I know I’ve been MIA as of late, but today my piece “Polling Place” is on The Drabble.
As our exhaustingly long and contentious U.S. elections come to a close, we will continue to face division in our nation until we heal, listen and collectively stand up to hateful and misogynistic rhetoric. The work doesn’t end today, but it starts with voting.
The bartender wore the moodiness of the low lit bar in the threads of his jacket, the cut of his beard, reeking of a past with no future, like those towns with historical settings — all guides and reenactors.
Spiced with hops and the tacky scent of rag water from mopped tables, the ruby red room hung like an old portrait in a gilded frame, crooked and matted in oiled color. When stepping in, one had the sense it was best to wade through the thick air and carry the heaviness upon one’s back, for the stools were lined with slouched souls staring into amber ales with a comfortable dullness, a purge of everyday worry and care.
He perked up at the sound of the open door, the whine of hinges in need of lubrication, pouring drinks with a hand that shook with its own controlled temptation, smelling his demons, filling his throat with a blade, afraid of the pierce.
“What can I get you?” he asked the stranger who had entered, standing with rain in his hair, disheveled, as his eyes adjusted to the light.
“How did I end up in a place with no roads?” the man said in earnest, holding his hands out as if he were waiting for communion.
The bartender threw his rag over his shoulder, nodding with compassion. He gestured for the man to sit, pushing a drink in his direction.
Drag yourself to the pitch and peel of shadows undressing, slips kicked off into valley, unveiling light, moving under wingspan of hawks circling in appetite.
In the twisted joints of junipers, the ball and socket of land and sky,
you spoke upward, bristling in heat spitting chaw at your feet,
whistling some tune about bandits and cowpoke,
big rock candy mountains. Yipping coyotes sang
in the chorus of the kill, the whiff of the strike.
You woke to rain and howl, water tanks
creeping high, licking rims of tin,
no thought of drought that day.
That’s the smell of money, you said.
Honey colored grass, weeping into
the crook of rocks, moving cattle to
pasture, hearing jaws click to the grind
of feed, along with the drunken earth,
glug, glug, glug,
like a ranch hand on payday
softly sighing in the quench.
You were always best when dust settled
and the air pasted with promise, clouded
memories of a throat thick with
thirst, drowning in a past
with weather worn pages
and amber bottles.
See? you said, head lifted to sky,
and I saw, with drops upon my
face, through your paper eyes.
Rain never felt the same after
that, not even the
promises as they
I’ve been reviewed by The Great FF — my go to place for good fiction! She has recommended more books to me than the NYT Bestseller list. It’s an honor and a privilege to make an appearance on her site. I have learned so much reading her reviews: how to avoid plot holes, stale characterization, as well as, what constitutes an excellent read. Review reading is critical for any writer, and FF doesn’t miss anything, or let an author get away with sloppy writing, so it is with great honor, and a slight amount of fear, I share her gracious review of my short story. One day, I hope it shall be a book, and she will remember our friendship enough to gloss over any deficiencies, though I doubt it! ☺ Thank you, FF!
Usually I fill this Tuesday slot with ‘genre’ stories – horror, sci-fi, detective fiction. But there are also many great short stories that don’t fall into one of these genres, so today I’m adding a new category, simply called Tales.
One of the real joys of blogging for me is meeting some of the hugely talented people who inhabit the blogosphere. Today I’m delighted to be featuring Sabrina Hicks, whom many of you will know better under her blog nom-de-plume – desertdweller. Her short story, Blink, has won the Grand Prize in the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, so it seems a perfect choice to be the inaugural…
by Sabrina Hicks
When the rain came that morning and didn’t stop until final period, I knew it would be a long bus ride home. It hadn’t rained that hard since…
Just saw my story Blink is posted on the Writer’s Digest website, which was chosen as the winning entry for their 85th Annual Writing Competition. Read the Q & A online; it’s the only interview that took place. Adaptations were made for the print copy that are unfamiliar to me.
Thank you to all my blogging friends for your support and for reading. Your comments are amazing and much appreciated!
Where there is beauty, there is a sense of entitlement, for beauty rarely goes undisturbed. It rises from birth, as cells align, configuring into handsome symmetry — thin-sloped nose, doe eyes, swollen lips — readying themselves for their strong, gravitational pull. It is intuitive, tangible. And utterly lazy.
I knew this before most, preferring the quiet canvas, drawn to one’s ability to hide in plain sight.
She sat alone, stabbing at her iceberg salad with a dull longing, her alabaster cheeks blooming red like old wounds as she ate. I saw her vagueness as a gift, along with her damp, downcast eyes, the round pitch of her jaw, reminding me of an unfinished sketch, pencil lines stopping midway, pulled in wistful directions. But unlike most ordinary girls, she framed her features into questions with no clear answers, stoking an unwilling to accept her fate. Questions like: who was she that day, with her eyes lined heavily in kohl, lips suggestive in a fleshy pink? Who was she willing to become?
She was, in essence, looking for someone to fill in the blanks she had created.
“What a beautiful scarf,” I said, approaching, pointing at the twist of green and gold threads.
She hadn’t noticed me watching her on the opposite side of the food court outside, drawing a crowd of professionals from neighboring buildings, businessmen I would turn into clients, recording their fetishes and kinks with secretarial skill. In this regard, she was like many other women stumbling through life, unaware of the shadows, still drawn to high school cool, the girls who grew cold and stale upon graduation, pale creatures, bloating with time and distance. Today, it was the medical assistants she’d been watching, smoking their cigarettes, held between acrylic nails, filed into points and painted with dizzy patterns. Huddled together in their colorful scrubs, they looked like alleycats, tugging at their gold hoop earrings, digging their clawed fists into their hips that would widen without the pinching reminder of elastic.
“Thank you,” she said, pulling at her scarf, as if it had snaked its way around her neck. She rested her plastic fork on her napkin, gesturing for me to sit, and together we struck up a conversation.
She was my first recruit, the beginning piece as I learned to cultivate charm and disarm even the most skeptical ladies.
Only then did I have a vague idea, I was creating an empire.