Writing Challenge — The Reluctant “I”


The Challenge:

In 800 words and in under an hour, write a scene or a story from the first person point-of-view. However, you can only use the first person pronoun (I, me, or my) two times (excepting in another character’s dialogue), but the first person character must remain an important part of the story.

There were probably close to a thousand reasons not to be driving to Maxx’s house at two o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday. Nevertheless, I was nearing the halfway point along the fifty mile stretch of Route 84 that ran between Hunlee and Cedarville, Alabama. This particular fifty mile expanse of highway had been shunned and forgotten by civilization and offered passersby nothing to see but never-ending acres of open field and an occasional patch of forest.

The only attraction along the blank slate was the halfway point between Hunlee and Cedarville. Twenty-five miles from anything even resembling civilization, sat a small cluster of buildings. There were no intersecting roads, so there was no use for a stop light. The highway simply cut through the center of the group of buildings with nothing but a swinging caution light to acknowledge its existence. With no houses or side roads to lead anywhere in sight, the halfway spot seemed to have been built for no other reason than to provide weary travelers with something to look at other than a sea of green and a long stretch of pavement.

It was an unsettling place to be with a broken radio, an empty passenger seat, and no cell phone signal. Which is why it had taken Maxx twenty minutes to convince me to make the drive. Having not spoken to each other in over six weeks, his phone call was a surprise. His invitation an even bigger surprise. When a guy catches his fiancé cheating on him with his best friend three weeks before the planned wedding, the line of communication gets severed pretty quickly. After six weeks of not hearing from him, it had seemed like the line would remain severed.

It was impossible to imagine what he could want. He wouldn’t say over the phone. He’d just said that he’d had a really long day and didn’t feel like making the drive, but there were some things he wanted to talk about. There are certain bodily reactions that go on inside a person when they’re both emotionally hopeful and terrified at the same time. Butterflies in the stomach, heart in the throat, the inability to sit still. None of these things do anything to improve a fifty mile drive in the middle of the night.

The twin headlight beams seemed to pull the car along, bright against the blacktop. That along with a lack of sleep and the impenetrable walls of darkness along each side of the road coalesced to create an almost hypnotic feeling. It made it easy to imagine how people could fall asleep at the wheel. The only thing tough enough to battle the allure of sleep was not knowing what Maxx wanted to talk about. Could he forgive what had happened? Did he want to talk about it? Maybe try to work things out? The past six weeks had been spent in a constantly revolving state of excruciating pain and complete numbness, and it had provided plenty of time to regret and agonize over what had happened. Alcohol is an evil concoction, but it was too late for making excuses.

There was really no way to be prepared for the unknown, and somehow the fifty miles were already coming to an end. The glow of Cedarville was bright in the distance, like a light at the end of a tunnel. Ten minutes later, pulling into his driveway, it seemed like the excruciatingly long drive had taken no longer than five minutes. Definitely not a good time to puke, though it seemed like an amazing idea.

He came out onto the porch when he heard the car in the drive, and he was wearing nothing but a pair of running pants. His eyes squinted in the headlights until they clicked off with the ignition. There wasn’t a smile on his face, but he didn’t really look mad anymore either. Was that a spark of hope?

“Hey,” he said as he walked toward the driveway. His bare feet were cushioned by a thick carpet of grass. The moonlight reflected off the broad planes of his shoulders, but his face was hidden by shadows.

“Hey.”

Silence and awkwardness followed.

“So, I’m glad you could come over. I know it’s late,” he finally said, looking at his watch. 3:35am.

“Oh no. It’s fine. Really.”

Finally he made eye contact and held it for what seemed like forever. The tears were automatic, and they stung.

He reached out his hand.

“So, I just wanted to say that I still fucking hate you for what you did, but I wanted to pay back the money your parents lent me when I had to have the transmission replaced in my car last year.” A check for $750 dollars lay in his palm.

 

 

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A Friday Afternoon Spent in Bed


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Whoever coined the phrase “get out there and enjoy life” failed to consider the joys one can gain by simply staying in.

After a very successful week of getting back into the school groove, beginning some new classes, and starting a brand new, exciting internship, I’m spending my Friday afternoon in bed.

Normally, an afternoon in bed means I haven’t the motivation or desire to do anything else. I deal with my share of depressive episodes that make it very difficult to appreciate the best parts of life, so when I find myself fully relaxed, engrossed, and at peace, I’ve learned to recognize and appreciate it.

Have a wonderful Friday!  I am.

Dreaming of Summer


Dreaming of Summer

Surrounded by grey skies, she exists.
The long, autumn days, her one and only love.
For an age, passions lay still, dormant.
As she dozes on a soft bed of dried, crisp leaves,
A welcome breeze blows, playing a soft tune
While the leaves dance lazily. She watches.
Bouquets of spice and slow, purposeful death
Lull her senses. Still, a part of her grieves.

Her love for fall burns low, like cinder.
It’s kind face, as familiar as her own.
It lusts over the lush curves of her body.
As its gentle breezes caress her, she sighs.
Bound by its simple embrace, she is safe.
Never knowing the cruel chill of winter
Or the sound of the bare trees mourning their losses
As the wind snaps and death approaches.

No, her briery pallet of leaves shields her.
Faithful as an old dog, tending to her.
But still, she silently weeps as she dreams.
The soft, comfortable love, no longer fulfills.

You see, not long ago, she stumbled
And fell into a vibrant summer day.
Her eyes a blur from their deep rest, she blinked.
Colors had come to life, taking her breath.
The world alight with glittering rays of sun.
The sight stole her thoughts, her words. She stood dumb,
Motionless, staring at the wonder there.
Ignoring a slight tug, she wandered deep.

Warm air wooed her with flattery and charm,
Enfolding her inside its new, strong arms.
And when the soft summer sun kissed her lips,
Her passions awoke violently, all at once.
Dreams of living in the tropical place
Enlivened her, anticipation of
Exploring and claiming it as her own
Flooded her senses with desire, lust, greed.

She begged for the caress, the fever, his breath.
But alas, it was not hers to have.
No.
For she belonged to the fall and he to another.
So now she lay upon her leaves, dreaming of summer.

-Brandy Meredith-September 6, 2014

Aaaand I’m Back!


It’s So Good to Be Back!

Where Have I Been?

For those of you who haven’t noticed (probably most of you), I have been blog silent for a little over a week now. I really should have anticipated my absence and set up a few scheduled posts, but oh well.

Anyway, school started back this past week, and I have been absolutely swamped with schedule shifting, frantic book ordering, trying and failing to become accustomed to a new sleep schedule, completely spazzing out and forgetting to do my very first assignment in Advanced Fiction Writing, and pretty much just spending all my off-time completely exhausted mentally and physically.

But the good news is, the beginning of the semester firestorm has calmed, and things are finally settling into a comfy groove, so I am back.

I know this blog hasn’t been up for long, but in my short time as Your Forever Faithful Dysfunctional Writer I have become accustomed to posting daily, reading and replying to other blogs, and just basically participating in the blogging community. Each day I wasn’t able to log on, I felt a pang like something was missing. It’s crazy how quickly we can become attached to things like that.

What’s New?

Aside from the return to my hectic schedule, I seem to have tapped into a new fountain of creativity somehow. Allow me to explain…

There’s this thing I do, and I’m sure it’s something most of us experience. When I’m lying in bed trying to get to sleep, my mind begins to wander and all sorts of random things pop up. I might remember a bill that’s past due that I forgot to pay and all of a sudden I’m freaking out, and it takes forever to calm back down enough to fall asleep… sometimes it’ll be something I need to do that I forgot about or something I wish I’d done differently.

Imagine for a moment… You’re in bed for the night, and as you begin to drift off to sleep slowly and methodically, different parts of your body slip into auto-pilot. The last part to go is usually your brain, and as you’re laying there completely relaxed and on the verge of blissful unconsciousness, your unsupervised mind just starts spastically spitting out random negative thoughts like a pitching machine on overdrive. Suddenly, not only is it impossible to sleep but your entire body tenses up, completely ruining the groovy relaxation thing you had going on. That’s pretty much a normal night for me.

Lately however, rather than the usual stream of anxiety-ridden thoughts, it’s been this insanely creative stuff. Now, of course I’m still missing sleep because I spend half the night hanging off the edge of the bed, frantically typing these ideas into the Google Keep app on my phone, but being productive and sleep deprived is always better than simply being sleep deprived. Right?

I credit my new-found fountain of creativity to two causes:

1. I haven’t been blogging, so my regular flow of creativity is stifled all day while my brain’s busy handling normal operating procedures such as driving, absorbing 100 pages of various literature, throwing together grocery lists, fretting over syllabi, and wondering whether my mascara is smeared or not. Later in the semester when I have three literary analyses, two not-so-short short stories, and 14 poems due all in the same week, it might be a different story. Which is exactly why I’m bottling all this useful crap now in my nifty app… Speaking of innumerable assignments…

2. School is back! If I haven’t mentioned it enough before… I absolutely love being a student. Just being in the classroom and engaging in discussion makes me happier than any other activity… Well, almost any other activity. I mean, it’s seriously too bad a “professional student” isn’t a thing because I would totally be down for that.

So, yeah. I’m back. 🙂

P.S. For those of you who entered my book giveaway and won, I did finally get the books shipped a few days ago. They’re traveling “media mail,” so it might be a little slow going, but they are on their way!

The Obliteration of the Rare and Precious “Great Mood”


I woke up this morning around 6 o’clock, and I have to admit, I felt great. My husband and I stayed in bed talking and joking for a couple hours, and it was wonderful. It was fun. We decided to get up and get some breakfast and watch a movie.

Now when I’m feeling really good, I’m always super motivated to work or write. So I sat down to watch this movie with my husband, and I got my notebook and some pens. I was situated on the couch, comfy, felt fantastic. Which is so rare these days. And then my dad, who lives with my husband and I, came into the living room to ask if I could take him to his doctor’s appointment.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would do anything in the world for my dad, and there is no way I would want him driving himself to his doctor’s appointment if he didn’t feel well enough to drive, but what bothers me is that he is a diabetic, and for some reason he insists on fasting before every doctor’s visit… even after the doctor has told him it isn’t necessary.

So he got up and took his insulin shot and his other diabetes medication which both lower his blood sugar, but he didn’t eat, so it lowers his blood sugar when it isn’t even high to begin with. So his head starts feeling all swimmy, and he doesn’t need to drive…. Which is understandable, but if he would just eat something this wouldn’t happen.

So I’m not as upset about having to get up and leave my husband and leave the movie and leave my motivation behind as I am about the fact that I don’t feel like my dad always makes the best decisions for himself. I wish I could be more confident about the fact that he’ll do what he needs to do instead of what he thinks he should do.

So now I’m sitting at the doctor’s office in my pajamas. My hair is mess, no makeup on, and my mood is pretty much ruined. But the good news is, we made it here safely, and I did make him drink some orange juice on the way, which he said cleared his head, so all is well.

I just really wanted to finish that movie with my husband and share that rare and precious good mood with him because I know he misses it as much as I do.

I feel so selfish even typing this right now, but it’s the truth. My worries about my dad affect my depression and anxieties. And no matter what the situation is, it seems like when those rare moments of happiness and calmness happen, something stops them in their tracks.

I think I need to really work on not letting things get to me so easily, but it’s hard. That’s all part of it. On top of the world one minute, and it’s ruined at the drop of a hat.

Note: Please forgive any grammar mutilation or typos as this post was vented in haste from my phone. I’ll come back and clean it up later. 😐

On being “discontinued”


This is simply infuriating. The nerve of some people to reduce someone’s hard work into something a book club could do during their spare time. Give me a break. This editor needs a reality check.

bookconscious

I’ve been writing The Mindful Reader column for The Concord Monitor since April 2012. Thirty-three columns, one a month on the Sunday book page, reviewing dozens of books, all by New Hampshire or northern New England authors, many published by small presses. It’s been a wonderful experience.

People often stop me when I’m out and about to tell me how much they liked a column, or to ask my opinion about some aspect of one of the books I read. They come into the library, where I am the librarian in charge of adult services, and our local indie bookstore, where I was once event coordinator and bookseller, to ask for the books. That’s been a thrill — there is nothing better for a writer than knowing your work not only reached someone, but moved them enough that they wanted to participate in the thing you’ve written about. And the…

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