Blogging, Blogging, LOOK AT ME! Problems

The irony is not lost on me that I’m posting this directly after observations of phone narcissism. Problem is, I’m sort-of, kind-of, often saying that I’m writing a book. -All right! I’m at least writing, okay?!

I got on WordPress because the wonderful crowd of social-junky peeps on Facebook were giving my ramblings over there a lukewarm response. I had a few loyal, wonderful, intelligent, devoted, absolutely fantastic fans -and I love that handful more than I love myself. But the real-time responses of my ‘friends’ were killing my self-esteem.

I’ve told this story before. My wiser, better-looking, very talented actual friend said I need to move over to a blog. And she was right. I *sniff* love you guys who read my blog posts.

You’re just not thousands of adoring fans pouring over here from everywhere. Okay -I’m kidding.

Over a year of blogging has taught me how things work, and I’m cool with that. I have a very long reader’s feed of wonderful material to get through every day and can stop anytime I want but right now I just need a poem or two then I’ll get to my WIP…

As such, I started another blog specifically to promote The Book That May Come to Be Sometime Before My Death. I joined *shudder* Twitter. I’ve searched, followed, commented, and created another Reader’s feed of amazing articles I love reading and can quit reading anytime…

But it’s discouraging. Everyone wants to be read and hardly anyone wants to do the reading.

Twitter is the worst indicator of this: tweet after tweet after re-tweet after ad. Noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE! I know that I need to join the cacophony. I need to keep trying, shout louder or funnier, or woo the poor just-starting-out blogger because s/he actually pays attention to comments.

*Sigh*

I suppose I’m still attached to my writing. I put a lot into stories like What’s the Point? then send my babies off all teary-eyed, knowing no one will read them because they’re not at the top of the pile when I start getting people to investigate who is following them.

That, and I’m a bit frustrated at finding like-minded, like-themed sites. My WIP is about motherhood, and so many parenting blogs are clickbait. And if anyone knows about that sort of site, it’s someone like me who worked 8 months creating that kind of crap.

Makes sense, I suppose. I’m barely finding time to write because I’m too busy with actual life so others in the same sort of boat are only going to send up a flare or two if there’s a chance money will come raining down in the ashes.

I know, I know: get off my (extremely) sore coccyx and stop whining. Thanks for listening, anyway. Sometimes it’s just good to get things off my mind and out where millions of people can read my complaining.

I love you guys.

Once There Was Soul

I had an opinion once

-I think-

But thinking is another thing I’m not certain I ever did.

Whether I did or not,

I try not to do so anymore.

-Let’s not think about it.

So what should we do

Without thought?

Tap a screen

Or, swipe it.

*Ping*

Whatever you do, don’t look around

The device before your face.

Honest-To-Goodness

Maybelline hadn’t been at the property fer long afore she knowed why they called it The Ranch. The smell alone was enough to put a gal off her vict’als, fer sure. She’d never seen or smelled outbuildin’s what could have their stink seen afore a body could smell ’em. But even the honest smell o’ horses wasn’t what told her.

It was the look of it all. Wild weavin’ grasses danced and clumped round lonely, broken fence posts. The wildflowers filled in the rest -at least, what wasn’t already filled by the Apens and Cedars.

The crownin’ glory of ev’rythin’ was the house. She leaned a bit, sure. She needed some paint what to make her decent. Maybelline even suspected a hole or few in the roof as she’d seen a bunch o’ sparrows take flight as she stomped up the path.

Still, a ranch couldn’t bear to keep such a name without use and purpose. That was the very reason Maybelline had made sure to ask around in town about settin’ up.

“Ah need a handyman, a-course,” she’d told the gossipy postwoman. “And I’ll be wan’in’ a few animals once he can patch up stalls or whatever else needs fixin’.”

“Sure, sure,” Postwoman Gloria had nodded. “You migh’ wanna post on the job board, yonder.”

Maybelline had, knowin’ full well Gloria would pass word ‘long much faster’n a postin’.

Sure shootin’, she’d barely stepped inter the house an hour later afore she heard callin’ from outside the warped kitchen winder. A waverin’ shadow became a solid form of a man against lunchtime sun as she walked back out to the wide, dusty porch.

He removed an honest-to-goodness cowboy hat, placed it against his chest. “Ma’am.”

Well, I do declare, Maybelline thought. “Howdy,” she answered, and smiled.

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Submitted for the Carrot Ranch Free-Write Contest.

Skinwalkers, XXXVI

“Nathaniel? NATHANIEL?!”

Nathan pawed at the blackness around him but his actions revealed nothing. He felt like a blind man with a cowl over his head. His breaths came in short, restricted gasps as he tried to move in the direction he thought was forward.

“Nathan-yieeelll!” he called again.

Little by little, he was drawing near to his goal. Despite the dark, he could feel it. And just as much as he wanted to find something –anything– he also strained against himself to turn away from the inevitable.

His feet dragged on.

A jiff and forever later he saw a shadowy shape ahead. The shape hung just out of gravity’s reach yet twisted slowly and obediently in its greedy pull. “Nathaniel?” Nathan whispered. His feet crushed over broken capsules and kicked empty bottles into an unknown abyss.

And still he walked forward. He was nearly to his brother’s dangling, turning, suspended feet when Nathan’s view shifted. Now he saw his own scared, pale face peering up in horror as his perspective twisted around and around a blank, expansive waste.

A noise; an irritant, incessant sound came from far away. Black mist thinned to a comfortable, familiar reality and his dizzy twisting resolved to a stationary side-lay as the repeated noise grew louder.

*Bee-bee-beep!* *Bee-bee-beep!*

Nathan realized he was staring at a pulsing light; that it was his comm that had called him back from the twisted memories within his mind. He breathed true, dank air in deep draughts, just for the reassurance that he still could. “Light,” he croaked. The comm and the apartment obliged and he squinted in the rapid difference.

The comm was still beeping and pulsing, along with pointing its light skyward. He pulled it to him and manually deactivated each application. The wristwatch beeped. “No, it can’t be,” he told it, yet checked the comm’s display. It confirmed his watch’s warning: merely two ticks till the second interview.

“Lepros!” he cursed and flew from the bed. He sprinted the short space to the bathroom and set the shower to its hottest. Hopefully, he thought, as he used the other facilities, that would encourage the cheap heating system to bring hot water to his apartment faster. He ran to the food station and returned with a drinkable snack. Wishful thinking led him to believe he saw some steam forming and he closed the door to encourage an extended stay.

Nearly a moment later, the room was swimming in warm, swirling currents. He adjusted the water temperature back to midhot and began a vigorous rubbing of his skin. Certain he’d agitated all he could reach, he turned and started pulling at the seams of the Skin Conditioner. He couldn’t afford to wait another jiff.

The casing hissed open as it had the last two times he’d activated it. Unlike the previous times, however, Nathan was not reassured by what he saw. He stood in shock as the steam billowed and bounced around him.

The skin was there, yes, but nowhere near as whole as it had appeared just a halfcycle ago.

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, XXXVI.
Read to Skinwalkers, XXXVII.

Life Lessons, The Hard Way

I remember my first in-the-car auto collision like it was a mere eight years ago, because it was. I was stopped behind a midsize vehicle in my sedan when *WHUMP!* -a teenage-powered Suburban rolled down the short hill and forgot to stop behind my car.

“Are you an artist or something?” the policeman teased as I attempted to draw the scene on the official record afterwards.

Laughing, I said, “No. Why?” He showed me the other two drivers’ simple, boxes-and-arrows graphics. “Oh.” And I’d been worried the insurance adjuster would notice the sloppiness of my miniature, expressionist Mazda Protegé.

I’d learned to call the police because an older lady attempted to remove our backseat door of that same Protegé just two years prior. I was parked at the time and had opened the door to unbuckle my two-year-old when she did it.

“Do you mind if we just settle outside of insurances?” She’d asked.

I had considered. Respect your elders and such. We were newlyweds, considering, and couldn’t afford much on our own. However, I opted to phone the police and our insurance.

I found out later she’d tried to contest it. She suggested that I opened my door right as she was pulling into an angled spot, from across double-yellow street lines, at an obtuse angle of entry.

Yep.

The collision I first mentioned was bad because our insurance decided to total the vehicle, and we were left to fill the void with an adequate replacement of equal- or lesser-value. I also experienced minor whiplash.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your accident!” My son’s preschool director said, once I finished with the police reports and continued on to retrieve my then-four-year-old. “I’ll bet that was a real headache,” she commiserated.

“Well,” I said with a straight face, “It was more of a pain in the neck.”

My humor would keep me company over the next few weeks as I learned exactly how fun whiplash was to recover from.

This story crossed my mind early this morning, around 3 a.m.

I’d risen to facilitate an answer to Nature’s call and had nearly not made it back to bed, or even erect again to hobble there.

This was in consequence of a foolish decision I made yesterday to forego a ladder and climb our garage shelves like some lesser-intelligenced simian ancestor.

Had I been said primal ape, the resulting slip and fall would have broken my perfect prehensile tail. Being a Homo sapiens, I instead damaged my rump (and my pride).

This time, my husband got to deliver the zinger. “I’ll bet that was a real pain in the butt!” he said. (Our youngest, age 4, was within earshot. Plus, my husband never curses.)

I’m sure he’s laughing now, as I type on my backlit phone to pass the hours before a health clinic opens.

I’d assumed only minor damage last night. Though slow, I’d managed to drive, walk to book group, and water the house plants. This (early!) morning, on the contrary, I was overcome with nausea upon standing -okay, upon upright hunching. I finally made it back to bed to beg a bit of bread and Ibuprofen from my drowsy helpmeet. And an ice pack.

I suspect I’ve broken my tail after all. We’ll find out in a mere four hours.

Not that I’m counting.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

-Cynthia Occelli

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Five

A very somber Winters family walked down the wide hall to the hospital exit, intent on the bleak and cold parking garage beyond. Wil was so absorbed by her thoughts that she bumped right into someone in passing the main reception desk.

“Watch it-!” an angry girl’s voice began, then stopped. Wil stopped as well, her mind slowly catching up with her ears and eyes. “Oh, hey, Wil!” the injured girl said. “Long time no see!”

Wil blinked. It was Reagan. Not sure whether she should acknowledge their friendship or not, Wil decided on copying Reagan’s casual tone. “Hi… um… Reagan. Nice to see you, too.”

Reagan laughed outright. “Yeah.” She could barely suppress a wry smile. “Well, guess I’ll see you at carpool!” And she left, more laughter echoing behind her.

Shaking her head, Wil began walking to the exit once more. She stumbled into her stepbrother this time. “Watch it, Wil,” he grumbled. Surprised at the lack of insult, she glanced up to his face. Jakob was not looking down. He was staring off in the direction of Wil’s carpool companion, his expression one that Wil could not remember seeing before.

Reagan rounded the corner out of sight, and Jakob returned to the present to find Wil staring at him. “Real smooth, Wheels,” he said, shortening his favorite nickname for her due to their parents’ proximity. He slouched out the sliding doors.

“Wil.” She looked to see her mother smiling in an encouraging way. Cynthia held out a welcoming hand. Wil clumped forward to take it and relished the soft, loving, comfortable connection. Her father led her mother led Wil behind her sullen stepbrother and out into the dark winter evening.

Ice cloud crystals hung for seconds before their warm exhalations as they walked. The harsh, cold air cut through their coats and scarves and filled their lungs with frigid breaths. Cynthia began coughing with the strain; they huddled round her and moved more quickly to the car.

Jakob was waiting, leaning against the rusted blue hood of the car. Once Rob unlocked it, Jakob opened Wil’s door for her and half-bowed. Not to be outdone, Wil curtsied. She wobbled to a stand. Jakob pretended to shut the door, so she climbed inside.

Rob turned the key in the ignition and was rewarded with a low *chhh-chhhh-chhhhk*. He tried again, to no result. The third time, he offered it some verbal support. The fourth time, he remembered to give the old sedan encouragement from the gas pedal. At last, it clunked to life. They all relaxed to a shivering relief as the air slowly warmed up.

Rob put the car into reverse. He backed out, straightened, and headed for home. Cynthia turned to smile warmly at Jakob and Wil in the backseat.

“What do you say we all sleep in tomorrow?”

Wil thought that was a great idea.

 

Continued from Sixty-Four.
Keep reading to Sixty-Six.

A Different Sort of Parade

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Oogdiblok the Fiercely Flatulent surveyed the plodding masses, scowling. Urgdup, his counselor, knew this meant nothing since the stinky leader always scowled unless he was angry.

“Fmouglisk oog digump,” Urgdup warned.

Sighing, Oogdiblok replied, “Gurdonk.” He blew a raspberry with his fat lips, dismissing his counselor. His expression did not lighten until Fmouglisk oozed in.

She was upset. Oogdiblok knew this by the radiant smile she wore. “Eekdi homespank murgle!” she screeched.

He smiled and winked. He knew he’d started without her. Next time, he resolved, she wouldn’t be allowed to watch The Parade of Ogre Nations at all.

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green and Yellow Fruit Basket

Igor stared at the remains of his shopping trip. His enormous hunch rose and fell in a worried sigh.

He knew he’d gotten what he was sent for. He remembered selecting the shiniest peeler from the grocery shelf and heading to Checkout.

While standing in line behind an old lady with a dog in her purse and in front of a young boy who kept poking his hunch, Igor had noticed the fruit cups.

His stomach had rumbled.

Why not? it had asked. Herr doktor will never know. He’d added them to his peeler, hurriedly paid, and left. Just to be certain, he’d tossed the receipt behind a few scraggly bushes outside the door.

And now, as he stared at the gaping hole his leaking containers had made in the paper bag, he realized a receipt might be a thing to hang onto.

“Ah, Igor,” a deep voice said from the doorway. “Excellent. A minute more and the specimen would be useless.” Dr. Frankenstein held out a hand. “Give me the peeler and let’s get him started.”

Created for Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.