Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Duck Pond

Reedsy writing prompt: You pass by a person sitting with their face to the sun, the most content smile you've ever seen on their face.


The Duck Pond

My favorite place on campus is the Duck Pond. It's really just a smelly, man-made hole infilled with greenish water, but living in the desert, where there are few ponds and even fewer ducks, you take what you can get. I wasn't the only one who loved the Duck Pond. Some days it was near impossible to find a square foot to sit down, but even on the days when there was plenty of room, it was rarely a secluded or quiet place. The only times I've ever seen the pond quiet was Christmas Day and New Year's Day. I guess because everyone is busy with their families on Christmas and they're too busy nursing hangovers on New Year's to care about throwing bread crusts to the scraggly ducks.

I like to go there, original English major that I am, with a book and my journal. It's a great spot to just sit and observe. It fills this need I have to be part of a group without actually having to participate. With my back resting against a tall pine and my leather journal balanced in my lap, I can sit and watch the couples lying side by side, sometimes kissing, sometimes dozing, always content. I can watch the mothers who bring their toddlers to campus to feed the ducks. The kids have no concept of how big a duck's mouth is, so they often throw whole slices of bread into the water where they get soggy and float around like mushy, white lily pads until the stinking koi tear them apart. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit I like looking at the other introverts with sketchpads or journals. I like to study their faces like tea leaves, trying to divine what they're writing. That guy over there, with the greasy ponytail and tattered Dave Matthews shirt, is writing a fantasy novel. I'm willing to bet it has both dragons and Xena-inspired warrior women with tits the size of literal melons. That mousy girl over there? She looks like she'd be writing a romance. You know, wish-fulfillment and all that, but she's not. Not in my mind, anyway. She's writing a horror novel. She might look sweet and innocent, but I bet she could dream up at least one hundred and fifty ways to kill you in thirty seconds. I recognize some of these people, others, I've never seen before.

Like the girl sitting on the rock across the pond. I walked past her as I made my way around the water, looking for a good spot. She was different from all the others. She didn't have a backpack or a book or journal. No sketch pad, no pencil, no food, or cup of coffee. She was just sitting there, hugging her knees to her chest, her face raised to the sun. Her eyes were closed, and her face was completely relaxed. She gave no impression that she was aware anyone else existed, even when a Frisbee whizzed dangerously close to her head. She had the most beatific smile on her face that I've ever seen. It was weird, and borderline creepy. She didn't have that look people get when they're meditating. That look is almost a strained kind of peaceful, as if it takes a ton of effort to look so relaxed. And it wasn't a happy kind of look; the kind when you're remembering something warm and good. It was an expression I've never seen before. If I were an artist instead of a writer, I would have plopped down across from her and started sketching her right then and there. 

I sort of felt bad for staring at her. She seemed so completely unaware of her surroundings that shame burned my cheeks. As if I were some creeper peeking in through her bedroom window instead of just another person enjoying the crappy little pond. But the shame wasn't enough to keep me from staring and wondering. I tried to journal, but I kept glancing up to see if she was still there, if she'd shifted at all, if she'd opened her eyes. I wanted to wait and see if her expression would change. If someone would join her, or if maybe she'd get bored and wander away. Every couple of minutes, no matter how hard I tried to ignore her, I found myself searching her face for some clue about who she was and what was going on in her life. 

My mind created and discarded theory after theory about the girl: She was a music major trying to hear the song in her head to the end. Her slob roommate moved out. She finally found the strength to tell her asshole boyfriend of two years to fuck off. She got news that her rapist was shot and killed in a hunting accident. She's an orphan and just found out a long-lost relative died and left her enough money to keep her flush for the rest of her life.

Somehow, though, none of the random theories I came up with seemed right. None of them hit the core of that expression. That look on her face was more than financial or emotional relief. It was more than being one hundred seventy-five pounds and an asshole lighter. Clean dishes and a vacuumed floor didn't account for her look of pure, uncomplicated peace.

I'm not an angry kind of person. I don't usually feel jealousy or irritation. Human experience is rich and diverse, and there's no point in being jealous or angry most of the time, because things always circle around. Life might be going along perfectly for a time, but eventually, there will be heartache, pain, and trouble. I figure everyone deserves to feel whatever happiness and peace they can while they can. So, it surprised me that the more I tried to figure out the reason for her contentedness, the angrier I got at her. Anger that stabbed like an icicle through my heart, freezing my blood and stealing my breath. Anger that gripped my stomach and clenched my fists. 

Who the hell did this girl think she was, sitting there on her rock like the queen of the universe? Like some transcendent Buddha come to life. Sitting there with her eyes closed, silently judging everyone around her. Feeling superior and smug because she's clearly more evolved and elevated than the rest of us plebeians. 

The urge to run over to her and shove her into the water forced a shocked, chittery laugh out of me. I had to fight hard not to follow through with that completely mean and out-of-character impulse. This sudden hostility toward a stranger scared me.  I closed my journal and shoved it and my pen into my backpack. Whatever was going on with me had nothing to do with her, and I damn well knew it. The best course of action was to walk away and leave her to her serenity. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to stand. I couldn't bring myself to turn my back and make my way to Astronomy. 

Without realizing what I was doing, I opened my mouth and screamed. I screamed louder and longer than I've ever screamed before. I screamed until my throat was hot and raw. Until I ran out of breath and tears streamed down my face. All around me, people stopped what they were doing and stared at the crazy girl screaming under the pine tree at the edge of the duck pond, and I didn't care. All I cared about was bursting the bubble of calm that surrounded the girl. 

Another deep breath and another piercing scream. The dude-bro with the Frisbee ran toward me, concern and fear crisscrossing his face like river lines on a map. The napping couple got up and walked away, throwing dirty looks at me for disturbing their afternoon in the sun. A mother picked up her little boy and hurried away. All around me, people reacted to my screams. Except the girl. She just sat there, that same damned look on her face, as if she were alone in the world. My vision blacked out everything but the girl on the rock.  We were the only people in the world, and I was going to scream until she opened her eyes and assured me I wasn't alone. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

That's Like Hypnotizing Chickens

Writing prompt: That's Like Hypnotizing Chickens



The rain fell in a steady stream, but Sofia didn't seem to care. The basket hung from the crook of her elbow as she stomp stomp stomped her way through the flooded back yard. Her red muck boots, which she always took extreme care to de-muck before taking them off in the mud-room, were polka-dotted with little spots of mud. A gust of wind shook the trees and it seemed, for just a moment, that it was raining harder than it actually was. She stopped, right in the middle of the yard, and turned her face up to the sky. The cool rain washed the hot tears from her eyes.

It had been two weeks since Dylan had left her and the farm. Of course, she didn't realize at the time that's what he was doing--leaving. He told her he was going into town to pick up some lumber. He was finally going to fix the hole barn's roof. She watched him attach his wallet chain to his belt loop and shove the old brown wallet into his back pocket. She had given him that wallet for their third wedding anniversary. Leather was the traditional gift for three years, and back then, they were both still trying to conform to the standards of marriage, though he never was good at keeping track of what he'd gotten her, so sometimes he'd repeat gifts.

"That wallet's near to bursting," she said. "I don't know how you can sit on that thing to drive. What do you keep in there anyway?"

"Noneya, woman!" Dylan winked a crinkly blue eye and smiled warmly at her. "I don't ask you what you carry around in that giant purse of yours, I'd appreciate the same courtesy about my wallet."

It was a familiar routine with them. He liked to think he was being clever, being coy, but she knew the truth well enough after all these years. He was a paper hoarder. He collected scraps of paper the way her grandmother's sister had collected stray cats. He kept grocery receipts from four years ago, bills, and credit card statements for credit cards they didn't even have anymore. If someone gave him a business card, he'd keep it in a stack with all the other cards. Eventually, he'd forget who gave him the card in the first place. One of his favorite things to keep was old lists. But not his lists. He kept lists that other people lost. Mostly grocery lists, abandoned in the bottom of the shopping cart. Eggs, cheese, shoe strings, apples, sponges, shampoo. Sofia used to ask him why he kept those random lists, but she'd long since given up trying to talk sense into him. Now, she was just glad that he was able to contain a huge portion of his paper collection to just his wallet. When the wallet got too full he'd pull out some of slips of paper and stash them in one of  his unlocked lock-boxes. He always kept them unlocked because he knew just as well as she did that there really wasn't anything worth keeping in there. Certainly not worth keeping secret anyway. Turned out, the man kept all his secrets in his heart and head, where she could never get to them.

Sofia wiped her face and continued on her way to the coop. How long had she stood there, face upturned to the weeping sky? Fifteen seconds? A minute? Three minutes? It was as if the drops falling on her face had hypnotized her for a spell. No matter. The eggs had to be collected, rain or no, and standing around like a damn fool, replaying the last time she'd seen her husband wasn't going to change the fact that he was gone.

The chickens squawked and beat their wings as she approached.

"Hey there, lovely ladies," She greeted in return. "What do you have for me today?"  She closed the gate behind her and gently pushed Jenny Blue out of the way with her foot. Jenny Blue was the only of the the chickens who seemed to like her. Anytime Sofia came into the coop, J.B. was at her heels. More like a puppy than a chicken.

"It's about time I start selling your eggs, chickies. I just don't eat enough of them to justify keeping them. And it'd be nice to have a few extra bucks now that..." Sofia lost the thread of her conversations. She was talking to chickens, as if they could actually understand her. As if they gave a damn whether she ate their eggs or sold them.

Dylan had a saying when he thought things were pointless or silly: It's like hypnotizing chickens, he'd say.

The chickens watched her gather their unformed young and put them into her basket.

"I know what you girls are thinking. My putting one foot in front of the other, gathering up your eggs, trying to keep the farm from collapsing down around me...it's like hypnotizing chickens, isn't it?" She took a deep breath and blew it out. "I suppose you're right, but what's the alternative? Give up and run away, like him? Someone's gotta tend to you, you know. So how 'bout a bit of gratitude, ladies."

The chickens blinked. They weren't hypnotized and they didn't care whether she was tending to them or not. But no matter. They eggs needed collecting, regardless.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Your Heart Will Guide You True--Listen to It

Prompt: Your heart will guide you true - listen to it.


We were leaving Santa Fe. It was a warm, spring day and we had spent the day at an art fair, then we had lunch at a little dive. I even remember what I ordered. Migas made with blue corn chips. I didn't like them.

For years, I'd been asking for a dog. My husband was a cat person, and I married into three cats. We had been married for ten years, and I was ready to finally get a dog. But, we were renters. And we already had three cats. We weren't super financially secure. There were a million reasons not to get a dog.

After lunch, we got back on the highway to head home. My husband and I had been sniping at each other a bit, and the mood in the CR-V was tense. Not hostile. Not angry. Just...tense. He drove past a beat up truck on the side of the service road with a handmade cardboard sign that said simply PUPPIES in large, scrawly, black letters. My heart soared, but I didn't ask if we could stop. Without looking at me, without saying a word, my my husband turned around.

We parked off to the side of the service road and approached the dirty man who was sitting in the beat-up truck. His plates were expired.

He was trying to get rid of two puppies--Bilbo and Frodo. They were fuzzy and sweet and the puppy breath almost made me die of happiness. One of the pups, I don't remember which, was black. I picked him up and my heart swelled. Then it soared. Then it broke in a million pieces. My heart spoke directly to this dog. His heart spoke to mine. It was like our souls recognized each other. I set him down and picked up his tan brother. He was cute, with a little black robber's mask, but my heart didn't react the same to him. So I passed him off to our seven year old son and picked up the black puppy again. Again, my heart swelled-soared-shattered-spoke.



This dog was mine. I was his. There was no way around it. He called to me, and my husband, from the side of the road in the middle of the desert between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I couldn't leave him. I couldn't.

Because we had been at an art festival, we had a little cash. We got in the CR-V to discuss what to do.

"I need him. My soul recognizes him. Please, Stirling." My voice was on the verge of cracking.  He nodded and pulled out his wallet to see how much cash he had. I pulled out my remaining cash.

I called our landlord. "Please, please let us get this dog. He's a shepherd-lab mix, and he needs a home. Please." The landlord agreed.

Stirling and I pooled our cash. It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough by almost half. But there was no bank anywhere near. I knew if we drove away, we'd never come back for the dog of my heart. We approached the man with the two fluffy puppies.

"This is it. We don't have any more money. If you just can't do it, we understand, but this is all we have."

The man dropped his cigarette and stubbed it under his boot. "Which one do you want?"

Stirling looked at me, and without hesitation, I picked up the black one. I scratched the tan one and thanked him for letting his brother go. I thanked the man for negotiating with us.

I rode in the back seat, little Bilbo or Frodo in my lap, and my heart settled into a happy rhythm. By the time we got to the pet store in Albuquerque, the dog had a new name: Harvey. Harvey the Wonder Mutt...dog of my heart.


Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of his death, and my heart still calls for him. It always will. I miss Harvey every single day.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Redux

A friend from DFW Writers Conference posted a cool prompt on Twitter, and I thought I'd take a stab at it. I was supposed to set a timer for 10 minutes and write, but I forgot to set the timer, my dog started freaking out at the garbage truck, I got a string of texts from a friend. You know, life stuff happened. That, and I got carried away by the story that unfolded in my head and I couldn't force myself to stop writing until I found the end. I probably spent 30 minutes on this prompt. It has not been edited. It's just pure, delicious, writing prompt word vomit. But it was fun!


I felt normal until...Boxes of rocks... Choices... Write for 10 minutes. Incorporate all of these things.





I woke up feeling like I always feel. Sluggish. Disappointed. Slightly confused. I also had to pee like a mother fucker. I have a small bladder, and I'm a deep sleeper, so normal for me is waking up with a dull ache deep in my body. I rolled out of bed and kegel-walked my way to the bathroom to relieve myself, not wasting time to turn on the light.

When I was done on the toilet, carefully made my way to the kitchen. Boxes of rocks littered the hallway, obstructing doorways. Some of the boxes were arranged in sloppy, sagging stacks, the cardboard straining under the weight of the contents. I've been telling Nate for months that if he didn't get the damned rocks out of here, I would. He promised me a hundred-thousand times he'd deal with them, but he never did. Neither did I. Instead, the stacks got higher, more precarious. The more boxes of rocks he lugged in, the less fight I had left in me. I loved him, after all, and if this odd collection of his soothed his soul, who was I to get so pissed off about it? It's not like he was a drunk or a cheat. He didn't gamble our money away. He didn't have mistresses secreted all over the city. He was just a broken man who had a strange hobby. I didn't understand it, but I reasoned it wasn't my place to understand. After what he'd been through, the only thing I could really do was support him through his journey, wherever that may lead. Still, though, it hurt like hell when I stubbed my toe against one of those boxes. Boxes of rocks aren't known for being well-cushioned.

I flicked on the kitchen light and shook my head at the mess on the counter. When he first started this rock collecting phase, it quickly became clear that it could take over our whole house if we didn't lay down some ground rules..."ground" rules...har har har. I insisted he keep his collections contained in some manner--build shelves, stored in giant tubs, whatever--as long as individual rocks weren't strewn about the house. My only other rule was to keep them out of our bedroom and the kitchen. Just because he randomly developed a rock fetish doesn't mean I have to sleep and cook with the damn things. Until that morning, he had always done a pretty good job about respecting my boundaries. The kitchen was a blissfully rock-free 99% of the time.

"Nate," I called as I filled the carafe with water. "Honey, please get these rocks out of here! I wanted to make breakfast, but I can't lift the box off the counter!"

I measured out the coffee beans and ground them into a fine powder before trying again.

"Honey! I need the counter! Get these damned rocks out of here."  The coffee pot sighed and sputtered the irritation I tried to swallow down.

"You know what? That's fine. I'll take care of it myself! I wouldn't want to disturb you." I winced at my own passive-aggression. I swear, I'm not a bitch. It's just that living in a house of crumbled and dusty stone was starting to get to me. The coffee maker spat out the last of its brown juice, and I filled two mugs.

"I'm sorry, Nate. That was a total bitch comment." I side stepped the boxes between the kitchen and dining room and set my coffee on the table. I wrapped both hands around Nate's mug. Something was wrong. Nate wasn't into ignoring people. Even if he had his earbuds in, he always kept the volume low enough to hear me if I called for him.

The living room light was on. The curtains were flung open...odd. Since he started his collection, he preferred to keep the curtains drawn. It was as if he understood that his behavior and our current living conditions were far outside the range of normal, and he was afraid of being judged by outsiders.

There was usually a wobbly stack of boxes behind the couch. I don't know what he was thinking, stacking them so high. I'd told him over and over that it was dangerous. They could topple over and crush us while we watched The Office. Maybe he finally got around to moving them to a safer place.

I came around the couch and screamed. Nate's coffee mug fell from my hands, hit a neatly stacked pyramid of rocks, and shattered. Nate was on the floor, his feet toward the pyramid. The pile of boxes that had always threatened to smash our heads in while we watched mindless television had finally come down. But not by themselves. Nate did it. He had positioned his head at the base of the boxes and pulled them over onto himself.

Why? Why did he make a fucking pyramid in our living room? Why did he sacrifice himself at the base of it, to the gods of his inner demons?  I was the one person who loved him most in the world, and he chose not to trust me. Not to confide in me. To tell me what was really going on with him. He chose to leave me here, in a rock-hoarder's hell hole, knowing perfectly well I couldn't lift those fucking boxes.

As I screamed my grief and rage at the crushed body of my husband, it dawned on me that I was a widow.

I'd never wake up feeling normal again.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Toothy Writing

What you fear, if you turn toward it, will give your writing teeth--Natalie Goldberg

This is one of my favorite writing quotes. I love it so much, it's on my business cards. It comes to me when my inner gremlin tells me I suck, or that I'm a huge fake. It comforts me when I feel like my fingers can't type the words my brain needs to say. That quote reminds me that as long as I'm willing to tell the stories I need to tell, I have power. It runs through my mind when I press my right hand into my only tattoo for strength and comfort. What you fear, if you turn toward it, will give your writing teeth. It's become my mantra and it pulls me through the scary times.


I'm writing something that scares the hell out of me right now. Okay, I'm actually writing two things that scare the hell out of me right now, but this one thing--it's really scary, yet I'm completely in love with it. There are times I want to stop working on it because I'm not exactly convinced I'm the right person to tell this story. Who am I to be able to do it justice? Hell, since I'm a pantser, I don't even know what's going to happen one page to the next. Surely, this story is meant for another storyteller, not me.

About a year ago, my family and I took a trip to Universal Studios Orlando. At the time, this story hadn't revealed itself to me. It wasn't even a blip on my story radar. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter knocked our socks off, but the highlight of the trip was Ollivander's. For those who may not know, Ollivander's is the wand shop in Harry Potter. It's not just an ordinary wand shop. No, in this wand shop, the wand chooses the wizard. Well, that's not just book magic, my friends. Against the odds, the wand actually chose my son! We knew someone would get chosen, but since my kid was thirteen, and there were younger kids there, we thought for sure one of the littles would get lucky. When Ollivander looked right at my kid and called him up to the counter, he looked at me and his dad, shocked that he'd been picked. He pointed to his chest and whispered "Me?" Ollivander assured him he was the chosen one and it was time for him to come up and fulfill his destiny by opening himself up to just the right wand.


I feel like my son did that day: Shocked. Surprised. Incredulous. Flattered. Nervous. Excited. But add scared shitless to my list. I didn't pick this story any more than my son picked that wand. The story picked me. Me, with all my baggage. Me with my worries and fears. Out of everyone in the entire world, this story picked me. I'm the only one who can write this one, so I have no right to turn away from it, even though it scares me.

What you fear, if you turn toward it, will give your writing teeth.

I sure as hell hope so. I hope I have the strength and the courage to tell this story without flinching, dumbing it down, or turning away. I hope I have the strength to tell this story with the grace and tenderness it deserves. Above all, I hope that because I refuse to turn from it, it will sink its sharp teeth into your soul.

How do you handle writing the things that scare you?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Post Where I Talk About My First Writers Conference

It always seemed to me that if I really wanted to call myself a writer, I needed to do more than just write, I needed to go to a conference. But since I've never been published and my blog is just barely crawling along with lurches and gasps, going to a writers conference seemed a bit too...ambitious. Like everyone would be able to smell the Eau de Impostor that wafts around me like too much Axe Body Spray.

I really did go! I have the picture to prove it!

I came at DFW Writers Conference sideways. First, I stalked the website and Facebook page, wondering if I could hang. Wondering if it would really be worth it. Then, I put it out of my head entirely--for about two hours. It turned out, I couldn't focus on anything but the conference. There was a wobbly pit in my stomach, and a voice in the back of my head urged me to talk to my husband about finding the money to make attending a reality. So we talked. And talked. And talked some more, and we decided that we could make it happen for one day. I was over-the-moon that we could manage even that much, so I studied the schedule harder than I've studied for anything since college. After a lot of deliberation, I picked Saturday because I really wanted to hear Jane Friedman speak. I joined DFWCon's closed Facebook group and proceeded to ask roughly eleventy-trillion questions about everything from what to wear to how to avoid vomiting in the ferns. Pro-tip: Just don't barf in the ferns. That's what toilets are for.

Everyone in the group was so nice, and no matter how silly my question was, it was always answered with reassurance and kindness. Not once did I feel like an idiot for asking something. In a group with over 400 members, that speaks volumes! Two weeks later, I purchased the second day. It wasn't an easy thing for me to do. We got bills to pay, we got mouths to feed. But my sweet husband told me to see it as an investment in myself and my writing, and really, how do you say no to that? Pro tip: You don't.
 
Through the Facebook group, I met a woman who lives in my town, and I offered to carpool with her. Then she offered me the second bed in her room. I had been planning to come home each night, but staying onsite and getting to soak up the writer-magic for a whole weekend was just too spectacular to pass up. Of course I said yes!

Roommates! 
My roommate and I arrived on Friday evening. We checked in and met up in the lobby with some other early attendees for chatting and game playing. After dinner, we wandered around and found ourselves on the third floor, where the conference would be. We just wanted to get the lay of the land, but we were invited to sit and chat with a couple of the volunteers who were taking a break from setting up. As we were chatting, we met an agent, fresh in from out of town.

In the group, we were told that it would be cool to pitch agents anytime, anywhere, except while they were eating, going to the bathroom, or on their way to a class or something. But my new soul-sister and I didn't pitch this agent. Instead, we chatted with her. She talked about her life and her favorite foods...just, you know, chit-chat. And it was fabulous!

As a writer, I tend to forget that agents are just people. I spend so much time researching them, trying to find out what they love and hate, trying to craft the perfect query so I can land an agent and live the dream, that I sort of start to see them as these out-of-this-world beings who pull the strings of my fate. Logically, I know that's simply not true, but it's easy to lose a healthy perspective when you're in the query trenches.  Over the course of the weekend, this agent and I had a number of conversations, and I never pitched her. I probably could have, but I was enjoying the conversations and didn't want to ruin them with a pitch. That first conversation with that first agent was also my first, and possibly most valuable lesson of the weekend: People are people. Writers, agents, editors...we're all people. We all either love or hate guacamole, and if you remember that, you'll be just fine.

Drinks with an Agent.

I could tell you about all the classes and and workshops I took, but I'm not going to. Not because they weren't valuable. They were. But more than that, they were just non-stop. It'd take me a week to write it all down, and I'm not sure it'd be a compelling read. What I can say is that DFWCon was about so much more than classes, pitch sessions, and agent receptions. Yes, those things are wonderful and valuable, but that stuff is all just surface level. What DFWCon is really about is relationships. It's about finding your community--finding your people. When you put 400 writers together for a weekend, the conversations are intense and the connections are often instant. I learned that even writers who seem to have their shit together feel anxiety. Even writers who flit from conversation to conversation still need to take a bathroom break just to have a moment of quiet to gather themselves. I learned that as weird as any of us may feel out in the real world, when we come together as a group, we all fit in. I signed up for the conference by myself, but I left with four hundred new friends. There just aren't words to describe how empowering and completely awesome that is.

Fun Hair = Instant Friends!

In the end, it didn't feel like I was going to a writers conference. It felt like going home. To everyone I talked to, everyone who smiled at me, everyone who laughed when I laughed, and everyone who lifted me up when my self-doubt tried to hold me down: Thank you. You made my first writers conference an experience I will never forget.

And to all the volunteers who put this gig together: We're not worthy! We're not worthy! We're not worthy! You were the true rock stars of the weekend. Thank you for everything!

Thank you, DFWCon Volunteers! This one's for you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Writing Prompt Monday: The Rainbow

Write a story less than 500 words involving a rainbow and a bell.

I sat at the edge of the pond, scraped and bruised knees drawn to my chest. All around me, the birds chittered, as if daring me to dive into the cool, clear water. Not that I needed to be dared; I always felt more at peace in the water than I ever did on land. It was easier to pretend in the water. When I was underwater, my bruises were invisible and my muscles didn’t hurt. But as much as I longed to swim, I knew I couldn’t take the risk. Mother ordered me to stay dry, and punishment for disobeying was always swift and harsh. Anyway, I was lucky to even be allowed to come out by myself, no way would I press my luck by swimming. I laced my hands behind my head and laid back in the soft grass. Even though it hadn’t rained in a couple of days, there was a vibrant rainbow overhead.


I closed my eyes and imagined sliding down the colorful arch, hair flying behind me like a mane on a wild horse. Of course I knew it was impossible to slide down a rainbow, but the thing about imagining is it doesn’t have to make sense. In my mind, I slid faster and faster until I flew off the edge of the rainbow and into the middle of the impossibly deep pond. I swam until my lungs burned, before finally breaking the surface of the water with a gasp. I floated on my back letting the rainbow bathe me in soft warm light. The colors healed both my broken skin and my soul.

The bell’s measured ringing pulled me from my daydream. I didn’t want to leave the rainbow and the pond, but when Mother rang the bell, I had just a few minutes to get home, no  matter how far away I was. Without hesitation, I turned from the water and light and raced home through the dark forest.