Friday Phrases!

Where it's Friday forever!

Tag: short story (page 1 of 5)

Sculpting language with @JDHaveman


13147532_1058033084263328_5597814878292218767_oI’m a husband (15 years), father (5 kids), and writer that is serious about what I believe and how I love. My day job is for an assessment company, so most of the writing I do is actually writing prompts to get other people writing. But when I’m not doing that, I like to dabble in all forms of the written word. Most of what I blog/short-form write is nonfiction, but when I sit down to write something longer it is usually fiction. I have not had the good fortune to publish anything yet. Nor have I really finished anything sufficiently to send to publishers. So there is blame to go around.

I drink my coffee black, and by the gallon. I also prefer dark lagers and stouts. My favorite stories involve characters that are nuanced, plots that are coherent, and conflicts that are not contrived. This is, as you might guess, a limiting set of criteria when it comes to many popular works of fiction for the page and screen.

#FP:   What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?

JH:   Words are powerful spirits. They are, like ideas, both real and not. Tangible and intangible. We can write the symbol that means “tree,” and that symbol both is the thing we’ve written, and yet entirely arbitrary and apart from a sky-reaching plant. Writing is the exercise of putting these powerful spirits together. Making them dance. It is a challenge because there is always a new way to say the think you’ve thought to say; it is a joy because there are constantly things I’m thinking to say.

#FP:   So, what have you written?

JH:   As I mentioned before, I have not published anything. I wrote for the school paper in college, wrote an MA thesis, wrote a series of short plays for my students when I taught high school, and have about a dozen fictive works in progress of varying themes and genres. I have also written a number of notes/blog posts on a variety of subjects.

#FP:   When did you know writing was for you?

JH:   When I discovered that I could sculpt language.

#FP:   What are you working on at this minute? What was the inspiration for it?

JH:   A work in progress is something I’m calling “After the Gun.” It is a story set in America’s historical West, and I was motivated to write it when I realized that most Westerns end with/or focus on an iconic shooting. I wanted to know what happened after that.

#FP:   Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Plotter or Pantser?

JH:   I have never met an outline I liked.

#FP:   How do you find #FP helps your writing?

JH:   My job is to create writing prompts. So #FP is great practice for me. If the material I produce for my job doesn’t inspire writers, I’m not doing my job. So it is helpful for me to try out the prompts of others. To see what works and doesn’t work. Also, the limitations are very beneficial. There is always more that could be said, but the available words are not necessarily the right words. So the limitations of #FP can be very creatively constructive, helping me choose the right words.

#FP:   What draws you to flash-fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?

JH:   I love the challenge to create on the spot. That challenge draws me to flash-fiction and keeps me tweeting at #FP. The main drawback is that I don’t have time to do it every day, all day.

#FP:   What inspires you most about writing?

JH:   I am inspired by the opportunity to capture in words what someone has only previously felt, thought, hoped or dreamed.

#FP:   Who are your writing inspirations? How do they influence your creativity?

JH:   I read C.S. Lewis for the simple richness, Ernest Hemingway for economy, Madeleine L’Engle for characters in conflict, Jules Verne for wonder, Douglas Adams for insight, and so many more for so much more.

#FP:   What is your favorite motivational phrase or musing on writing, and why?

JH:   I honestly don’t have one. But if someone has said: “You should write what your mind won’t rest from saying,” I’d appreciate that. Because that is often what motivates me to write.

#FP:   What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

JH:   Finding the time. I want to give my wife and kids the love and attention they deserve. I also go to work. So unless I cut out sleep entirely…

#FP:   What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?

JH:   I am thankful to say that writer’s block has not been a significant problem. When I do struggle to create, I find that reading the work of others I value is very motivating.

#FP:   Do you have any secret and wacky writing rituals that help the words flow?

JH:   How much coffee do you have to drink before “secret and wacky” can be applied to your behavior?

#FP:   What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?

JH:   Everyone has the ability to be creative. Even if all you do, to begin with, is to emulate the work of those that you admire. So don’t count yourself out before you’ve tried. And once you do try, don’t stop. And when you think you’re done, start again. You can stop when you’re dead.

#FP:   What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?

JH:   I’m drawn to characters – to their interactions – and to the scene that makes you say, “I’ve been there,” “I’d like to be there,” or, “keep me from that at all costs.”

#FP:   How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Twitter – @JDHaveman

Wattpad – JDHaveman

Across the Sea

“I’m sending it now,” he promised. “You’ll see it in just a few minutes.”

She put the phone down and walked to the window. The sky was already gray. She walked back across the apartment and into the kitchen.

“It’s coming,” she giggled into the avocado-green receiver, “You’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. I sent it. You get it. It works every time.”

“Hold on, I’m going to go look again,” she warned him.

He sat listening for her across continents and oceans. From his apartment just off the Caspian sea he could hear the noises of the city below and the neighbors above him. But he couldn’t hear her. Not yet. He strained his head against the phone though and tried. He tried to hear her stocking feet as they ran back from the big warehouse windows that graced the east side of their New York loft. He tried to be there, through the phone, waiting for her when she returned. Not just his voice, but him: really, truly, physically there. It didn’t work.

He thought he heard another giggle though. Delight. And then,

“It’s coming up. I can see it. It just set by you and now it’s coming up by me.”

“That’s right, baby, I may not be there, but at least I can give you the sun.”

“Its beautiful.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“You’re a cheeseball.”

He laughed. She was right.

“How long until you come home,” she demanded, already knowing the answer.”

“I don’t know.”

“How can you not know,” she shot back, all giggles gone.

He took his time to answer. What could he say? No answer would satisfy him or her. He had work to do. He could tell her that. He had very, very, very important work to do. He could tell her that. He was working for her, on her behalf, in order to give them the best possible life together. He had told her that. But it wasn’t good enough. She needed him home. He needed to be home. But it wasn’t going to happen today. And though it really could happen at any moment, no time in the immediate future seemed likely.

“Well,” she barked.

“I love you,” he tried.

“Then come home to me,” she pleaded. “Come home now.”

More silence.

“Come home soon.” She cried.

“Don’t cry,” he asked through tears. “I sent you the sun. I send it every day. Every day you wake up, it will be there. Every time you look up, it will be there. I’ve given you the sun and it will keep you warm. Go look. I bet you can see it really well now.”

She didn’t put down the phone this time, but walked out into the main room with the cord trailing behind her. She stretched it to the max and got to where she could just see glints of new-day glory through the skyline.

“It’s here,” she confirmed. “The light is everywhere now. Just like you promised.” But her heart was flat now.

“Good. Now get dressed, and go out for a walk in it. Revel in it. Dance in the sun, sing in the sun and shout in sun. And when you’re done, send it back to me.”

“Don’t say that,” she grumbled. “Don’t tell me to do those things when you aren’t here.”

“But that’s the point,” he smiled, hoping she could feel it. “I want you to do those things in the light of the sun because I can’t be there with you. When we’re together again, we’ll do them together. But if I can give you the light right now, use it.”

It was her turn to be silent. She sat on the floor and watched her light-gift find its way up the far wall. It was beautiful. It did make her want to dance.

“Are you still there,” he asked after a minute. “I can’t hear you.”

“What about the rainy days,” she answered after another minute. “Where will this sun of yours be when it’s raining and the world is wet and gross and cold? What then?”

“That’s the amazing thing about the sun,” he promised her, “even when you don’t see him, he’s there. Even when it is wet and gross, the sun is there behind the clouds. He is there waiting for the exact moment when the clouds move to shine out again. And he’s going to seem bigger and brighter after every storm you’ve spent looking for him.”

“Why is that?”

“Because when the rain comes, you’ll see how much you need him. You’ll see how much you miss him when it’s dark, and you’ll appreciate his being there so much more when the light returns.”



“Are you talking about the sun, or you, or us?”


They were silent then again, together.

And then, “I need to go now,” he reminded them.

“Do you promise me you’ll come home as soon as it’s possible?”

“Annie, I love you more than I will ever be able to put into words. I will keep trying to put it into words, though. And I will keep trying to show you exactly how much I love you every day.”

“By coming home as soon as you can?”

“By working every day, and coming home as soon as I can. I promise. Do you promise to dance in the sun?”

“I’ll dance. A little. I guess.”

“Dance a lot. And sing a lot. I love it when you sing.”

“I love you.”

“Now who’s the cheeseball?”

“Shut up.”

“I love you, Annie.”

“I know. And you know I love you.”

“I do. Now get dressed, go to work, and be amazing.”

“Get some sleep. I’ll call you when I wake up tomorrow.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

And he was. Eagerly.


Awesomeness with @ShannonArtWrite!


1-14938_10206896809082954_6109880554137451487_n #FP: What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?

SR: For me, writing is an escape from reality. I write fantasy, so my world changes from small town girl in New York State, to worlds with mythological creatures, people with powers, things I wish were real. What moves me is darkness with a light at the end.

#FP: So what have you written?

SR: I have written so many things over the years, it’s a little disconcerting! What I have published is one short story (The Seer) and two novels (The Puppeteer and The Gatekeeper) in The Seal of Solomon Trilogy. I’ve also got a series of five novellas which has just been turned into one book. (The Uniters Code The Complete Series.) The Seal of Solomon trilogy is a dark, medieval fantasy tale with loads of mythological creatures. The Uniters Code series is a dystopian future story, along the lines of the X-Men comics. I adore them both, two entirely different worlds which are both the classic tale of good versus evil.

Seer Kindle Cover The Puppeteer TheGatekeeper_Ebook_final0316


#FP: When did you know writing was for you?

SR: For me, it was Mr. Landy, my eleventh grade English teacher who made me think writing would be my path. He was the first teacher who ever saw me as more than the slacker everyone else saw. Without him and his encouragement, I would not be writing today.

#FP: What are you working on in this minute? What is the inspiration for it?

SR: Right now, I’m working on book 3 in my trilogy, called The Fire Wielder. This story has been with me for ten years or more, nagging at the back of my mind. The inspiration for it was simply an image which came into my head one morning, of a girl, kneeling on a cliff with the bad guy standing over her with a sword. That image morphed into one story, but it wasn’t right. I’ve written ten or twelve different versions of the same story over the years. I was about to give up on it until I joined a writer’s group. They talked me into changing the story, turning it into the medieval tale it is now. It was modern when I first began. The Puppeteer was dedicated to them, because without their advice and encouragement, my story would not be nearly as awesome as it is today! (She says modestly . . . he he he.)

#FP: Do you work to an outline, or do you prefer just to see where the story takes you?

SR: I am a seat of the pants writer. The story evolves as I go. I have the beginning and the end firmly set in my mind, but the story is alive. It changes and moves and yells at me. No, not like that, you idiot! I am so much stronger than that. Would you get that chimera away from me, please! Yeah, the story is alive . . . an opinionated!

#FP: How would you say #FP helps your writing?

SR: LOL . . . uhhh . . . it distracts me from the chaos in my brain, allows me to read other people’s words while still working on my own craft. I adore Fridays simply for that reason. You guys make my quiet, kind of sedentary life fabulous!

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#FP: What draws you to flash fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?

SR: What I love is stories in general. I love to see how people’s minds can take one random topic and come up with hundreds of stories. I love the peak into another person’s mind, their world. I love the friends I’ve made through it, the people whose work I never would have found otherwise. There is no hate!

#FP: What inspires you most about writing?

SR: For me, when I first started, it was all about getting the story out of my head so there’d be room to breathe up there. That never worked! I just kept coming up with more and more stories. The inspiration now is the idea of someone reading my story and being inspired by my tale. Books are my world. I love the idea of MY books being a part of someone else’s world . . . or that’s the hope, anyway.

#FP: Who were your writing inspirations?

SR: I already mentioned Mr. Landy, so I’ll tell you about thebook I find inspiring. Of the classics, Jane Eyre is my favorite book. What I find inspiring about it, is the fact Jane is the downtrodden girl who makes something of her life, finds peace . . . after a load of horrible things happening. She is both intelligent and sweet, but there’s a fighter under the proper old fashioned demeanor. Her story inspires me because I find darkness moving. I know, I know. You guys already know that from my #FP’s!

#FP: What is your favorite motivational phrase, or musing on writing and why?

SR: I know this contradicts what I said earlier, but it was too perfect not to be used. “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” ― Lloyd Alexander.


Being a fantasy writer, I found that to be the perfect quote. Fantasy allows you to push aside the normal rules so you can better understand both your characters and yourself. A fellow author told me she hates fantasy because giving a person powers makes things too easy. Wrong. What it does, is gives you a far greater challenge. Your character will be far better developed, your story more complex, your challenges greater. It is far more work, but a story which will be so much more fascinating than any other.

#FP: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

SR: The hardest thing, is getting so wrapped up in another world, I forget the world outside exists. I’ve become rather a hermit these days. Without social media, I’d be an entire recluse! Well, unless you count clerks at the grocery store.

#FP: What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?

SR: Writer’s block . . . ugh. What I do though is put that particular story aside. I have a few hundred stories lying around, waiting to be worked on, so I pull one of those out and distract myself from the one which is constipating my brain! That’s actually how The Uniters Code series came about. I had needed a break from The Seal of Solomon, so started working on it instead. Admittedly, it’s a bit like having multiple personalities with five stories calling for my attention all the time, but hey!

#FP: Do you have any secret and wacky writing rituals that help the words flow?

SR: Secret? Not a chance. My ritual is to make myself some coffee, Tweet about how much I love coffee, take pictures of my coffee . . . then get to work. I swear it motivates me. My coffee is like a friend I don’t know how to write without!

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#FP: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?

SR: Advice I’d give? Don’t expect your work to be perfect. If you have a story in your head, just write it. You can worry about sentence structure later. Writing, reading, reading, writing, they go together. Always read. Keep writing. Don’t get discouraged if people don’t jump up and down after they read your work. If you write the story, that’s a victory!

#FP: What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?

SR: Fantasy. Always. Myths and legends. Unless you want to write about how good coffee is. If that’s the next #FP theme, I’ll be one happy girl!

#FP: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

SR: My Amazon:
My Twitter:
My Facebook:
My YouTube:
My weblog:

by Shannon Reber

I hate her. How dare she smile? How dare she laugh? How dare she look as though we’ve never seen each other?

We met when she was very young, but even then, she didn’t look at me. When I looked at her back then, she would smile and look away, never acknowledging me once, just as she does now. Now, she pretends I don’t even exist.

When she was little, she made more sense to me. I thought she was a very strong, very cheerful little thing. Now I don’t think so at all. I see she’s nothing but a heartless little barbarian. Now, I know the truth.

I had thought that when she was three and her mother had been killed in a brutal mugging, she would turn to me, but she did not. I had thought that when she was six and her father walked out, leaving her alone in the filthy trailer where they lived, she would turn to me, but she did not.

I had thought that when she was placed in the home of a foster family who treated her so badly . . . but you see now. You must understand what kind of person the stupid girl is.

If she had turned to me, I would have helped her, done anything to ease her pain, but she did not. She simply smiled, laughed it off. She acted as though she had the greatest life imaginable. How dare she.

I had turned my eyes away from her for a few months when she was a teenager. I wondered what she would make of me on my return. Would she finally look at me?

She was a girl who wasn’t beautiful, but striking. Her annoying smile made people turn back to look at her. I hated that. Hated the fact that her smile was the thing people liked so much about her.
I stood back, waiting to see her acknowledge me, but as ever, she did not. What she did was turn her back on me. She acted like she had never seen me in her life. Heartless. The girl was heartless.

“Why do you watch her so closely?”

I turned to see the ancient, haggard face of a woman who had been my nemesis since time began. “I want to see it when she breaks,” I said and turned back to watch the stupid girl. I loathed everything from her curly, strawberry blond hair, to her blue-green eyes, to her stupid name. Who names their kid Rina anyway? It’s ridiculous.

“What makes you think she’ll break? She’s sixteen and hasn’t even come close yet. You’ve put her through a lot more than you usually put people through,” Mercy said, in a disapproving tone.

“What is wrong with her?” I turned to look at the old hag next to me, unsure how anyone so ugly could be so sickeningly sweet.

Mercy turned her lips up in a small smile, then looked back at Rina. “There’s nothing wrong with her. She is simply a person who finds joy in her life.”

I rolled my eyes. “Will she find joy when she’s unemployed and gets kicked of her latest foster home?” I asked and flicked my fingers at the floor. It made me grin as Rina slipped and fell to the ground, spilling the food on her tray all over the floor and herself as well.

I laughed at the mess, pleased to see the blood and burns on her skin. It was my idea of a party. I wanted to order a drink and just watch the stupid girl suffer.

“Rina! You alright?” one of the other waitresses asked, scurrying over to where the girl lay sprawled out in the spilled food all around her. “Wow,” Rina said with a laugh as she sat up. She winced as she did, seeing blood cascade from her wrist where a bit of broken bowl had stabbed her. “I cannot believe I did that.” She rose unsteadily and tried to staunch the flow of blood with the handful of napkins given to her by the other girl.

“Come on. Let’s get you—”

“Rina, get this cleaned up, now!” the owner, a man who was mine shouted, glowering at the girl in a way I liked very much.

“I’m sorry. I—”

“I don’t want to hear your apologies! I want this mess cleaned up! This is coming out of your pay!”

“Yes, sir,” Rina said contritely, turning to do as she had been told while the owner stomped back to his office.

It made me laugh, loving the affect I could have on her life. Smile through this, you little brat, I thought and flicked my fingers again to make her trip. She crashed into one of the tables and dropped her blood soaked napkins into the half full soup bowl of an elderly woman.

The woman howled like a ferocious wolf, appearing ready to spit at the stupid girl.

“I am so sorry,” Rina gasped, an appalled look on her face. “I’ll get you another bowl, ma’am.”

“Yes young lady, you will. And you will bring your manager out so that I can tell him what a careless, clumsy fool he hired!”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll . . . I’ll get him,” Rina said, her lips quivering into a pathetic attempt at a smile.

“You think a smile can change how you’ve RUINED my meal?” the woman barked, her teeth bared angrily.

I loved this woman. I didn’t recognize her as one of mine, but wished she was.
She was brilliant.

“No, ma’am. I apologize,” Rina said, but her voice was weak, her eyes fogged.

“What are you doing? Don’t you think she’s been through enough?” Mercy asked, her voice sad.

“It will be enough when she acknowledges me.” I smiled and flicked my fingers to make Rina fall to the ground. Blood poured from her wrist, her skin pale with the loss of so much.

“I will not let you destroy her.” Mercy stepped forward and passed her hand over Rina’s wrist, to clot the blood and soothe the burns from the soup which had scalded her. She righted every small wrong done that day.

Rina looked at Mercy and smiled, the same smile she had used all her pathetic life, the same smile I had tried to take from her for so long.

So now she was one of Mercy’s. Fine. Whatever. Mercy may have won this battle, but it would not end here.

I gritted my teeth, though was willing to wait. I had waited sixteen years already. I would have her in the end. Rina would be mine, as so many others were.

Mercy would not win this war. I would. I am Misery. I will have the girl.

Greetings from @loarnagreen!


IMG_5419 #FP: What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?

LG: Firstly, I have to say a HUGE thank you to you lovely ladies for having me and for all the amazing work you do with FP. I am so happy to have found you all!

As soppy as it sounds, writing is just a part of who I am. I get frustrated and cranky when I go too long without writing. I used to write to empty my head of a story and then throw it out. But I felt happy enough that I got it out, I didn’t need anyone else to see my words. Around six years ago, I began sharing my work with others. I started off by submitting to a site called Writing Raw but they shut down for a while and their archives went with them—and back then, I didn’t back up!

#FP: So, what have you written?

LG: I currently have two books out:

All The Colours is a coming of age romance with a little bit of mystery thrown in and All The Darkness follows a character from the first book on his own journey. True to its name, it follows a darker side of romance and deals a little with the scars people carry and when they feel undeserving of happiness.
Sometimes I post bits and pieces on my blog but I’m not very good at remembering to do that.

All The Colours E-Book Cover

#FP: When did you know writing was for you?

LG: I began writing poetry when I was eight and then I wrote a series spanning about 12 notebooks, I threw them out (surprise, surprise) which I regret now. It would be great entertainment to read it now!

#FP: What are you working on at this minute? What was the inspiration for it?

LG: I am currently working hard on getting the third book in my series out around June. I say working hard because it took me less than a month to write my other novels but this is sort of rebelling against me and there are a few other worlds that keep demanding my attention, so I have a few WIP’s on the go at the moment. I hope to release at least two of those projects in 2016 and the rest will be next year.

#FP: Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Plotter or Pantser?

LG: Usually I wing it but have recently started the outline approach.

#FP: How do you find #FP helps your writing?

LG: I look so forward to Friday’s. I usually think of my #FP’s off the top of my head, I think only once I’ve shared a line from a WIP. I find that it usually sparks a short story or a scene in whatever I am writing at the time.

#FP: What draws you to flash-fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?

LG: I love how there isn’t a necessity for backstory or even things to clearly make sense. It just is what it is. I also love reading everyone else’s. There is so much talent out there.

#FP: What inspires you most about writing?

LG: I love the entertainment. I’m outgoing but also shy. I have a pretty low bullshit tolerance as well, so staying at home and writing is what I prefer to do. I just don’t feel right if I’m not writing. It balances me. Story ideas spark from the simplest things as any other writer knows. News articles, casual observations.

#FP: Who are your writing inspirations? How do they influence your creativity?

LG: I am a mixed bag reader and writer. I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres and enjoy dabbling in different genres as a writer too.

Authors I love include

Stephen King (I know everybody probably says him, but come on!)

Matthew Reilly

Dean Koontz

R.L Stine

Robert Kirkman

Amy Harmon

#FP: What is your favorite motivational phrase or musing on writing, and why?

LG: Ooh tricky. I have a heap I like. Can I share a few?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

#FP: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

LG: On the days the words don’t flow or I’m too distracted. I use the notes app on my phone on those days or write in a notebook. I think some days I just don’t want to be restricted at my desk. Sitting in the sunshine always helps, I live near the ocean and a nice sea breeze comes across my backyard.

#FP: What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?

LG: I do other things and try not to beat myself up too much (even though I really do), I promise myself tomorrow will be a better writing day and Iinstead play with my sons, visit friends, go to the beach and I find reading really helps unlock words within me. I’m not sure what it is about reading that gets it all flowing again but it works!

#FP: Do you have any secret and wacky writing rituals that help the words flow?

LG: Some days I need music. The one song on repeat. Over and over. Other days, complete silence and I’ll hiss at anyone that comes anywhere near me. I live near the freeway in Perth and they are upgrading it at the moment, so you better believe I hear the most annoying and intrusive sounding machinery 24/7. I’m looking into industrial ear plugs.

#FP: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?

LG: Write from the heart. You will never please everyone so stay true to you. Take constructiveness from reviews and keep going. Aim for better each time.

#FP: What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?

LG: I am a big fan of romance, horror, crime and sci-fi. I love genres that kind of cross over as well, so it’s not just one straight area but has a few different flavours. I sort of write that way too. I really enjoy reading and writing character driven fiction.

#FP: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

LG: Website:
Twitter: @loarnagreen

All The Darkness Excerpt
by Lo-arna Green

1 All The Darkness E-Book Cover

Chapter 1

Four Years Earlier

The night I wish I could erase from existence plays on repeat, stretching my mind to its limits. I imagine my brain is an elastic band stretched out so far it’s losing colour and will snap at any moment.
I’ll snap.
It should have been me.
I shouldn’t be here. Free, walking around. Breathing.
I should be gone.
I should be in prison where some meathead has claimed me as his bitch.
I should be rotting six feet under the earth.
But I’m not and she is.
With her long, soft silky hair and shiny, vibrant green eyes always full of admiration and raw unashamed love for me.
Her eyes will never shine again.
I will never again have the chance to run my fingers through her hair.
Her lush lips will never curve upwards for me, ever again.

I lose my head in her sister, just for a short moment in time.
Her sister isn’t her. She’s beautiful. But she isn’t my Stella.
Her eyes are wrong and her hair is wrong.
But I shut my eyes and grit my teeth as I drive further into her.
I slap my flesh so hard against hers it is no wonder her head hits the headboard; I don’t put my hand between her head and the board. I don’t even shuffle our bodies further down the bed. I would have for my Stella had I had the chance. But this isn’t about caring, this isn’t about love. There is nothing tender about fucking the sister of the girl you have loved since forever to try and stitch shattered hearts back together. I just want to come and get the fuck out of here. This is only the second time I’ve done this—one clumsy tangle of limbs before Stella was mine, this time is better physically now that I am older, though each thrust smashes more cracks on to the surface of my rotten heart.

I pack a bag and I leave. I can’t stay in this town without her. Nothing makes sense without her. I don’t make sense. I lose myself in the bright lights and dark alleys of Melbourne, which is of course what I want, to be invisible. That is all a piece of shit like me deserves. It’s easy to be invisible in the city. Months pass in a blur of alcohol and willing women, they teach me things and I pretend they are Stella. That she is still here, that I didn’t let her down. I pretend I didn’t fuck her sister not all that long after I let her down. When I return home, I find the whole family is gone. Stella’s mum and sister. Gone. Just like my Stella.

Kelly is there for comfort and the comfort grows into something more. Something I wasn’t sure I would ever be capable of without Stella. Kelly smooths over some of the cracks on my black heart. But she still receives a watercolour version of what I once was.
That’s all my life is; it is black without Stella. Nothing.
Black eventually gives way to grey; depressive.
Now it’s peppered with water colour. There’s some spark there, but it’s dull.
Some colour, but watered down.
Watercolour can be pretty, but this isn’t.
This is half a life.
Half a heart.
My heart is superficial.
It beats, but there is nothing inside.

Kelly stands over me now with a knife in her hand. I see the madness racking her body, making her a trembling, wild mess. My Kelly is a mad Kelly. She has something wrong with her head. She doesn’t see reason, she doesn’t know logic and she does not hold any morals. Her heart beats but it doesn’t deserve too. She hurt Jazz—it is still something I wish I could have prevented.
If only we could see hearts when we look at people to see what is truly inside of them.
It would save us a lot of trouble; and time.
My time is running out.
Kelly is seeing to it.
“You never loved me,” she growls in a voice saturated with a hate so black I have no control of the dancing my chin is partaking in. “You always loved her.”
I swallow, almost choking on my tongue. Saliva has left my body. My breath is trying to flee as well. I wish I was just watercolour on a page, and then I could float out the window never to return.
“I was never good enough for you,” her eyes are absent of soul. She towers over me, sucking me in to her vortex.
“You were,” I rasp. “It’s me who isn’t good enough.”
Relief floods me. I spoke the truth. For the first time since that night, truth has spilled from my lips.
Her grip on the knife slacks, her jaw pops. “What?”
I close my eyes and transport myself back.
Away from here.
Away from her.
“Give me the knife,” I request calmly.
Because I am calm now. I just want to get to my Stella. I’m sick of pretending on this earth that it will ever be okay without her or that evil isn’t lurking underneath my skin.
“Are you crazy?”
I chortle. Coming from her, that is funny.
“What? What’s so funny?” her whiny pitch scratches at my nerves.
A sunburn beneath my skin.
“I saw who took her. I wasn’t unconscious!” I shout, veins popping in my neck. My head shakes with the force of it.
“What,” she expels on a breath; the knife bounces on the wood floor. I crawl to it. Her eyes widen. It’s cold in my hand. I heave myself off the floorboards.
“You didn’t stop him?” she croaks, both of her hands cupping her throat, like the words burnt her on the way out.
I shake my head, my pulse thumps in time with her discomfort, dances with it.
“No. He had a cricket bat pressed against my throat. Promised he would take care of her. Winked at me. Winked.” Anger is back, coursing through my blood, rushing in my ears.
An angry red sea sloshing inside.
“He’s my brother,” the words tear from her chest, moisture leaking from her eyes follow the words. “And his sick.”
“Your fucking brother? What the fuck?”
“I loved you—always. I guess he thought he was doing me a favour. Removing Stella.”
“Removing?” My voice is low, soft.
“So I could have you,” her eyes bore into mine. I see the love in them but now it makes my stomach churn. I remember the knife in my hand, the one I was going to drive into my heart to end my suffering, so I could be with my Stella once again.
I place my forehead against hers; she sighs and melts into me.
Just how I want her.
I slide the knife into her skin and am surprised by the ease of it going in. I expected it to be harder than it is. I enjoy it so much I pull it out of her and back in. It’s almost sensual. A new height I didn’t know was possible. I do it over and over.
In and out.
In and twist.
Out and sigh.
My hands are wet, they smell metallic.
I keep going.
I keep going until I can’t see for red.
Red is everywhere.
Red is for dead.

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