Saturday, March 19, 2011

When you're gone, all I do is eat veggie chips and mini-twix.

I suppose I have to lick the salt from my fingers long enough to post. And curse. 
Damn you, Lily's Feardom. You gobble up my time. I obsess over you. But I can't really stop.

Ah well. A challenge from two weeks ago kicked my 10 month story writing block out the door. The results are as follows. Criticism is welcome. Compliments aren't. Skip to the bottom for more blog and less story. 

     The words are thick and linty popping out of your mouth, that heavy 
bottom lip. I never tasted a cupid's bow until I had yours. I looked it 
up in the dictionary, I doodled it on the bus. I think we're doing 
something cool and secret and scared. I love girls. I love girls. I think 
I love you. My underwear is set with electric buzzers when I smell the 
shampoo in your hair. You are my best friend, and I want you forever.  

    We rode on the bus to my house. grandma said I could invite you over for 
my birthday party. we hold hands like best friends. But inside, I know it 
means we‟re like, boyfriend-and-girlfriend-but-not. Not in the way the 
world would get.  

     “Let's go in,” those fuzzy words say. 
I don't think anything hard could come from your mouth. only things that are soft, and pink-red. Even when you're angry. it's like hot strawberry pudding, your voice.  
When grandma's angry, it's like glass and bricks going down your throat 
the wrong way. it hurts to even talk back.  
you never ask why my mom is gone and my grandma is raising me. I love you 
for that. I could tell you all my secrets. My mom loved women.  

       “Like, I love my mom?” 

No, like the way I love you. but I just shake my head.  

The door is open, but the light is off. 

I slowly untangle my hand. Grandma would be mad if she saw. But I don‟t 
think you get it. Your mouth puckers in a little and makes me sad. We go 
into my house to find the party, find grandma.  

 I don't trip because I know where everything is in the dark – Juls 
doesn't, so it‟s like a game. Julie only falls once and nearly breaks a 
vase with grandpa's ashes, the one grandma keeps by her chair. 

“What is it?” Hefting the vase. “Real heavy!” 
It's grandpa‟s ashes. But I don't want to scare her. 
 “It's our old dog's ashes.”  
Jul‟s mouth pops into a little "o" of surprise and her hand slips. I 
tumble forward, knocking into the chaise lounge, barely retaining a grip 
on grandpa.  

 We move on from there, and I forget to tell her not to hold my 
hand, that grandma gets mad, and she does mean things when she gets mad. 
A warm, sweaty palm finds mine like it‟s been there it‟s whole life, like 
we was born that way, like maybe we had the same mother. 

 We're in the bedroom, and it's gotten darker. You try to flip a 
switch but grandma always unplugs the lamps when it's light out, and 
plugs them back in when it's dark. We both giggle at the sight of 
grandma's bed. The wood of the four poster frame looks black in the 
dimness, and the sheets look like the moon. I can suddenly imagine us 
spending the night there, and scaring you with my ghost stories while 
your feet rub mine.  

The door slams. 

 We jerk around. I let go of your hand, scared, because she smells 
like grandpa's special cabinet, where he keeps all he grown-up drinks. 
You don't laugh or introduce yourself to grandma. I think she saw our 
hands in the dark, and now they burn so much I think she can see the fire 
and shame from them. I clutch my chest and wish it was yours.  

Grandma moves closer, smiles.  

 I hear a loud fleshy crack and grandma's hand withdrawals. Only 
when you are on your knees do I get that she slapped you. when I bend 
down, fast as a snake, to your soft arm, I hear the air hiss, and 
fireworks go off in my right eye. My face is throbbing and pulsing. I 
feel something drip on my neck. I stumble away, and it‟s the first time 
you look up. your mouth is a big 'O' like your eyes, soft round circles.  

 You, she smiles, stepping up to Juls. Little whore. Both of you. 
Satan's little whores. Grandma takes the brush of the dresser, and 
smartly raps on your spine, driving a short scream from your soft, ready 
mouth. She closes the door. Now I understand that mom never left. She 
might be closer than I thought. While you sob on the floor, she grabs my 
hand, no matter how I writhe, my fingers are spread. No, grandma, no, I 
promise never again. The silver brush smashes my middle finger and leaves 
the one I point with numb. Gasping through the little demons of pain 
licking across my hand, I sob, Never again, please. I‟ll let her go.  

      Juls has gotten up. I see her wide-eyed, but glazed. Like when 
grandpa hit a doe, and got out to see if it died. We watched her legs 
twitch for twenty minutes before we could get back in the car.  
      Juls runs. I scream while grandma smashes my thumb, over and over. 
I have never felt this fire, this pain, it is breaking me. I can't move 
my hand, but I can feel everything. i start to see white dots. Juls walks 
in. But she is getting eaten by the darkness in my good eye, and it‟s 
covering up everything and getting smaller. My hand is just a dull, 
throbbing mass. I see a flash of silver behind the brush coming down 
again, closer to grandma.  She has a steel halo around her for just a 
second, before I notice a thin arm attached. Juls. God. Juls. 

  I hear a deep, dull thud sing out. Grandma's eyes roll back. Her 
shoulder hits my chest and we fall. I scream as more crunching goes on 
towards the direction of my hand, which won't move. My world swims and 
tosses, a deep black sea, before Juls slaps my face. then slaps my hand. 
I howl.  

 Get off the floor, she says. Get up. She's going to wake up. 
I roll to the side, using one hand. I see blood coming out of grandma‟s 
ear. Juls. I can't get up. My breathing hitches in my throat, and starts 
coming out in little hiccups.  

 She slaps me again. Please. I love you. Please. We need to get 
 I stagger to her poor ruined mouth that saw the brush before my 
hand did, I stare at her split lip, red dripping down her pretty dress. 
Her broken teeth. I stare and don‟t move.  

 Please, you beg. C'mon.  
I grab the pan with my good hand. We‟ll make sure she doesn‟t wake up, 
Juls. So she doesn‟t follow us. Then I bring that steel halo down as hard 
as I can.  

So, I had submitted to the usual suspects; I do believe my submishmash reject list is on its fourth page. That's just from the last three or four months.  I've been chided for an unhealthy obsession for getting into the label lit mags. Pank, Smokelong, Foundling, Mud Luscious. 

Onward. I have a humor piece I've been working on. 

              How To Revive A Dying Relationship
1. Start withholding small things, like food or comfort.  Only give them back by sexual favors.  I often have conversations like this:

“I want a sandwich, but I’m kinda on a budget till next payday”


“I’ll let you put it in my mouth for 10 bucks, then I can buy a sandwich”


“I’ll even move my  tongue a little bit”

Proceed to cross eyes and drool slightly on left shoulder. Collapse on floor, spasm legs.

“Sorry. I forgot to take my seizure meds. So I might clamp down a little hard. But hey, no pain no gain, right?”

2. Make bets on who can grow the longest pubic hair.  You can even spice things up by making it threatening. Often times, I will ask something simple, like “Please turn off the lights” or “Put your shoes away.” Since I am not maternally inclined, I refuse to pick up after any partner – especially male.

 I will often retaliate by growing a vaginal beard in my pants. Especially if I’ve had to ask twice for  my special someone to clean their hair out of the sink. Guess they’ll have to unclog the drain for me now! Bet you wish you thought of that.

3. Switch ethnicities and/or religious preference without  warning.
Getting caught sneaking out of the house or refuse to eat what’s for Friday? Well, they should have known it was Shabbat.  You’ve only been doing it for the past year.
Hold a picture close to your face. How could they no know of your great aunt’s struggle to come to America? Do they know nothing of you?

Tools: Google image “immigrant” and a color printer.  Place cut-out in purse and/or wallet.

Well, that's quite enough. I'm off to other blogs. Then I really should shower at some point. Put on clothes that don't start with a 'p' and end with 'jamas'


  1. No compliments? Shit. I can't say anything then.

    Okay - this - in the first piece, I find it a little stretch to think of Grandma beating a kid who isn't her own. Juls could tell her own family whatever story she wants - who would they believe. Setting that aside, it's brill....I mean ... nothing.

  2. Good point. I might have to make good ol' Grandma more unhinged. I want to emphasize that she is unhinged at her granddaughter loving another girl, after her own daughter violated 'God's law.' Thanks very much, Chris.

  3. I'm fine with ol' Grammy going nuts with the hairbrush. Do I wish there was a little bit more foreshadowing? Maybe they knocked the genuine reproduction Last Supper off the wall in the dark, or the 1971 calendar with Pope John Paul's picture on it? Sure. Otherwise, I went along for the ride most willingly, and enjoyed it.

    The only thing that I struggled with at the end is that my own grandparents were uber-Catholic, and when my mom died, she wanted to be cremated and they threw a fucking fit. In the end, my mom got her wish, but to this day, they're upset that she's not a body in the ground. I have literally no idea if that's typical religious zeal or if it was just their personal beliefs, but I know my gram wouldn't have had grampa's ashes.

    My cat is now here and demands I stop talking to you and pay attention to him. Fuck you, kitty! That's what I say. I can type with one hand! (that is also a somewhat sexual comment, my apologies)

    I grow beards in my pants not out of spite but out of laziness. But maybe I can pass it off as spite.

  4. Whoo! Nice catch! I looked it up - and they are staunchly against cremation!
    I wanted to show Grandma unhinged because the girls were in the bedroom, near the bed. Nasty repressed connotations going on through her head, and such. But yes, more foreshadowing, instead of Nutjob Grandma popping up with a hair brush. Thank you for stopping by with feedback. I definitely root for being blunt than being nice. (Nice doesn't help my story.)

    And yes, you can pass anything off as spite. Just do it with flair. Slap on a sticky note saying, 'Not tonight' or print out a picture of an infected vagina and tape on to the crotch part of your undies. Walk around eating chips.

    Anyway, thank you again. I always struggle with stories. I don't see how you pop them gems out at such a rapid rate!

  5. I'm prolific. Not always good, but prolific, LOL!

    Since you like Lily's place so much, may I suggest another little joint. Okay, it's not PANK, but I enjoy it. Six Sentences:

    Tell any story you like, any way you like, in six sentences. No more, no less. Yes, you must submit and, hence, wait for rejection or acceptance, but it's a friendly place.

  6. I'm normally a positive comment gal, but I did find one small error, among some beginning sentences non-capitalized - though it seemed you meant to do that, but publications are sticklers. "Grandma takes the brush of the dresser," that should be off instead of of.

    I liked this piece, crazed Grandma attacks. That's cool and different. I do suggest a little bit more backstory (subtle) and character or setting details would enrich the scene. Still great stuff!

    I began blogging at Six Sentences and also recommend it - Robert McEvily is one cool guy.

    PS - I loved your profile bio!

  7. Hi there Jenny.

    Critique is good. Brace yourself. ;)

    1) General typos - lack of caps, etc. A few places need semi-colons, a duplicated apostrophe, lack of speech-marks, needs consistent indentation, etc. Needs a good proof through. Personally, I think it's always better to have the piece out there than let punctuation (or anything else) stop you, but it is distracting.
    2) 'I clutch my chest and wish it was yours.' Reads a little unlikely at that moment (reads as innuendo, though violence is happening to their loved one. Likely to be thinking of other things)
    3) Little hard to understand who's slapping or hitting who, who's up who's down in the scene where grandma attacks. Felt like a bit too much description going on in there, or it had been reworked quite a lot and lost its momentum -- could slim down and/or move through more things that happen.
    4) Little hard to track what was going on sometimes, as interspersing thoughts that are going at 'right angles' to the scene, different relationship threads, etc. I think those don't really need altered so much as fixing the punctuation to help flag what's-what.
    5) I didn't pick up on a lot of the religious overtones. I'd be blunt ;)

    1) I liked your short sentences and the flow. Some nice imagery. Some really nice details (e.g. the bed, and grandma's habit with the lights)
    2) I like the language in there – it feels fresh.
    3) Loved grandpa in the vase (though I note the Catholic comment above). Could potentially work in as another betrayal... grandpa went and got cremated...
    4) Grandma's use of the brush is a nice detail and she's suitably scary.
    5) I'm a fan of your ending – doing away with grandmas is good ;)
    6) I liked what I read.

    Just my opinion – definitely up to you to take or leave what's right for your story ;)

  8. Hi there Jenny.

    You're welcome.

    To be honest, it's good to be asked to give a balanced critique – in my professional life I've had to crit a lot of folk's work (as a games designer and occasional manager of other writers) and I know it *really is* the best way to learn. As long as you know that the story is yours; that you're the gatekeeper for what goes in or out of it; that folk are critiquing words, not you; and that everyone will often have conflicting opinions, you can pick and choose the feedback you like. You're in charge. It's your story. You've been brave enough to ask for negatives (and hopefully folk will point out the positives, too), so more power to you.

    As for the punctuation, unless the text was a facsimile of something written by one of your characters, the reader will expect the punctuation's really yours, not theirs, so I'd say you need to achieve a childish effect through what you say, and how you say it, through standard punctuation. But here's the thing: good experiment. Rules for writing are broken every day to good effect. And of course this is only IMHO. ;)

    I'll be interested to read what you write next. St.