“Zoua!” I heard my name shouted over the din of music and too many voices talking. “Zoua, there’s a dragon at the door!”
I poked my head out of the kitchen and looked into the living room, crowded with friends and acquaintances. My sister was across the room at the door, encouraging someone to come in. Grabbing my beer bottle, I carefully moved around the group aggressively playing Boggle at the coffee table to the front door.
“No,” I heard her whine a little. “You have to come in. She’s going to love it.”
A young man in an amazing dragon costume stood in the doorway, clearly conflicted about something. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him.
Continue reading Speed Writing #16 – The Dragon at the Party
“Gryffindor,” Mikhail said firmly. “Neville Longbottom level.”
“Airbender,” Evie countered, a smug smile on her lips.
“What?” Mikhail asked, an eyebrow raised in confusion. “Did you just jump fandoms on me?”
“Ashitaka is clearly an airbender,” she replied. He was one of the few people she could have this type of argument with. “He’s all about peace and freedom. He’s practically a reincarnation of Aang.” She paused for a moment, her eyes going to the ceiling. “Though I’m not sure how that would work, since Aang’s already a reincarnation. So maybe we could call him alternate reality Aang.”
Continue reading Speed Writing #17 – Fandom Mashup
The power was out, as it had been for the last three days. Caleb sat on the front steps, leaning against the railing and fanning himself with the lid from the largest Tupperware bowl he’d been able to find. The neighborhood was smothering in the sticky silence of the second brutal heat wave of the summer. Nobody on this side of town could afford generators to power fans and refrigerators, and it was nearly too hot to move. For some of the city’s elderly folks, moving too much had been a fatal mistake.
Continue reading Speed Writing #15 – Heatwave
I woke disoriented and my eyes felt gritty. Sunlight was shining on me from a strange direction, though my blanket felt and smelled familiar. I stretched and rubbed my eyes before looking around the room. The eggshell white walls were bare and there were boxes stacked next to the dresser. I was in a new apartment. I’d moved my stuff in yesterday, but hadn’t finished in time to even start unpacking. Kicking off the blanket, I sat up and rested my feet on the bare wood floor. It was cool against my skin, so different from the carpet of my old place. But that had kind of been the point.
The efficiency was my first apartment on my own. The last place I’d shared with my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, rather. We’d broken up a couple months back, and it had been ugly and uncomfortable ever since. To be honest, it hadn’t been comfortable for the two or three months leading to our dissolution. Getting out was a relief, and it felt like I could finally breathe again. But it was also a very definitive sign that we were really through and there was no reconciling. Not that I really wanted him back. I mean he’d been a jerk. He’d already slept with two or three people since I told him we were through, and that didn’t count the ones he’d been with when we were supposedly monogamous. It wasn’t the end of the relationship that was hard; it was more the destruction of the idea of what the relationship was supposed to have been that hurt.
Continue reading Speed Writing #14 – Going Solo
gloomy and threatening rain. The campground was filled with the
nervous energy of people packing up as quickly as possible to beat
the weather, or adjusting their tarps and rain flies to tough it out.
By the time the first fat drops fell, those who remained planned to
see it through.
Chai tossed a book
and fuzzy blanket down on the couch of her motor home and went to put
on the tea kettle. As she waited for the water to boil, she gazed
out into the mostly deserted campground. There were only two tents
left and herself. One of the tents was a high end enormous structure
that looked well anchored down. The other, closer tent, was a tiny
backpacker model designed more for weight and insect protection than
severe weather. She frowned, wondering if its inhabitant was ready
for a day long soaking which would surely seep through the light
rip-stop. There was a green internal frame pack leaning against the
Chai settled on the couch, snuggled into the blanket with her tea and book. She loved the low rolling thunder in the background and the gentle pounding of the rain. After a while, she set aside the book and closed her eyes to enjoy the weather.
Continue reading Speed Writing #12 – A Soggy Start
The rumbling of my stomach woke me. I rubbed it, hoping it would stop, then rolled over to glance at the clock. Fuck. Two am? Seriously? I burrowed back under my blankets, but it was no use. There was no going back to sleep without a snack.
As I padded to the kitchen I remembered that because I’d picked up an extra shift, I hadn’t actually been to the grocery store. I was out of nearly everything. I could make up some plain pasta with butter and salt, though that had been dinner. Or maybe heat up a can of green beans. Yeah. That wasn’t happening. I went back to my room for a sweatshirt, and pulled my hair into a messy tail on the back of my head. As a whim, I decided my nightgown was perhaps a bit too risqué to be traipsing around in on State Street, so I yanked on a pair of long yoga shorts. They were supposed to be capris but my ungodly long legs made them knickers. Perfect. I looked like a crazy disaster, which meant no one would bother me.
Continue reading Speed Writing #11 – 2 AM Snack
The air was more than crisp as I stood at the bus stop, embracing the predawn stillness. I’d had to haul out my hat and gloves this morning, and I could smell a hint of snow with each inhalation. I tipped my head back and yawned, admiring the deep blue of the sky, where only the brightest stars and Venus could be seen. It was so quiet that everyday noises came across as intrusive. The crunch of gravel and scrape of rubber soles against concrete warned me that someone was coming up the sidewalk behind me.
I glanced at him… well, it started as a glance but turned into straight out gawking. The young man had sandy brown hair that would’ve fit right in with the skateboarders back when I was in high school. He looked about twenty-four, roughly my age, and he hadn’t dressed anywhere close to appropriate for the temperature. His short shorts and T-shirt showed off his very fine limbs; He was obviously an athlete, but didn’t have weirdly bulky muscles. He was several inches shorter than me, and had his head down, eyes pointed at his trainers, so I don’t think he noticed my lapse in manners.
Continue reading Speed Writing #9 – Inappropriate Apparel
I leaned against my elbows on the high top table and gazed at the stage. The between set curtain was still down, and I could see tennis shoes moving back and forth while the roadies set up for the next band, and real reason I was even here.
Clubs were not my scene, but once in a while there was a band I liked enough to endure the crowds and noise. The Fratellis fell into that camp, so here I was, at First Avenue, by myself, waiting. At least no one had spilled their beer on me, and my feet were relatively unscathed so far. Unlike my friends, who dressed up to go out, I preferred to wear clothes I didn’t care about.
I felt the table jiggle a bit and turned my head to see the guy who’d taken the stool next to me.
“Is it okay if I sit here? ” he asked.
I shrugged. “It’s a free country. “ Usually sounding bored and disinterested worked on those few who decided to hit on me.
He looked puzzled. “I mean, you’re not saving it for anyone or anything like that, are you?”
I shook my head. “Nope. “
He smiled, and I cringed internally. Instead of a friendly expression, it showed his ego, in all its glory. Ugh. I wondered if he practiced that one, thinking it looked sexy. Then I wondered how many other women agreed with him, or at least went along with it.
Continue reading Speed Writing #7 – Intimidation Gone Awry
He had just dropped the last of the bread dough into a pan when his cell phone started to vibrate in his back pocket. He quickly brushed his hands off on the front of his apron before reaching back to blindly turn it off. It was his five-minute warning. She was like clockwork. While she’d only lived in the upstairs apartment for about two weeks, he already had her morning schedule down.
“I’m going out for panettone papers, do you need anything?” he called to Elise, his boss and the owner of the bakery.
“Can you bring me two dozen eggs?” She responded from behind the double-decker oven on the other side of the kitchen, her usual location this time of day.
“Sure thing.” He pulled off his apron and hung it on a peg near the back door, then went out into the alley.
When Elise first opened the bakery, she’d converted the old garage into storage. Anything that couldn’t handle the heat of the kitchen, especially consistent heat day after day, and perishable supplies were kept out here. In the winter, it was a nice break from the heat to walk the fifteen feet to the store room. Normally the alley was quiet and empty. But that had changed about two weeks ago. He hadn’t actually even met her yet, didn’t know her name, but somehow just the sight of her could turn even the worst day around. Sure, she was pretty, but it wasn’t just that. There was something else about her, and he couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
Continue reading Speed Writing #6 – Pannetone Papers and Poor Choices
The thing about traveling solo is that you never know who you’re going to meet. Meegan’s parents perpetually expected her to run into rapists and murderers, compliments of hyperbolic media. She’d encountered some really nice folks and a few incredibly rude ones, so really, just people being people. She expected this trip to be a lot of the same.
She hadn’t been to Minnesota in a couple of years, not since the meeting where she’d landed these particular clients. Most of the time she was able to work with them over the phone or online, but they had a new CEO, and he was the sort who liked to meet everyone in person once. All that being the case, she’d decided to tack a little vacation on to her trip. Her co-workers assumed she would spend most of her time at the Mall of America, but she’d seen it on her last trip, and it was enough to know it wasn’t really her thing. She’d heard there were really nice trails both in and near the Twin Cities, and that was what she was really looking forward to.
Continue reading Speed Writing #3 – Sleepy Traveler