cooling her damp skin. Her thoughts drifted as she savored the moment.
Suddenly, a warning cry assaulted her senses. The hair on her arms stood on end. Heat rushed up her ears. Shit! She scanned the over-scaled gully. Several members of the enemy tribe were already slumped on the ground, with feathered shafts protruding from their bodies.
Terep. He had somehow noticed her folly and began raining down defensive fire. Those dead bodies were likely spear-throwers that had intended to kill her.
There, further up the path, two tribesmen trailed a third. It was him! Their coward of a leader. Khali released two arrows in quick succession, and then plunged forward in pursuit.
The Chieftain, who's bodyguards had been neutralized, was cowering between two boulders when Khali jumped into the tight space. She readied another arrow.
“Please,” the man begged, sinking to his knees. “Spare me! I’ll give you anything!”
“I only want one thing,” Khali said, her features steeled.
“Name it!” he said. “Precious stones, livestock, slaves—”
“Your life,” she said and stepped forward, expecting the pathetic man to get down on all fours. But instead, he just grinned slyly.
Khali frowned. “Why do you smile?”
He licked his lips. “You would've made an excellent whore.”
“What are you talking about?!” she screamed, and aimed the arrow at his eye. “Tell me now!” Her arm quivered with strain and rage.
“You have been betrayed,” he sneered, enunciating each word.
Her heart sank. Oba Dar! That senile old man sold us out—
“It wasn't your King,” he said.
“Who—” a sharp pain sliced into her back, her knees gave way and her body collapsed. As she lay there in a crimson pool, a figure walked up and squatted next to her.
“Terep, brother,” she gasped. “Why?”
“I’m sorry, Khali,” he said. “They have my family.”
Khali coughed, blood spluttered out. “Then avenge... me,” she demanded before everything went black.
The breeze rustled her sheer dress as she stared down at the river that gave her country life. Today was her day of days. Today, the Gods would rightfully take what was theirs. She was the offering, they the rulers. Her death would unite the past and present.
Peta turned and gazed into the temple’s darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she took in the enormous shapes inside; two statues, both with human form.
She knelt before the larger statue. The one which had a hawk's head with a blazing disk of sun above. Ra, ruler of sky, earth, and underworld. Her thin muslin dress hiked up her thighs exposing dark, smooth skin. She stroked the stone feet, as thousands had done before, then bent forward and kissed them. A smile flitted across her lips, for she knew a secret.
Peta stood and regarded the other statue. It was smaller, with features hastily hacked into place as a substitute for a lesser predecessor. Its face was mostly human. Amun, god of the winds and king of all gods, was an old god, but he was new as Ra’s so-called equal. She moved to walk past him when she heard the voice.
“Never ignore the new,” advised a young man.
Peta turned. It was her shadow, Al-Mikhi.
“The new, the old. They’re much the same,” she responded. “But Ra is eternal.”
“Thoughts that should never be spoken aloud. Amun is the way now.”
“The new ways never last.”
The man shot her a look of scorn. “They say your mother had the same contempt.”
“And yet I never knew her.”
Peta smoothed her robes and studied the man. If a snake could ever take human form, this would be it. He was sinuously slim with eyes that glittered like torch lights. The twin daggers at his waist, one long, one short, were like deadly fangs.
He had been with Peta from birth, sharing her cot as a baby and her sleeping rug as a child. But now, he maintained vigil outside her bedroom door, keeping the secular world at bay. She had been trained as a sorceress, and he as a killer; or her executioner, as she now knew.
“It is time,” he said.
“With you, it is always time.”
The man ignored her. “We must prepare. The ritual demands it.”
Peta knew this, and she was prepared.
“Come,” he ordered. “You must bathe first.”
Peta followed. She had lived her whole life in this temple, high above the Nile. She had seen the river flood and kill, then fertilize and nourish. If Ra had an equal, then it would be Hapi, not the pretender.
She paced behind the man. Her hips swayed, and the fabric clung to her breasts and thighs. Peta knew how men looked at her; eyes full of lust and fear, even her protector. But it was a lust unrequited. Only one could have her, and he was coming today.
They entered a light-filled room with a bath carved out of rock in the center. Peta removed her dress and felt Al-Mikhi’s eyes on her. But he hurriedly turned, picked up a jug, and poured fragrant liquid into the stone bath. Peta stepped behind him. With her dress twisted into a rope, she looped the garment over the man’s head and jerked it down around his neck. He slipped and stumbled, his head ricocheting off the bath’s edge. She pulled tighter. The man kicked and gurgled, dazed from the blow, his twin knives useless.
The young woman leaned in closer and murmured, “I am no sacrifice, Al-Mikhi. It is you who dies again.”
The only erect structure on the rubbled landscape was the last place anyone would expect to find a sniper, and that was exactly where Major Mila Nomokonov had set up her staging area. The 26th Panzer division was exploiting this overlooked route, running supplies through to the front lines under the cover of darkness.
The chirping of crickets saturated the ambiance. Everything was awash in a serene, whitish glow. If not for the weapon in her hands, Mila could have easily forgotten hers was a country at war. She peeked out the third floor window, then shifted focus to the background clicking. Except, it wasn't natural, and it came from inside.
It was code: Ikami. Downstairs.
Mila froze. The name tugged at her mind, conjuring visions of blade and blood. It was happening again. She slung her rifle over her shoulder and descended slowly. As she reached the first floor she heard a noise.
Mila cocked her TT-30 as she entered the room. “Colonel Petra Steinz.”
“It is you!” the woman said, rising from a chair. “I wasn't sure you’d recognized the name.”
“That name,” Mila said. “How do you know it?!”
“I've had dreams,” Petra said. “Recurring ones. Sometimes in the African desert, other times in Egypt. I think it was your name in Osaka.”
“In these dreams, we... kill each other.”
“In my dreams,” Mila said after a brief silence, her gun still pointed at Petra. “We also kill to live.”
“And this is our sole existence,” Petra said. “Our reason for being. There must be more.”
“Don't you see? We're linked.”
“Dreams could mean anything, or nothing at all.”
“No.” Petra wagged a finger. “This is more than a coincidence.” She paused. “You know, we don’t have to do this.”
Mila shrugged. “Killing people?”
“No. You know what I mean.”
Vague memories trickled into Mila’s consciousness. Not just the African plains or the land of Pharaohs, but Greece and even China. So many places, so much death. And this person before her was always there.
“The I kill you, you kill me routine?” Mila asked.
Petra nodded. “It’s getting old.”
Mila smiled. “Not for me, it isn't.”
There were a series of far-off explosions, interspersed with gunfire, but neither flinched. Both silently analyzing the other. A distant mechanical rumbling filled the background.
Mila’s finger tensed. “I have to stop them.”
“I can't let you,” Petra said, and pointed her Luger at Mila.
“I'm going to walk out. You're going to let me.”
“You walk out, I shoot.”
Mila laughed and stared into Fate’s eyes. “Time to spin the wheel.”