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
Stupid forest. Stupid right of passage requirements. Stupid bow and arrow.
So I’m not your typical elf. Yes, I’m tall and can pretend to be a willow tree if I really try. And it’s dark. And you’re half blind. I can stomp through the woods without making the kind of noise that draws attention, even if I want to call attention to myself. I’m pretty smart, though I don’t think I’m really old enough to be considered wise. I mean, who’s wise at nineteen?
My people have a rich culture mired in our history, and no one clings to tradition and history like elves. I mean, I have some cousins, on my dad’s side, who still work for Saint Nicholas, despite the fact that their great, great, great, great grandparents fulfilled the terms of that indenture contract. This might sound great, if you’re the sort of person who prefers stability to uncertainty, and custom to progress.
Continue reading Speed Writing #10 – Fumbled Shot
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
“Excuse me.” The young voice startled me, and I looked up from where I was hunched into the trunk of my car, rummaging for the jack. She looked Japanese and about fourteen. Her black and silver clothes made me think of the night sky. She stood in the center of the sidewalk, a hopeful expression on her face.
“Do you have a map I could borrow?” she asked.
“Uhh…” It took me a moment to pull my brain from the track it was on, to one that could answer her question. Poor kid was lost. I realized she wasn’t alone, though. Another girl, similarly dressed, stood in the grass several feet back. She was holding what looked like a couple of brooms behind her back. “I don’t have like a paper map or anything,” I said, wondering what happened to the one I used to keep in the glove box. “But I could pull one up on my phone, if that would help.”
She looked puzzled. “You can do that?” she asked.
Continue reading Speed Writing #8 – Good Deeds
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
She looked down into the swiftly flowing water of the tiny stream, imagining her troubles flowing away with the water. If they bumped into a couple of rocks and cracked along the way, so much the better.
“Excuse me –”
She shrieked in surprise, turning so fast her feet slipped on the gritty limestone. Her arms pinwheeled desperately in an attempt to catch her balance. She felt her hand hit something, then everything stopped for just a moment.
“It’s okay,” he said quietly. “You’re not going to fall.” Though a Germanic accent colored his speech, his English was perfect.
Continue reading Speed Writing #5 – Fairly Artistic
There was nothing more perfect than gliding through the water at two in the morning, under a cloudless sky with a sliver of a moon. This was when everything was calm. The annoying mosquitoes and even more annoying drunks had all gone to sleep or passed out. The bats, who were active early on, had settled in for a few hours. The surface of the lake was still, glassy, with the exception of the small ripples spreading out from her body.
Having a restaurant and bar right on the edge of the lake was a novelty, though it had worn off after the third or fourth karaoke night. It wasn’t that she minded the music. She was all for expressions of happiness. But the off key howling of hammered patrons hurt her sensitive ears. Her evening swims had moved later and later. And it seemed she had finally stumbled upon the perfect time.
Continue reading Speed Writing #4 – Night Swimming
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
The cool evening air was a relief after a full day stuck inside a warehouse with sketchy air conditioning. I pushed open the heavy glass door to the balcony, and stood there for a moment, just breathing.
A birdlike shriek called my attention back into my apartment. I turned to see Spark pouncing around his dish, his usual a pre-dinner performance. He paused and turned his yellow eyes in my direction before spreading his leathery wings and flapping to the counter top where he knew he didn’t belong.
“Hey!“ I chastised. “Get down from there. This is not a self-serve buffet.”
He let out a protest, but settled all four feet onto the green counter, as if to inform me that he’d feed himself if I didn’t get on with it. Dragons may not be able to speak our language, but they sure as hell could communicate. And they were smart.
“All right, all right.“ I jogged over to prepare his dinner. “You’ve made your point, you crazy little reptile.”
Continue reading Speed Writing #2 – How to Lose Your Dragonette