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IMSO: 100 Word Challenge Archive

Prior to opening my “Thin spiral notebook,” I first began writing at “If Mom Says OK.” That space is now closed, but these are my archival 100 Word Challenge submissions. I’ve also included a few of the illustrative narratives that were originally part of the entry.

Wasted on the young: Wild

The ceiling fan spun in lazy circles sending eddies of air across the room, cooling the sweat off her body.

They spent nights together exploring, learning, proving that their ages didn’t matter. She held her hand on her still trembling breast, praying this would never grow old.

Sounds in the hallway told her their visitors were already awake.

Turning to him, she kissed the silver at his temple as he purred his contentment and burrowed into the blankets.

Grabbing her robe, she tiptoed to the door and slipped out of the room.

“Shhh… ya wild animals,” she chided. “Grandpa’s sleeping.”

Revenge is best served… hot: Anchovies

She abandoned her dreams so he could pursue his desires, becoming a shadow beneath the glare of his operating theater lights.

Childish excuses for pathetic dalliances…

… all my friends do it…

… would be amusing if they weren’t so demeaning.

If they all jumped off a bridge, would you?

While his colleagues attended professional functions accessorized by flashy trophy wives, she was worn more like a stain to hide inside a cummerbund.

Starting small, she took revenge on his precious toys.

It’s amazing the smell a can of oil-soaked anchovies creates on the hot exhaust manifold of a Porsche Carrera.

Chaperone: Unseemly

They sat side by side on the old settee, but not touching. That would have been improper.

He sat with his feet flat on the floor, hands on his knees, looking straight ahead. Her legs were crossed at the ankles with her hands clasped and lying demurely in her lap. Her head down, looking neither left or right.

They didn’t speak. The ticking of the grandfather clock pendulum, the only sound in the room, accentuated the tension. Both jumped when the chimes rang in the hour.

Their chaperone checked her watch. For them to be alone would have been unseemly.

Celeste: Pleasure

Born into a world of privilege and wealth, but poor in spirit. Silver spoons couldn’t fill her empty soul, but she never missed what she never had.

She expected everything, and owed nothing, all while taking what she wanted when she wanted because she was entitled.

Father was too important to be burdened with trivial matters such as daughters, they were too messy, too needy. Mother lived within her own mind, unaware of the desolation around her. A child raised by strangers, and loved by none.

She found no pleasure in life, only acquisition. It was merely a business deal.

Heirloom: Harsh

You were unkind. The choice was hers.

You are still babying her. You always did. Giving it away like that was NOT her choice to make, it should have stayed in the family.

You mean it should have gone to you?

Yes! It should have been mine to begin with.

But, it wasn’t. He asked that Mary care for his camera, do with it as she saw fit, and she believed Megan should have it. Who are we to question that?

He loved me! It was mine!

No. As harsh as it is to hear, he did not love you.

When does forgiveness begin:Unbidden

The triggers are random – the scent of chimney smoke, the crackle of a fire, a certain look on his face. Feelings of guilt and shame are still raw, hiding below the surface. Tears well in her eyes as she takes great gulps of air, willing panic-filled heartbeats to calm.

Unbidden, tortured memories flood back of a frantic race toward help as fervent prayers spilled from her lips, her infant son cradled against an icy cloth on her shoulder. A toddler, following behind, confused why her mother is so afraid.

It has been 17 years, when does the forgiveness begin?

Picking fights: Vague

The closer she got to the homestead, the more anxious she became.

She hadn’t been back in years, swearing after the last visit, never again. For all they cared, she was dead. The old man probably preferred it that way.

She didn’t understand how someone who fought prejudice and hate his whole life could be so cruel. Would he be more accepting of her partner?

“We can still turn around.”

“No, I’ve gotta try. He’s dying.”

Crossing the threshold of his bedroom, she had a vague feeling of deja vu.

Lying with his back to them. “What’s It doing here?”

* I have never grasped the concept of prejudice, and especially from anyone who, for whatever reason, has also been held up to scorn.

The recently reported suicides of young people bullied because of their sexual orientation, or perceived ‘gayness”, are heartbreaking. These are only the cases we know. This sort of concerted effort by kids as young as elementary school to ostracize other kids considered ‘different,’ is being played out in hundreds of schools across the county.

Bullied, harassed, even stalked, aren’t nearly strong enough words. That it’s other children driving these young people to desperate measure, doesn’t make it somehow less tragic. It’s worse…

It needs to stop. Teachers, school administrators, parents, government leaders, other students, need to step in and stop this torture. And it is torture – psychological persecution that happens every day. What adult could withstand that kind of constant humiliation and abuse?

We have to teach our children that it is wrong to harass and bully someone because they are different. They don’t necessarily have to embrace those differences, but they are not fodder for ridicule.

If one of my children came out to me, I’ll admit I’d be sad. Not because they were gay, but because I know how much harder life will be for them. Would I accept a gay partner? If someone loves one of my children, is supportive, nurturing, compassionate, and treats him or her like I would treat them, how could I not accept that person? Is that not what we all want for our children? A life partner who cherishes them as we do?

My friend Angie wrote a very eloquent post at A Whole Lot of Nothing – Gay is OK. She has included links to other posts on being gay or bullying, and information resources. Go there, read, learn, pay it forward…

A new landscape: Handsome

‘How do people wear these things? Sure it smooths out lumps, but damn! I can barely breathe!’

The wax used to landscape out of control eyebrows leaves skin bright red and tender, and don’t even mention what it does to other vulnerable body parts.

Whatever happened to just using some heavy-duty scissors to tame wild toe nails? Now small-handed women shape and smooth, buff and polish.

Hair is razor cut, dyed, fluffed and product infused.

Oh and the clothes! A person could go broke keeping up with fashion trends.

The trouble a guy goes through to look handsome.

One mile from home: Ditch

Cold, dark.

Her mind was in a fog. In that half asleep, half awake state when you can’t move but are oddly aware of your surroundings.

“Where is all this water coming from?”

She tried to focus her eyes, tried to understand the sounds assaulting her ears. So cold.

Visions flashed through her memory, like snippets of long forgotten movies. Music was blaring, people were dancing… someone pushed a glass into her hand. Sweetness on her tongue, then a welcoming warmth flowed down her throat.

Darkness.

A passing motorist reported the wreck, seeing black tire marks leading into the ditch.

*According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• 69% of car accidents occur within a 10-mile radius from home.

• In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, accounting for 32% of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.

• One alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurs every 45 minutes.

• 28% of 15- to 20-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2005 had been drinking.

Hush, hush…: Greater

The results were not unexpected, but the official medical report was still a shock. That one simple word acted like a switch. Her first wave of nausea hit on the drive home.

A mixture of dread and anticipation seep into her words as she shared the life-altering news with her husband. She didn’t expect his tears. It made her love him all the more.

Each day she grew more apprehensive as weeks and months dragged by unimaginably slowly.

Shortly before sunrise one summer morning, she knew no greater love than when her newborn daughter was laid in her arms.

Batting practice: Jars

Years of neglect were mapped out in the ruts lining the dirt road. Red clay silt dusted the high weeds in the ditch.

At random intervals, battered and rusted mail boxes, barely attached to wooden posts, leaned into the path of the old farm truck. The teen in the passenger’s seat had perfect aim as they drove by with their ball bats.

The collar of her once freshly washed white T-shirt pulled up over her nose, the girl riding in the bed of the truck was rethinking her choices. Another pot hole jars her teeth.

“This is not cool.”

A life out of control: Rotten

The air felt sticky, as if a mist of oil hung about the room. Piles of magazines reached toward the ceiling at odd angles, precariously close to toppling.

Bags of clothing, some still with tags, spilled out of closets, out into the hallways. The only bed buried under the debris of a life out of control.

The bathroom, functional, but a toxic waste dump. In the kitchen, the stove offers only one element for heating food, the oven packed tight with pots and pans. Opening the refrigerator was a risk. No telling what diseases were harbored in the rotten food.

* I made the mistake recently of watching a portion of a marathon of A&E’s Hoarders. The reality show features people suffering from the mental disorder of Compulsive Hoarding, which according to the show’s credits, “is a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or unsanitary.”

My packrattery, while extensively documented here, is nowhere near the train wreck that is these people’s reality.

The shows are difficult to actually get all the way through. I kept leaving the channel, only to come back later. It was mesmerizing to follow while family, friends, organizational experts and mental health professionals tried to help these hoarders begin the arduous journey to reclaim their homes and lives.

It’s heartbreaking to imagine what happened to bring these people to a point where they can’t give up anything, and literally drown in excess and waste.

Homework hell: Fingers

A stack of notebook paper lies perfectly centered on the desktop. The lines parallel to his chair. Not College Rule, the spaces are too narrow for his sprawling script.

Gripping the edge of the desk he pulls his chair in close. Stands then sits. Stands. Sits. Adjusting the chair, perching on the very edge, then tilting it forward, two legs off the floor.

Settling, he turns the paper, first left then right, then back to center. Picking up the stack, he taps it on the desk to align the pages.

Finally grasping the pencil, it feels awkward in his fingers.

* It’s been a full week since my son began attending Tech College. The difference between this educational experience and his last is stunning.

He has not missed a day, has even left home early to be to class on time. On Sunday, he told us he couldn’t wait for Monday so he could get back to the lessons.

When asked, he tells me what he did in class each day instead of the usual “I don’t remember.”

He smiles when you ask about school.

He’s happy, and I am beginning to breathe a little easier about his future.

Second chances: Corridor

Walking through the doors, past the trophy cases and administrator’s office, rows and rows of lockers line the corridor.

No books or pencils this time, no lunch boxes. Wrenches and pliers are on the supply list, along with a tool box.

Traditional classrooms were too stressful, anxiety ridden. Teachers unwilling to think outside the box with a student with special, and unusual needs.

Now, he is learning what he loves, what he understands. He can feel comfortable among his peers.

It’s a second chance. A new opportunity to learn a marketable skill, another step toward independence.

I am so proud.

* This morning, while I was in New Orleans, my husband called to let me know our son had been contacted by the area Technical College he applied to earlier this year.

We were told a few weeks ago that the program he was interested in was filled and that he was fourth on a waiting list. Today, he was told space had opened up and if he was still interested he could begin classes… immediately.

When I called this afternoon, checking in with the peeps, I caught The Boy in class. I was stunned, and fumbled to get off the phone so not to get him in trouble his first day back in school.

He will be in the automotive services program where he will eventually have the opportunity to earn as many as eight different ASE certifications in car repair and maintenance. He may even get the chance to work on his own project car.

Going from not knowing what his future holds, to watching him going back to school, is a dream come true.

I’m excited, but cautious, hoping this new opportunity will be just what The Boy needs. That he will enjoy the classes, excel at the training, and find a niche where he can fit in and thrive.

Not that I have: Failed

Early morning was the best time for her walks. The heat was still bearable and the rest of the house wouldn’t be up for hours.

These quiet moments were perfect for contemplating what she needed to do for the day, or pondering some troublesome worries.

Efforts were made to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the frig, and a pitcher of filtered water was always filled and at the ready.

She had the best of intentions. Losing weight was icing on the cake.

But that icing?

Hiding in the back of the top shelf?

Was calling her name.

Diet failed

* I need to give Sarahndipitea, and our Twitter conversation about icing, props for the inspiration for this Challenge. Thanks, Sarah!

An artist’s palette: Worthless

Sitting at the vanity, she leans in close, scrutinizing her bare face in the mirror. Dark circles under her eyes, purple against pale skin. Thinning eyelashes and heavy brows, blemishes, crow’s feet, all make her sigh with resignation.

Spread across the counter are compacts and bottles, tubes and brushes, a palette of specially selected colors meant to enhance her natural beauty, or least that’s what the stylist said.

At that moment the door burst open, tiny arms surrounding her waist. “Oh Mommy! You look so beautiful!”

Sweeping the worthless makeup into the trash, she moves to return her child’s hug.

Power of attorney: Companions

It didn’t matter that they had been together for the past 35 years. Sharing a home, their lives, building memories as a couple.

They had legally given each other power of attorney, allowing them to make decisions for one another, but he still wasn’t permitted in his hospital room. That right was given to relatives only, and in the eyes of the law they were merely acquaintances.

He was regulated to the waiting room while doctors murmured medical jargon over the love of his life. They won’t tell him anything because he’s not family.

They are only companions, not spouses.

You treat her like dirt: Minimum

Her feet hurt and shoulders ache. Her forearms are perpetually singed from balancing hot plates. Tracking her steps, she logged 12 miles during a single six-hour shift.

Dodging errant children and wandering hands, she is forced to answer to snapping fingers and whistles, all the while maneuvering a full tray through an obstacle course of tightly packed tables and unsteady chairs.

Attempts to serve are ignored simultaneously with complaints of neglect. Hard work is rewarded with insults and petulance. And, it’s hot!

She treats you like a king, you treat her like dirt. For what? $2.50 minimum wage…

Typical restaurant servers work for less than $3 per hour minimum wage, and depend heavily on tips for their income. Hospitality industry gratuity recommendations are 15-20% of your total meal ticket, depending on the level of service provided and the skill which it is provided.

Consider if you worked for commissions, and those commissions were at the discretion of your client and not included in your job cost estimate. You put forth your best effort, providing a timely and efficient product, while also providing a high standard of work for a dozen or more other clients.

Industry standards put a recommendation of 20% commission on your work, in the end the client gives you 10 or even less than 5 percent, maybe nothing. But you have no recourse, no way of demanding more.

Next time you are dining out, remember what the restaurant pays your servers basically cover their uniform costs. Think of your server as a contractor providing a service to you, please tip accordingly and tip generously.

A mother’s love: Abundant

She only wants what every other mother wants from her children… love, honor, respect. A little gratitude sometimes, a little appreciation for all she does.

Is it too much to expect for the kids to clean up after themselves, to take responsibility for their actions and not blame others? Show compassion and understanding, and learn to share!

The constant whining is enough to drive any mother to distraction. No wonder she sometimes has her own outbursts.

Mother Earth is abundant in Her love, but She’s not happy with you all right now. And, if Momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy.

Shower confessions: Uncomfortable

He couldn’t leave this way. He didn’t expect her to accept his apology, but he had to try. Letting himself in with his key, he hardly noticed the pillow and blanket piled on the couch, her grandmother’s bag on the floor. Hearing the shower, he headed to the bathroom.

The radio was blaring classical music. Under cover of fog and the swell of cellos, he spilled over in regret. Her silence told him all he needed to know.

He left as quietly as he came.

Turning off the water, the elderly guest peeked around the shower curtain.

“That was uncomfortable.”

Text message: Normal

Hospitals all smelled the same. The ungodly perfume of A&D ointment and Lysol assaulted her senses as she walked into the private room.

The other visitors spoke in hushed tones, so not to disturb the patient, while the new arrival hovered silently at her grandmother’s bedside.

At grandma’s age, there were no plans for reconstruction. A short round of radiation and she’d be going home.

A hum from inside her bag jolted the visitor out of her reverie. Walking into the hall, she flipped open her phone, reading the text. One hand groped the wall for support – “biopsy results: normal.”

A blanket of conceit: Blanket

I was smug. I produced a male heir, a namesake for two families.

He was perfect with his golden hazel eyes, corn silk hair, and gossamer skin.

Then his body betrayed him. A burn vandalized his angelic face. An angry red scar spread from his sweet strawberry lips to his peach fuzz ear. Still he was beautiful.

I grieved deeply for my son of a son, a mother’s treasure, yet wrapped my blanket of conceit even tighter.

Then his mind betrayed him. He is still perfect, still beautiful, but this scion’s legacy may end with him.

Karma. Is. A. Bitch.

Venus in the mirror: Bustier

A well-placed knee is essential in the lacing, as are strong hands.’

“How did I let myself get talked into this,” she thought.

She liked her full-bodied voluptuousness. Who was always describing herself as ‘rubenesque?’ That was the problem, she was born in the wrong century. She belonged to an age when women were prized for their female form.

Her mother, verging on skeletal, never appreciated her daughter’s buxom figure.

“To hell with this,” she cursed, throwing the corset across the room. “It’s MY wedding. I don’t care if you call it a ‘bustier,’ it’s still a girdle.”

Duck, duck, goose…: Sauce

She just didn’t understand why he felt betrayed when she confided their deepest secrets to her male co-worker – young, handsome and unattached. It was too intimate.

Even Jan said so. Sweet, pretty Jan, his secretary for these past four years. She saw the wrong in it. She was such a good listener, and gave thoughtful advice when he had problems in his marriage.

After dinner, he was telling his wife she couldn’t be friends with that man anymore. His fortune cookie gave him pause, “what’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.”

“But, I ordered Peking Duck!”

Epidemic proportions: Epidemic

There is no vaccine, no medical research in place, no media onslaught of concerned scientists, but it is no less an epidemic, nay… pandemic!

The ailment seems to be limited to one demographic – young men between the ages of 14 and 25. It crosses all socio-economic boundaries, affects all ethnic and cultural classifications, but appears to present in American males more than other nationalities.

Treatments vary, with questionable results. Relapses are common and, in a majority of cases, more acute than when first presented.

While controversial, one promising application for alleviating gluteus maximus crevice exposure is an industrial stapler.

The impostor: Wise

He was obsessed with sisters ~ his own, his wife’s, his son’s. Their lithe bodies and smooth skin, so tender, so vulnerable.

Under the pretense of mentor, he would initiate them in the art of love. Saying sex was not something to fear, but a natural expression of affection.

The consequences were devastating. The mere thought became dirty and shameful.

She sat on her bed, surrounded by her toys. Knees tucked tightly under her chin, a deep scowl furrowing her brow. She wasn’t wise, but she knew what should be done to this impostor masquerading as her secret agent father.

Tilting dragons: Traditional

Beads of sweat rolled down his face as he ran a knuckle under his tight collar. Fear supplanting usual arrogance.

Slinging an arm over the back of his chair, the old man settled in, loose as a bag of bones. He was enjoying the fidgeting boy’s anxiety.

The boy leaned forward thinking to meet the old man halfway,  shoulders aching from the tension, fingernails cutting red crescents into his palm.

Shaking himself like a wounded dog, the boy cleared his throat, struggling with his rehearsed speech. His voice higher than he’d hoped.

“It’s traditional! I’m askin’ permission to marry Sarah.”

Seen nor heard: Sanitized

A bony finger, clad in a white cotton glove, stroked the mantel, almost reverently. Seeking out evidence of the detritus of a nursery ~ motes of pollen from a bouquet of dandelions, dust lingering where it wasn’t welcome.

The room, while pristine in its presentation, held onto the memory of a child who once slept there. Scents of lavender and vanilla, traces of crayon visible under a fresh coat of paint.

This would never do. If she was to reside here, the room must be sanitized. As the family matriarch she expected perfection. Children should not be seen nor heard.

Abandoned on the Beach: Swimsuit

Woolen bloomers, black silk hose, a sailor collar and ~ the proper lady that I am ~ a wide-brimmed hat.

Porcelain legs protected from the harsh rays of the sun, and harsh stares of beachcombers. Pale, delicate bare arms cooked pink in the noonday glare.

Born fifty years too late, I must instead cope with ever shrinking neon swatches of spandex and nylon. A garment that both covers and disguises is a myth. The reality is fashion is not kind to women of a certain age.

The swimsuit gods have abandoned me on the beaches of skinny, tan wenches.

Who do you trust?: Consent

She only wants the voices to be quiet. They are so persistent, dominating her every thought.

Everyone here is soft spoken. She wants to stay, but the voices tell her to be afraid. The strangers want to deceive her into believing the voices aren’t real. Who does she trust, strangers or the others who have been with her for as long as she can remember?

She is bone-tired. The promise of a night without dreams, undisturbed, peaceful, is very tempting. How can that be wrong? Why don’t they Shut UP?!

All she needs to do is sign the consent form.

Collateral damage: Confessed

She hated being put in the middle. This was their train wreck, she’s merely collateral damage.

He needed to clean up his own messes and she needed to stop pining for him. Both needed to stop involving her.

Did he have to be so damned cavalier? If he were a she, he’d be a whore.

For some reason he felt compelled to tell her about a cruise he planned with his latest ingénue.

When her mom asked, ‘do you know? He’s taking Her?’ She didn’t lie, didn’t try to soften the blow. Her confession was written all over her face.

Wedding vows, broken promises: Promises

Before her family and God, she promised “to have and to hold, for better, for worse.” Then he broke her heart and her nose.

She promised “for richer, for poorer,” not knowing that he would be fired again and again, losing what money they did have gambling.

She promised “in sickness, in health,” telling herself the drinking and the drugs were an illness, he couldn’t help it.

She promised “to love and to cherish,” while he took to bed every pretty young thing who would have him.

She promised “until death do us part.” A fitting epitaph for her gravestone.

A family matter: Portrait

It has to be done. Last time she was barely 18 months old. She’ll be 21 soon!”

“I know.”

He’s never been included, not officially anyway.”

“I KNOW! Well, what about Virginia?”

The roller coaster? You aren’t serious?”

“I thought before we committed we were both going to…”

Let’s be honest with each other. That excess baggage isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.”

You’re probably right.”

About killed you to say that, didn’t it.”

“Don’t get started. I haven’t agreed to anything.”

We’ve put it off long enough.”

“I. KNOW!”

I’ve already called. We sit for a family portrait Friday afternoon.”

Obsession: Behavior

It’s Saturday and the new models have arrived. The man-child looks slightly out-of-place in the toy aisle, rummaging through rows of die-cast cars. He’s looking for one-offs, new editions, that one he doesn’t already own.

At home he lines the cars up just so… by color, by make, by size, by feel. Always where he can see them, touch them. He instinctively knows if one is moved or missing, and must correct that error or the panic sets in.

To an outsider his behavior seems odd or amusing. To him, it’s how he must survive.

Cold Days: Swollen

Cold days are the worst.

Rubbing her hands together, trying to warm them, her joints swollen and aching. Holding them out in front of her, she hardly recognized her own fingers – gnarled, twisted, deformed. They looked more like claws than hands.

They were once so pretty, delicate and soft. Now, her skin was mottled and gray, rice paper thin.

So many tasks she could no longer do – opening a medicine bottle or tying her shoes. She hated growing old, losing her independence.

How long will it be before she can’t dress herself, before she can’t even button her own sweater.

Enchanted: Ferocity

The hag sat in her worn rocking chair, a Meerschaum clinched in her teeth.

Mercia lay in a heap at her feet, weeping. After the last wave of sobs swept through her body, she lifted her head, resting it in the witch’s lap.

“Mother, I love Duncan so much. I must be near him forever,” the ferocity of her desire hot against her skin.

“Sleep beneath the old oak during the new moon, you’ll get your wish,” the witch divined, cackling.

“I’ve never noticed that knot in your tree before, Duncan. It looks like a sleeping woman, don’t you think?”

No words left unspoken: Unspoken

After so many years married, they still hold hands when walking together. A playful lift of his brow, a secret passed only between them, and her cheeks blush school-girl pink. Their two nearly grown children are mildly embarrassed by their parents’ adolescent antics.

His smile, his laughter, the rumble of his voice, melts her heart and wraps her in a warm blanket of quiet and comfort. They are growing old together and there is no other place she wants to be.

On simple days when they talk of simple things, she knows no words are left unspoken between them.

The depths of her sorrow: Hidden

Unspeakable sadness lies between them, nebulous and haunting, a future they cannot change. No words of comfort suffice.

The need to give it a name is too strong sometimes, but fear creeps in. Saying the words aloud gives it form, gives it power.

A specter of what could have been lingers, mocking and cruel.

Begging for just one day, one single hour of peace invites guilt and shame. No fault assigned, no blame given, the pain of powerlessness is still no less real.

Tears fall unrestrained, sleep disturbed, hope diminished, a life interrupted.

The depths of her sorrow remain hidden.

Fortune teller: Fortune

Stifling the urge to giggle, the room was a bad movie cliché~ the only light from smoldering candles, walls covered by tattered tapestries, beaded curtains hung between doorways.

Carol, who made no decision without first consulting her horoscope, insisted Lucy come. She hissed her displeasure at her friend’s skeptic disrespect.

They sat down opposite the shop proprietress at a wobbly card tabled covered with what looked like an old bed sheet.

Quicker than her age belied, the crone snatched Lucy’s hand, palm up and began tracing the fine lines etched there.

‘So, you want me to read your fortune?’

Life is good: Overall

She’s sometimes petulant and moody, but has the heart and soul of a lion, beauty and brains, and the best daughter anyone could ask for. Overall not a bad combination.

He’s a child in a man’s body, stubborn and unpredictable. He is love personified, sweet, trusting and loyal. Overall a son any mom would be proud of.

He can aggravate to the extreme and snores like an asthmatic freight train. Yet, he can make her laugh like no other and loves her unconditionally. Overall, the only man for her.

She’s neither rich nor famous, but overall, her life is good.

Darkness

Green neon numbers from the alarm clock gave a dull, eerie sheen to the half full glass on the bedside table. Heavy drapes swallowed city lights and street noise, the room was strangely quiet. Smoothing the blankets, she eased slowly into the warmth of her bed.

She is Alice.

Tiny pills shrunk her down into motes of dust, drifting across time and space. The outside world fell away.

Hoping to slip into her dream from the nights before, she welcomed the darkness and the shadows. One last time, she joined the secret life she lives when the sun goes down.

Thirty

Sunlight streaming through the open blinds woke her. She smiled, remembering grey snow and ice she left behind along with a life she hated.

Turning on the local news, she padded into the bathroom, stopping to look at her body in the full length mirror. Not too shabby, she thought turning slowly, but she’d look even better with a little color.

Rummaging through her suitcase for her black bikini and tanning oil, she grabbed a towel before heading to the pool to bask in some Florida heat.

She stopped mid stride as the weatherman announced the current temperature was thirty.

It’s only breakfast: Breakfast

He shuffles into the living room like an old man.

She asks if he slept well.

He sighs at her, noncommittal on his morning condition.

“Would you like some breakfast? Eggs, waffles?”

He grimaces. Not from the mention of food, but from having to make a decision.

She continues loading dirty dishes, waiting.

“Waffles.”

Nodding, she begins pulling ingredients out of the cabinets.

“Would you like pecans or chocolate chips,” she asks before thinking, “too many choices!”

“Both.” She can hear the smile.

Eggs, milk, flour, a little vanilla, a spoon of sugar.

Maybe it will be a good day.