Thaumatrope for Valentine’s Day

So yes, I realize that Valentine’s Day was yesterday. What can I say? I am a procrastinator especially when it comes a holiday I can’t necessarily celebrate in the exact way I imagine. Perhaps one day I will be able to immerse myself in the romance of it all again.

In light of the dark mood I’m in — I invite you to read my second published Thaumatrope story. If I had to title it, the first thing that comes to mind is that Etta “I hate Beyonce” James song, “At Last”. It’s the first one in a compilation of Valentine treats.

Enjoy and to those out there who do have someone special in their lives, I do hope you had a most wonderful day.

Mah Thaumatrope Story!

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Joining the likes of John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal, I have managed to get paid for writing science fiction.

No shit, you say? Granted, it was like only 140 characters long, but hell, I’m a goddamn professional now. I was only rejected once. It involved zombies kicking my ass in space. I’m guessing zombies, like vampires are a bit overdone these days, so your zombie stories better be the next best thing since Rod Blagojevich’s hair. Come to think of it, Zombies wearing Blago’s hair just might be a story.

I have another Thaumatrope story coming up on Valentine’s Day. It’s more horrorifying and creepy than SF, but I’m sure the 140 characters will make you go, “OMG, she got paid for that? I want more Blago hair!” ūüėȬ†

Anyway enjoy the untitled story about Tentacles and Twister. You can find it here.

Go support your neighborhood Twitterzine. Totally awesome concept!

The Guilty Get No Sleep…

…In the last slow hours of morning.

¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— Crowded House

It’s silly to think that I might still dwell in the past. Although the days of remembrance have been few and far between these last few years, it is the vivid moments that catch me off guard. Something will trigger the words of a poem you had written, or a song we both loved starts to play and begins to linger like a sweet perfume.  Indeed, we were intimate without ever touching, but our relationship meant more than just the caress of skin ever could.

 I’d like to think I am in a better place now than where I was and what I had become those early adult years, but one thing always remained true; I did love you.

Looking back at all the foolishness, I wish I had met you when life had finally settled down for me; when I had learned from most of my mistakes instead of continuously falling into misjudgments. Yet I am also convinced you’d probably be bored with me now. Although life has calmed for me, there are parts of me who still begs for the whirlwind of romance and the whispered promises of forever.

For all the instances when a snap decision wounded you, I am truly sorry. For all the nervous and sometimes callous apologies, I am also sorry. And although I find myself tripping over my shoelaces every so often, it’s not to the degree or disastrous outcomes that used to follow me like a black cloud. I’d like to think that I’ve learned the hardest lesson of all throughout all of my follies.

In the end, your angel was truly fallible instead of believing she was invincible. I’ve since cut off the wings and kept my feet firmly planted on the ground where I belong.

All I ask is that you consider forgiveness, for as we both know, the guilty get no sleep…

At What Point?

Some say that our gracious God will give you only what you can handle, yet at what point do you get down on your knees and just give up?

At what point are you clued-in to the lesson? At what point do you get help? At what point does it all end?

I just want to know why.

For a pleasant while before everything fell apart, any of the other colonists could ask me how I was and I could smile with a curt nod of my head. Things were good. Great, in fact.

Now, things couldn’t be worse. There are just 12 of us left out of the original 300 that landed on Tyrith 4. Communications are gone, and while our holdout is strong, our food supply is slowly dwindling with each passing moon. Each of us eyes the other as we ration, wondering if we all wouldn’t last just a bit longer if some of us weren’t around. This mostly peaceful race have all become murderers in the sacred personal space of our minds.

There are days I’ve found myself approaching the dark void that separates us from the airlock, and as I plunge myself into the absence of light with each final step, something inside of me tells me to wait. This has happened numerous times and the message is the same. “There are bigger things about to happen. Patience.”

As I contemplate my pending and yet delayed sacrifice, my place instead is taken by an older couple, thinned from malnutrition and dehydration. The female walks close to her companion, as his hand guides the small of her back. Once vibrant violet eyes have muddied to grey as they both look onward past the void. I can smell the sweet and sour odors of their youth as they move past, accompanied by the small azure, electric archs transferred from their skin. The tiny shocks upon my fingertips fade as they move toward the door, signifying the last of their energy and a final goodbye.

On our 26th sun cycle, two more of the intimate circle chose to become one with Nasomi. Eight of us still block ours ears at the hiss of the hatch and the high pitched whine of our saturated lungs slowly fading to gurgling breaths and then silence. Two of us do not.

And so it is how we live. No words accompany our prayers to our God. No songs are resung in our most desperate hour. I leave these words for anyone who may find them in the days and years to come, long as they last in the dark coal that scribes them.

My name is Larix and I am sure that today will be the day I annoint myself to the sun. I am tired of waiting for something to happen. I am tired of being patient.

“Filling the Spaces” – My Second College Essay

The assignment was to write an event in my life that will be engaging for readers, at the same time, help them understand the signficance of the event.

Did I live up? Let me know!

Kathryn Baker
Essay # 2 ‚Äď Remembered Events

‚ÄúFilling the Moments‚ÄĚ

I remember the taste of snow on my tongue. The cold had permeated through my
cheeks and numbed my whole body despite the layers of warm clothes. It was far past the time
to retire for a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate toppled with marshmallows, yet I stubbornly
remained outside. We were in the middle of another cold New England winter and as a five
year old girl, I cherished every single minute in the frozen wonderland. Even with my blue lips,
chattering teeth and shivers, I had begged him for one more turn.

Gripping the sides of my sled, I could still hear the muffled voice of my father despite
the triple set of knitted hats which sat atop my head. He leaned in close and I remember that
even through the constricting and frigid air, I could still smell him.

‚ÄúAre you ready?‚ÄĚ he asked with unmistakable mirth in his voice.

I eagerly nodded my head and felt his strong hands start to turn the sled in a counter
clockwise motion. Sucking in my breath in anticipation, I closed my eyes as I felt the world start
to spin. In almost one fluid moment, my father’s strength propelled me down the large hill
behind our modest little raised ranch in the middle of suburbia.

I also remember the smell of freshly made coffee and the warm sunlight on my feet as I
made my way down the hall to the living room. I knew I would be chided for not wearing socks
once more, but I didn’t care. This was my time with my father, half-hearted scolding aside. He
fondly called me his ‚Äúearly bird‚ÄĚ as I plopped my small body down next to him on the couch.
Sitting there in his neatly pressed khakis, steel toed work boots and buttoned-down
dress shirt, he would switch the news to cartoons without complaint. I would usually fall asleep
again before he left for work, barely noticing the kiss he would place upon my forehead or in
some cases, the blanket that he had wrapped around my frigid feet.

As I sat in the small and unfriendly ICU waiting room last year, these specific memories
were the glue that held me together on that unforgiving summer day in August.

Shortly after what was supposed to be a routine surgical procedure, my father’s heart
had suddenly stopped beating. Medical personnel were successful at bringing him back, but
the trauma of the evening warranted a crude, plastic tube down his throat to manage his
breathing. It was only after the doctors were confident in his prognosis that he was allowed to
waken from the medical coma and breathe on his own.

As we consulted various experts in the small and plainly decorated hospital room, it was
agreed that in order to repair the damage to his heart, he would need major bypass surgery. It
was also discovered that one of the valves allowing blood to pass through the heart was
severely damaged during the attack and also needed to be replaced as well.

They moved him from one hospital to another, but despite the change in location, many
things remained the same. The room was painted and draped in stale pale colors with minimal
decoration, save for a small TV that hung from an L-bracket in the corner. The only noticeable
difference was the noise that usually accompanied big city hospitals. Sirens and traffic could be
heard outside the window of his room, despite the attempts to sound proof.

I remember eating my lunch as he picked at the tasteless and under-salted slop the
hospital provided for their patients. My father would barely touch most of the meal, saving his
Jell-O cups for when I brought my children to visit. He was thrilled to see them every night in
the week leading up to his surgery and it warmed my heart to think they were a source of great
strength and comfort for him.

Invoking memories of my past, he’d allow my children snuggle up to him as best he could despite the wires leading to various monitors and IVs, and immediately turn the TV to something child friendly. Even in those difficult hours and his fate in the hands of doctors, he still placed the needs of others above his own.

On the night before his surgery, I took the opportunity to bring in my digital camera,
taking pictures and videos of him with his grandchildren. The tension was tremendous as I
caught various hugs and timid smiles. Some part of me shuddered to think that if something
were to happen on the operating table, these would be last moments of my father’s life
captured in perfect stillness.

Holding his hand, I flipped through the pictures on the tiny LCD to see how they had
turned out, and saw something that had caught me off guard. For the first time in my entire life,
I could see the fear in his eyes. It was at that moment, every reserve of strength that kept the
dam of emotions from breaking, instantaneously failed. I squeezed his hand tighter and barely
managed a whisper through my tears that everything was going to be okay. He slowly nodded
as the words ‚ÄúI love you‚ÄĚ exited my lips, his own pale blue eyes growing moist with anxious
sadness.

Being a single mother, I had no choice but to take my children home for the night. Guilt
racked my body as I left, knowing that as soon as I crossed the threshold of his room, it could
very well be the last time I saw him. I often wonder how I managed to find my apartment
through the veil of tears that clouded my eyes that night.

I called him once more that evening, telling him again that I was looking forward to
seeing him the next day, and I reiterated numerous times how much I loved and cared for him.
If it had been up to me, I would have stayed on the line all night, but he must have
sensed the profound worry and exhaustion in my voice and urged me to get some sleep. I can’t
explain to you what it feels like to have so much to say to someone and yet leave so much
unsaid. I couldn‚Äôt bring myself to say, ‚Äúgoodbye‚ÄĚ when I finally hung up the phone.

As the sun filtered through the blinds of my apartment, my head pounded with lack of
sleep. My youngest daughter had slipped out of her bed during the early hours of morning and
lay curled against me upon the couch. With her baby blanket wrapped tightly around her
sleeping body, it was this act of comfort that let me close my eyes for some much needed rest.

Too soon did the hour of six strike the clock as I dialed the number to his room, while
wiping the sleep from my eyes. I felt the chill slide down my spine as the nurse who answered
informed me that my father had already been moved down to the operating room. There were
no more words to be said until I could be with him later, in the best or worst of outcomes.

Shipping my children off to school and daycare, I grabbed a few muffins and a hot chocolate and drove to the hospital. It was going to be a very long day.

As I sat there next to my uneaten breakfast, I passed the time away by reading, writing
and remembering. I also quietly shared in the experiences of others who were waiting for
doctors to emerge with news. Good or bad, I got the impression that some were just anxious
for any word on their loved one.

An elderly Indian woman silently sobbed against her brother’s chest as her family
surrounded her. Her eyes were red and puffy as she took a moment to look around the waiting
room, drawing in a much needed deep breath. I offered a warm smile and inclined my head as
she folded her hands atop her brilliantly colored yet wrinkled sari.

As she caught my eye, she returned an exhausted nod, and then spoke something in her native language to her family. Excusing herself, she made her way to the small women’s lavatory. I would later find out through her brother that her husband had taken a turn for the worse and they had been informed by doctors he would probably not live through the day.

A tall, well-dressed man who at my best guess looked to be in his forties, paced back
and forth through the white painted halls eagerly asking any passing medical professional if
they had an update on his ailing wife. When he got tired of pacing, he would linger by the vase
of freshly cut flowers that sat upon the reception desk, carefully running a finger over what
looked to be a yellow rose. I’d like to think he was drawing up some wonderful memory of
their past together, in an effort to steel himself against the agonizing wait of not knowing.

In one of the corners of the room, where worn cushions provided little comfort, an older
Japanese woman quietly wiped away tears with an ornate red silk handkerchief. She was
surrounded by four women who looked just like her, and I would later hear that they were all
sisters waiting for news on another sibling who recently had bypass surgery.

Throughout the long day, the elevator doors continued to chime, open and close.
Worried families arrived and departed; some relieved and other grieving. While I was the rare
case in my solitude, I remember thinking to myself that despite the fact that we were all
strangers, we all had something in common. We were not alone in our ordeals; we all deeply
cared for someone who was behind the ominous security doors.

It was a total of eight hours until I was called into an even more tiny private room to
learn my father’s fate. I sat there adjusting myself. I crossed my legs, sat up straight, played
with the old, cream colored rotary phone they kept on a battered wooden coffee table and I
kept telling myself it was going to be good news.

The doctor knocked on the sturdy wood door and walked into the room, dressed in
clean, green scrubs. I found it odd that he still wore clear plastic booties around his feet and a
similar dressing over his dark hair but I realized he was trying to stave off infection when
greeting family.

I noticed he stayed confidently standing before me and there was something comforting about the fact that he hadn’t put an arm around my shoulders upon his arrival. I had always associated those types of greetings with bad news. As he pulled the germ mask below his lips, I secretly rejoiced at finding a smug smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He was proud of himself as he told me that my father’s surgery went according to plan.

Although he spoke of recovery risks and symptoms, I could barely listen as relief swept over my
body. At that moment, I was glad to be sitting as I’m sure my legs would have given out during
the briefing.

He was okay.

I was trembling.

Just five days after opening his chest, he was allowed to go home with me. I will never
forget the image of him sitting in a hospital wheel chair, with newly washed hair and a defiant
smile on his lips. He had cheated death once more.

As he clenched the little heart shaped pillow that the hospital gave to outgoing patients, I
could feel the excitement build. He was ready to be home. It was in that perfect moment where
I leaned down and whispered in his ear.

‚ÄúAre you ready?‚ÄĚ I asked with unmistakable mirth in my voice.

To Clarify My Last Post…

****This will contain spoilers for “Battlestar Galatica”, so don’t read if you aren’t up to date on the show. ****

In the comment thread of¬†my “I Hate Ron Moore” post, Vince asks me why I currently¬†hate the man responsible for one of the best shows on television. I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on why last night was so disappointing, so with a deep breath to control my rage, here we go.

I’ve been on board BSG since the very beginning. I’ve seen friends and enemies alike air-locked, or killed in senseless battles and accidents. I’ve been Admiral Adama’s personal assistant and have watched him grow in both stature and wisdom¬†only to see every strand of strength whittled away in the brief moments¬†of¬†deeply personal betrayal. I’ve stood next to Caprica Six as she’s talked and fucked¬†a deranged and selfish Gaius Baltar. I’ve shared in the disbelief and wholly disturbing personal secrets of Col. Tigh, Anders, Tori and Chief. I too was shut away with D’Anna and let¬†fear rule my decisions when I was “unboxed”. I’ve felt the intense passion that guides Leoben and the frustration and curiosity¬†that make¬†Kara Thrace.¬†I’ve also¬†counselled and questioned every decision Laura Roslin has made since the initial destruction of the 12 colonies.

I am a part of each person, each crew, each cylon and have been from the very beginning.

With all that said, you can imagine my joy, relief and disbelief when Felix Gaeda exclaimed that the constellations were a match. You can imagine the tears of those overwhelming emotions flowing like a cleansing river when Admiral Adama confirmed we had found our new home. I danced in jubilation with Lee in the CIC. I hugged my comrades in the hangar bay, and I wept with those who have lost so much and for the first time in years have had something for which to hope.

Yet the moment I bent down and held the soil in my hands with Adama, and heard the familiar tick of an active Geiger counter, was the moment my hope turned into rage and despair. Couple this with the fact that I am now frozen in time for an unknown period until the forces that be decide I can continue the rest of our journey, and well, it makes for a pretty pissed-off Kate.

I understand the need for dystopia when creating a show or writing a novel. Yet, if you are like me, you have invested yourself in watching, debating and discussing this show. With those countless hours, entitlement arises that you are owed a payoff for your efforts. You should be allowed to experience the most precious of human emotions; hope. 

Apparently, Ronald Moore believes otherwise. I feel ultimately betrayed in that despite the relevant social and economic issues the writers have sprinkled throughout the seasons, they found it necessary to remind us that we are hell bent on destruction no matter how much we try and redeem ourselves.

We are destructive. We’ve known this from the very beginning. We know this as we read our daily news and surf our internet. ¬†I don’t see why it was necessary to offer another¬†glimpse¬†into what looked like nuclear holocaust when it was exactly what we were running from years ago.

So yeah Ron, would you kindly go fuck yourself. I wanted to hold onto my happy ending as long as possible and just as you took families and homes away from my friends and foes alike, you took the only driving force capable of bringing us back from the brink.

Right now, my hope is gone as I sit upon my Earth and look out upon a wasteland I so desperately wanted to call home.

Part of me is relieved the series isn’t over¬†just yet, but part of me dreads where this will lead all of us in the year to come.

 

Oh God. Please Send Help.

The only drawback to buying this small house back in December is that about a mile and a half away from my lovely 4 bedroom abode¬†rests a small cemetery. I don’t consider myself a very superstitious person, yet every time my little CR-V drives by the rusted, black¬†iron fence, chills crawl against my skin. As a kid, I was told that you had to hold your breath when you passed by the tombstones, so that the ghosts buried beneath the earth couldn’t steal it away.

It was the police sirens that woke me this morning at 3 a.m. Thinking it was another vehicular accident on a nearby intersection, I closed my eyes and tried to drift back to sleep. I relaxed and cozied back up to my pillow with heavy and tired eyes.

That’s when I heard¬†it.

Three sounds hit my ears in rapid succession; a low and eerie moaning, a scream from what sounded like a female and the first of many gun shots.

I’ve been awake ever since.

Please tell me that this is a dream.

Tell me that I’m lost in some subconscious imagery taken directly from too many hours of playing scary video games.

It’s now 6 a.m.

Although muffled through the thick concrete walls of the basement, I have heard intermittent screams throughout the last three hours, usually followed by the popping sound of a discharging weapon. Guys, for the first time in my life, I am deathly afraid. I don’t know how long we will be stranded here. I’ve had to make numerous trips upstairs to gather food and other supplies, and from what I can tell from each hurried pass by a window, we are surrounded.

I will¬†do my best¬†to update this blog as the slow moments pass, but I can’t guess as to how much time we’ll be stuck here, or how long the electricity will last. I’ve moved my father and girls downstairs and barricaded the doors with every piece of available furniture, but the¬†only thing that worries me is the entrance to the garage. Given the weak point of the sliding glass¬†upstairs near the deck¬†and this¬†particular vulnerability beneath, I hope¬†I’ve chosen¬†correctly. I’ve¬†backed the Honda against the door, but I don’t know how well it will hold if overwhelmed.

I don’t know how many of them are out there.

I never thought it would end like this. I thought it would be some sort of biological or nuclear strike. Perhaps another terrorist attack that spiraled our country into a final death spiral.  These  are the kind of stories you hear in church that are supposed to guilt you into throwing a few extra dollars in the collection basket.

The dead aren’t supposed to rise from the grave.

If you can send help, please do. I don’t want to die here. I will protect my family¬†until my last breath, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to do this alone. From the sounds of it, the neighbors have already been attacked. From the moaning that is growing louder with each moment, I am certain we are next. I was able to snap this picture of what we’re facing here, but as I listen, it sounds like this isn’t an isolated incident.

Help us, please.

 

 

 

Writing Again!

Yeah, I got sucked into doing another group story. (Actually I volunteered.)

I posted my chapter yesterday. (Tom actually posted the story for me, because apparently I’m too incompetent on formats other than WordPress to accomplish anything.)

I worked very long and hard on the piece. (I pumped it out in 8 hours, after I got the writing bug.)

I hate doing research. It’s such a pain in the ass to find things that aren’t wiki-related. Couple that with research on women in the 1940’s during WW2, and I was starving for information. (Actually, I found some very intriguing articles about the war movement. There are some very neat,¬†authentic videos on Youtube by the US War Department in relation to women doing their part. )

I am too lazy for real punctuation in this post. (Yeah, what she said.)

Enjoy the story. (Or I will cry buckets of salty tears that will overflow and drown small helpless kittens.)

Think of the kittens. (I meant it about the crying.)

Let me know what you think! (Unless it’s bad.)

Introspection on My First Rejection

“It was a knee jerk reaction, really.”

It’s the only excuse I can offer¬†myself as I opened the doomed e-mail from the publisher this morning. Honestly, I never thought two polite sentences that weren’t related to my love life,¬†could send crystals of ice down my spine and at the same time make my stomach boil with the intensity of an erupting volcano.

I finished my first science fiction¬†short story without really going through it with a fine tooth comb and submitted it to a reputable¬†magazine.¬†It was almost as if writing that last word in the story gave me explicit permission to hang myself professionally.¬†Two weeks after pushing ‘send’, I had the fortunate experience of belonging to an established writer’s group, and it was only after learning from the constructive peer criticism, that¬†I longed for a time machine to retract my story from the hands of powered professionals.

As I sat there formatting my freshman effort with glee and getting excited at all of the really clever parts that I had written, I realized that I still very much suck as a writer.

I should. This is my first complete piece in the highly competitive genre. Hell, my critical writing teacher in high school would have probably thrown it back in my face and exclaimed that it still needed to be finished.

In the past, I never understood the heartache of friends who have been rejected. While I’d offer my condolences or encouragement on their next submission, I struggled to understand why they would take it so hard in an industry that has a reputation for being extremely selective and picky. Hell, both George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss were rejected many times. The only reason their novels are sitting on book shelves now, is because they ripped apart whole stories to submit the shorter works and offers to publish finally came through. Some (read John Scalzi here) get lucky by their own admission, and publishers find them. But John¬†will be the first to admit that being sought out and queried happens very rarely.

Now I finally know what it feels like to have someone say “no – we’re not interested”, after all the damn blood and sweat you poured into your work. All right, in my case it was just a little blood and sweat, a pinprick and a light walk, really. It was not nearly the amount that I’m sure others have sacrificed upon the altars of Saint Keyboard or the Typewriter Goddess.

This morning if you asked me if I were feeling low enough to give up, I would probably tell you that I was contemplating creative¬†grammatical suicide. I can’t deny the little voice in the back of my head telling me that I don’t belong in the same leagues as Heinlein, Drake, Scalzi, Watts, or the countless others out there that I’ve read over the years.

Yet, as soon as I publish this very cathartic article on my site, I will probably trudge on, trying to hone my fledgling craft.  So fear not! This weekend, I will be getting out my red pen and magnifying glass and asking some serious questions about my story integrity.

Once I’ve completed that task, I might password protect the entry for your perusal. If you run away screaming, I’ll know that I still have some work to do.

At least I’ll have the subtle satisfaction of hitting the ‘publish’ button in my wordpress client this morning, which makes everything a little better.

Not really.