Tag Archives: RB wood

95 Days ~ My story for @RBwood’s Sizzlin’ Summer #WordCountPodcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #58 of R.B. Wood’s THE WORD COUNT PODCAST.

The prompt asked that we use the phrase:

“I was enjoying the summer holiday when…” 

I was in NYC when I wrote the majority of this story, sitting in Bryant Park with the sun on my face. I love the city, and no matter how long I stay, it’s not long enough.

The story is somewhat of a lament for how quickly time passes, especially in the city that never sleeps.

* * * *

I was enjoying the summer holiday when he showed up.

Well, he showed up would not be totally accurate.

He may have been a she, and neither really showed up in the traditional sense. I never saw a face or heard a voice. Like I said—it wasn’t a traditional relationship, and I knew that from the start. That was the allure, I suppose, but now that it’s over, the hard work begins.

I’m rambling, and I’m sorry if this comes off nonsensical. Some days, I feel like what happened was all in my imagination. Maybe I created the whole thing. It’s hard to know anymore. I only know I’m left wanting, though richer for the experience.

Let me take a step back to the beginning of summer when this all started. It was the oddest of meetings, and my heart was open, as it normally is. I’ve always considered that to be a strength, not a weakness. Despite growing more cautious over the years, I was never one to shy away from a mystery.

I’m a sucker for words. That’s why I chose to become a writer. My life is an open book in many ways, but I was stuck. Call it writer’s block or lack of inspiration. Call it a muse on vacation. Whatever it was, I was haunted that I might never write again.

I use words to expose who I am and to entice potential readers to connect to me. Though I’m aware I make myself a target for some odd people, I’ve never had any problems. With the amount of time I spend online, it’s inevitable to run into my share of … shall we say … eccentric people. The thing is, they don’t scare me. I’m good at weaning out the cons from the authentic.

And yet, I didn’t see this one coming.

I received the first poem on June 20th. I remember it well because it was a balmy evening—the beginning of summer. I was sitting at an outdoor café when a young boy approached me.

“Are you Julia?” he said.

I did not know him, thought it was too late for a boy of his age to be out on his own. “Yes, I am, and who are you?” I looked into his bright, blue eyes and immediately felt an odd familiarity. Was he the son of a friend?

“I have a something for you,” he said, handing me an envelope before he turned to walk away.

I searched for an adult near him and saw none. “Wait!” I said, staring at the non-descript paper in my hand. “Who is this from? Who are you?”

Too late.

He weaved his small body between tables of the crowded café and disappeared into the night. I got up to look for him, astonished that I lost sight of him so quickly. I asked patrons nearby at the edge of the restaurant where he went, but no one could give me a definitive answer.

That first poem read:

Summer is officially begun

So this will be my number one

I spread love and hope and grace

No matter the time or place

Do not seek to find the answers

In life we are but mere dancers

We jump, we twirl, we bow

The time to live is now

 

And so it began …

 

Poems showed up mysteriously for me daily after that. The language was never aggressive. The writer wasn’t the best poet but he wasn’t the worst. I say he, but it could’ve been a she. I just don’t know. At times, the poems rhymed, but most of them did not. Many of them were just a few lines. The only thing they had in common was each one was numbered.

Strangers delivered many of the envelopes, and none of these so-called couriers ever disclosed information about the sender. I found some poems left for me at my place of work. Only one was found at my house. It scared me, even though I suspect this person had been tracking my whereabouts from the start.

When I found the letter in my home mailbox, my mind immediately conjured up the negative, but I rationalized if he or she wanted to harm me, they would have done so by now.

The next day, as I sat in the park desperately trying to kick start my manuscript, a stranger delivered an envelope to me. I had grown accustomed to this crazy, strange occurrence. I simply accepted the envelope and said, “Thank you.”

It was a peaceful afternoon, and aside from a few kids running in the distance, the park was quiet. A cool breeze replaced the humidity in the air. I tore open the envelope to read poem number ninety-five.

As a new season begins

An old one must end

Ninety-five days

From Solstice to Equinox

Summer is closing

And so must I

May my last words

Be the start of your next ones

A slow smile of realization crossed my face. I picked up my pen and stared at the blank lines on my notepad, determined to break through.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

**

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PUPPY LOVE ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #56 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt asked that we write a story based on three words:

Cat | Dawn | Flower

I couldn’t come up with a cat story, so I did a different take on the prompt. It’s partly inspired by real events and my own mixed feelings about owning a pet.

*  *  *  *

In my haste out the door, I almost tripped over the white furball just outside my front step. Button eyes stared up at me as if to say: What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for you.

A dog, or more accurately—a puppy, its fur looked fresh and cottony-soft.

I knelt down to it with the instinct of someone who appeared comfortable with animals, but I wasn’t. I never had a pet as a kid. Now living on my own, more than a few friends had advised me to get a cat or a dog. I never wanted the responsibility.

The small dog seemed harmless and docile. It pushed its head against my palm affectionately when I pet it. Pretty darn cute. It wasn’t a stray. That much, I could see. No tags, no collar, but someone had to be looking for it.

I almost forgot the reason I opened the door, headed for my morning jog. I stepped outside to see if the dog’s owner was near by. Maybe he got away during his walk. The street was empty. No surprise. Dawn on a Saturday was usually too early for my neighborhood.

When I swung back toward my apartment, the dog boldly walked through the open door.

“Hey!” I cried out. It stopped and turned to face me, his head tilted to one side. Something in me melted. I wasn’t going to make my morning run.

My friend, Doug knew all about dogs, having owned different breeds over the years. He dropped by immediately when I called him.

“Great temperament,” he said, crouched on the floor with the dog in his lap. “It’s a male, and he’s a Westie, a breed from Scotland.”

I smiled as the dog jumped out of Doug’s lap and pranced around my apartment like he owned it. “I don’t know where he’s from, but he’s full of confidence for a little guy.”

“Here’s some food for him.” Doug handed me a large plastic bag filled with kibble. “I’m guessing he’s no more than three months.”

I sighed. “What should I do? I can’t keep keep him.”

Doug pushed himself off the floor. “I’ll call my vet. He can check if there’s a microchip. In the meantime, create some posters for the neighborhood. He’s a beautiful animal, someone’s bound to miss him.” He handed me a roll of plastic bags.

“What’s this?”

“Poo bags. You’re going to need them,” he said.

***

The vet found no microchip but said the dog was otherwise healthy and happy. I stuck up posters around the neighborhood and placed an ad in the “Found” section of the online local paper. I even scoured the Internet for announcements of missing dogs but found none that matched the puppy now making himself at home in my apartment. It felt odd to share the space with another living creature, but here he was. Out of some need to give him an identity, even a temporary one, I called him Scottie—an unimaginative but safe name until his owner came for him.

Scottie never barked, and in many ways, behaved more like an independent cat. He snuggled beside me on the couch when I watched TV, his little body warming me like an electric blanket. He let me know when he needed to go outside to do his business. He was the perfect pet really, one I wished I’d had as a kid. I decided if no one came to claim him after ten days, I might consider adopting him.

The morning before my self-imposed deadline date, I received a call from someone claiming to be the owner of Scottie. The man spoke enthusiastically about the dog, described his appearance perfectly. He said his young daughter had left the door open one night and the dog must have slipped out. I told him to come by in the early evening to pick up Scottie, citing errands I had to run during the day. I lied. When I hung up the phone, my throat burned. How the heck did I become so attached to this animal in less than two weeks? I crouched on the floor and Scottie jumped around me playfully, his cue for me to pick him up. I hugged him to me and felt tears sting my eyes. The wetness rolled down my cheeks onto the soft curls of Scottie’s head.

***

My last moments with Scottie were bittersweet. When a little girl of about seven entered my apartment with her father, her face lit up and the dog ran to her. She squealed and the puppy squealed louder. Her joy only cranked up the excitement for both of them. The dog belonged to her. There was no question about it. My own feelings that Scottie might miss me, even just a little, faded immediately.

“Looks like he’s happy to see you,” I said to the girl. “What’s his name?”

With glassy eyes and a wet face where the dog had licked her, she looked up at me, “Flower,” she said.

Flower?

“Oh …” I tried not to sound judgmental. “What an unusual name.”

The father took me aside. “Yeah, it’s not a great name,” he said, “but she wanted to name it after a dandelion because of his fluffiness, only she can’t say the word dandelion.” He shrugged. “We definitely have to come up with a better name.”

I smiled and watched his daughter play with her puppy, then something hit me. The dog was leaving, but I wanted him to leave with a small piece of me. In a hushed tone to the father, I said, “I called him Scottie for the time he was with me. He seemed to like it. Maybe that’s an option.” When the dog heard me say his name, he perked up his ears and barked before running to me.

“Wow, he does seem to respond to that name,” said the father. He looked over to his daughter. “Sweetheart, how about calling him Scottie?”

“I like the name,” she said in a high-pitched voice.

***

Scottie returned to his rightful owner, and my space was returned to me. While watching TV later that night, I instinctively placed a hand on where the puppy had taken his place beside me. The chair seemed almost too big without him now. A thought of getting a dog crossed my mind, but it was a fleeting thought. For more than a week, I took care of a puppy. I even got to name him and did a good deed by reuniting him with his owner. I had been a dog-sitter, and that was more than enough … for now.

Have you ever had a pet? Any strange pet names? Feel free to leave a comment or ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you.

~eden

**

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THE RUNNER ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #55 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt asked that we write a story based on three words:

Dog | Wheelchair | Addiction

This was a tough one for me because the three words seemed unrelated. The idea finally came to me when talking with a friend who is an avid runner.

*  *  *  *

The man breathed heavily when he came to a halt. He removed his gloves and wiped the sweat from his face, plucked the water bottle from his backpack and drank half the Gatorade inside. A vast sky of crimson hues swirled above him, interrupted only by a ribbon of yellow that disappeared beyond the horizon. It was a perfect sunset. Only the muffled noise of distant traffic penetrated the quiet until a loud bark broke the calm.

He clenched his jaw when the dog continued yelping. A dog had changed his life five years ago, and each time he heard one barking, his back stiffened. He tucked his chin into his chest and tried to relieve the tension pressing against his spine.

The rain had stopped, but he was still soaked. Even though the downpour lasted less than a minute, his nylon jersey clung to his torso like static.

He was at the mid-point of his five-mile run, having stopped several times already to take a break. It had taken him a long time to build up his stamina again. He used to run fifteen miles without any problem. Now, everything was difficult where it once seemed effortless. He closed his eyes and felt his thighs tightening, burning from the run. How was this possible? He let out a heavy sigh before opening his eyes. The sensations below his waist disappeared when he peered at his body trapped in the wheelchair.

No legs. Both amputated six inches below his hips.

Phantom limbs, his doctor said. Because he had been a runner all his life, his muscle memory was better than that of other amputees who had lost their legs.

A runner, ha!

He could hardly call himself that anymore, could he?

Running was his obsession at one time. Similar to a drug addiction, he needed a hit of it everyday. He fed off the adrenaline, the pounding in his chest, the sound of his feet hitting the ground. Right before he lost his legs, he was training for his third New York City Marathon.

Now, when he tells his wife he wants to go for a run, she helps him pack up his wheelchair in the van, and they drive to one of several starting points. She picks him up a couple of hours later when he calls her.

Run. What a joke, but what else could he call it?

The same high pitch he heard earlier cut the silence again.

Damn dog.

The barking persisted and grew louder. The sky darkened and heavy raindrops thrummed against the metal of his wheelchair. It must have camouflaged the sound of fast-running paws. He didn’t see the shaggy mutt until it leapt on top of him.

A young female in jogging gear came running behind the dog. “Chester, come back here!”

The furry creature pranced on where his lap should have been.

“Chester, off!” The woman yanked the dog by his collar away from the wheelchair. She immediately clicked a leash on him and tightened her hold. The dog had little room to move from her side. “I am so sorry. He got away from me down in the valley. Are you all right?”

The man looked up at her face. Her big blue eyes opened wide, a furrow in between her brow. Rain ran down her cheeks and made her appear as if she was crying, but she wasn’t.

“I’m fine,” he said. He brushed off the mud tracks on his jersey from the dog’s paws. “He’s a feisty one, you should keep him on a leash out here.”

She shushed Chester when he barked again. “I know. He’s still a puppy, too much energy … I took him off leash to let him run some of it off, but I didn’t expect him to get away from me.” She hesitated and her face changed. “Are you okay? I mean … will you be all right to get home?”

He recognized the look, an expression of someone who knew she could walk away, but was hesitant to do so because he obviously could not. It was sympathy. He didn’t want it, didn’t need it, but had learned to accept it. He likened it to the brief interaction one makes before throwing a few coins in a beggar’s cup. The act of charity makes it easier to keep going.

“I’ll be fine,” he said, releasing her of her guilt.

“Okay.” She smiled and loosened her grip on the leash. Chester took a few steps toward him before she pulled him back. “Sorry again about … you know, Chester jumping on you.”

He nodded and watched her jog down the valley. Even under loose track pants, he could tell she had strong, muscular legs—runner’s legs, like he once had before the accident. Chester reminded him a bit of that dog—the one he swerved to avoid hitting on that two-lane country road.

The dog survived.

The driver of the truck he collided with also survived.

The only thing that didn’t make it—his legs.

Has an animal ever crossed your path while you were driving? How did you react? Feel free to leave a comment or ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you.

~eden

**

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THE LETTER ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #54 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt asked that we write a story based on three words:

Chocolate | Lust | Thorns

Since it was around Valentine’s Day when we received the prompt, my story touches on love … sort of. 😉

*  *  *  *

Dear Adam,

I want to offer you an apology for my behavior the past two weeks. I know most women would’ve jumped at the chance to go with you to some romantic spot for Valentine’s Day. Your invitation caught me off guard.

I panicked.

Instead of graciously accepting your gift, I stopped accepting anything from you, including your calls and texts.

Let me start by saying, you’ve been patient. You’ve followed my lead, and from our first date more than six months ago, I’ve led you to my door but never through it. It must have crossed your mind why a thirty-year-old woman would seem so … puritan. Yet, you never asked, so I never felt the need to explain.

I care about you, Adam, very much, and you have a right to know why I ended our relationship so abruptly. This letter is further evidence that I lack the courage to even pick up the phone and call you. I’m taking the coward’s way out, but I hope you will understand.

Valentine’s Day is a dreaded day for me, but by design or by coincidence, I’ve managed to avoid the holiday for years. When I couldn’t avoid it with you, I had to retreat.

I celebrated Valentine’s Day for the last time seven years ago. He was much older than me, unlike anyone I’d ever met—well traveled, confident, a little dangerous. He excited me, and I looked forward to how we would spend Valentine’s together.

On that day, he made a special request of me—a gesture that would show my love for him, he said. I was reluctant at first. I didn’t know him all that well, but he had showered me with champagne, chocolates, and a dozen of the most amazing long stem red roses I’d ever seen. I thought it only fair to give him what he wanted, so I allowed him to tie me up.

Not long after, I discovered his true intentions, but it was too late. The more I screamed and begged him to stop, the more I fueled his lust. The cost of love, he said, was not the price of candies and flowers. True love had to be measured by different commodities—commitment, strength, sacrifice. How else could I value him if there was no risk involved?

I told him I wasn’t willing to pay the price for him, but it didn’t matter. He was determined I would learn to enjoy the pain.

I did not. I passed out from it.

By the time I awoke, he was gone, but not before he left his mark. I never saw him again. I assume it was because I failed his test.

You did me a favor, Adam. You forced me to confront the scars of my past. The problem is my scars are real, not just metaphorical. I am, forever, damaged goods.

I have enjoyed every moment with you. I wish it could have ended differently.

With affection,

Brenda

* * * *

 

“How does that feel?”

She sighed, “It feels good, like a feather. I love how gently you touch me.”

I stared at Brenda’s well-formed back as she sprawled on her stomach, naked but for the white sheet that wrapped around one of her calves. Her loose, chestnut hair framed her face, which was turned away from me.

I continued to kiss below her neck and felt the ridges against my lips. She stiffened and then relaxed. I brushed my lips over the raised, carved letter on her back—the letter S.

He had taken his time cutting into Brenda’s flesh, the letter etched from the thorns of the roses he had bought her that Valentine’s Day. The cuts were deep, the design ornate. The pain must have been excruciating.

I closed my eyes to suppress my anger.

“Adam?” Brenda turned to her side and propped her head on her elbow facing me.

“Yes, my love.”

“Thank you for being so persistent, for not giving up on me.” She dropped her gaze and picked at imaginary lint.

I tilted my head and forced her to look at me. “What that monster did to you was not your fault. You didn’t ask for the scar on your back.”

Brenda stared at me with glassy eyes. “It’s been two months since you walked back into my life, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you. It’s just that …” Her face, hidden in shadow, turned a deeper shade of pink.

“What?” I asked. “You can tell me anything, you know that.”

She cleared her throat. “Okay … why haven’t you asked me what the S stands for? You must be curious.”

Brenda was right. I was curious. I had almost asked her the first time I saw the well-formed letter. It spanned the entirety of her back from the base of her neck to her tailbone. What once must have been a blood-red scar had now faded to purplish-pink, several shades darker than her skin. Brenda said she could not remember how long he cut into her before she fainted. I suspect she must have struggled for the top half of the S. Parts of it had healed as jagged clutters and bumps, contrasting the smoother curve at the bottom.

My guess was the letter stood for the initial of the man who did this to her. A narcissist—Steve or Sam or some other shitty name. Or maybe it was the symbol of a serpent or something else, who knows? The man was a sadist, a psychopath. Would I even be able to make sense of it if I knew?

“Adam, are you okay?”

Brenda’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and just like that, I found my answer. “I know what the S stands for,” I said.

She took a quick breath and her eyes widened. “You do?”

“Yes,” I said, in a confident manner. I cupped her cheeks in my hands. “It stands for … sweetheart … which is what you are to me.”

A look of relief washed over Brenda’s face. It confirmed I had made the right decision. She had never wanted to tell me what the letter stood for, and I, never needed to know. 

Do you have any scars you wish to share? Feel free to leave a comment or question. I’d love to hear from you.

~eden

**

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I Just Want to Be Your Everything ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #53 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt asked that we write a story based on:

Celebrity Death, a Fan’s Perspective

Here is a story about a celebrity from my past. I hope you enjoy. 

*  *  *  *

When I was twelve, I stuck his poster on the ceiling above my bed. There was no place for it anywhere else in my room. Pictures of other teen idols already plastered every inch of the walls.

I sent for his poster via mail, no Internet in those days. I remember slipping twenty dollars into the envelope with the order form. I even wrapped construction paper around the bill so it wouldn’t be visible through the envelope. As a member of this musician’s exclusive fan club, I was one of the few given a chance to buy his limited edition poster. That’s how it was sold to me anyway. When I look back, twenty dollars was a lot to spend on something so trivial, but I had wanted it—badly.

The poster took exactly fourteen days to arrive. I remember this because it was the first of February when I mailed away for it. For two weeks, I must have listened to his album a hundred times while kissing his face on the cover even more times than that.

When I came home that Valentine’s Day from school, my mother both informed and chided me. She had a skill for doing that.

“I put some parcels in your room,” she said, as she paused while stir-frying beef and bok choy in the wok. The entire apartment smelled of garlic. “I hope you’re not wasting money on silly things.”

I made a face. “No, Mom. I’m ordering books and records, that’s all.”

I subscribed to both Columbia House Records and Columbia House Books. Membership consisted of paying a penny for a dozen albums and books, followed by a two-year contract to buy more books and albums at regular prices. I can’t remember how many more I had to buy, but it was worth it in the end. I loved getting mail, and Columbia House ensured I received something regularly.

Mom shook her head and returned to her cooking. “Oh … and there was a cardboard tube that came too. Your brother wanted to play with it, so I gave it to him.”

I don’t remember what else she said after that, if anything. I ran to my brother’s room and found the door closed. Unusual, since he didn’t normally close the door.

“Ha, ho, ha, ho, hiiii yah!” Sounds came from inside his bedroom, my brother’s voice.

I swung open the door to see my ten-year brother, clad in an undershirt and shorts, jumping on his bed with the tube.

He stopped in the middle of a kick and stood firm on the bed. Blood rushed to my face when I met his eyes.

“Give me that!” I lunged for him, but he leapt back like a Ninja.

“No!” he said and jerked the tube behind his back. “Mom said I could have it.”

“Mom!” I screamed as loudly as I could. “Jimmy won’t give me back my tube. It’s mine!”

We breathed hard staring at one another while we waited for her answer.

“Work it out,” she said finally, “or I’ll confiscate it.”

I had to get the cylinder out of my brother’s hands before he destroyed what was inside. Even as I fumed, I knew I had to remain calm. Jimmy jumped off the bed with the three-foot tube in hand.

“Who are you supposed to be anyway?” I asked.

“Fu Sheng,” he said, rubbing his nose as he offered a disdainful snort.

Fu Sheng was my brother’s hero—a martial arts film star.

“I see.” I slanted my head and squinted at him. “I don’t think Fu Sheng ever used a sword.”

“I don’t care,” he said. He eyed me with defiance and a firm grip on the makeshift weapon.

I took a deep breath as I envisioned grabbing the tube from him and whacking him on the head with it. I didn’t do it though, knowing the consequences would not be worth it. Instead, I had to do some heavy bargaining. My brother, to this day, is a steely negotiator, and he doesn’t compromise.

By the time I left his room with the poster, he had the tube, half my weekly allowance, and my word to do his share of the dishes for the remainder of the month.

It didn’t matter though. All was forgotten once I was inside my room. I knelt down and placed the poster on the floor. Two hardcover books secured the top corners as I gingerly unrolled the paper toward me. Made of shiny silver foil, I knew this would be my most prized poster yet. Etched into the surface was a black outline of my teen idol.

In black marker, he wrote “To my biggest fan. With love.” He signed his name in an illegible scrawl. My heart thumped. Though no colour reflected in the mirror-like surface of the poster, I knew I was blushing.

* * *

Ten years later, my teenage crush, Andy Gibb, died at the age of thirty. He was a talented musician and songwriter whose debut album, Flowing Rivers, spawned two number one hits:  “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.”

Andy was the youngest of the Gibb brothers, better known as the Bee Gees.

I don’t know what became of that poster of Andy Gibb, but for as long as I was in that room until I moved away for University, he had a place on the ceiling above my bed and in my heart.

Do you remember a celebrity death that affected you? Feel free to leave a comment or question.

Thank you so much for reading.

~eden

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