June 2020 Update

Hi, welcome to my writing updates page!

If you’re interested in receiving writing updates from me, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Not only will this newsletter contain writing updates and bonus content, it will also include short stories and poems delivered directly to your inbox. You can find the sign-up at the bottom of the WedbushWrite homepage.

Thanks for reading!

Fun House Mirror

Anxiety changes our perception of the world. It twists everything into the worse case scenario, and we can’t control it. “Fun House Mirror” is a poem that reflects this feeling.


Fun House Mirror

The scale reads the same as always.

The mirror reflects your lies,

a ballooning stomach,

fat, fat thighs.

Are your jeans tight?

They feel tight.

Tighter than your dress pants.

You clearly gained weight.

You eat less.

Run more.

You still eat.

You’re fine.

Write and rewrite the email.

Don’t look stupid.

Don’t mess up.

You always mess up.

Try harder.

You’re dying.

But you’re not dying.

But you can’t breathe.

And you’re shaking.

Are you convulsing?

Is this a stroke? Heartattack? Shock?

Realize you’re really not dying.

Repeat.

***

Like this poem? Share it on Facebook and Twitter, or Read more here: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/waves-of-anxiety/

Want more poems sent straight to your inbox? Sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/c70f71aaffb8/wedbushwrite

The Last Star

“The Last Star” is a flash fiction piece following two girls who sneak into an arboretum in the middle of the night to hang out together. Then something strange happens…


The Last Star

White lights filled the night sky. Grace had never seen so many stars. People say that beauty takes your breathe and your words, but Grace finally felt like she could breathe. She felt the pull of the universe. “This place is amazing.”

Her new friend, Fiona, beamed. “I’m glad you like it. No one ever comes here at night.”

They were in the middle of the county arboretum, right off the path where the trees opened up to let in the sky. Technically it was closed after sunset, but there wasn’t a fence. Fiona’s hand bumped against Grace’s. “I like to lay out here. I have a blanket in my trunk if you want,” Fiona suggested. “I’ll be right back.”

Grace’s heart jumped, but before she could worry too hard, a shooting star caught her eye. What should I wish for?

Another star fell. Then three more. Then groups of ten stars started streaking down and disappearing. 

“Got it! What are you looking at?” Fiona dropped the blanket and it rolled into the back of Grace’s legs. 

“Is it a meteor shower?” Grace asked. But nearly half the stars in the sky had disappeared. “Should we tell someone? Should we find shelter?”

Fiona shrugged. Then the whirring of the tornado siren sounded in the distance, and their phones buzzed. 

The Presidential Emergency Message system had texted: “Take cover. Do not panic. This is not a drill.” Grace opened the message, trying to find more information, but there wasn’t any. 

As Grace looked around for the nearest building, she grabbed Fiona’s wrist. Fiona stopped scrolling. Besides their phones and a streetlight in the parking lot, everything was pitch black. The last star had fallen. 


Like this story? Sign up for my newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/c70f71aaffb8/wedbushwrite

Or check out my previous short story here: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/perfect-home-part-one/

In the Final Hour

Purple tinge colors the winter sky

As the sun descends

And the day ends.

 

Barren branches create

Patterns above my head.

They creak in the bitter wind.

Quiet screams.

 

Isolation and cold surround me,

But I’m not lonely

and I’m not scared.

 

We anticipate.

We dread.

We avoid.

But it comes in the end.

Time is relentless.

***

Like this poem? Read more like it: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/red-as-blood/a

Perfect Home Part Three

Photo by Evie Shaffer from Pexels

“Gwen, on our last anniversary you hit your head. You were really drunk, fell down some stairs. When you woke up in the hospital, you couldn’t remember your own name. It took awhile before you could leave. You were so distraught. Every day you woke up remembering nearly nothing. The doctor warned me before you were released that your memories could vanish again.” My supposed-fiance gave me a sad smile. It was almost patronizing. “Here, I’ve been helping you keep a diary since the accident. It’s supposed to help you retain your memories.” He grabbed a floral notebook off of the bookshelf.

Holding it tight, I sunk back onto the couch. Just from looking at the closed pages, I could tell that I’d nearly filled half of the notebook. “I’m sorry, what’s your name?”

“Cal. I’ll put this stuff away while you read. Feel free to ask me anything if you have questions.” He started storing the groceries. The cupboard was organized the way I remembered, but there was more junk food. His junk food.

My hands fiddled with the journal pages as I opened it to the most recent entry. It was from yesterday. My small, tight handwriting was scrawled across the pages:

Woke up remembering that yesterday I’d forgotten everything. I had, had a weird dream about sleeping with Destiny. I don’t know if it happened sometime long ago, but I can’t ask Cal. He’s been so patient with me. At least that’s what my diary tells me. I feel like I’m moving one step forward and two steps back. How does this happen? I’ve never heard of someone remembering and then forgetting and then remembering again. Cal says to trust the doctors. I don’t know. They don’t seem to have any more idea of what’s wrong with me than I do. 

I flipped to an earlier entry.

I remember. I remember meeting Cal and falling in love with him. My life was perfect. I want that life again. I want to remember always. I just don’t know how. 

Could I have been more vague? If I had remembered, then I should’ve written a detailed description about everything. Why not make it easier for myself to remember later?

I tried another entry.

Today Destiny called. She’s moving across the city for  work. Apparently she’s been promoted. Since it’ll now take two hours to get to her apartment, Cal and I probably won’t be seeing her much. She sounded happy. I’m happy for her, but she’s my closest friend. I don’t want her to move so far away.

“What’s Destiny’s new address?” I asked.

Cal looked up from the pack of chicken that he was separating out into freezer bags. His eyebrows furrowed. “She’s hours away now, Gwen. We haven’t spoken to her in a month.”

“I know that she moved, I just. I think seeing her will jog my memory. The journal is good, but I just have a feeling.”

“I’ll come with you. I miss her too, and I can’t let you navigate that far without all of your memories. The electric line has changed recently.”

***

Saying that the electric line made some changes was an understatement. They had done a massive overhaul, revamping the stations and adding new stops and lines. It was incredibly more complicated than I remembered, and I was actually glad that Cal was here to help. Until we arrived at Destiny’s.

Her apartment was the penthouse in a newly refurbished tower across the street from the mall of the north side. Luckily she was home. She let us in and an hour and a half of obligatory small talk commenced. It was only when Cal left for the bathroom that I could actually talk to her.

“The last thing I remember is you leaving my apartment the morning after the company Christmas party.” I leaned forward. “How?”

She was just as beautiful as I remembered, except now there was a streak of grey in her hair. I couldn’t tell if it was intentional. Destiny tilted her head. “I honestly don’t remember that night, but I probably left through the front door.”

“You don’t remember meeting me? Or do you remember it differently?” I tried to keep my voice level, but my angry and frustration leaked out.

“I meet a lot of people, Gwen. Do you remember your first time meeting everyone you know? I’m sorry. That was insensitive.”

“You don’t remember anything about that night?”

“I had had a lot to drink, and I’ve been to quite a few Christmas parties over the years. I wish I could remember, believe me.”

“I don’t. I don’t believe you about any of this. One minute I was single in a shitty apartment, and now I’m supposedly engaged with a memory disordered? Switch it back.”

Destiny’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t understand.”

“Switch it back. I don’t want this life. I want to be where I was before.”

I expected her to lie through her teeth, to convince me that I just couldn’t remember. Instead, she smiled. “Everyone wants to go back to the past. But what’s done is done. I promised you a perfect life, and I’ve delivered. Minus the memory issues–which you created by the way, just wouldn’t give in and be happy. This life is my gift to you, remember? Free of charge. No returns. You’re welcome.”

Clarity

 

Pen in hand

happiness dampens,

dissolving in rain

 

Pen in hand

the razor blade raises

to the skin again

 

Pen in hand

dig in, pour out over

and over until

 

Pen in hand

blood soaks the page and

 

you breathe.

Perfect Home Part Two

Somehow, overnight, my apartment had been transformed. I sat on my new blue satin couch, staring up at my lofted bed. My boring kitchen table had been replaced with an ugly white and blue tiled table built from iron and the uncomfortable wooden chair had changed into a grey bean bag.

I locked the front door since Destiny hadn’t bother to on her way out. Then I spotted her business card on my kitchen counter with a handwritten note:

Great night! I owed you one. Your perfect life begins now. XOXO-Destiny

I turned the card over and over in my hand. How had she done all of this without waking me? Did she drug me? My legs ached, but that probably had nothing to do with the new apartment. Where had my old furniture gone? Did she sell it?

I dialed the number on the card.

“I’m sorry. The number you are trying to reach is no longer available.”

Even though it was Saturday, I looked up the number for Perfect Homes on my phone. The website only had the number for the main line, but I called anyway.

“Hello, Perfect Homes. This is Susan.”

“Hi, could I please speak to Destiny Andrews?”

“I’m sorry, who’s calling?”

“One of her clients, Gwen.”

“And you said you’re calling for a Destiny Andrews?”

“Yes,”

“I’m sorry, we don’t have a Destiny here. Did you perhaps mean Diana?”

Did Destiny give me a fake name? “No, I don’t think so. Thank you.”

Did she use fake business cards to sleep with women? But why actually transform my place then? And how?

Sinking into my new couch, I was amazed at how comfortable it was. My eyelids drooped. The wires on my old futon used to dig into my back. Maybe I could keep the furniture and moving on. So what if it was possibly stolen? Who cares what happened to the old junk? This was a gift. Or at least that’s what the card had said.

The handle on my front door rattled. Then a key slid into the lock and clicked it open. No one had keys to my apartment except me. I jumped up and grabbed the closest heavy object, a hardback book.

As a tall man stepped into my apartment, I launched the book at him. It fell short. “What the hell are you doing in my apartment?” I demanded.

The man was classically handsome: perfect nose, strong cheekbones, and beautiful green eyes. He held his hands up, stopping just inside the doorway. “Woah! Honey, it’s me. I just went to the grocery store.”

“I think you have the wrong apartment.” I snapped. It felt ridiculous to be having this conversation in my baggy PJ’s while he was dressed in dark jeans and a fancy pea coat. Why was he living in this rundown complex if he clearly had money or at least enough to buy a nice coat and food?

The man smiled, but his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Are you feeling okay? I moved in last week, remember?”

“No, you didn’t. Who are you and where did you get that key? I live in a studio with barely enough room for one person. Why would I want a roommate?”

The man set the grocery bags on the counter and approached me, but I grabbed another book. “Come any closer and I’ll smack you with this.”

He stopped. “Gwen, we’re engaged.”

I swung the book, thunking it against his head. On the second swing, he grabbed my wrist and knocked the book out of my hand. “What’s going on with you? Don’t you remember me?”

I yanked my hand away and backed up against the window. “Don’t come closer!”

“Gwen, please talk to me. What’s the last thing you remember?”

I wanted to climb out the window or call the police, but this guy just looked so concerned and nothing was making sense. “Yesterday was my first company Christmas party. I met Destiny Andrews, an interior designer. She came back to my place, gave me a quote, and spent the night. When I woke up, my apartment was different. It was exactly like she had described. But I don’t know how that’s possible. And I didn’t pay her. I don’t know why she would do all this for free.”

The man’s mouth quivered slightly. “The doctors had said this would probably happen again. You’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Gwen, you met Destiny in 2037. She introduced me to you in 2042. Today is November 13, 2045.”

I laughed. It didn’t make sense. I’d spent almost ten years in the same studio? No. No, that wouldn’t happen. This guy was the crazy one, maybe an actor. Maybe I was on one of those prank shows. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to show this guy the date. November 13, 2045. And the lock screen was a picture of the two of us bundled up together on a ski lift. I scrolled frantically through my pictures and combed over my social media. It was true. Everything that he had said was true. There were pictures of us dating over the last few years, a handful of engagement pictures, and a few with Destiny. As I looked at them, memories tickled the back of my mind. I could remember a scent or a feeling, but nothing more substantial. I looked at the man, my supposed-fiance, but his name wouldn’t form. I liked men well enough, but I had always expected I’d marry a woman. “What’s going on?”

To be continued…

Perfect Home Part One

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

The elegant brunette woman clutched a business card in her perfectly manicured hands. It read: “A fully furnished home is the only path to a truly happy life.”–Destiny Andrews, Decorator for Perfect Homes, the family-friendly furniture company.

The pearly pink surface of the card shimmered as I took it. “Thanks.” I had just started my job as an executive assistant in the big city and my own cards hadn’t arrived yet. I wouldn’t have brought them to my company’s Christmas party anyway.

The woman, someone’s date no doubt, gestured for the bar tender to pour me another. “You just moved you said? I can give you a discount for your whole apartment.”

“It’s a studio.” I’d spent the last month in a $3000 a month studio with barely room for a bed and kitchen table. What could she possible do to fix it?

“Well, I love working with quaint spaces. I’ll give you a free quote if you’d like.” Her hand brushed against mine as we both reached for our drinks.

I pulled my hand back, adjusting my dark green shawl. Compared to everyone else, my simple, black dress was shabby. It looked too business-y and stuffy. Destiny smiled at me over her vodka cranberry. The drink matched her lipstick and her slender cocktail dress. It was bold, a little short and a little low cut.

I grabbed the drink she ordered for me. “Thank you, for the drink and the offer. I’m sleeping on a futon. It’s…I haven’t had much time to furniture shop yet.”

“I’ll bet. Where’d you move from?”

“West. Middle of nowhere really.”

“Hon, everywhere is the middle of nowhere compared to here. I’m surprised that after the last of the gas dried up, people stayed in the countryside. They don’t even have electric car ports out there. Not that we need the ones here with the metro and electric lines, but they’re really stuck.” Destiny’s clipped accent, the city accent, made each word sound sharp.

My parents and most of my family were stuck out west. They had known it was coming, but they didn’t want to move. The city was too cramped, too expensive, too liberal. I didn’t blame them, but at twenty-two, the city had all of the opportunities, or at least all of the ones that mattered to me.

When I set my drink down, I had nearly finished it already. Two drinks and no food does it for me. I was grateful that the electric line runs close to my apartment. “I should probably be heading back soon. It was nice to meet you, Destiny.”

Destiny downed the rest of her drink. “I can walk with you back. It’s better to use the buddy system this late.”

It was only 9 pm, and we both knew the electric line was the safest transportation in the country. Women didn’t get attacked anymore, not randomly in this city. I finished my own drink. “You really don’t have to come. I’d hate for you to miss the rest of the party.” Half of my co-workers were still here, settling in for a long night.

“I don’t think I’ll miss much. My friend brought me so she wouldn’t be alone and now she’s over there flirting.” Destiny gestured to the blonde woman who was sitting in a booth whispering to a waiter half her age.

Destiny offered me her arm, and we shuffled out into the cold. Frost coated the sidewalk, slowing us down in our heels. The streets and sidewalks bustled, and snow flakes danced underneath the streetlights. My favorite thing about the city was that even at night, it shone bright as day. The ride to my street went fast, and we arrived at my place still arm in arm. Once upon a time we might’ve been heckled, not anymore.

“Could I come up and see your place? I just like to get an idea of the space that I’m working with.” Destiny asked as I fumbled for my key.

“I don’t think I can afford a bunch of furniture right now. I just moved. I can barely eat.” I said the last part like a joke, but we both knew it wasn’t one.

“The quote is free, and furniture is an investment.”

I let her follow me up the three flights. The building was dingy and smelled moldy. I figured she wouldn’t stay long, just long enough to be polite. It was her fault really for not taking no for an answer. When I opened my front door, her face lit up at the kitchen table tucked between the wall and the back of the unfolded futon. “I can work with this.”

She stepped in before me and started taking my books off the shelves above my table. “We’ll take these shelves out and put in a table that can fold up against the wall. Then we’ll replace this wooden chair with a memory foam bean bag so it can double as a kitchen chair and arm chair.” She looked around a second as if searching for more space. “Instead of a futon, you can loft your bed against the far wall with the window and set up a love seat in the middle of the room. It’ll be cozy, but it would really open up the floor space.”

I couldn’t imagine it. The ceiling didn’t seem high enough to loft the bed. “Thank you for the suggestions.”

“You hate it? What if I wrote up the dimensions and showed you through VR? You could see what the space would really look like.”

“I told you. I can’t afford it.” I kicked off my shoes and filled a glass of water. “Do you want anything to drink?”

She settled herself on the edge of the futon. “Night cap?”

“I have wine or rum?”

“Rum, please.”

“Any mixer?”

“Ice.”

I joined her on the opposite side of the futon. I didn’t usually do this, bring strangers back to my apartment. To be fair, I wasn’t in the dating scene much to begin with.

Then she was in my lap kissing me or maybe I kissed her first. It happened so fast I can’t remember.

Our drinks left rings of water on the kitchen table.

***

I woke to the front door clicking shut and the sight of cranberry lipstick smudges on my sheets. Half asleep, I swung myself out of bed to lock the door, and I fell and smacked my face on the arm of a couch. Luckily I wasn’t bleeding and I still had all of my teeth. But somehow, overnight, my apartment had been transformed. I sat on my new blue satin couch, staring up at my lofted bed. My boring kitchen table had been replaced with an ugly white and blue tiled table built from iron and the uncomfortable wooden chair had changed into a grey bean bag.

When I locked the front door, I spotted Destiny’s business card on my kitchen counter with a handwritten note:

Great night! I owed you one. Your perfect life begins now. XOXO-Destiny.

To be continued…

***

Like this story? Read part two November 19 or read more like it here: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/links-and-gaps/

Monster’s Lullaby

Let the Jack O’Lanterns

light the way

as you skip past me

on Hallows Eve.

I lurk in shadows

underneath the porch

or bridge

or bed.

As your bag of candy rustles,

as you trade your favorite sweets,

remember me

or don’t forget

as I sneak into your

closet.

 

After a long night of trick-or-treating

you’re safe inside your bed.

With visions of chocolate and gummies

dancing in your head.

And as you fall asleep,

safe from witch or ghoul or ghost

the monster with you in the darkness

is the one you fear the most.

 

***

Like this poem? Read more like it here. Or sign up for the monthly newsletter to receive short stories, poems, and more directly in your inbox.

For the Good of the Coven

Photo by Joy Marino from Pexels

The toadstools glisten in the autumn rain. Evanora Everett pulls her black cloak tighter around her shoulders as she approaches her coven leader’s home. It’s a quaint cottage, English in style and at odds with the nearest neighbors. Water soaks through Evanora’s pointed black boots, and her black kitten splashes alongside her. Familiars don’t mind water. They don’t mind much. They’re said to be braver than witches themselves sometimes.

Through the iron gate of the garden and into the gathering hall, Evanora and her kit invite themselves in. All twelve members of the coven are already present, but not one looks up when they enter. Evanora has a reputation for her tardiness. She scoops up Freddy, her kitten, and takes her place in the back row, end chair.

Circe Harper, the eldest witch, stands up from her seat at the front and lays her cane across the chair. “Samhain approaches sisters. We must prepare to pay tribute to our ancestors and ready any spells or potions for the world beyond. You know the rules. No divination from now until the veil is sealed. Faeries can interfere, and if we allow them, they will control our fate.” Despite her curving spine and sagging skin, she holds herself upright, as straight as age and nature will allow. “I open the floor to the coven principals.”

Three women rise. Each represents a faction of the whole: one middle-aged, one early adult, and one teenager. Witches have a place in the coven at age 13, though they’re not full witches until 19. Each faction meets separately to discuss their concerns with their principal who then voices these concerns at the monthly coven meetings. It’s dry and political. Evanora despises the mini-meetings and the principal reports.

The principals have little this month. Circe nods as each woman speaks, but the familiars in the room shift restlessly, licking paws and rustling feathers. When the final principal sits, the entire coven moves to their feet. Circe waves her hand to silence the chatter. “We have one additional matter of business, the missing child.”

A ripple of indignation flows through the crowd. Circe raises her hand once more. “As many of you know, some humans are spreading rumors that an old crone is behind this. That only a witch could make a child vanish in daylight. While this theory is generally known to be an unbelievable, impossible conspiracy, the closer we get to Halloween, as they call it, without a child or a body, they will become more inclined to lash out. Though they will not suspect the whole coven, some members are more vulnerable than others. Travel in twos, but avoid suspicion. Only plain clothes unless indoors. No odd purchases. Keep your tools in a safe location until this passes.”

“Sisters, why have we not tried locating the child ourselves?” the teenage principal, sixteen-year-old Morgan Andrews, asks. Her green eyes burn with frustration.

Evanora holds her tongue between her teeth, and Freddy kneads her jeans. Morgan used to put her faith in Circe, but since starting high school, the girl has mastered over half of the coven’s spell book and thinks herself more powerful and intelligent than most of the coven.

“We have tried. The Faeries have her,” The no-nonsense, middle-aged principal, Phoebe Harper, replies. Phoebe is Circe’s niece.

“So let’s get the girl back on Samhain. We’ll take her from the Faeries and return her.” Morgan sticks her hands into her pockets as her raven familiar bristles with pride.

“It’s not that simple,” Evanora blurts. “Kidnapping the child will begin a war with the Faery folk. That’s a war that neither side wants and one that we can’t finish. The last war with the faeries almost ended the Everett bloodline. A human child isn’t worth it.”

Morgan turns to Evanora as does the entire coven. “The child is a means to an end. Rescuing the child will make the humans accept our coven. We will be free to practice magic and carry on.”

“And the humans will just accept that faeries are real? They’ll take our word for it that we rescued the kid from beyond the veil and we didn’t take her initially ourselves?” Evanora’s face heats as she meets the eye of every witch in the coven, landing last on Circe. Circe’s pale blue eyes are almost totally white. Her thin lips twist up slightly, encouraging and agreeing.

Morgan starts in with a counterargument, but Evanora raises her hand. Stunned, Morgan falls silent. Evanora feels Freddy stiffen with his eyes locked on Morgan’s raven. “We protect our own. We stay out of human affairs.”

Morgan’s shoulders slump. “I used to babysit her.”

Freddy leaps across the room, climbing his way onto Morgan’s chair. He sniffs her, and rubs his head against her arm.

Circe holds her moonstone necklace in one hand and addresses the coven with her other. “We will honor this child’s sacrifice. Alive or passed, she is allowing our worlds to live in peace. Praise to the Goddess.”

The entire coven raises their hands. Evanora meets Morgan’s eyes. Beneath the despair, a fire still burns in them. “Praise to the Goddess.”

***

Like this story? Read more like it here. Or sign up for the monthly newsletter at the bottom of the homepage to get stories, poems, and more directly in your inbox!