Popped out of my little ad hoc home office today to grab a bite to eat between clients. What did I actually end up doing? Cracking all the ice and refilling the trays, making a gallon of tea so I could have some, making lunch for my 8 year old as well and putting a diaper and some clothes on the naked 2 year old. Oh yeah, and finally inhaled some food super quick before my next appointment. This is what working from home looks like.
I just finished the most recent installment in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. It was fabulous, as always! I’m not going to say too much about it because I don’t want to give spoilers. But if you enjoy paranormal romance, and you haven’t read the series yet, then you should absolutely head to your nearest bookstore and remedy that situation as soon as humanly possible.
She walked briskly through the chill night air, a cacophony of voices rising all around her. On one side of the road, protesters.
“Twittler! Orange Cheeto!”
On the other side, well, that was worse.
“Kill them all!”
“You all deserve to die!”
“…don’t deserve to live…”
“Get out of Trumps America!”
“Misfits, don’t belong here…..”
“You’re the real deplorables!”
“…should be exterminated….”
She shook her head in disgust as she hurried along. She headed toward home eager to be inside in the cheery warmth. Her sister was home from college and she couldn’t wait to catch up with her.
Her sister, Samantha. Sam was young, vibrant, and full of life. She always had a quick smile and an open, accepting personality. She was very talented and had won a scholarship to attend Columbia University’s school of visual arts. She had a bright future ahead of her.
She was smart, funny, kind and thoughtful. The kind of person anyone would want for a friend, or sister. Lydia felt lucky to be Sam’s sister. But now their family faced a threat.
Whereas no one in the entire world cared one iota who Lydia fell in love with, a huge portion of the American public had made it their mission to harass Samantha and those like her and strip them of their rights. Because, in addition to everything else that made up Samantha, she happened to be gay. Yes, her sister was a lesbian.
She shoved her hands deeper into the pockets of her purple jacket and increased her pace. Arriving at home, she fumbled for her house key, her breath making plumes in the air. She slipped inside her family’s home, the warmth cascading over her body as she entered the foyer, soft light filtering down the entry hall.
Lydia removed her jacket, momentarily sinking her fingers into the velvety softness of it as she hung it on the hook. Her shoes thumped against the wall as she kicked them off and hurried into the family room.
A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, the Christmas tree twinkled in the corner. The room was ablaze with light and warmth, everything she associated with her childhood. This room had always been the hub of family life, family meetings, family movie night, and countless late nights huddled on the couch, giggling with her sister. Now the house was quite, silent. She couldn’t be the first one home.
“Mom? Dad? Sam?” she called as searched the house for signs of life.
There was a thump from upstairs, but no answer. Her heart leapt into her throat as her mouth went dry. What was going on up there? She took the stairs two at a time. Reaching the second floor she craned her head wildly around trying to determine where the thump had come from.
There, at the end of the hallway, a shadowy figure appeared in the doorway to one of the rooms. That would be the game room. Inside were the pool table, fuse ball, and air hockey. That room was the main reason their house had always been the neighborhood hangout when they were growing up. Countless evenings and weekends were spent in there playing board games or air hockey, watching TV or just hanging out. Now her heart pounded in her chest as she made her way quietly, and quickly, down the hall.
As she got closer, she could see the man’s face. It was Jared, what was he doing here? Jared and Sam had dated back in high school, but that had been eons ago! Obviously it was before Sam had come out. Jared shouldn’t be here her mind was screaming. He was out of place in the dark stillness of the family home. Who had let him in? Why was he here?
Adrenaline spiked through her as she realized his presence in the upstairs hallway could only mean danger. She extended her right arm and alternately flexed then clenched her fist. Her palms were sweaty and her pulse thudded in her ears as she felt the heat rush to her face. Oh no, not this again!
Lydia had been struggling with controlling her powers; she wasn’t good at it yet! It was so unfair that no one was here to help her, she might kill Jared without even trying to, and then how was she ever going to get into college?
She stalked closer to him, but Jared was complete unaware of her so preoccupied was he on whatever he was seeing in that room. She stepped purposefully toward him, trying her best to stay calm and keep quiet until she could assess the situation.
Jared continued to back slowly out of the room. Lydia could hear her sister’s voice now, “Don’t make me do it Jared, keep backing up, turn around and get out of my house!”
Jared started to turn, saw Lydia, jerked in surprise then started back into the room. He had a baseball bat clutched in his hand.
Before she could do anything, there was an explosion of light and bright drops of gold that sizzled and twirled through the air.
Jared staggered backwards into the hallway. She watched in horror as he slumped to the floor, a smoldering hole in his chest. She glanced down at her clinched fists in horror but her hands had never risen up to deliver that blow.
Sam rushed out of the room and threw herself down next to Jared sobbing, “I didn’t mean to! He came at me with that bat, he was swinging it!”
The hysterical sobbing broke the spell and Lydia rushed to her sister’s side, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it was self-defense! What the hell happened here tonight?”
Rubbing her wet face Sam haltingly got the story out. Jared had shown up unannounced, said his car broke down, wanted to use the phone, came inside with the bat behind his back. He started berating her for their breakup, for moving away without him, for being gay.
“He called me an abomination! He said we all needed to be exterminated!” She hiccupped through the tears.
Lydia felt a sense of calm descend upon her like a well-worn cloak. For once, she knew exactly what to do. Pulling out her cell phone she sent a quick text to her dad, “Please bring home pizza with pineapple.”
It was their code, her parents would come right away, with the entire coven. The adults would know what to do. Of course, she always thought the code would be used if they were in danger because someone found out their secret.
She shook her head as she shoved the phone back in her pocket. Dumb, stupid humans. This was exactly why witches were still in the closet. If they reacted this way over someone being gay, imagine what they would do if they found out witches were real.
She was right. The adults arrived and in short order, the body was gone, Sam was showered and in clean clothes, the hallway magically cleansed, and everyone was in the family room gathered around the tree eating pizza.
There would be no evidence Jared was ever there. She thought she should feel guilty about that but gazing at her sister, she just didn’t. It was clearly him or her. If it had to be that way then she was glad it was him, if she had to choose, she chose her sister, she would always chose her sister.
The need to write welling up,
It’s late, but here I sit
Soaking up the night
Feeling the day slip away
Along with the noise
The hustle and bustle
Of life fades away
My thoughts and fears
Hopes and dreams
Creativity flows here
And here alone
Stories pour out
Only in the quite of the night
The rest of the house fast asleep
The night, she is mine
And I don’t want to share
Speaks to me here
Embedded in the dark
The quiet, the rolling away of Life
My life plays out
For my inspection
Searching my soul,
In the stillness of the night
All good things
All my thoughts and prayers
Are buried here
In the deep, dark stillness
Of the night
All the secrets of my Life
Still. Quiet. Night.
The pieces of my Life
“Uh oh.” I’d said.
My boyfriend laughed it off and said, “It’s not like we were sodomizing.”
At the time sodomy was still illegal in Texas, though only for gay people. After I dropped my boyfriend off and continued on my way, I noticed the police car was still behind me. The car followed me for several blocks, and then finally pulled me over.
When I asked why he’d stopped me, the swaggering, white cop had said, “Just a routine check to make sure your license and registration are in order.”
He made me get out of my car and hand him the aforementioned license and registration. After making me wait while he took my paperwork back to…
View original post 906 more words
By Sian Kelly, guest contributor.
Fuck. These. Words.
Uncooperative, ungrateful things.
Ink wrestled onto a page.
Stubborn things drug kicking and screaming and flailing
From the abyss of my mind, to be
Thrown violently down on beds of paper.
Thoughts in captivity.
Words held against their will.
Bound up in ropes of what is considered safe….
Words gagged with the duct tape of
Convention, propriety, normalcy.
Fuck these words,
Shivering, trembling shapes that shy away
From my tender touch.
My children with the audacity to snitch me out
And accuse me of abuse.
I don’t understand the youth of today,
How were they raised?
With this sense of entitlement.
To be what they want.
Made up things,
Gay, Bi, Transgender
Upending social norms, expectations
Not bowing, not bending
What is gender fluid anyway
What does that even mean
Befuddled, confounded, confused.
Why can’t they just
Act like you?
I look and I see that it’s true.
I don’t understand the youth of today
How were they raised?
With this sense of entitlement?
But not like you say.
They are entitled I tell you.
Entitled to their own lives,
Their truth, their beauty
Freedom from you.
From expectations, condemnations
Judgments and scorn.
By their own values they are bound,
Not by yours.
Yes, I ask as I watch in amazement
How were they raised?
How were they raised to survive
Through the pain,
To dance in the rain.
To be who they are?
I admire from afar.
I wish I had come of age
With that strength,
With that fire.
With that courage
To be who you are.
Pain rushes in, like a familiar but unwanted friend.
My heart ripped open, does this awful aching ever end
Why does motherhood strip my soul bare, it hurts so much to care
Protecting your child, an illusion. Can’t rise above this confusion
Agony, despair, drops me as I stumble
Pain, anger, hatred burns me tilI I crumble
A pile of smoking ashes from which I cannot rise
A deep ocean of pain in which all my happiness dies
No one ever told me love was so distressing, no one ever told me life was so depressing
The old house, with its wildly overgrown garden, was silent, secretive. It was like a mystery that needed to be solved.
She stated at it as she walked by every day on her way home from school. Something was drawing her to it. She stood staring up the long walk way, past the decrepit front porch, roof sagging up to the impossibly tall windows that lined the second story. The windows were the most interesting part of the house.
Tall and imposing, they were elongated, tapering to a point at the top. Narrow rectangles, taller than they were wide. What secrets were hidden behind those windows?
As she watched, she swore she saw a curtain move. She froze to the spot, torn between an impulse to run and a stronger impulse to go inside. Her heart was thumping in her chest at the thought of it.
It was wrong, forbidden, unsafe and oh so tempting. What could it possible hurt? She would just step inside for a moment, have a look around, and uncover its secrets.
Almost unbidden, her feet began to move up the crumbling walk way. She watched her own hand reach out and push open the sun bleached front gate, rusty hinges screaming out their protest at being disturbed.
She clumped up the cement front steps, the sound of her shoes scuffing the ground loud in her ears. It was like every noise she made here was amplified somehow. She was disrupting the silence that had enveloped the house for untold years.
The front door was wooden with glass plating and a brass knob. A knob she grasped with her sweaty hand and turned. The door opened freely, easily.
Stepping inside she was greeted by soaring ceilings, doorways on either side of a hallway that lead off to the rest of the house in front of her to the left and to her right, a stairway. Her eyes locked on the stairway. A faint thump floated down to her, then a child’s giggle.
She started up the stairs as they creaked and groaned under her weight. She steadied herself with the banister, which coated her hand in decades of dust.
At the top of the stairs she paused and glanced back down toward the front door. She could turn around now and hurry back down the stairs but then she would never know what secrets were behind those windows. Turning back she stepped into the upstairs hallway. She was in a hallway, deep lush carpeting under her feet. How could it be so bright and red? It showed no signs of years of neglect that the downstairs flooring had.
She looked to her right, the hallway was short ending in a window. She looked left, the hallway stretched out seemingly forever. Somehow she knew that was the direction she was supposed to go. She padded down the hallway slowly taking in the sparkling chandeliers and the paintings hanging on the walls, watching and witnessing everything.
There were so many doors. She could see another window at the end of hallway but it never seemed to get any closer as she walked. She reached out and trailed her hands along the wall, the textured wallpaper rough and comforting under her fingers.
A door on her left creaked open and she stopped and stood outside it for a long moment. Again, she glanced behind her, back down the impossibly long hallway. The stairs seemed so far away now. Again she considered that she could turn away now and run back down the hallway. There was still time. And again, she turned back to face whatever it was that was calling her. She had to know what was in that room.
She watched, detached, as her arm reached out and pushed the door further open.
The room before her was carpeted wall to wall, a sea of beige full of the most amazing toys she had ever seen. With a sharp intake of breath, she stepped inside and stared around in awe at the colorful chests full of toys, the life size doll, the three story dollhouse, the trucks, balls, plastic horses, stuffed animals, tops, sets of toy dishes, a toy horse big enough to sit on and more, it was better than the toy store on the square that mama use to take her to at Christmastime!
She was so immersed that she almost didn’t notice the little boy in the corner. He was seated in a child sized rocking chair and when he closed the book in his lap, she jumped a little.
“Oh! You started me!” She said
“Sorry.” He sat the book down and approached her.
“It’s ok. What is this place? Do you live here?”
“Yes,” he said, “and so do you now.”
“What do you mean?”
In response he turned and walked to the window. The window she had seen from the street. It must have been the boy that had moved the curtain. She followed him to it and looked down into the street below.
There, on the ground, was her crumpled body. There was an ambulance, people were gathered around everywhere, coming of their homes to gawk. A car sat at an awkward angel blocking the road. She turned toward him in confusion.
“What happened?” she asked
“You died.” He said bluntly, “You could have gone back. Twice they got your heart beating again and twice you turned away.”
“Oh.” Was all she could think to say.
Her mind wandered back to her time on earth, to the big empty house she now went home to, to the aunt and uncle who had taken her in out of obligation but not love. To her mother’s face, warm and loving and gone. She flashed on her mother’s funeral and the bullying she had endured at school, the other children who delighted in her pain and taunting her with the word “orphan”. No wonder she had turned back both times.
“Is this heaven?”
“No, this is a construct of your mind and I’m simply a guide to help you along. Think of this as the waiting room between the two planes of existence. You are welcome to stay here as long as you please, as long as you need.”
“Where will I go when I’m ready?” She asked.
As if in answer, a glowing door appeared in the wall behind the boy, a long glimmering hallway stretching out from it. At the end she could see her mother, radiant and beautiful, waiting. With a cry of joy she ran through the door, flew down the passageway and into her mother’s waiting arms.
In my mind, these are the same characters that are in The Would Be Thief. Perhaps this was their first encounter?
Sara regarded the object carefully. She had no idea what it was but its beauty touched her somehow. Sitting on a black stand made of iron, the orb pulsed softly with the deepest, richest blue she had ever seen. As she watched, the dark blue misted out as a powder blue took its place. The continuous cycling from light to dark blue was mesmerizing.
A bump startled her out of her trance and she scuttled behind a statue as two men rounded the corner. Who else was in here?
She peered carefully around the corner at their backs. There was a taller, older man judging from the grey streaking his brown hair and a younger, blonde man speaking in excited whispers. She strained to hear snatches of conversation.
“…don’t even know what it does,” the older man was saying.
“….if I could take it, I could test….”
“Absolutely not! That’s out of the question! The brotherhood…..”
Her ears perked up at the mention of the brotherhood. There was only one brotherhood that got referred to as the brotherhood and that was the Astyrian Brotherhood. Now she was deeply interested. She leaned forward as much as she dared to hear what the younger man was saying.
“……finish my research on my own, I don’t need the brotherhood or the Society…….”
Now she was on full alert. Whatever the object was it sounded valuable.
“….very fragile…..cannot be moved…….” The older man was saying.
The blond man turned and strode toward the door, each thundering step betraying his anger and impatience.
“Alexander, wait!” The older man ran after him as he disappeared through the doorway.
Sara scrambled out of her hiding place, her mind made up. She murmured a stasis spell to keep it safe as she grabbed the glowing glass ball and lowered it gently into her bag. She could hear voices coming closer again as she climbed back out the window she had climbed in through and made her way quickly down the tree.
By the time she heard the alarm raised, she had already made it over the fence and was sprinting into the woods.