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Jelly Beans for Mother’s Day

Jack came home from kindergarten with his pants pockets stuffed full of candy. He ran inside, kissed his mom, gulped down a glass of milk, and ran out the back door to the garden calling, “Hi, Mom!” over his shoulder as a happy afterthought. His mother, Emily, watched him from the kitchen window, grinning. Mrs. Bard had already called her to explain that she had given Jack the jelly beans. They... read more

Spam Café

Now and then, I don a HAZMAT suit and dive into the spam bucket to see if anyone I know fell in. (I won’t name names, and I won’t always throw you a rope – kind of depends on the depth and stinkiness of the bucket on any given day.) I miss the days when spammers – sometimes – put forth a little creative effort. You know, the ones that could almost pass for human, and provided... read more

The #2 Pencil

I broke the yellow, #2 pencil in half. Looking down at its jagged ends, I felt an invisible fist close on my heart like a squishy stress ball. Such a silly memento – just a little, used, wooden, pock-marked pencil. But it was all I had left of Jenny. I could picture her struggling over math homework, gnashing her teeth against the soft wood. Sometimes, little yellow flecks of paint would stick to her... read more

Old Whiskey Nose

Lana leaned back against the sloping concrete, listening to the sound of water leaping over rocks and discarded tin cans in the rain-swollen creek. She lifted the camera and photographed the huge nests nestled between the beams and girders overhead. She carefully photographed last night’s graffiti, noting the distinctive artistic styles and color choices of her favorite local artists. She wished she... read more

What Else Could Go Wrong?

“Why can’t you be more spontaneous? Live for the moment? It’s just a weekend cruise!” Frustrated with Laura’s constant worry and obsessive planning, Jack ran his hands through his hair and stalked off in search of coffee. He flipped off the TV, cutting the meteorologist off mid-dire-prediction. It had been raining, non-stop, for a week. The dreary gray drizzle occasionally... read more

10 Worst Things That Can Happen to You on the Way to Work

So, my friend ZLite over at CHTTRZ.COM wrote “10 Worst Things That Can Happen On The Way To Work” – and all I could think was that these were either the worst things that could happen, period, or merely a sign that you were about to have a pretty crappy day. Quite literally, in the case of #2. Hah, #2. Cute, Z. Without some actual constraints – things that could really ruin the... read more

The Placebo Effect

When Marci came down off the experimental ghrowlenexofang pills, she felt like she’d been run over and mauled by a truck-sized armadillo. Her heart was worn out after running its own marathon without her two left feet, and her brain felt frowsy. She grabbed a liter bottle of Coca-Cola and downed it in under seventeen gulps. Pressing ice to the back of her neck, Marci doubled over the kitchen trash... read more

Show, Don’t Tell

Angela popped open the trunk and pulled a large cardboard box from it. At the top of the box was a terracotta pot with a curling vine, the sort of vine that grew easily under the cold glare of fluorescent lights in stuffy, airless office cubes everywhere. The carbon-dioxide rich air of P.S. 120, redolent with pheremones and football sweat, would doubtless be the saving of it, if the hourly bell-buzzing and... read more

What Cella Saw

Cella slid around the bed, reached out, curled an arm around the large, plastic box. She explored it, this foreign thing that had magically appeared in her room while she slept. She could see through parts of it, but it bent the light and distorted the parts of her room that lay beyond it. Photophores and chromatophores responded to her touch, to her strange mix of curiosity and anxiety, lighting the room... read more

Breakfast of Roadkill

“Hey, Charlie! Charlie!” Fat Huey glanced left, then right, as he ambled across the highway like a small tank. “Wanna grab a bite to eat?” Charlie squinted into the rising sun. He’d been basking in its warmth, enjoying the solitude. Dinner still rounded his belly, but at the mention of food, his innards rumbled slightly. They were always up for it, just like Huey. Charlie... read more

Collecting the Debt

Determined to write more fiction, and inspired by the OWFI Writers’ Conference and the example set by Marian Allen (who, annually, writes me into her stories, much to my delight!), I signed up for Story a Day in May. My chosen prompt? I visited Creative Copy Challenge #382 for ideas, where the latest prompt is to use the following ten words in a short story:... read more

Quell the Quest

Quell the urge to fight against the hours; Relent, give in, admit defeat – move on. Such is life, and there are worthier pursuits – Truer aims, more meaningful challenges Ubiquitous — Vanquish those. Waste not one precious moment Xerescaping the page. Say to what grows in imagination, “Yes!” Embrace the strange, exotic, foreign fruit – wring out its Zest for Life, and... read more

Parasailing

Is it cheating to say, “I’ve done this – more than once – but I wanna go again!”? Not just parasailing, of course, but parasailing upside down. Is there any other way? I can’t believe my mom had to twist my arm to do this, initially. She loved parasailing, and asked if she could take her granddaughter, Katie. She invited me to go along, of course, but I wasn’t... read more

Ocean Dreams

“The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth, and inspiration.” And yet, “To date, we have explored less than five percent of the... read more

Novelist

One day, I will publish a novel.  I’ve written a novel (that’s progress), but it isn’t the one I want to publish – not yet. In 2001, an agent named Rose asked me to write an essay on why I was afraid to write a novel. Afraid? “I’m not afraid to write a novel,” I said. “I just haven’t gotten around to it.” Well, there goes that... read more

Make Something of Lasting Value

This exercise in crafting a #bucketlist from A to Z has clarified something I already knew: It doesn’t take much to make me happy, and I am content with what I’ve already experienced in life. That’s not to say that I don’t have several lifetimes’ worth of experiences I’d enjoy, but I don’t feel there’s anything – other than poking hot lava with a stick... read more

Look for the Loch Ness Monster

Nessie. No idea why such a peaceful looking creature, so camera shy, so good at playing hide and seek with adventurous humans – oh, assuming she exists at all! – would be called a “monster.” Trockle’s a bit sad to think what a bad reputation monsters have, but is happy to do his part in helping children sleep better at night, and is excited at the prospect of traveling with me... read more

Kauai, Kona, Kanapala, Kilauea

Kilauea should be first on that list, right?  I’m budgeting a little extra for when I get arrested for poking hot lava with a stick, and that’ll probably end the tour as they ship my happy okole back to the mainland. Or maybe not – looks like Poke A Stick Tours in Kanapala is still operating! But just in case, I’ve put it last on the list, so I can enjoy a little snorkling at... read more

Grow Old with J.J.

It’s the only thing I can think of, starting with the letter J. Oh, sure – there’s “jump out of a perfectly good airplane” or “jump from a bridge, into an icy river.” If I liked that feeling of freefall more, maybe. But no. Spend a night in “jail”? Three hots and a cot and a girlfriend named Bertha? No, I think not. “Jousting,” anyone? (That... read more

Iceland

Iceland has just about everything that’s actually on my #bucketlist: Breathtakingly gorgeous scenery, waterfalls, auroras, volcanoes, and a distinct lack of overcrowding. It also has one of my sisters-by-choice, Asdis, and my favorite photographer, Chris Lund. Iceland is also known for it’s wool and yarn, but I suspect I’d need about six trunks to pack enough warm clothes for a camping... read more

Hamilton Pool

Let’s face it: What I’d really like is my own cave behind a waterfall. With tapestries and a hand-carved desk of antique oak… What might actually be within my grasp: A swim at Hamilton Pool. Or maybe just a hike. I think “swim” and then I remember this is Texas, and we have deadly snakes and scorpions and things, and I’m less enamored of the idea of swimming with them. I... read more

Giddyup!

It seems that galloping is out of the question – just like at Girl Scout camp. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to ride across Haleakala Crater on horseback. Having hiked cinder cone, I’m not sure I care about camping in the crater or hiking it on foot. But the horses don’t seem to mind, and I love riding. It’s chilly up there – even when Maui’s... read more

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