Propose Part Two

engaged, marry, marriage
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Elyssa’s Perspective

I hadn’t expected Allie to propose. I couldn’t think straight. She doesn’t even know me. She thinks she does, but I haven’t told her the truth yet.

The bathroom is empty thankfully. Each stall is separated by full walls with wooden doors, the way every bathroom should be. Whose bright idea was it to leave gaps anyway? Does it actually save that much money on materials?

Hiding in the first stall, I expect Allie to come running after me. I expect my phone to buzz with her concerned texts and calls. Neither thing happens. I just stand there sniffling into too soft toilet paper. This restaurant is ridiculously fancy. I should’ve know.

The bathroom door opens. Two girls walk in talking about how awful their double date is. I lift my hand. “Silencio.”

My stall seals, blocking the outside sounds. Allie doesn’t know that I’m a witch.

Being gay is easier than being a witch. My friends were all supportive of the former. None of them know the latter. I can’t see the terror in Allie’s eyes when I tell her. I can’t deal with her looking at me like I’m a dangerous freak.

I wanted to tell Allie at the right time. But if I don’t tell her now, then I’ll lose her. My throat tightens. I’ll never be able to go back and speak the words. So I pull out my phone.

The ringing fills my ear. It goes to voicemail. Allie must be pissed. Her voicemail beeps.

“Hi, Allie. I’m so sorry that I left you like that. I just–I haven’t been fully honest. I–this should be an in person conversation, but I’m too afraid. I’m a witch. I have and use magic. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner. Please call me back. If you still want to marry me after this then, you’re a better person than me. I love you.”

Allie’s Perspective

A steaming plate of lasagna sits in front of me, uneaten. Elyssa’s spaghetti is getting cold. I want to go find her. I want to apologize. I want to take it all back.

Ring box closed, I put it beside her food. She’ll come back when she’s done freaking out. I try to eat my food, but my stomach churns every time I look at it.

The waitress asks if everything is okay. I say yes, that my girlfriend is just in the bathroom. She doesn’t feel well, I lie. The waitress looks at the ring box and offers takeout boxes. I accept. I pay the check.

My phone vibrates. It’s Allie. Is she calling to apologize? Did she leave? Is she moving out? As soon as her message is recorded, I listen to the voicemail.

Three years of dating and one year of living together, and she thought I didn’t catch on? I’d suspected the truth for the last year. Did she really expect me to believe that she could clean the entire apartment in ten minutes?

I shouldn’t be mad, but she basically insulted my intelligence. I don’t call her. Instead I text: I know you’re a witch. I loved you anyway. How could you not trust me with this sooner? Ring and dinner will be on the kitchen table. I won’t be there.

To be continued…

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Lovely Eyes

love, flowers, roses
Image via Burst from Pexel

Words are halting.

They come out messy,

left of their meaning.

They miss the mark.

 

Love.

An all-encompassing word that covers

family, friends, partners, pets.

It means you care and want to be around them.

Sometimes it’s flimsy cardboard.

Get it wet

and it dissolves.

It can be a word that you use because you have to.

You don’t feel it now,

but you’re supposed to.

Or it can be a word that you mean,

but you don’t know how you mean it.

“Love” without definition,

somewhere between friend and more.

 

The truth is in her face.

The lips curve;

eyes shine.

The unguarded smile,

“I love you” in the eyes.

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Propose Part One

ring, engagement, love, marriage
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Elyssa crosses the restaurant to meet me. This is it. After three years, I’m going to propose today. The ring feels heavy in my dress pocket. She’ll love it. It’s one of the designs from her Pinterest board.

Her hips sway as she approaches. Her little black dress fits her perfect curves. Sometimes I’m jealous of her. Sometimes I want her tiny form instead of my wide thighs and shoulders. She’s an hourglass. I’m a pear.

Not a single hair strays from Elyssa’s blonde bun as she slides into the booth across from me. “Have you been waiting long?” She asks, scanning the wine list.

“No,” I’m not sure. Every second has felt like an eternity. I won’t be calm until she says yes.

The waiter takes our drink orders. I get coconut rum and lemonade. She gets a sweet red wine.

Leaning across the table, she takes my hand. “Didn’t feel like Chinese food and binge-watching or did you want an excuse to wear that dress?”

We bought the dress together a few weeks ago. It’s my first real cocktail dress: burgundy, knee-length, off the shoulder. It’s gorgeous. Elyssa rubs her thumb across the back of my hand and her green eyes fix on my lips. My heart hitches the way it did that first time right before we kissed. Her soft pink lips break into a smile. “What’s the occasion?”

“We’ve lived together for a year without killing each other. Isn’t that occasion enough?”

“No,” she says, but she doesn’t press further.

We order and I wonder when I’m supposed to bust out the ring. People usually wait until after they’ve started eating, right?

“Allie, are you okay? You look pale.” Elyssa puts her hand against my forehead. “You’re burning up. Should we take the food to-go?”

She always does this. If I feel slightly nauseous, she tries to take care of me. It’s sweet and sometimes annoying. I brush her hand away. “I’m fine.” Shit. I said the f word.

“Hey, please talk to me.”

“I’m really okay. Just nervous.” I try to drink more alcohol without seeming suspicious.

Too late.

“This isn’t our first date. We live together.” She takes both of my hands. “I love you, remember?”

I can’t wait until our food comes. In the mirrored wall beside us, I barely recognize my slick, black hair. I’m glad that Elyssa straightened it for tonight. “Elyssa,” I stand up, move to her side of the table, and get on one knee. The carpet feels gross. Maybe I should’ve worn pants.

Despite her foundation, Elyssa’s face burns red. “Allie?”

I take the ring out with shaking hands. I can barely see her face. I think I’m blacking out. “Will you marry me?”

Her mouth moves, but I can’t hear the answer. She’s crying. She isn’t smiling. Then she’s moving past me towards the bathroom.

To be continued….

*****

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Lost Again

lost
Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Your path diverts in four different directions:

the sunny route by the ocean,

the one shrouded by dark forest,

the dirt trail over a hill,

or the one through the meadow.

You can’t see the end of any of them.

You know what you want.

You’ve read the map,

the paths that others have taken.

But these trails aren’t familiar.

 

So you start down one,

then double back.

Half way through the woods you wonder,

is this what I want?

What’s important?

Was I wrong before?

Is this the right way?

 

Voices jeer at you.

They give advice, all conflicting.

You’ve gained some ground

in the wrong direction.

So you give up everything,

swallow your pride,

ignore the voices,

and find yourself again.

***

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Choices

ferris wheel, choice, decide
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The words came undone and broke apart in Alaina’s mouth as the ferris wheel lifted her and her boyfriend, Cam up to the top, “I think we need to take a break.” She had been testing the words in her mouth since they’d gotten on, but they had only just slipped out when her heart lurched. Was she making a big mistake?   

Cam’s hand loosened in hers. Alaina looked out over the happy faces of their church picnic. She couldn’t look at him, but she saw in her mind his hurt and confusion. She pictured his eyebrows scrunched into zigzags above watery eyes.

“How long have you felt this way?”

Out of all the questions Alaina had prepared for, this wasn’t one she wanted to answer. The truth was months, but they’d talked about moving in together after college as recently as last week. Part of her had believed that this was what she wanted, but the other part knew the truth. She was doing the right thing. “Not long.”

“What changed?”

Alaina turned her head towards him, but stared at their hands. “I applied for a really good job in Florida, and I got an offer.”

“Did you accept it?”

In her mind, she saw his eyes glazing and his mouth pressing into a hard line. “Yes.” She couldn’t pass on it. It was exactly what she wanted to do. How could he ask her to give up her dreams?

Cam’s hand shifted onto his knee, leaving her fingers half-curled. He cleared his throat. “I understand. This was always temporary, wasn’t it?”

The ferris wheel stuttered to a halt. Their cart swung in the breeze. The early summer air still held a chill. “I thought I could find a job here, but I can’t.” She’d tried applying for any job remotely close to her degree, but she wasn’t passionate about them. She hadn’t even gotten an interview. She was doing the right thing.

The wheel turned and stopped. They were two carts from the bottom. Alaina forced herself to look over at Cam. He stared out in front of them, eyes locked on trees behind the church.

“Please say something.” Alaina hated the crack in her voice. She was supposed to be strong for him.

One cart between them and the bottom.

Cam shrugged. “What am I supposed to say? Everything’s different now.”

“Will we still talk?”

Their cart inched towards the platform where the bored carnival worker stood waiting to usher them off and usher on the next couple. Cam met her eyes and the indifference in his cut through her stomach. “No. I’m not going to help you feel better about what you’re doing. You chose this. Good luck in Florida.”

Alaina climbed out of the cart after him, but he walked down the platform and through the crowd before she could stop him. She pulled her phone out of her jean shorts pocket. She had done the right thing, hadn’t she? She needed to grow without him, to pursue a career that would make her happy. She scrolled through her old texts, reading the reassurances from her friends. She’d made the right move. She was doing the right thing. This was right, wasn’t it?     

Impulsive

Image via Breakingpic from Pexels

 

Detached words sound sweet,

inspire creativity,

Make you leap off the edge.

No parachute.

No plan.

 

Time traps you,

unable to skip the hard stuff.

There are options, escape plans.

Rum, vodka, pills,

but numb isn’t happy.

 

Let go let go let go let go.

Forgive your mistakes.

Forget the confused judgement in their eyes.

 

Eat too much.

Sleep too much.

Stress too much.

 

Know that you can’t go back.

Too late.

Too bad.

Undeceased Uncle Part Four

Image from Luiz Claudio via Pexel

Moonlight spilled across Ms. Freterer’s decanting table, dripping onto the floor. It slid over her bedspread and pooled on her face. Her throat closed. 180 long seconds. Her legs thrashed. Her hands scratched at her neck, but there weren’t fingers there. In the end, it was hopeless. She knew the price of cheating death, but she had done it anyway.

***

It turns out that coming back from the dead leads to cramped muscles, stiff joints, and a number of awful bodily problems. Castor stumbled out of bed, trying to massage his limbs back to life. They resisted, but he managed to make it to the kitchen without major incident. What do the undead eat? He grabbed a bowl of cereal, Aurora had stocked up on his favorite. “Aurora, do you want some?” Castor had passed his sister in the sitting room on his way down.

She didn’t respond, didn’t look up. Castor watched her. She was crouching by the front window, body clenched in a ball. He moved towards her. “Aurora, have you been up all night?”

As he reached out to touch her, he heard her frantically whispering. “Praise be the moon goddess for bringing my brother back home,” Aurora chanted. She flinched away from his hand. “I’m not done! I’m not done. Eat without me.”

Castor grabbed her shoulder. “Have you been sitting here all night?” No, that was crazy. But she was wearing the same clothes from yesterday.

“Let me go! I didn’t finish yet.” She kept her head bent over her folded hands. “High praise, high praise from your lowly servant.”

“That’s enough.” Castor pulled her hands apart. “Pray after you eat.”

Aurora started to protest, and then she perked up like someone was speaking to her. Her face became serene. “Yes, I’ll eat first.”

Castor’s hunger dissipated. This was his fault.

***

Aurora’s health deteriorated as quickly as Castor’s limbs. She hadn’t gone to the store to replenish their supply of Say No to Eternal Rest, the only thing keeping Castor’s body from rotting. Even if Castor could go without fear of being lynched again, Ms. Freterer’s was closed. The shop was boarded the day after Castor’s return, the day that Larry found her body.

As hard as Castor tried, he couldn’t pry Aurora from her prayers. The moments she fell silent were the worst. She would disappear for several hours and return with scarlet hands. “Paint,” she’d claim, but her eyes, usually glazed, would glint slightly and she’d smile. Castor couldn’t confront her, couldn’t admit his guilt in all of this when she refused to acknowledge his normal requests, like reminding her to sleep and eat. Often she’d reek of pee before Castor could drag her to the bathroom to shower. He considered ending it, but even in death, she couldn’t rest. He had taken that from her too, gave her eternity away without her permission.

But this was her fault. If she hadn’t been so hellbent on keeping that stupid promise…If she hadn’t played with death…, he thought. He considered crawling back into his coffin, but how do the undead die again? Was he doomed to rot fully conscious? He was pondering the possible suicide options when he heard the worst sound. An exhausted thud.

Aurora and Castor’s house wasn’t tall, but if you landed right…Aurora’s body was twisted. Blood leaked out. A red so dark it was nearly black seeped into the soil. She was face down. Castor thanks the gods that she’s face down.

***

How long does it take the undead to die? As long as it takes to mourn. Years and years until the pain dulls. Castor’s body disintegrated and his consciousness faded until, like the loved one lost, he faded quietly into dust.

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http://www.wedbushwrite.com/undeceased-uncle-part-two/

http://www.wedbushwrite.com/undeceased-uncle-part-3/

March Writing Update

March has been a month of plotting and brainstorming. I’ve been continuing to world build for my new novel and getting to know the characters in more depth. All of this brainstorming has culminated in pages of maps, culture, characters, and plotting in order to know the world before starting the story. And now, at the end of the month, I have finally started writing the first draft! While my goal was to start it at the beginning of March, I decided it was better to have a more complete world built than to dive in with the idea half-baked.

I can’t give away too much yet, but the story does involve dragons and I will be sharing a short snippet about these dragons in the future.

Stay tuned for the final section of the short story Undeceased Uncle, for poems, and for more about these dragons!

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Check out last weeks post: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/playing-spotlight/

Playing in the Spotlight

It’s the liquid courage,

weapon of choice: rum.

It’s the music,

the way the notes hit

and connect everyone in that moment of ecstasy.

It’s the intimate side eye and smile,

the perfect joke,

the rest of the room fading away.

It’s the attention,

knowing that you’re attractive and interesting,

confidence pulsing through your veins,

replacing your blood.

The feeling pushes you forward, driving you to run and dance and act,

but it can’t last.

 

Excitement fades.

Parties end.

Confidence wavers.

And reality waits.

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Undeceased Uncle Part 3

All Castor remembered of life was a rope scratching his neck and his sister’s voice in his ear, “I’ll bring you home again.” The promise stuck with him long after the ground fell away and the cold rushed to meet him and his own name became foreign. When he woke, he couldn’t remember who had said it or if it was real. So many things he saw weren’t real. The space around him looked familiar, but parts of the world would fade in and out of focus. Sometimes shadows would drift past. They were shapeless and if they spoke, their voices sounded distorted like speaking underwater. Castor wanted to engage with them, but if he approached, they would disappear. He couldn’t remember much, but when he was alive, real things didn’t disappear. I.e. the shadows weren’t real.

Though Castor didn’t have a clear body anymore, he could only see so much space at one time. He was connected to everything and nothing, and he was limited. He could travel to different locations but not instantly. Being dead was exponentially boring, so he traveled often. He tried to find other beings like him to no avail.

But he had recently heard a familiar voice calling to him. He couldn’t place how he knew her, but her voice cut more clearly through the veil than any other. Most of her words were mumbled. He caught “soon,” “flame…extinguish,” and “will be home.” This woman had made the promise. Castor couldn’t recall anything about her or his home, but that didn’t matter much. Anywhere would be better than the place he was.

 ***

Dead people don’t sleep, but paying attention for all of eternity grows old. To fill the void, Castor stops focusing. He lets himself settle in one spot and then looks past everything he sees until he’s no longer looking. This is exactly what Castor was doing when the moon goddess approached him. She appeared in the form of a shimmering silver orb. “Do you want to live again?” she asked him.

It took him a minute to register her words. “I’m sorry?” He doubted that she had that power.

“Do you want to return home?”

“If it were possible.” Saying yes felt like a trap.

“It is possible.” The orb burned brighter from pale blue to hot white.

“What do I have to do?”

“Nothing.”

“What does it cost?”

“Your sister’s, your relatives’, and your ancestors’ undying devotion to me.”

Castor didn’t understand. “How can I make them worship you?”

“You can’t, but you can give me permission to make them worship me.” The orb floated closer. “I’m a loving goddess. I don’t hurt my supporters. You have my word.”

“Why doesn’t everyone come back from the dead if it’s that easy?”

“Your sister has already made a sacrifice to me in your name. Not everyone will do what it takes.”

Castor considered. Did he have a sister? Why was she trying to reverse death? Necromancy is known to be the darkest of black magic.

“I don’t have much time, and I need your permission, your half of the deal. Don’t let your sister have suffered in vain.”

Castor wanted to refuse, but refusing a goddess is ill advised. It was already too late. His sister had started the mess. He couldn’t back out. “My sister, relatives, and ancestors will worship you above all other gods and goddess until their dying day.”

“No, I want their loyalty forever, even in death,” the orb snapped.

“They will worship you forever.”

It happened quickly. Castor was formless watching the orb rise into the air, and then an uncomfortable feeling of compression came over him. His being was being compounded into a shape again. The invisible force shoved him deep into the ground, pried open his coffin, and jolted him back into his body. Cold flesh trapped him. He tried to stretch in his skin, but everything was stiff and the dirt weighed down on the coffin lid. What good was coming back from the dead if he had to claw back to the surface?

Then the dirt rolled off the coffin as if made of water. The weight of the ground disappeared, and Castor pushed the lid open. The light from the moon shone too bright for Castor. He squinted up at the world of the living and suddenly it felt safer to be dead. What if his murderers returned? What if they killed him again? What if they tried to kill him again but he couldn’t die? People say nothing is worse than death, but these people don’t know torture.

Castor buried his fear, stepped out of the coffin, and rejoined the world. Memories from his life swirled in his brain, but the loudest one was the whisper from the woman, his sister. Her promise glowed in the graveyard and pushed him forward. If asked where his house was, he wouldn’t be able to answer, but his feet that night led him home.

Aurora had left the front door unlocked. He crossed the threshold, and the candle in the front room flickered out. “Aurora?” he called, moving from room to room. Her footsteps thundered down the steps and her arms were around him before he could turn to face her.

She shivered at his cool touch, but she didn’t let go. “You’re late. Ms. Freterer promised you’d be home before moonrise.”

“Ms. Freterer?” The name felt odd in his mouth.

“She owns the potions shop, don’t you remember?” Aurora stepped back to examine him. Her eyes lingered on the rope burn around his neck. “You still look dead.”

“I only remember certain things right now. I’d be surprised if I didn’t look like a corpse, my heart isn’t actually beating.”

“We can clean you up; it doesn’t matter as long as you’re home.” She tried to pull him towards his bedroom, but he wouldn’t move.

“Rora, what sacrifice did you have to make to the moon goddess?”

Aurora frowned. “Nothing. I just bought a potion, poured it out, and lit a candle.”

“That’s all? You swear?”

“Yes. What happened to you?”

“It’s nothing. Dying just makes you paranoid. On the other side, it was impossible to know what was real.”

“Well, this is real.” Aurora smiled and she showed him into his bedroom.

***

Aurora didn’t sleep that night. Instead she sat by her bedroom window and prayed to the moon goddess, thanking her for bringing Castor back. She prayed for Ms. Freterer and for Castor’s health. She lost hours just talking to the moon goddess, a one-sided conversation that always came back to Castor. Aurora had always been weary of necromancy, but this wasn’t scary. This wasn’t dark and evil and wrong. This was love.

To be continued…

*****

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