Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home Security

He was through the window to his waist when his elbow clipped the plate, causing a clank from the kitchen sink. He stopped with his legs dangling in open air, his face near a dish that reeked of asparagus.
It was quiet.
He slid the rest of the way through at an angle onto the counter and then stepped lightly to the floor. He tilted his head, waiting as his vision gradually adjusted to the dark.
Still quiet.
This wasn’t a bad part of town; it was on the fringe of a district with character, in fact. But three blocks down and you’d start thinking about iron grates on the windows. He supposed his presence tonight made a good case for iron grates here too.
The lawn had gone to seed, and the house needed some paint, but it was otherwise maintained. A man and a woman lived here. No kids. No dog. He’d monitored the house for a week.
The husband had a physique fit for a desk job. He dressed neatly and worked 8-5, and he drove a 15-year-old Accord with rust eating the bottom couple inches off the doors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Kiss

NOTE: The folks over at Write With Pictures gave me the Featured Post winner for this one! Thanks to all who took the time to read it.

The air twirled with Maple seeds.

They sat quietly near the bank together. Her fingertips danced on the back of his hand. Her palm was damp and warm, and the heat climbed her wrist, up her arm to her elbow, which was nestled in his. Everything else was numb.

She took in his smell of dirt, sweat, peanut butter, and honey.  It was so uniquely boy.

She studied his knee, a smear of dry blood on dark green, and the threadbare hem of his khaki shorts. She studied every blemish on the back of her hand as it lay on his.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Let the characters describe themselves

While reading Flannery O’Connor’s "A Good Man is Hard to Find" recently, I tried to pay attention to how she described her characters. She was so good at describing characteristics and mannerisms without slowing the pace of her stories.

For example, this description of the rich old farmer, Mr. Cheatam in the short story “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”:

“He was bald-headed except for a little fringe of rust-colored hair and his face was nearly the same color as the unpaved roads and washed like them with ruts and gullys. He wore a pale green shirt with a thin black stripe in it and blue galluses and his trousers cut across a protruding stomach that he pressed tenderly from time to time with his big flat thumb. All his teeth were backed with gold and he would roll his eyes at Miss Kirby in an impish way and say ‘Haw haw,’ sitting in their porch swing with his legs spread apart and his hightopped shoes pointing in opposite directions on the floor.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bigger Man

For Three Word Wednesday. The words are: Grasp, dread, pacify.
The Baumgartner girls climbed onto the bus at 42nd and Spencer, the two eldest chattering while the littlest, Ellie, pressed against them and laughed loudly, trying to be in the conversation.

Mark swung the lever to close the door and pulled back onto the road.

That morning, their ride was full of spring: Nothing blossoms brighter in April than elementary children. The old Bluebird bus bounced over fresh potholes.

The mirror caught a child jumping seats across the aisle. “K-keep your butts in the chairs, please!” Mark called back.

“Sorry!” the boy dropped immediately, and the seat springs sent him smack into a window.

Mark downshifted and ground the gears as he turned the corner onto Lake. They topped the hill on the way to the next stop.

Suddenly, to Mark, the bright jabbering and sunshine faded.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eye of Newt

For Sunday Scribblings. The prompt is: recipe.

“A pinch of red pepper flakes. Where are … Ah ha. OK. One pinch then.”

Will sprinkled it into the cauldron. Steam puffed in his face. He coughed.

“Don’t go too heavy on the pepper!” his master shouted from across the room.

“I just put in a pinch!”

“Pinch it a little tighter next time, then!”

Alfred Lowenden was generally regarded as the greatest alchemist in the area. Will being accepted as his apprentice had less to do with skill and more to do with luck. Luck of birth, to be precise: Alfred was his uncle.

Will knew expectations were low, and he was anxious to prove his worth. Today, in his second week at the shop, Will was making his first potion for sale. It was to be a strength potion, nothing too complicated. He had a special recipe, the finest ingredients, and about 20 minutes before the customer arrived.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get Them Laughing

My submission for Three Word Wednesday. This week's words: fear, ignore, weightless.

A card fluttered to the stage floor as he rifled through his notes again. He bent to pick it up and saw through a space in the curtains the crowd chattering as they waited.

It was a small school, and really, the room was sparsely filled: small clumps of students sprinkled throughout the auditorium. But it was crowd enough for him.

A drop of sweat trickled from his forehead off the tip of his nose, splattering on the renegade card. He wiped his face.

Three weeks later, he still hadn’t gotten used to the idea. He was president of the National Honor Society. You can’t nominate yourself for an office, and the small group of hyper-competitive honor students couldn’t stand to see an adversary get an advantage on his or her resume. The advisor had pleaded for a name until someone lazily said, “Jeremy Melcher.”