Workshop Rule #1: You do not talk about workshop

Reasons why I don’t thrive in a negative work environment:

1. I start to wonder what the point in trying is
2. I feel like no matter what I do it will never be good enough
3. I compare myself to others and think “I’ll never be able to write like that.”
4. I question my own ability, and capability.
5. Things feel hopeless.

Workshop is like Fight Club.

The first rule of workshop: You do not talk about workshop
The second rule of workshop: You DO NOT talk about workshop

At first I thought this was to protect the privacy of everyone’s writing. We are writers after all, and prone to self-loathing, depression, and insecurity. I think it’s important to respect other writers and their work, and I didn’t want to step on any toes. As I reach the end of the year I no longer believe this. We are told when we arrive “Workshop isn’t a safe place.” I am inclined to agree. Workshop is the land of emotional abuse. And maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t know anyone who has ever thrived in life by being told they suck. In an effort to keep this anonymous, and because I really don’t dislike the establishment or what it’s trying to do, I’m not going point fingers. I don’t think badly of the people themselves, and I’ve learned a lot… from lectures. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and the person I want to be. And I honestly have to thank the program for that, because had I never been subject to the amount of harmful negativity going on, I would have never realized I cannot morally support a system like that.

I could never look at someone and question whether there was any hope for them. I could never refuse feedback because it wasn’t worth my time. Every person, every writer, that I have ever encountered has value to me. Every story I read has potential to me. No one could ever convince me otherwise, and I could never be part of something that held that view. Not only because I’m terrified that by being taught by people who hold those views, I could become like them, but ultimately because I cannot and will not support the crushing of people’s dreams. Maybe because I know what that’s like. To be told you have no worth, and that you’ll never amount to anything. How deep those words seed themselves inside of you, no matter how hard you try to  keep them out. They take root, and you start to think you can’t. You start to question your own value and the value of your work, and especially people in positions of authority hold a lot of sway, because their opinion means a lot.

And I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life battling through all those bad seeds, and ten years later I’m still trying to push some of them out. The writing business is hard? Well no shit! It’s especially hard when you go someplace to learn and are turned away from that learning because the person who is PAID to do a job that is teaching doesn’t feel you’re worth their time to teach… Unless you’re already talented, of course. And then you get favourites. And the favourites are good. They have so much potential, and can do so much, and get so far. They are worth all the time in the world. And I hate that. I hate favourites. I think I might be a favourite, and I hate myself for it. I hate that someone sees value in my work, but the value I see in someone elses work goes unnoticed. I don’t ever want to leave someone behind. Especially not someone who I believe has value.

Maybe I’m selling myself short. Maybe there is something in my writing. I definitely believe there is value in my writing. That’s why I’m still writing. That’s why I’ll keep writing. But not there. And not for them. Because I don’t want them to get any credit for the writer I’m going to become. Everyone has an epic story in them. Something great, that, given the opportunity, will inspire people around the world. Like J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. How fucking inspirational was that series as a kid? And it would’ve never survived. Just imagine a world without Harry, Ron, and Hermione for five seconds and tell me how different it would be? So, no. Never. I’m done. Consider me officially weeded out. I will continue to pursue my passion for stage and screen, and fiction will go back to being my pass time. Because fiction is beautiful, and it’s my first love, and I could never see it covered in thorns.

~Kat

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So maybe I lied…

I really need to stop saying I’ll do posts and then not do them. Let’s face it, I have a hard time being consistent… this is mirrored in my own life, so don’t feel special or anything. I always have really great intentions. I’m working on a fiction piece right now, and by working on it I mean running scared from it. After failing my last assignment I’m not very motivated to get shredded again. But what is life without being torn down? If I was never torn down I’d never be able to build myself up again, right? right?! So, I will post a big life update [eventually], but for now more of my writing will just have to suffice.

Our first assignment was a 3-5 page non-dialogue screenplay. Mine ended up being 2.5 pages. Enjoy :)

PDF: Short_Script_1

~Kat

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I’m Around…

I’m just backlogged between work and school. That new job I started is 11hr shifts and now I’m so tired I’m behind on homework… so there’s that. I am also having issues with a prof that I’m trying to sort out since it’s kind of all a big misunderstanding. Long story. I’ll post a big update soon. Hopefully next weekend, because I’ll have 4 solid days to catch up on everything. Until then I hope you all have a lovely rest of the weekend, and a fabulous week ahead!

~Kat

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The Year of Projects

I’ve got big plans this year. If I can complete half of them I will be thoroughly impressed with myself! My brain is full of creativity. It overflows with ideas from multiple mediums. I knit, draw, paint, write, music, basically if it can be art-ed I have/will try it. The problem with having all that in my head, is when I sit down during my rare free time, I spend more of it figuring out which project I should tackle than actually tackling the project. This could also explain my bits of insomnia I get because I’m always thinking of how I can do/use objects/things in a creative way. And don’t forget I do have homework every week, and I start a new job on Monday.

You would think I would be good at prioritizing which tasks need to be done in order of due date, but my brain doesn’t work like that. I will start something, switch to something else, go back to the first things, switch to something else, go back to the second thing… You can imagine my apartment, filled with unfinished projects (this is why I need a house with a real studio). So far, the only thing I’ve managed to keep up to task on is being involved with my blog. I’m posting regularly, and interacting with the people I follow! (yay!) I’ve still got a lot of knitting to do, which I’ve been slowly plugging away at, and a new painting project I just bought a canvas for on Thursday that I’m super stoked to start as soon as I can decide on the kind of picture.

I’m really interested in dabbling in more impressionist style, and I got some really cool looking shells down at the beach I’d like to incorporate in a sort of mixed media. I was thinking maybe fairy-wings? But if I crushed some of them up maybe they’d make cool stars against the nights sky? But I love the way the sun glows… See where this is going? Never mind the reading I haven’t done in, oh, I don’t know, 2 or 3 months? I read 45 books last year, some of those were a popular comic called The World God Only Knows, but I still find that impressive. It’s a new yearly record for me. Usually I start January all gung-ho, but this year I haven’t looked at a book, let alone picked one up to read. (December was the TV catch up game so I feel fine on that front).

I need a time chart. Some kind of organization regime for my life… as if that could possibly work with the way I obsess when I start a new project, HA! But ANYWAYS, this post is all over the place (apparently like my life) so I’m going to sign off. My husband wants to eat dim sum and that’ll take some time. Homework sounds like a good plan for now, then I’ve got a dishcloth pattern I’ve been hankering to try. It’s so cool, and you end up with a raindrop pattern. Ciao for now ladies and gents!

~Kat

P.S. I like how this is my author blog and I did not say one single thing about the book collecting dust on my hard drive… I should at least open it probably. That is what got me here after all :P

Categories: Life or Something Like it | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sex is Always Better When You Hate Each Other

This story didn’t get me a good grade in class, but Melissa is one of my favourite characters and I hardly get to write her, so obviously I think it’s fantastic, hahaha.

~Kat

Word Count: 4307

PDF download

I sauntered into math class ten minutes late and took my usual seat behind Alena. She hunched over a sketch of the same doe eyed girl she’d been drawing since her sister died. I leaned forward. She had improved the facial proportions today, less blocky, fleshier. I’m impressed with her progress in the last month.
“Try not to be late tomorrow, Miss Elliot.” Mr. Jefferson handed back my math test. A red ninety-six shone at the top of the page.
“Sorry Mr. Jefferson, I had some,” –I motioned toward my pants– “womanly problems.”
Mr. Jefferson cleared his throat, and continued down the row of desks.
I glanced over Alena’s shoulder. Forty-nine. Better than her previous thirty-six. I’ve never seen anyone take such detailed notes, and fail so miserably. The trees rustled outside the open window as Mr. Jefferson began an animated explanation of Trig equations. The sun gave way to clouds, and the pavement shaded dark grey in the oncoming storm. I opened my notebook. Dust motes danced in the corner of the room.
Alena scribbled through three pages. Her hand swept across the page in harsh lines and bubble letters; the numbers and symbols left ink stains on the side of her palm. She slid her notebook aside to reveal her sketch. Alena pushed her hair back– dark curls contrasted against the pale blue sweater that hugged her small frame–and put pencil to paper. She traced the girl’s lips. I’ve never been jealous of a picture before.
~
The grass squelched a soggy tune beneath my Converse. I grimaced as splatters of mud hit the white soles.
Cassidy stood beneath the overhang in the smoke pit. He wore dark wash jeans, and a light grey sweater. His gelled hair formed a small poof above his head.
“I need a favour.”
The cigarette in his mouth burned red as he looked me over. “What’s in it for me?”
“Helping this gorgeous damsel.” I waggled my eyebrows.
He fingered the hem of my skirt. “Friday night, and I’ll get you whatever you want.”
“Alena.”
“Alena Thompson Alena?”
“No, the other Alena that lives in this tiny fucking town.” I smacked him in the back of the head.
“You need anger management classes.”
“I know you’ve got an in with the pretty little office assistant.”
“Or you could just ask Alena.”
I pinched his cheek. “How many times have we been over this, Cass? Always recon first.”
“One of these days you’re–”
I hopped over the mud puddles– “Get me the info.” –and left him in the rain.
I doodled castle designs in socials while Mrs. Terry prattled on and on about the fur trade—a long monotonous drone like in Charlie Brown. She wore the same white blouse every day, and every time she pointed at the projector screen that monstrous sweat stain clawed its way into view. Alena sat diagonal to me; her pencil flew across the page in long arcs. We used to swap drawings. Hers of people she loved, mine of architectural feats I dreamt of building. It stopped when Emily died, and Alena’s only friend became her sketchbook.
Giggles erupted from Angelica’s group beside me. Her short spiked hair and pointed nose reminded me of a pixie. The evil kind that made children run around with scissors. She spit a pink wad into her palm, and went to place it in Alena’s hair. I elbowed my textbook, and it fell to the floor with a smack. Angelica squealed like a little pig, and I smirked as the gum fell to the floor.
After school, I waited on the couch outside the office. An old Crusaders banner hung on the wall, the red and yellow accents on the sword and helmet now faded. Appropriate, considering we hadn’t won any crusades in the last several years.
Cassidy strolled over and handed me some loose leaf papers.
“You always did finish fast.”
“What can I say, girls are irresistible.”
I sifted through the small stack. “Alena’s too good for you.”
“But not for Mrs. I’ll-fuck-anything-that-moves?”
“STFU, Jackass.”
Cassidy plopped in the seat next to me. “She seems quite content with her adopted loner status.”
“It’s been five years.”
“Exactly, so why the sudden interest?
I paused on last year’s transcript. “She stopped saying hello.”
“You asked me to siphon Alena’s personal information because she stopped greeting you every morning?”
“As if you weren’t begging for an excuse to fuck Trish again.”
“Touché.”
“Whore.”
“Slut.”
Alena walked passed and disappeared through the front doors.
I shoved the papers in my bag– “See you Friday, Cass.” –and hurried after her.
“Melissa.”
I turned halfway through the open door.
“Don’t be late this time.”
I flipped him the bird, and he barked a laugh.
The rain had stopped sometime in the last half hour. Water drops fell from the roof, and splashed puddles at my feet. I scanned the street until I spotted Alena climbing into a skeevy pickup with her grandfather. I fished one of the sheets out of my bag and programmed Alena’s new email into my phone. What kind of sixteen year old didn’t have a cell phone?
~
The school library smelled musty, like moldy paper wrapped in leather had been stewing on the shelves for fifty years. Maybe that’s why I avoided it. A sign above the doors read No food or drink. Mrs. Fitzgerald sat at her desk in the office behind the checkout counter. I likened her to a shriveled prune, or maybe a raisin. The lighting accentuated the crevices in her face.
I set up by the nearest bookshelf and plucked a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The spine crackled as I opened to a random page, and I buried my nose in it. I almost laughed at the section that caught my eye. “–girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy.”
The doors banged shut, and I peeked over the top of the book. The light gave Alena’s cheeks a rosy glow. She dropped her bag on the counter, pulled out a Ziploc container, and sat at the desk with our librarian.
I slipped behind the next bookshelf and strained to hear their conversation.
“–not cut out for academics. Mom’s going to be so disappointed.”
Mrs. Fitzgerald placed a container on the desk. “Have a brownie, dear. The chocolate’ll help.”
Alena shoved a whole square in her mouth.
“Math isn’t the be all end all to life, you know. Why don’t you do something with your drawing?”
Alena slouched in her chair. “I wanted to be smart like her. I can’t make money drawing.”
“Who’s telling you that?” Mrs. Fitzgerald slapped her hand on the desk. “You do whatever makes you happy, Alena.”
“But Emily was good at Math.”
“You aren’t Emily.”
“I guess so. It’s just Mom–”
The book slipped between my fingers. It crashed into the metal shelf and hit the carpet with a resounding thud. “Shit.”
Alena’s head poked out the office door. “Hey, Melissa. Need help finding anything?”
I scrambled to pick up the book. “I’d like to check this out.”
Alena scanned the book and handed it back. “You practically cursed Ms. Bjorkman for making us read this.”
“It’s a terrible book.”
“Not willing to give it another chance?”
“I titled my English paper ‘Ten reasons why Holden’s a stuck up little shit in need of a good lay’.”
“Mrs. Bjorkman commended you for the strong argument, but still gave you detention for swearing.”
“You remember that?”
“It was last year. I’m not going senile.”
The bell rang and I shoved the book in my bag. “See you in class.”
~
“Goodnight. Love you too.” I closed my bedroom door, and pressed my ear to the wood. Mom and Dad’s muffled voices drifted from across the hall. The toilet flushed, a door clicked, and bedsprings creaked. After five minutes of silence I threw off my pajama bottoms, revealing the jeans that hid underneath, grabbed my jacket from the closet, and opened the window. Fall air hit my face and goosebumps flashed across my skin.
I hit the ground, and my boots sank into the rain soaked earth. My footsteps echoed down the empty streets. It took me eight minutes to get to Cassidy’s pasty white apartment building. He buzzed me in just passed 11PM. I shied away from the stained wallpaper in the hallway. The smell of stale cigarettes hung in the air.
I looked up and down the corridor and turned the knob to his apartment.
“You’re late.” Cassidy removed an empty take out container from the black leather couch and sat down. “Again.”
“Nice digs.” A litany of game consoles filled the empty spaces in the TV stand, and game cases littered the floor. The beige walls begged for a paint job or some kind of artwork. “I’m really feeling the whole bachelor vibe.”
“I hope you didn’t come all the way here to talk.”
I leaned against the arm of the couch. “If you’re expecting a lap dance it’ll cost you a whole helluva lot more than Alena’s information.”
“Hilarious.” Cassidy placed a scrabble board on the table and threw a small grey bag at me. “Take your goddamn letters.”
I sat on the floor across from him. “You have issues.”
“How are those library visits going?”
I placed the word STORE on the board and threw the bag back at Cassidy.
“That good, I see.”
“Do you want to win the Scrabble Championship or not?”
“Just ask her what’s up?”
“I didn’t come here for a pep talk.”
“It’s Alena. She’s not going to throw you to the wolves.”
“Just play the goddamn game.”
“At least she said,” –Cassidy placed the word HELLO on the board.
“So what, you’re following me now?”
“You are viewed best from the back end.”
“You’d know.”
“I’d like to know a lot more.”
“Take a hint.” I placed the word DREAMS on the board.
“All I need is your yearbook photo.”
“You make me sick.” I wandered to the fridge, cracked open a bottle of Wild Rose and chugged half.
Cassidy leaned against the doorframe. “We’d be good.”
I handed him a beer. “Dysfunctional at best.”
“Sex is always better when you hate each other.”
“You’re the expert.”
Cassidy blocked the doorway with is free arm. “Wanna test that theory?”
I pushed my body into his. “You’d like that wouldn’t you.”
He shoved his hand in my back pocket and squeezed. “Don’t play games you can’t win.”
I gripped the back of his neck. “There’s no one better at this game than me.”
“Is that why I’m up seventeen points?”
I marched back to the living room and swiped the score sheet off the table. Cassidy had played the word REASON for a whopping thirty points. “Jesus Fuck, Cass.”
“Kinky porno.”
I grabbed five new letters and played the word LOVE. “Just play the goddamn game.”
Cassidy placed the word OKAY. “You smell like Mrs. Fitzgerald anyway.”
“Fuck you.”
“If I forfeit can we start now?”
I emptied my beer and threw the bottle at him. He caught it. Asshole.
“Is that a wrinkle?” Cassidy poked my cheek.
“Get me another beer, Jackass.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
~
I parked my truck outside the Co-Op. The weather had cleared for the weekend, but the bitter chill that set in spelled snow in the near future. I grabbed a basket by the door, and took up residence at the end of the cereal aisle. A display of Cornflakes boxes advertised family sizes for $3.99 this week. I poked my head around them. Alena weaved through the bakery with her mom, and disappeared around the corner. I perused this week’s bread deals as I inched my way to the dairy section and almost dropped my basket when Cassidy appeared.
“Hey Alena, how’s it going?”
“Cassidy, hi. Things are fine, I guess.”
Cassidy glanced in my direction and raised his eyebrows. “Your mom mentioned you were looking for a math tutor?”
Alena’s shoulders slumped. “Something like that.”
“You’re more than welcome to come by if you need help. I’m not a professional, but I’m free.”
“It’s okay, I know you’re busy with college applications.”
“It’s not a bother, I actually just moved–”
I marched into the aisle and bumped shoulders with Alena. “Sorry.”
“Hey Melissa.”
“Hi.” I dug my fingers into Cassidy’s arm. “Cass, can I please speak with you?”
“Actually we’re kind of in the mid–”
“Now!” I yanked him into the bread aisle. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“You could at least pretend to shop.” Cassidy dropped a loaf of Smart bread in my basket.
I smacked his arm. “A math tutor, really?”
“Have you thought of a job as a dominatrix? I hear it’s good money and you’d get paid to hit me.”
“You couldn’t afford me.”
“You’re giving it away for free right now.”
I looked over his shoulder at Alena, who’d occupied herself with a jug of apple juice. “Keep your skeevy, manipulative hands off her.”
“Quite territorial for someone who hasn’t managed a full conversation with her yet.”
“I know what you’re capable of.”
“Jesus Mel, I’m being polite. Our moms are in the same book club.”
“You hurt her, I will kill you.” I shoved my hands in my pockets and wandered back over to Alena. “Still love apple juice?”
“Best thing for an upset stomach.”
Cassidy slung his arms around mine and Alena’s shoulders. “What do you say we get ice cream?”
“Are you two dating or something?”
“Depends why you’re asking.”
I pushed Cassidy’s face away. “Absolutely not.”
“What flavour should we get?” Cassidy led Alena in the direction of the frozen foods.
“I’m kind of busy right now.”
“You can keep the apple juice in my fridge.”
“I’m not supposed to be out late.”
“Mel’ll drive you home.” Cassidy gave me a knowing look. “I’m sure she won’t mind.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “She said she’s busy.”
“I told my mom–”
Cassidy grabbed a tub of mint chocolate chip. “Come on Lena, when was the last time you hung out with anyone?”
“Leave her alone, Cass.”
“One movie. It’ll be fun.”
Alena glanced from the ice cream to me. “Could we maybe get gummy worms?”
“You do not dip them in that half melted mush you call ice cream still.”
“It’s the best dipping sauce.”
Cassidy leaned over. “Can we do body shots with it?”
“You’re not invited, Jackass.”
“But I have the biggest movie collection.”
“Of porn maybe.” I grabbed Alena’s arm and dragged her to the candy aisle.
“Are you two always like this?”
I perused through bags of bite sized Rolo and Aero balls. “Maybe we should get chocolate too.”
Cassidy groped me from behind. “What she meant to say was yes.”
I smacked his stomach. “Why are you still here?”
“Someone polished off my entire case of beer last night.”
“I had, like, four.”
“You owe me half a case.”
“He has permanent brain damage.”
Cassidy pouted.
“Or he will if he doesn’t–”
Alena erupted in a fit of giggles.
Cassidy grinned. “I think she likes us.”
“Does Cass have to come?”
Alena took the ice cream. “If he gets bad you could dump this on him.”
“And waste perfectly good ice cream?”
“Come on Mel, my intentions are one hundred percent pure.”
I laughed. “Watch your nose Pinocchio.”
“It’s not my nose you have to worry about.” Cassidy waggled his eyebrows.
I rolled my eyes. “I’ll keep a bucket of ice water on hand.”
Alena placed a container of gummy worms in my basket. “We should watch The Princess Bride.”
“I love me some Buttercup.” I grabbed one bag each of Rolo, Aero, and Kit Kat. “Get whatever you want Alena, Cass is paying.”
“He is?”
“I am?”
“Don’t be modest, Cass.” I gripped his shoulder. “Fifty bucks is a lot of money to spend on treats for us.”
“F-fifty?”
“Come on Alena,” –I took her hand– “we’ve got the whole chip aisle to get through.”
“Would it be okay to get Mountain Dew too?”
I led Alena down the aisle. “Meet you at the checkout Cass.”
~
I don’t know how we ended up in my living room watching movies, but here we all sat. Together. I reached over and dipped a gummy worm in Alena’s melted ice cream. “I can’t believe you’re making me eat this.”
“You’re the one who’s eaten half the container.”
“Whatever Miss second-bowl-of-ice-cream.”
Cassidy smacked my leg. “Shush, you’re ruining the best part.”
Alena’s ice cream dripped from her spoon in thick globs. “The poison cup is the best part.”
“Fire swamp.”
I flicked Cassidy’s ear. “Wrong.”
“Man eating rats, Mel.”
I popped another gummy in my mouth. “Mawage iz what bwings us togeva tooday.”
Cassidy groaned. “That part is so over quoted.”
“I’m going to hire someone to remix that speech for my wedding.”
Alena put her hands up. “Let’s just agree that the whole movie is pretty fantastic.”
“Fine, but only because you’re cute.”
I shoved Cassidy’s shoulder. “Stop hitting on her.”
“What? I can’t say nice things?”
“No, you can’t.”
“He’s just joking, Melissa.”
“But I’m not–”
“Mid-movie break time.” I grabbed the remote and hit pause. “I need a drink.”
“Then I’m having a smoke.” Cassidy grabbed his jacket and headed out the front door.
I fished through the baking supplies in the pantry until I found my dad’s stash of alcohol, and plucked the bottle of Absolute vodka off the shelf. After pouring a hefty dose in my glass, I filled the rest with Mountain Dew and headed back to the living room.
“Hey Alena, do you want–” An empty couch sat in front of me. “Alena?” I walked around the corner into the foyer, and voices drifted in from the half open door. I picked up Alena’s voice first.
“Why wouldn’t she just ask me?”
“It’s the Royal Tyrrell Museum all over again.”
“Ohmygod, the trunk! My mom flipped when she found her.”
“All because Mrs. Holly wouldn’t let her carpool with you.”
“God, she did some crazy stuff.”
I crept up to the door and leaned against the wall. Alena and Cassidy sat on the porch steps.
“You just left, Alena. After Emily–”
“I know, Cass, but I can’t–”
“We all miss her.”
Alena’s hair glimmered in the light from the porch. “I still need to coax Mom out of bed some mornings. It’s empty without her, Cass, and I can’t replace her.” Tears fell in tiny drops down her cheeks. “I can’t even pass math. I mean, what kind of person–Why can’t I be smart? Why can’t I be that one thing for Mom?”
Cassidy put his arm around her. “You shouldn’t be doing this on your own, Lena.”
“Look at me. I can’t burden Melissa with this.” Alena wiped at her face. “She needs to get into UBC and be an architect.”
I stepped into the doorway. “How could you think that?”
Alena whipped around. “Melissa I–”
“You honestly think getting into university is more important to me than our friendship?”
“You know that’s not what she meant, Mel.”
“And you Cass, what the fuck are you doing? I asked you for a favour, not to charm her into bed.”
Alena stood. “Now that’s not fair. Cassidy’s just being a friend.”
“You don’t know what he’s like Alena.”
“And you do?”
“If you think for one second he isn’t manipulating you so you’ll sleep with him–”
“You ever think maybe I’m trying to be a nice guy, Mel?”
“No, actually, because you’re a dick.”
“And look where you ended up.”
“With you going behind my back?” I balled my hands into fists. “Because that’s just swell, Cass, thanks so much!”
“Jesus Christ Melissa, when was the last time you and Alena laughed like you did tonight?”
“Because you’re doing all this out of the kindness of your heart?”
“I’m doing this because I like you.”
“Bullshit.”
“Fuck you, Mel.” Cassidy stuck a cigarette in his mouth and strode down the driveway.
I leaned against the doorframe. “Son of a bitch.”
“You didn’t know?”
“You did?”
“I guess you didn’t hear that part.”
I rubbed my temple. “Jesus Christ.”
Alena walked over and pulled me into a hug. “Things got complicated while I was gone.”
“Why didn’t you talk to me?”
“And say what? I miss Emily? I have this hole that I can’t fill no matter what I do?”
I took Alena’s face in my hands. “Yes, Alena. You tell me exactly that. And then we cry for hours together, because I love you and you shouldn’t have to deal with all that shit alone.”
Tears welled in her eyes. “But you need to study and get A’s.”
“You idiot. Being best friends isn’t going to flunk me.”
“But my family’s high maintenance.”
I rolled my eyes. “If it makes you feel better we can study together.”
Alena nodded. “What’re you gonna do about Cassidy?”
I snorted. “Fuck, I don’t know.”
“You should talk to him.”
“Probably.”
Alena rubbed my arm. “Sometimes I wonder if his reputation is mostly rumours.”
“Most of my reputation is true.”
“Did you really sleep with Thomas?”
I grimaced. “I do have standards you know.”
“See what I mean?”
“Shit.” I rubbed my face. “I have to talk to him.”
Alena took my hand. “Come on, it’s too cold to cry outside.”
~
Two fucking hours to get to the fancy ass hotel in Edmonton. I can’t believe I let Alena convince me into this. I paid the atrocious parking fee and pulled a flask from my inside jacket pocket. Half the alcohol had disappeared by the time I reached the conference room. I put the flask back in my pocket, and sat in one of the seats lining the edge.
Cassidy hunched over one of the tables in the middle. He had dressed up in black pants and a dark blue dress shirt. His normally gelled bangs swooped across his forehead and hid his furrowed eyebrows.
His partner, a guy named Craig according to the scoreboard, sported square glasses that sat on a hooked nose. The red argyle sweater he wore did nothing for his ruddy complexion, and the flab around his middle jiggled with the slightest movement.
Cassidy led by thirty points. I tapped my foot against the chair leg and counted fifteen tables before taking a swig from the flask. The scores updated. Flabby led by two points. I chewed on my index finger. Fuck me if Cassidy lost. We had worked way too hard for this.
The game ended thirty minutes after I got there. Final score: Cassidy 378 points and Flabby 306 points. I resisted the urge to jump from my seat and opted to casually wobble down the row. I swiped Flabby’s letter holder.
“Hey, you can’t take that!”
I stuck out my tongue. “Losers don get a say.”
“Melissa? What the hell are you doing here?”
“Alena said you needed moral sh’pport.”
“Lady, you can’t help your friend cheat.”
I waved the holder around. “Cass won, Fucktard.”
“I’m calling security.”
“No need Craig.” Cassidy stuck out his hand. “This game was challenging, I’m sad to see you go.”
“You and me both. Good luck in the next round.” Flabby’s flab jiggled like pudding when they shook hands.
I flipped him the middle finger as Cassidy dragged me into the hall.
“Are you trying to make me look bad?”
“I’m sorry. Alena said I should talk choo.”
“Are you drunk?”
I pulled the flask from my pocket and took a swig. “Possibly.”
“How’d you get here?”
“I’m insulted you accuse me of drive–ing. I started when I got here.”
We walked outside and Cassidy pulled a cigarette from his pocket. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say Alena didn’t condone the drinking part of my moral support.”
I put my finger to my lips and shushed. “Don tell I’m drunk.”
His cigarette burned red as he inhaled. “Why are you drunk?”
I chugged the rest of the alcohol. “I can’t confess choo sober.”
He peeled the flask from my fingers. “Jesus Mel, was this thing full?”
I poked him in the chest. “You… are a dick.”
“I believe we ascertained that last weekend.”
“A dick you likes me.”
Cassidy snorted and took another puff. “I’m starting to wonder why.”
“Shuck the fut up–”
Cassidy placed a finger to my lips. “Stop talking.”
I grabbed his hand and leaned in closer. “Choo wanna kish me?”
“Maybe later.”
“You playing wiff me, Cass?”
“How’d your talk with Alena go?”
I grabbed his cigarette and took a puff. “She said we gotta finish the movie.”
“Am I included in that we?”
“Alena said we could make an esseption for you to come.”
“She did, did she?”
I nodded. “When’sa next round?”
“An hour.” Cassidy finished his cigarette and tossed the butt in the trash bin.
“What we doing?”
“First I’m taking you to the restaurant and getting you a meal and some water.”
“We can hang out tonight?”
“If you’re sober enough to drive home.”
“Can we play Call of Dutchy?”
Cassidy put my arm around his neck and led me back inside. “Whatever you like.”
I leaned my head against his shoulder. “I wanna shootchu.”
“I feel loved already.”
I pinched his cheek. “Alena said you’re not bad. She say I should datechu. Whatcha sink?”
“Dysfunctional at best.”
“Sex is always better when you hate eashother, right?”

Categories: Creative Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Trapped in an Elevator with Space Pirate Jack

This is what happens when I write without caring. Because of the special formatting it’s only available as a PDF. Also this is a first draft. As in, zero editing has been done whatsoever, as in there could potentially be typos, and a litany of other things in it. So now that I’ve made excuses in true artist fashion, here is my fiction disaster.

word count: 2368 (12 pages double spaced)

Metafiction <- This here DL link.

~Kat

P.S. In case you didn’t realize, it IS satire.

Categories: Creative Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sticking to Your Guns

I took a hit. A bad one. I feel slightly crippled, and the hurt runs deep, but as with all things I know it’ll subside with time. The human heart has a way of forgetting this kind of hurt in order to move forward. I keep telling myself I won’t regret my decision either because as they say, nothing ventured nothing gained. Sometimes when you put yourself out there you fail. And that’s okay. The most important thing to take into consideration is how you feel about your decision, and I feel proud of myself. You’re probably wondering what happened, so I received my final revision back on my second story and my mark dropped over 10%. I lost 3 letter grades. I cried. The last thread that gave a shit about the class broke. I laid awake for hours thinking about it. And the conclusion is pretty simple.

I re-wrote my story because I felt the first one was out of character for my character. I think the second story (and I will still post it) is much more “Melissa” than the first one. In fact, I think all the characters are more of who they actually are, so can I really be disappointed with that? In my last post I said it was more important to be my own authorial self than to make the grade. If I have to write my characters out of character just to get an A can I really call myself a storyteller? If I can’t even be true to who my characters are, then how can I be proud of anything I write? Because it’s my characters who are trusting me with their story. I can’t lie and say they did something else. That’s not how it works.

So I’m sticking to my guns, and reconsidering continuing fiction in school. I mean, at the end I get a BFA no matter what, and honestly Stageplay was fun. It made me feel like a storyteller again. I had freedom of expression. I could write and have fun with it. And I mean, who DOESN’T want to see their characters come alive on stage? My life is changing again. I won’t quit fiction. It’s still my first love, and I am determined to become an author, but I want to write in an environment where creative expression is encouraged and not discouraged. I am proud of myself. I’m proud that my characters are more important to me than a letter grade.

~Kat

Categories: Life or Something Like it | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey

You can read it on here, or download a PDF version for easier reading. Also Happy New Year!!

Word Count: 5,756

PDF download

Mom’s car smells like artificial pine. For as long as I can remember a green scented tree has hung from her review mirror, the kind that come in a pack of two for $3.99 at Canadian Tire. My hand grips the passenger door handle as the tree swings back and forth.
“Do you think people will look at you less?” Mom reaches over from the driver’s seat and grabs a handful of my hair. “Is it longer on this side? Honestly.”
I close my eyes as we rumble over the train tracks, but it doesn’t stop the onslaught of images. Grabby hands, torn clothes, flashing lights. I throw up my breakfast burrito. Chunks of ham and egg tell me my fortune from the car floor. “Sorry.”
“Group will be good for you.” Mom rubs my back. “Talking to people helped me a lot.”
“I hate people.”
Mom pulls up to a small church; the faded brick sheds red crust around the edges. “You can’t spend your life hating the world for a few people’s actions.”
“They killed Charlie and raped me, Mom.” I scramble out of the car, and slam the door.
She rolls down the passenger window. “Your brother–”
“I will never forget like you.” I hurry through the open side door. A sign on the wall in front of me reads Trauma Victim Meeting with an arrow pointing down the hall to my right. Two more signs direct me around a corner to a closed door near the back. Muffled voices drift through from the other side. My hand hovers over the door handle.
“Are you going in?”
I spin around. A young man with dirty blonde hair and dark blue eyes stands beside me. “I-I don’t know.” Three long gashes dress his right cheek from ear to chin.
“I like to tell people I saved a little girl from a lion.”
“I didn’t–I mean, I wasn’t…”
He reaches passed me and opens the door. “It’s a lot less scary if you imagine everyone in pink tutus. I’m Ezekiel, by the way.”
I take a seat in one of the eight chairs that sit in the middle of the room. A group of people stand beside a table with their choice of coffee, tea or juice. Scribbled pictures and cut outs of biblical stories line the walls.
“Hey, I’m Rita.” Her striped stockings disappear into bright purple Doc Martin’s. Scars cover her entire forearm.
“Anna.” My fingers find a piece of fluff on my jeans.
“I have a cousin named Anna. She’s got blonde hair though, kind of uppity, if you know what I mean.” Rita sits in the chair to my left. “Real stickler about which red lipstick matches her purse, but I bet you’re real nice.”
I tug on a loose thread in my jeans. “I guess so.”
“Anyways, it’s always nice having new people. You see the old geezer there? That’s Peter, if he bothers you just let me know. He thinks he’s so funny, but he tells the worst jokes. Like, actually. And that other girl is Cindy, she’s pretty cool, she’s got two young kids she brings sometimes. Three and five years old. Adorable.”
I nod, and loop the thread around my finger several times.
“I see you came in with Izzy, do you know him? I think he’s been coming here the longest. Word is him and Jerome were best friends when they were younger and that’s why they started this group. You know, to help people and such. But I dunno for sure. You should ask him for me.”
I breathe deep when group starts. We go around the circle and introduce ourselves. Peter sits beside Rita, then James, Theo, and Cindy. Ezekiel sits to my right and Jerome beside him. At the age of ten, Jerome’s mother set the house on fire with him inside. Burn scars cover half his body. Everyone stares when he introduces me.
I pick at the plastic on my chair. I want to be sick. I bite back the urge to cry. My heart rate picks up; turning to ash seems like the better option; my stomach twists around itself; my chest constricts. My lungs claw for air.
“Breathe,” Ezekiel whispers beside me.
And I do. My lungs expand; my heart slows down. I’m in the rigid plastic chair, and Jerome speaks.
“–anyone like to share something about their week?”
“I have a story,” Ezekiel says.
My eyes wander to Ezekiel against my better judgement.
“The floor is yours Izzy,” Jerome replies.
“A new kid joined my daycare class this week, Malachai, and you know how kids are. They’ll ask you pretty much anything. Usually I make something up, but this kid was smart, so I told him the truth, and he told his mom.” Ezekiel pauses.
“W-what happened?” I say it before I can stop myself. Our eyes meet, and I turn my attention to the loose plastic on my chair.
“I got called into the office. ‘Not appropriate for children’ I was told. It’s not like I went into detail.”
Everyone nods along with the story.
“How did it make you feel?” Jerome says.
“I guess it bothered me how society prefers my lie. Like if I don’t say what really happened they can continue to pretend the scars on my face don’t exist.”
Rita and Peter both share stories as well, but I’m stuck staring at the floor and the clock. My foot bounces as I wait for the hand to hit five-thirty. I hate how everything Ezekiel says resonates with me. I don’t remember the last time we talked about Charlie. We never talk about what happened, or why he died, or how it’s my fault.
Ezekiel’s foot nudges my chair, and I look around the circle.
Jerome looks at me. “Don’t feel obligated to share. It’s only if you want.”
I shake my head.
“I’ll see everyone next week then. All you coffee addicts better finish that brown sludge before you leave.”
People laugh at his comment, but I’m halfway to the door by then.
Ezekiel catches me near the exit. “Will you be here next week?”
“Yes,” I say and scurry outside.
Mom waves out her car window.
I steal a glance back at the building.
“So? How was it?”
Her green eyes reflect the afternoon sun, and I stop before I say something like ‘terrible.’ “It was fine.”
No Frills blurs passed and I close my eyes as we cross the train tracks. Ezekiel’s words run circles around my head.
“Bridge club starts next week, but I can tell the girls I’ll be a little late if you want to go again.” Her hands grip the steering wheel, and light curls bounce around her shoulders when she glances at me.
“Sure, Mom.”
“Great!” She turns down McNaughton Rd, and stops in front of house number 88. “I’ll see you same time next week.”
I nod before getting out and head up the porch steps.
I spend the week knitting new hat designs for my Etsy shop, clean the house no less than three times, and work on a few articles for an online blog. By the time Monday rolls around I’m more zombie than human. Mom picks me up at four thirty. This goes on for three weeks. By week four I pace back and forth in the living room. A loud grumbling rises from my stomach, but a lump lodges in my throat at the thought of food. A car horn blares, and I freeze. A door slams, footsteps up the porch steps, jangling keys in the lock.
Mom’s head pokes around the corner. “Anna?”
I curl up in my afghan on the chair in the living room. “I can’t go this week.”
“I’m already late for bridge.”
“I’m sick.” I will the door to shut behind her.
“We do this every week, Anna.” Mom gathers up the afghan and drapes it over the back of the couch. “Put your shoes on, and get in the car.”
“I really can’t go this week though.”
“How’s this week any different from last week?”
“Last week you didn’t have Bridge club.”
Mom drags me from the chair and stands me in front of the door. “You crossed it last week, sweetheart. I know you can do it again.”
I push into her and shake my head. “Please, Mom, I can’t.”
She rubs soothing circles along my back, and nudges me forward. “I’m sure there’ll be people around.”
I rebel against the door frame. “49% of women are sexually assaulted in broad daylight.”
“Ask someone to sit with you until I get there.”
“83% of women are assaulted by someone they know.”
“You’re not a statistic.”
“Six months for what he did.” I clench my teeth and dig my nails into my palms. “It’s not safe out there.”
Mom pushes me until my feet hit the wooden porch. “You can’t live in fear the rest of your life.” She locks the door and leads me to the car. “Here.” She shoves an ice cream bucket in my lap.
I dry heave into it as we roll out of the driveway. “Take me to Bridge club instead.”
Mom rolls down her window. “You’ll be fine.”
I grip the door until my fingers go numb. Sometimes I feel like Mom and I could get along, but then she speaks, and it becomes a passing fancy. I place the bucket at my feet when we pull into the parking lot, and wonder if she’ll ever think to pack a toothbrush with the bucket. “Please.”
“I’ll try and be here at six-thirty.”
Mom has Bridge club every second Monday during the summer, and she missed the first one to bring me here. I know she needs a life, but it feels like a ploy to keep me out of the house for an extra hour. The brick building looms over us. Maybe the bathrooms are nice. “I guess I don’t have a choice.”
She waves out the window as she drives off.
I slump up the stairs, through the doors, to the classroom. Rita waves when she sees me. I smile awkwardly, and avoid eye contact with everyone.
Ezekiel takes his regular seat beside me. “You’re still coming.”
“Apparently.”
The meeting starts before I’m forced to talk more.
Rita shares a happy story this week. “My co-worker, Terry, got engaged over the weekend. We’re having a big party for her at work, and I’m on the planning committee. It’s been so much fun designing cakes, and shopping for decorations with Lucy…”
At eighteen Rita was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. She’s tried to commit suicide four times since she was sixteen. She’s twenty-seven now.
“…Ever since starting these new meds the world’s more vibrant, you know? Like, I feel so fortunate to share in Terry’s happiness, and celebrate the new life she’s starting.”
Rita keeps a journal where she writes down all the positive things that happen in her day.
I make an honest effort to pay more attention to everyone, but my eyes still wander to the clock. A whole hour. I flick at my wrist. Sixty minutes. My heel bounces up and down. Three thousand six hundred seconds.
“Are you visiting this week?”
I jump and my eyes drift from empty chair, to empty chair.
Ezekiel drinks from a Styrofoam cup. “Rita’s grown a liking to you. Says you’re a good listener. I don’t know if I believe her myself. I mean, is someone a good listener by default if they don’t speak?”
I need to call Mom, tell her I’m walking. Home can’t be that far. I tap my fingers together; my nails clack when they hit each other. “Is there a phone here I can use?”
Ezekiel grabs a cell phone from his pocket. “You can use mine.”
I take it somewhat reluctantly, and push the only button I see. A group of small children stare at me, faces twisted in all kinds of goofy expressions. Slide to unlock shimmers at the bottom of the screen. Before I can figure out what it means, the screen goes black. Is his phone broken? I hold it out to him. “I changed my mind.”
“I can look up the number if you don’t remember it,” he offers.
Heat creeps down my neck. “I don’t know how to use it—the phone.”
“It’s really easy.” He pushes the button, and slides his finger across the screen. Various icons glide into view. “You want this app here.” He hands it back, and points to a green icon with a white receiver that says Phone underneath.
It’s a touch screen. I’m an idiot. “Of course, right.” I hit the button with my finger and a list of contacts pops up. I push the keypad option and dial Mom’s number.
“Hello?”
“Mom?”
“Anna? What’s wrong, did something happen? Are you okay?” I hear a chair slide, and she excuses herself from the table.
I turn away from Ezekiel, and whisper into the phone. “I’m fine. I–” What if she doesn’t let me walk? “–have another way home, so you don’t have to pick me up.”
“A friend?”
I hear the apprehensiveness in her voice, and look at Ezekiel. “I’m borrowing someone’s phone, so I have to go. I’ll see you Sunday.” I hand the phone back to Ezekiel, say, “Thank you,” and head for the door.
“Is everything okay? You seem more antsy than usual.”
“I just need to go home.” I step outside and am hit by the humidity. When did it get so hot?
“Do you need a ride?”
“No.” That’s a lie. “Yes.” What are you doing? “It’s fine. I can walk.”
“Your mom usually picks you up, right?”
I turn at the bottom of the stairs, and hold my arm out. “Too close.”
Ezekiel steps up two stairs. “I can give you a ride if you don’t have one.”
“I barely know you. I’m not telling you where I live.”
“My last name is Cole, I grew up on 2 Moon Drive, and I work at Little Rabbits Daycare on 5th Ave. You can call them if you want to check my credentials.” He holds his phone out to me. “The number is programmed in my contacts.”
I narrow my eyes at him. Is he joking? He looks serious. I grab the phone, and scroll through his contacts. It’s there. Little Rabbits Daycare. I hand the phone back without calling. They’d be closed now anyway. “Do you have a bucket?”
His eyebrows furrow. “What?”
“A bucket, in your car, do you have one.”
“No?”
“How about a towel.”
“Nope.” He shakes his head. “Why?”
“Nevermind, I’ll just use my cardigan.”
He looks from me to the parking lot. “Can I come down the rest of the stairs?”
“I guess so.”
“My car’s this way.”
He leads me to a faded blue pinto. It looks like someone threw a bowling ball at the passenger door which creaks when I open it. “It’s safe?”
He laughs. “What’re you saying about my car?”
“You should get a new one.”
“You don’t mince words.” He puts the key in the ignition, and the car sputters to life.
I pull my seatbelt as tight as it’ll go, and lay my cardigan on my lap. “Are you sure it’s not dying?”
“I promise to get you home, but you have to tell me where it is.”
“88 McNaughton Road. It’s past the No Frills, by the train tracks.”
“That’s all the way on the other side of town.”
“Walking is better than waiting on those steps for a car ride.”
He exits the parking lot, and takes a left on Tybalt. “You get car sick?”
I roll down the window, and close my eyes. “I get everything sick.”
“It’s great you still manage to get to group every week.”
Warm air burns my lungs. “I only go because my mom threatened me if I didn’t.” I focus on the wind. Uneven strands of hair tickle my forehead. We breeze through the light evening traffic. When the car slows, I open my eyes and see the house. From this side Ezekiel’s scars run from cheekbone to chiseled jaw like three beacons. He must have been beautiful once.
“Your house?” he says.
“Charlie’s house.”
“Charlie won’t beat me up for driving you home, will he?”
“Charlie is dead.”
Ezekiel’s hand slips from the steering wheel. “I’m sorry.”
I get out of the car when he looks at me. My cardigan falls to the ground, and I stare at it for several seconds. Ezekiel watches me, but I don’t look at him. I can’t say anything.
“Anna–”
I pick up my cardigan and run for the house, bolt the door and curl to my knees. I shrink so small, and disappear so completely that I don’t move until a sliver of light hits my eyes. I crawl to my room, and bury myself in the pillows and blankets on my floor.
~
I don’t hear her come in.
“Anna?” she calls.
Is it Sunday already? It can’t be.
“Anna?”
The bedroom door opens. I don’t move. Maybe she–
“Anna Marie how long have you been under there?
Blankets are torn off me.
“It’s three in the afternoon.” Mom stands with her hands on her hips. “Your hair is disgusting.”
“Did you come all this way just to insult me?”
Mom rolls her eyes. “You’re twenty-one years old.”
I look away. I don’t want to be lectured by her.
She turns the shower on and comes to stand in the doorway, but I still don’t move from the floor. We stare each other down. I know what comes next, but I can’t will myself to move
Mom drags me to the bathroom, strips me down, and sits me in the bathtub. Cold water hits my skin, probably on purpose, and I shiver. Mom dumps shampoo on my head, and tugs at my hair as she scrubs it all in.
“I hate you,” I say.
“Doesn’t hating everyone get tiring?” She dunks my head in the water. She thinks I don’t see the pain my words cause her, but I do.
I slump against the tile. By the time she turns off the water we are both soaking wet. When I’m changed we sit in the living room and drink tea.
“Your father will be out with the car tomorrow. Can your friend take you to group?”
I stare at the picture of Grumpy Cat on my mug. NOPE is written at the top. Is there such a word with my mother? NOPE, it stares back. “I guess so.”
She takes a breath. “You know your father, never tells me anything until the last minute, and I know you won’t go on your own.”
I hide my face by taking a long swig of tea. “It smells bad.”
“Now don’t start,” she huffs. “How can you sit in here with all the doors and windows closed?”
“It smells bad.”
We finish our tea in silence, and mom brings the empty mugs to the kitchen.
“See you next week,” I say.
“I look forward to hearing all about group.”
From the window, I watch the car leave. The next day I plug my phone into the wall, and look up Little Rabbits Daycare in the phone book.
“Little Rabbits Daycare, how may I help you?”
I swallow. “Does—Does Ezekiel Cole work there?”
“One moment please.”
Tinkling xylophone music replaces the background noise. Why does hold music all sound exactly the same? Is there a singular track that all businesses use?
“Hi, Ezekiel’s just stepped out for lunch, may I take a message?”
My heart sinks. “No. Don’t tell him I called.” I hang up the phone and unplug it from the wall.
I schedule a UPS pick up for two toques that sold, and spend the week knitting three more. When Mom visits on Sunday, I lie about going to group. It rolls off my tongue, who shared, and about what. She’s too excited to notice none of it happened. Before I can lament her forcibly driving me tomorrow, she says the car’s not working.
“It just started stalling. It happened twice on the way here. I have an appointment to bring it in tomorrow, but I don’t know if it’ll be fixed in time.”
I try to hide my elation with a sigh. “I guess I can ask again.”
“You’re sure it’s fine? Doris is already picking me up for Bridge club.”
I narrow my eyes at her, but she gives me the same smile she always does. “I’ll call and ask tomorrow.”
“I’m so proud of you, Anna.”
I swirl the tea leaves at the bottom of my mug. “I have an article to finish for the blog tonight, so I should probably–”
“Oh, of course. Don’t let me keep you.” She puts her mug down on the table and grabs her purse. “I’ll just see you next week.”
I gather the dishes she left in the living room. She’s never forgotten the dishes before.
The next day I sit at the kitchen table and stare down the phone. My eyes drift to the front door. I pick up the receiver and call Little Rabbits Daycare. The receptionist answers again. I loop the phone cord around my finger. “Is Ezekiel there?”
“Hang on.” She puts me on hold again.
I pray he takes the same lunch break every day.
“Hello?”
I freeze. It’s him. It’s Ezekiel.
“Anna? Is that you?”
I slam the receiver down and unplug the phone. It takes me three tries my hands shake so badly.
I fish through my dwindling pile of yarn until I find something extra soft. I’ll need to order more. I settle in my big comfy chair in the living room and start a new pair of fingerless gloves. Come September they’re the most popular item in my shop. I’m so focused on my task, I almost miss the knock on my front door some hours later.
I peek through the living room curtains, but the stupid flower pot on the porch railing obscures my view. I swear Mom put it there on purpose. I grab the door handle, and swing it open.
“Hey.” Ezekiel speaks like he’s been coming by every day for weeks, flashing a flippant grin as he flicks hair from his eyes. He wears a black leather jacket and distressed jeans.
I freeze, and he keeps speaking before I can close the door.
“Everybody’s been asking about you at group, wondering why you’re not coming back.”
I cross my arms. “I’m a serial axe murderer.”
“Wouldn’t that involve leaving your house?”
“Why? You’re standing on my porch, aren’t you?”
He grins. “Does that mean I’m invited in?”
“No.” I scowl. “What if you’re a vampire?”
“Serial axe murderers can’t kill vampires?” He places a hand on his chest and breaths a sigh of relief. “Thank god for loopholes.”
“Goodnight Ezekiel.” I close the door.
He comes back the next day.
“Hey,” he says with the same flippant attitude.
I want to scream at him to leave me alone.
“Can I come in?”
“Absolutely not.”
Ezekiel sits in front of me. “Is it because your freezer is full of body parts?”
“Go away.”
I have the door halfway closed when he says, “You’re hair’s growing out.”
I reach for the uneven strands. It’s three inches in some parts now. “Hair does that.” My front lawn is turning yellow. “Why are you here?”
“You called me at work. Twice.”
I flick the door handle. “How do you know it was me?”
“The receptionist said a weird girl called for me.”
“I told her not to tell!”
“It was your mom who asked me to stop by, actually.”
My heart stutters. “W-what?”
“She was ecstatic when I said I was your friend.” His face scrunches and he scratched the back of his head. “I feel a little bad about lying though.”
“You didn’t tell?”
“I guess I’ll have to pick you up next week to give it some truth.”
I nod slowly– “O-okay,” –and close the door.
When I open the door the next day he’s sitting on a lawn chair.
I raise my hand before he can say his stupid ‘hey’. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I spend most of my day sitting on a hard floor helping kids build castles with blocks. This chair is a lot more forgiving.” The middle scar makes his grin lopsided. I refuse to think it’s endearing.
“I could call the cops, you know. This is private property.”
“And miss out on the awesome conversation we’re about to have?”
I grip the door handle. “Why do you keep coming here?”
“Most people’s eyes never leave my face, but you,” –He shakes a finger at me– “you’re different. You never look at me.”
I will the flower pot in the corner of the porch to fall over. “Because I want you to leave.”
“It think it’s because we’re the same.”
“We are nothing alike.”
“Just because you lock yourself away doesn’t mean people can’t see your scars, Anna.”
I close the door, and lean my head against the cold wood.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Ezekiel calls from the other side.
I’m not sure which idea I hate more: him coming back, or him finally listening to me when I tell him not to.
But he does come back. Every day. For the whole week.
On Friday he invites me to sit on the porch with him.
“Your porch swing is lonely,” he says, because he’s ridiculous.
“It’s an inanimate object.”
He turns to the swing. “She doesn’t mean that.”
I roll my eyes. “I dislike the sun.”
“What? The sun helps the trees grow.”
I glare at the tree in my front yard. “It gives you cancer.”
“Tap water gives you cancer these days.”
I close the door before I strangle him.
Ezekiel only works half days on Saturdays. I know this because he’s standing on my porch four hours earlier than usual holding a pair of pink, heart shaped sunglasses. “Emma, one of the girls in my daycare class, was complaining about the sun today, so I mentioned how you wouldn’t sit on the porch with me because it also bothered your eyes, and she told me I could borrow them. If I tell her you wouldn’t accept them she’ll be really upset.”
I grab the stupid sunglasses, and stalk over to the porch swing.
“Aren’t you going to wear them?”
I put them down beside me, and cross my arms. “They’re too small.”
He picks them up, and places them on my face. His lip twitches.
“If you laugh I will cook you into meat pies.”
He sits down beside me. “I liked that movie.”
I glare at him.
“Sweeny Todd.”
I trace the outline of the tree in the yard. The sunglasses help, but I’ll never tell him. “I don’t want to go to group on Monday.”
Ezekiel rocks the swing. “If it weren’t for group you’d never leave the house.”
“If I promise to sit on the porch swing with you, will you make an exception just this once?”
“Are you inviting me over on Monday?”
“No. I’m just saying if you show up at my door–like you’ve been doing for the last six days–maybe I’d be willing to sit on the porch swing with you again.”
“Do you promise to go the Monday after?”
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
“Then keep it.”
I fidget with the cushion. “It’s not that simple.”
“Sure it is.”
“No. It isn’t.”
“Then I’ll see you Monday.” Ezekiel gets up, and walks across the porch.
I scramble off the swing. “Wait!” He’s halfway down the step when I cut him off, and I raise my hands to his chest to stop him. “Please, wait.” I can feel his warmth just beneath my fingertips. Is he always this warm?
Ezekiel doesn’t move.
“I—I concede. I’ll go the Monday after. Just, don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad.”
“You’re not?”
He shakes his head. “Rita asks Jerome about you every week. Do you know why?”
How am I supposed to know that? “Why?”
“Because she’s worried about you.”
My hands drop.
“You’re one of us now whether you like it or not.”
“I am?”
“I’ll see you Monday.” My expression must be worrisome because he adds, “After group.” His boots clunk down the steps.
The porch swing sways back and forth as I retake my seat.
I knit for the rest of the day. I can’t concentrate on anything. We never made plans before. Knowing he is definitely coming Monday fills me with more nervous energy than I can deal with. I barely eat. I knit myself into a frenzy and add the gloves to my shop at 2AM Sunday morning.
I can’t remember a single thing Mom talks about when she visits. I tell her the truth about group. She wants to be upset, but can’t because of Ezekiel. Instead, she thanks me for being honest, and leaves. I’ve entered the Twilight Zone.
Monday is the worst day of all. I order more yarn off Amazon. I start a book, put it down, pick it up again, replace it on the bookshelf. I pace around the living room, walk to the front door, sit in my chair, open the door close the door, open it again. I sit on the floor and stare down the metal divider separating the tile entryway from the wooden porch. What’s so special about it? Why do I hate crossing it?
I get angry at it. I go to the kitchen, grab my cleaning supplies, and walk over the stupid metal thing, and then I scrub the porch swing until it sparkles in the sun. I bring the cushions inside, strip the fabric, and put it all in the washing machine. I watch through the glass as the water and soap swishes around inside.
My energy fades around four o’clock, and the self-doubt sets in. What if he doesn’t come? What if he does come? What are they saying at group? Did Ezekiel tell them he’d come to see me? A ball forms in the pit of my stomach. I run to the bathroom; I almost don’t make it. I brush my teeth.
I look out the window when a car drives by; it’s only five, too early still. I open the door, and stare at the metal plate again. “I will cross you,” I tell it. “I will.” I kick it. Pain shoots up my toe and down my foot. I curse, and I yell at it. I sit down on the tile, and glare at its stupid, shiny reflective surface. I don’t hear the car. I don’t hear him walk up the steps. I don’t hear anything until I’m staring at his black boots on my porch.
“Hey,” Ezekiel says, because why break with tradition now?
I crane my neck to look up at him.
“Should I ask why you’re sitting on the floor?”
I get to my feet, and trip on my way out the door.
Ezekiel catches me. “Are you alright?”
I hate Karma. “It’s because I kicked it.”
He looks confused. “Kicked what?”
I point at it. “The metal divider. I kicked it, because I hate it, and now it made me trip.”
“Shame on you.”
At first I think he’s talking to me, but then I realize he’s glaring at the metal divider. I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
“You’ve never laughed before.”
I look up at him. We’re very close, and his breath tickles my hair. I push away, and sit in the far corner of the swing. “It’s because you’re ridiculous.” He tries to sit beside me, but I put my arm out and say, “Too close,” so he sits in the other corner.
Ezekiel rocks the swing, and we sit in silence.
“How was group?” I ask after a while.
“Rita wants to show you pictures of the cake they got for Terry.”
I nod. “And everyone else?”
“Is excited to see you.”
The glare from the porch swing pierces my eyes, and I’m forced to close them. “The sun is too bright.”
“I anticipated as much.”
I open my eyes when he slides a pair of sunglasses on my face. “They aren’t heart shaped.”
“I had to give the other ones back.”
“You really took a little girl’s sunglasses?”
“She said they had magical powers to help people see in the sun.” I arch my eyebrows, and he raises his hands in defense. “She wouldn’t take no for an answer, okay?”
Neither of us says anything after that. The sun dips behind the tree.
I glance at him from the corner of my eye. His scars sing from this angle. “Ezekiel, what happened to your face?”
It’s so long before he speaks, I begin to think he won’t answer. “My father tried to gouge my eyes out with a butcher knife.”
“He missed.” It comes out before I can stop myself.
Peals of laughter erupt from him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean–”
He raises a hand. “Don’t apologize. That’s the most honest response I’ve received in the nine years since it’s happened.” He takes a deep breath, and looks over at me. “You’re right. He did miss.”
“Why?”
He leans his head back on the swing. “I was sixteen.”
I look at him; really look at him, even though I’m terrified when our eyes meet, because there’s understanding in them. I reach out, and trace the scars with my fingertips.
His whole body stills.
He is beautiful. The scars make him that way. Am I the same?
“You are.”
I spoke out loud without meaning to. “I wasn’t supposed to say that.”
“Which part?”
“I said it all?”
“You did.”
I bury my face in my hands. “Can you forget what I said?”
“I can leave quietly if you’re really embarrassed.”
I’m irritated by the hint of amusement in his voice. “Please.”
“Please leave, or please forget?”
“Both.”
I look up when the swing stops moving.
He stops halfway down the porch steps to look back.

Categories: Creative Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Stress Root

Someone suggested that I deal with the root of why I can’t write. The stress itself. I struggled a lot in first semester because in school grades matter. The difference between an A and a B could mean the difference between your registration being 1 hour sooner which is the difference between getting into the workshop you need to graduate or not. There’s a lot of pressure to measure up to the standard of “good” that the professors deem acceptably “good”. And after everything I went through in first semester, I left disappointed. In myself and in the system. I have a perfectionist complex, and if I don’t meet things to my level of what I think is acceptable I get down on myself.

It’s not that I can’t write, it’s that I feel I can’t write to the standard expected of me by the professors who are grading and judging me. Whenever I’ve thought I had something great I’d receive a much lower grade, and although I’m there to learn, I feel like the environment isn’t as conducive to learning as I expected. It’s not that I want to quit. I worked too goddamn hard to get in to quit. But my expectations of the learning environment are a lot different. Basically it as to do with expectation vs reality. Writers are very self-conscious of their writing (at least I am). I think it’s because when we write something we pour our heart and soul into the characters and the story. It makes us vulnerable.

To turn around and then have a group of peers and professors judge you on that is not just nerve wracking, but also hits my self-confidence in my ability to write. I want to write things that people enjoy reading and can relate to, and obviously not everyone is going to enjoy my writing, I mean, even I know I have a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make. Heck, re-reading some of my book makes me cringe because I’ve learned so many useful techniques that I can apply to it and make it that much better. But I want to learn in an uplifting environment. I don’t want to go to class and be like “Oh, I wonder which taboo thing I did this time in my writing.”

Apparently I write a lot of cliche things that I don’t know are cliche. You’d think with the amount of books I read (47 this year) I’d know what’s cliche and what’s not, but I’m not very knowledgeable with all the technical lingo of writing. I just write. I write and the story grows and the characters grow, and soon they’re out there living and I’m doing everything I can just to keep up behind them to document their journey. How do you judge someone on their ability to properly document someone else’s journey? Because people are cliche, they say weird things, and do things out of order. People aren’t perfect, so why should their journey be?

In order to write again I need to re-find that place where the writing is solely mine and not about what other people may think of it. I need to accept that from a technical, university standard, I might not be an A+ writer. But that doesn’t matter. What matters in writing is being true to yourself as an author, and being true to your characters and who they are as people. If you love and are passionate about your characters, other people will see that bleed through the writing. That’s why some of the best books aren’t necessarily the best written. I started this journey because I want to proudly hang that BFA on my wall, but in doing so I don’t want to look back and think I sold out just to make the grade.

I want to beat the system knowing I stayed true to my own authorial self and that I never wrote my characters out of character. I need to always be myself, and my characters also need to be their own self as well. And if that’s not good enough for my professors, then I guess I was never cut out for this school thing to begin with. Because ultimately it should be more important to me to be true to my writing, than for me to get an A, because that’s what writing is really about. It’s about finding those people and stories you are most passionate about and sharing them with other people who want to read them and can love them the way you do. Writing might be a solo act, but it brings people together too. Storytelling is where this began. A group of people sitting together and swapping ideas. And that’s where I want to stay.

~Kat

Categories: Life or Something Like it | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writers Block

Is alive and coursing through my system, ravaging the creative spark. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced writers block to this level. I mean, sure, I’ve had days where I couldn’t write, but they usually followed times when I had been writing for long hours over the course of multiple days. I’d take a few days, maybe a week, to regenerate and off I’d go writing again. But this. This is different. It’s been two weeks. And I have tried. I’ve stared at the blank page and told myself even bad writing is a place to start. And off I’d trek. I’d start the story. Then I’d erase it and start again. And I did this, am doing this, over and over to no avail. Nothing I do will make the words come out in coherent order.

So I guess my question is what now? Normally I’d take a serious break. I’d do a little soul searching, maybe focus on something else creative, like art or music. I’d think about my story and properly sort through my thoughts and feelings regarding it. Maybe I’d even try and work on older writing projects, since dealing with characters I’m already familiar with might help get me back into that head space. But I don’t have that luxury. As it stands I’m now 7 days away from school starting, and with it 7 days before I have a 3500 word short story due.

I’ve taken a break. I’ve tried writing, even if it was bad. I’ve walked away, and come back, slept on it; I’ve switched characters, names, locations, POV’s, tenses, and there’s still nothing. I’ve even tried writing not fiction in the hopes of getting the juices flowing. I thought if I couldn’t think of anything, I could write about a real experience, but even that ended in disaster. I know writers block is common and usually happens, sometimes multiple times, to writers, especially those that write a lot. It’s different from the “what if I never think of another story?” because it’s like there is a blank space where my characters should be. It’s a raucous room gone quiet. The door’s locked, and I’ve lost the key.

So what do you do? How do you get over creative blocks? Any suggestions? I’m at a complete loss, and stressing out because I have this looming deadline.

~Kat

Categories: Life or Something Like it | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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