My Fiction – Abhorred Shears

This was originally written for the October 2013 issue of Pagan Edge, and the theme was, of course, endings and death. We’re a little bit past that now, but also into a season of gratitude, so maybe it’s not a bad time to take stock of one’s life.

Abhorred Shears:

“Hey, Mom, how are you feeling?” Barbara asked her mother. As usual, Dolores was in her sewing room, working on some project. Barbara looked at the 92 year-old woman with some pity. When her mother was young, she had worked on needlepoint and all sorts of tasks that required fine motor control and good eyesight. Now, both had left her and she mainly knitted; even that often proved difficult.
Dolores set down her knitting needles for a moment and rubbed her hands. “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, Aunt Elizabeth just passed away. I thought you’d be pretty upset. She was the last, um, sibling you had.”
Dolores shrugged and resumed knitting. “She was 94 years old.”
Barbara watched her mother knit for a few minutes. “So you’re feeling alright?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because, well, I just thought you’d be more upset. I’m worried you’re not grieving enough.”
“How much is enough?”
“Well, any grieving, I guess. But you didn’t even cry at Aunt Elizabeth’s funeral. So I’m worried you’re keeping all this grief and anger inside, and that worries me,” Barbara answered. “You can talk to me, Mom. You know that, right?”
Dolores peered at her daughter through thick glasses and watery eyes. “Did you ever finish that quilt?”
“What? No, I’m still working on it. I hope it will be ready by the time the grandbaby is born. Aren’t you excited to be a great-grandmother?”
“I’m glad I’m still around,” she answered dryly. “But I’m afraid I won’t be around long enough to make much of impression on the newest little one. He’ll only remember me from old photos. If photos are even still around when he gets older.”
“We don’t know the baby’s a boy, and don’t say things like that. You’ll be around for a long time, Mom,” Barbara said sympathetically.
“Barb, honey, that’s just not true.”
“Mom! You shouldn’t say things like that.”
Dolores sighed and set down her knitting needles again. “Barbara, what do you want to talk to me about?”
“What? No, I’m here for you. I mean, well, you don’t have a lot of friends your age anymore,” she said, trying to be gentle with her words.
“Yes, I’m aware of that. I watched my parents die. I watched your father, God rest his soul. And now I’ve watched all my brothers and sisters die, not to mention so many friends. I’m not upset by this anymore, Barbara.”
“See, that’s what worries me.”
Dolores shook her head. “I understand. I remember when I was your age. Bill and I both retired and finally the kids were out of the house. And then there were grandbabies to spoil, so for a few years, I didn’t quite realize where I was in life. And then we both realized that statistically speaking, we only had ten more years to live.”
“That’s a terrible thing to think,” Barbara exclaimed.
“Calm down, sweetie, and let me finish. It was a terrible thought, but that didn’t make it go away. It is terrible to realize how close you are to the end of your life. I know, there’s always the possibility of accidents or illnesses, but those seem like the odd event, not the normal.” Dolores sort of sighed. “So much of life, I’ve found, is not stopping for Death. But, as the poem goes, he will kindly stop for me. I do understand how hard this is for you, but please understand I really am used to this by now. I have my projects and my kids and grandkids. I’m keeping busy. You don’t worry about me.”
Barbara listened, both appalled and oddly reassured. Her mother was right; recent retirement and the birth of her first grandchild had gotten her to realize how many years of her life had already passed.
Dolores slowly stood up from her chair, creaking and cracking in various places. She walked over to her work bench and pulled out a pair of antique pair of silver shears. The shears, while in good shape, had clearly not been used in quite some time. She held them out to Barbara. “These were my mother’s, and she got them from her mother. Grandma used them, but Mom didn’t, and I haven’t.”
“Should I use them? Or not? I’m confused,” Barbara said, taking the shears.
Dolores sat back down in her chair. “I know we’ve had some differences about your religion, but I think I’ve made peace with that. And I know you’re Hellenic, right?”
“Yes.”
“There’s Lachesis, the Dealer of Lots, followed by Clotho, the Weaver of Fate, and last is Atropos…”
“The Cutter of the Threads, and her abhorred shears,” Barbara said, remembering the description of the Fates from mythology. “She’s also the crone.”
“You’ve been the maiden, you’re still a mother, but she’s next and the shears don’t have to be ahborred. There’s always an end, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Barbara felt tears sting her eyes and she closed her hand around the shears. “Thanks Mom.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie,” Dolores said, and resumed her knitting.

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A Writing Entry – Admitting Defeat

Well, here I am, at the beginning of October at the point in which I should be getting the final edits done to my latest “Nevermore and the Ravens” book. “Should” is the key word in that sentence. I am nowhere near ready to get my latest novel published. I thought I could make up time; I thought I could overcome repeated writer’s blocks, but I have not. Don’t get me wrong; I am going to finish this novel, but I am disappointed I couldn’t do so in a timely manner. My deadline is self-imposed but I do try to take it seriously.

Continue reading A Writing Entry – Admitting Defeat

My Fiction – Through a Lens Darkly

This was published in Pagan Edge in November of 2012.  The theme for the month was “redefinition,” or “redefining oneself.”  There were a lot of ways to interpret that theme, and this is what I came up with.  This is something a bit close to me because I sometimes I felt like I couldn’t define who I was, or sometimes was afraid to do so.  What if I defined myself as a writer, only to find out I wasn’t very good at it?  My definition of self is still changing, although I hope without catastrophe.

Continue reading My Fiction – Through a Lens Darkly

My Fiction – House to Home

This short story was published in “Pagan Edge” in March of 2012.  The theme for the month was house and home, so I took that probably a bit literally in this story.  What can I say?  Sometimes my Muse is like that.

Continue reading My Fiction – House to Home

My Fiction – Children’s Museum

While I’m between long entries, in order to keep to a posting schedule of at least twice a week, I’ve decided to post some of my flash fiction and engage in a little self-promotion.  I wrote it on commission for an e-zine called Pagan Edge, which closed up shop last year.  I contributed to a section called “Life’s Wit,” which was meant to be very short stories (600 words or less) centered around the magazine’s theme of the month.  So I think it’s alright to re-post those stories, as long as I give credit where due.  This one appeared in the May 2011 issue.

“Children’s Museum”

“So Tyler chased Kenna around the house with that tyrannosaurus hand puppet until I rescued her and took the puppet away.  Then yesterday I heard him tell his aunt he wanted to be a volcano when he grew up,” Deb said laughingly.
“Well, that’s what you get for taking an impressionable five-year old to the Natural History Museum,” Shondra replied.
“You know, I hadn’t been there in years.  I forgot how much fun it is.”
“That’s only because you were with your son.”
“I don’t know about that,” Deb said.  “I used to go to the Natural History Museum a lot when I was a kid.  Now if I go to any museum, it’s the art museum, but I can’t take Tyler.  He’s too young and will get bored.  It’s weird, isn’t it?  Adults go to art museums without kids but adults won’t go to natural history museums unless they have kids with them.  Why is that?”
Shondra shrugged.  “I’ve got no idea.  But you’re right; I haven’t been in years either.”
“Then let’s go Saturday.  No kids, just a girl’s day out.  Then we’ll see if it’s as much fun without a kid.”
“Yeah, sure, why not?”
That Saturday Deb and Shondra went to the museum as planned.  At first both felt a little weird walking through the hall of fossils without any children with them.  But soon they forgot their awkwardness as they stared up into the jaws of a large carnivore.  They giggled like children at the strange skeletons of some of the weirdest animals that ever lived.  They oooed and awed over the rare mineral specimens and fabulous gems in the gem vault.  They made a wrong turn into the seashell and mollusk exhibit but were quickly fascinated by the diversity of the shells on display.  They went to the planetarium to see a presentation about the history of the universe starting with the Big Bang.   They even stopped in the children’s area and played with some of the interactive exhibits.
“I was wrong,” Shondra said as they browsed the gift shop.  “That was fun, even without kids.  I guess we just forget how to be amazed at how strange and wonderful the world really is.”
“And it shouldn’t take kids to remind us,” Deb said.”
“We should do it again sometime.  I’d love to come see the show about the migration of whales.”
“I agree.  Although Tyler will probably want to come back with us.”
“That’s fine.  The museum is fun with kids too.”
“Are you going to buy a tyrannosaurus hand puppet?” Deb asked.
“I’m not feeling that much like a kid,” she replied with a smile.  “But I will buy a triceratops hand puppet for Kenna because I just learned a triceratops can defend itself against a tyrannosaurus, so she should be able to defend herself against her brother.”
Deb laughed.  “I’m sure Kenna will love that.”
Shondra picked up a small, plastic, brightly colored duck-billed dinosaur.  “And I will buy this and keep it on my desk as a reminder to get out and play and be amazed more often.”
Deb picked up a long-necked sauropod.  “Good idea.”

Storytelling Failures – Introduction

As I have said before, my job as a writer is to tell you the audience a story.  The medium doesn’t really matter although the tools to tell a story vary from medium to medium (obviously).  And when I say, “Tell a story,” I don’t mean in the bad sense of “tell, not show.”   Maybe I should use a different word, such as “craft” a story.  I craft a story and hopefully the audience enjoys it.  There are a lot of pitfalls in this process, no matter the medium.  Some of those pitfalls actually transcend the different media.  Bad dialogue, for example, is bad dialogue in a novel, a movie, a comic book, or a television show.

In a roundabout fashion, what I’m saying is that I’ve so far stayed away from movie reviews (and other types of reviews) because I’m not sure I have any different opinion or perspective to offer.  But I am a writer, so I figured if I approached a work from that perspective and criticize a work on how well the story was crafted, that might be something different enough to be interesting.  We’ll see how this turns out.

Continue reading Storytelling Failures – Introduction

A Comic Book Entry – Tyrant-in-Chief Part 6

Or, more bluntly, “How to write ‘dark and edgy’ so that I don’t flying into a shrieking rage and bang my head against a wall until sweet, sweet unconsciousness calms my anger.”  Or, even more bluntly, “There is a difference between making a character dark and edgy and making them into psychopath or a [Denis Leary]!”  Yes, I feel strongly about this.

Continue reading A Comic Book Entry – Tyrant-in-Chief Part 6