Stacy brushed her hand over her bare calf to swat away whatever tickled her skin. They swished through knee-high grasses encroaching on the skinny dirt trail leading to the “perfect camping spot.” Those were her boyfriend’s words- not hers.
At that moment, Kenny turned and smiled. “Keeping up okay?”
She glared, even though he couldn’t get the full effect through her dark sunglasses. “Are we almost there?”
“Another half mile, I think.” He turned and continued on the path.
Stacy shifted the pack and winced when she moved the strap that had been digging into her hip for the last two hours. Her friends thought she was nuts for agreeing to go on this trip, but she had a feeling he planned to propose. After dating for three years, she didn’t want to miss it. Still, she couldn’t figure out what gave him the impression she would enjoy this.
Nearly an hour later they stopped and peered down an embankment.
“I’ll help you down,” he said, offering his left hand.
She shook her head. “It’s too steep. Can’t we just set up the tent here?”
“On the trail?” He laughed. “You can do this.”
“I don’t think my shoes are grippy en-“
He tugged her down the slope before she could finish her protest.
A few feet from flat ground, she lost her footing. Kenny’s body broke her fall. “Sorry,” she muttered before rolling to the side. The momentum flipped her onto her back.
He gasped a few breaths. “There. We made it.” He pointed to the left, toward a thicket of scrub oak trees. “We can camp there.”
Stacy felt like a turtle overturned on its shell since her abdominal muscles couldn’t right her while strapped to a thirty-pound pack. Grateful, she accepted his extended hand and ignored the barely-stifled snicker.
After they pitched the tent, he cooked pork and beans over a campfire. As he cleaned the dishes, she paused to listen to the creek. She watched the water rush over rocks, creating mini whitecaps. She had to admit; it was pretty here. She turned toward a scraping noise behind her and saw Kenny hoisting their packs into a tree with a rope he’d thrown over a sturdy branch. “What are you doing?”
He paused. “Stowing our packs.”
“Why not put them in the tent?”
“Bears.” He grunted as he threw his weight into a pull.
“Bears?” Panic edged into her voice.
Made a fool again.
White flag waved (with crossed fingers)…
Ready for next round.
Early Monday morning we discovered the wildlife had another crazy night of partying. Somehow, they are able to keep their rabblerousing down enough that we sleep through it; however it’s obvious we were the benefactors of the animal equivalent of toilet-papering a house. I have the “trashy” pictures to prove it:
As my older son and I scooped up garbage donning very fashionable surgical gloves, neighbors slowed to stare as they drove by. One man stopped and rolled down his window.
“Ah, the javelina got ‘ya?” he asked.
“This is what the javelina do,” he said with a nod.
“Well then, I guess our trash won’t go out until I hear the garbage truck.”
I should’ve known! I bet it was that javelina that gave me “the look” after her baby finally freed itself from our garden. I feared she wasn’t done with us and I was right.
Arizona Game and Fish has pretty much tied our hands, as it unlawful to injure, kill or trap them. I don’t really want to hurt them anyway, but they aren’t taking the hint that they aren’t welcome around here. Since I’m not likely to lure a pack of coyotes as pets to patrol our land, I’ll have to do more research on all the things javelina hate and start doing more of that!
Stay tuned for our next failure :)
(It’s hard to show confidence when our efforts thus far make Elmer Fudd look competent!)
Evelyn pushed herself up onto her elbows and looked from left to right. Nothing. She spotted an old wooden sign in the distance, erected in another era, no doubt. Squinting against the harsh sunlight, she dragged herself in that direction. For some reason, her legs wouldn’t move and the dead weight made progress slow. She didn’t know how long it took, but the sun had dropped to about three finger widths from the horizon by the time she approached reading distance.
The sign had no writing. No clues. Just two arrows pointing in opposite directions. Absolutely nothing to reveal where she’d landed after dropping through the portal. Surrounded by lush greenery, she knew she wasn’t in Phoenix anymore. In exhaustion, her arms gave out and she crumpled to the ground.
She turned her head toward the nude man running toward her and then averted her gaze.
“His promise is true!”
She surveyed her own body. Her Fila T-shirt and Adidas yoga pants were gone. Absent socks and New Balance running shoes revealed her poorly-manicured toenails. Never before had she wished for a bra, but in her nakedness, she would’ve been grateful for one. “Let me guess… Adam?”
He smiled. “Of course, my love.”
She scanned the horizon. “Okay, so it’s day six. Where are the trees? Flowers? Forbidden fruit? I wonder if it really tasted that good.”
He looked confused. “Come, there’s much to see in the garden.” He extended his arm.
Evelyn hesitated before grasping his hand. His biceps flexed as he pulled her weight. She smiled- maybe kicking around the garden with him wouldn’t be so bad. Her legs were wobbly at first, but the muscles managed to hold her. She instinctively crossed her arms over her front.
He glanced at her, puzzled. “What are you doing?”
“We didn’t fall yet. Um, never mind. Let’s go chill in the garden.”
“Oh. Partake in the garden’s majesty?”
Adam smiled. “I know the perfect place.” He took her hand, leading her up the slight hill.
Evelyn looked at the ground and marveled at how the clover felt spongy under her feet, like a sea of little green pillows. She’d never walked barefoot outside before, heeding warnings of the dangers of stinging ants, broken glass and “filth” littering the ground.
“What’s on your mind?”
She paused. She couldn’t possibly tell the truth; that she lived in the future and landed here quite by accident. No way could she explain that she’d gone through a portal to escape Pinky, the man who’d held her captive for two years. She shivered at the thought of Pinky. His name didn’t sound like it, but he had a reputation as the most ruthless pimp roaming the streets of Phoenix. Legend held that he’d snapped the pinky right off a rival; it dangled from a chain around his neck.
They crested the hill and she gasped. “It’s beautiful!” The sun sat on the horizon, minutes away from turning the sky over to the stars. Stars. She hadn’t seen those since childhood camping trips.
“Do you want to help name some animals?”
Evelyn smiled. “Sure.”
They bounded down the hill, bursting through the thick foliage. Momentum slowed and the tallest tree she’d ever seen stood in front of them.
“We mustn’t eat from that tree,” Adam said, pointing.
Her skin prickled. She knew the story; they’d entered the serpent’s favorite haunt, and it was only a matter of time.
“I’m going to get some huckleberries,” Adam said. “Huckleberries… isn’t that a fun word to say?”
“Almost as fun as hippopotamus.” Her gaze darted from trees to brush. “I’ll wait here.”
His footfalls disappeared. The bird song wafting through the dusk air put her at ease, so she decided to rest. She leaned against the tree and closed her eyes, oblivious to the rustling behind her until the undulating movement crossed over her legs.
“Do you know why you mustn’t eat from that tree?”
She knew the serpent spoke, but still, seeing it was weird. “Because you’re evil!” She wrapped both hands around the serpent and squeezed. “You ruin the world! You invade our hearts! You. Need. To. Die!” She tightened her grip with each word.
“Eve, no!” Adam sprinted toward her.
“We mustn’t kill the animals!”
Evelyn relaxed her fingers and the serpent slithered out of reach before pausing to glare at her. She knew he’d be back.
She’d be ready.
Suzanne at Apoplectic Apostrophes has a new writing challenge site, so even though I’d sworn off the distraction of writing challenges a few months ago, I couldn’t resist joining in her inaugural challenge. She’s always been supportive of my writing and I’m thrilled to participate in her new venture :)
The challenge: Write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 739) and (1) reference the photo prompt published on her site, and (2) include the word “haunt” – used as a noun, not a verb.
It’s October and I’d vowed to write creepy this month. And with a prompt word like ‘haunt’ you’d, think I could do that, right? Apparently not! I saw this challenge late last night and this is the story that wouldn’t get out of my head- a goofy, humorous, time-travel-gone-wrong story.
I’d better scare up some creepy soon, or October is going to laugh me all the way to December. Thanks for reading – oh, and if you want to join in, or check out other responses, click the badge below!
Salve for injured emotions.
Repeat as needed.
After several days of not speaking to my husband following his mother’s too-long, drama-inducing visit, he finally asked if I was upset with him.
It occurs to me that the silent treatment was probably a beautiful gift and he had to take a few days to consider whether he wanted to return it. I suppose all decisions must be carefully weighed :razz:
I find it ironic that the ones we love the most are the ones we hurt the most. These are the people that we can take for granted and not even realize that we’ve hurt them. After thinking about it, I see that when I overstep my bounds with an acquaintance, “I’m sorry,” rolls off the tongue so easily. When I disappoint a loved one, my first inclination is to defend my “rightness.”
As I write this post, I remind myself to treat loved ones like acquaintances. Tomorrow is not a given.
My last partly-fiction story was not the least bit uplifting, but when I’m mad/sad/frustrated, etc., I’m wholly all of those things and it bleeds through into my writing.
Oh! Speaking of bleeding, do you know what day it is? Hump-day! Well, that- and October 1st! (I know, that’s a terrible segue, but I’m sticking with it.) I had so much fun writing extra-twisted, super-creepy stories last October that I’m ready to see if I can keep up the scary fiction for another October. I don’t really do blood and gore so much, but hope to bring on the psychological scary. Boo!
If you’re not into creepy, I’ll understand if you make yourself scared, I mean, scarce. Okay, okay, I’ll stop now. Have a great Wednesday!
Most days, I can find the happiness tucked behind the prominent list of things that serve the sole purpose of bringing me down. Most days, my prayers for internal rest are at least partially answered. Most days, I can believe with the greater portion of my heart that tomorrow will be better.
But this isn’t most days.
Today, the muck of life seems to have suctioned onto my wading boots. It’s as if I try to fight it, I’ll wind up flat on my face, completely submerged. So I do nothing.
Well, not exactly “nothing.” The fuse of my resentment is burning fast. It turns out that stewing about what I can’t change is like blowing on a fire. Eventually, the pressure will release and I worry about what my world will look like after that happens.
He groans and rolls over, nearly falling off the couch.
I place the crinkled receipt between the pages and close my book. I walk over to the wall of windows and open all of the blinds.
He buries his face between the cushions and mumbles something unintelligible.
Sharon twisted in the recliner, the springs squeaking under her repositioned weight. The steady beep of the monitor echoed in the room, same as it had before she dozed off. She stood and stretched her back before taking two steps to the bed. She brushed some strands of dark hair from her friend’s pale forehead and paused when she thought she saw Crista’s eyelids flutter. After a full minute with no response, Sharon decided it must’ve been a spasm. Or her own wishful thinking. Exhausted, she slumped into the chair and closed her eyes.
For nearly a month, Sharon had spent her afternoons at the hospital, tethered by worry and guilt. The surreal replay of that night ran through her mind whenever silence crept in. They had been out celebrating the night before Terry’s wedding. They had reached the first club safely. It happened on the way to the second club. The details, like much of her adult life, were fuzzy, but she remembered the commingled sounds of screams and shattering glass- and the numbing shock of the steering wheel slamming against her face. She swallowed hard, willing her lunch to not make a second appearance. Since that night, she hadn’t had even one drink; marking her longest “dry” spell since high school. Too little, too late.
Sharon gasped and scrambled to her feet when she saw her friend’s eyes open and her arms stretched outward. She rubbed her shoulder. “I’m right here,” she whispered. She pressed the call button to summon the nurse.
Crista closed her eyes and mumbled, “I want to be flowers.”
Sharon furrowed her brow, clueless how to respond. She noticed the daisies on the table next to the bed and wondered if that’s what she spoke about. “The daisies are beautiful.”
Her arms remained outstretched, rigid.
changing shapes, shifting
directions- I navigate with shaky balance. I do
my best to anticipate, yet fall short; vulnerable to the destructive
undertow of frustration. I close my eyes and think…. imagine.
In my mind, things happen so differently… peacefully,
I would like to float… gracefully, like a kite
riding the breeze. Although,
The poem above is supposed to be in the shape of a kite. It looks kind of like a sting ray, though…
I’m still struggling with wanting to do more than I physically have time for. Twice this week I fell asleep at my computer, which frustrates me because my sleep-typing is horrible. Not a single legible sentence that I can use! As I approach the weekend, I’m working to accept that my email “In” box is going to be overrun and I’m going to be temporarily behind on blog reading for the next few weeks. I don’t like it, but that’s life.
I’m going to visit my parents this weekend, so I won’t have computer access. If I get ambitious I might try to do some reading on my phone, but I dislike leaving comments that way. See, I have enough typos using a keyboard… the auto-correct on my phone makes me look like a blithering idiot who cannot compose a coherent thought. Sometimes I think the programmers who set up auto-correct did so with a sense of humor. (Seriously, I mistype “imagine” and one of the suggested words is “ikmaoq”. How often is it used in English conversation?!)
I won’t bore you with the “things” going on right now… everyone is busy. May we all find moments to step away (either physically or mentally) and feel those peaceful moments of acceptance.
Have a beautiful weekend!