Shadow Duty

Shadow Duty

The sun rises in the East—
Battalions of shadows
begin their duties at dawn.
Cooling, covering, creeping.

At noon, relief arrives
in the form of mirror replicas,
shielding the East.

As the sun begins to sink,
slowly sliding, slipping beneath
the horizon, the shadows grow.
Long, tall, far, and wide
until they’re all that’s left.


Baggage Claim

Baggage Claim

I’ve got baggage—
under-eye baggage,
vacation baggage,
fucked up childhood baggage.

It’s not even the expensive kind.
A broken zipper,
a frayed seam,
and don’t even get me started
on the duct-taped handles.

Once someone asked
where I was going
with all that baggage.
“Wherever I want,”
I said.

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.


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.



Just a Piece of Paper

Just a Piece of Paper

There’s nothing more frightening than a blank piece of paper. It’s the unsurety of it all really. What begins as something seemingly simple, like 28 or 30-something impossibly straight, horizontal lines printed across a blank slate has potential. That’s the scary part.

A piece of paper’s life span can be reduced to the time it takes someone to write two or three sentences, read them over, and hastily scribble through them before the paper is wadded up and thrown away forever. Those two or three sentences could have moved mountains, but they cease to exist in that one frustrated moment following conception and rejection.

A piece of paper can be the backdrop for the scribblings of a 4 year old or the inpatient doodles of an important executive. Which is more powerful? The four-year-old might grow up and one day find his/her scribbles stashed away somewhere safe, among many other treasures that were saved out of love. Those incoherent scribbles could be worth more than the executive’s $15 million deal he/she was negotiating over the phone as they mindlessly doodled. Nobody saves those doodles.

A piece of paper can hold a love letter, a thank you note, an invitation, an apology. It can be used to form relationships, mend broken ones, and just as easily destroy seemingly healthy ones–a folded up phone number left in someone’s pants pocket, or a letter meant for one person that falls into the wrong hands.

A piece of paper can be powerful, insightful, and inspiring. It can hold knowledge and allow others to learn and share in the knowledge of someone long dead, across the world, or just down the street. This knowledge can encourage enlightenment and betterment, and it can ruin people. Knowledge is power. People abuse power every single day.

A piece of paper can form a religion. It can hold powerful words that people will worship and be willing to die for. The paper can encourage people to be good, humble beings, or it can demand assimilation. It can promote self-acceptance or it can promote genocide.

A piece of paper can hold the deepest secrets of a teenaged girl–who she has a crush on, how her parents just don’t understand, and the fact that she thinks she might be ready to have sex. Another piece of paper a little further along in the same notebook may be stained with tears and realizations that came too late.

A piece of paper can be the only conduit for someone who’s suffering. They can put their feelings on that paper and then they can say they’ve shared them. They can use the paper to reach out for help, or they can use it to lie to their families and say everything’s okay. Some might even use that paper to say their final goodbyes and “I love you”s before they leave the world that has always been a hell for them.

A piece of paper can begin an epic journey, a heart-wrenching love story, a deeply emotional poem, or a hilarious comedy. People live and die on these pieces of paper. They love and mourn. They exist.

A piece of paper has potential… The potential to begin, end, mend, destroy, teach, create, learn, get lost, find yourself or something that’s been missing, hold memories–good and bad, and record lives–real and imaginary.

A piece of paper has potential, and it’s magical.

Who is The Dysfunctional Writer?

I was considering the best way to really introduce myself without boring you with an essay-type autobiographical post that nobody would read all the way through. So instead, I decided to take all that boring information and spread it out. I’ll just randomly bombard you with useless lists of facts about my life. That way, you’ll all be forced to grow to love me before you realize how screwed up I am. 🙂

My Random Facts for Today. I’ll start with the boring stuff.

My name is Brandy.

I’m 33 years old.

I’ve been married for four years to my best friend, Danny.

I’m a senior at Western Kentucky University and majoring in creative writing and minoring in literature.

I’ve been a freelance writer for four years.

I live with anxiety and depression.

There’s nothing in the world I love to do more than read.

Sometimes, when I have the time to read non-school stuff, I read really crappy mainstream novels.

My husband and I are obsessed with Netflix.

Some of our favorites are Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Hart of Dixie, The Originals, Vampire Diaries, Six Feet Under, Nip Tuck, Orange is the New Black, and Roseanne

Some of my favorites are Haven, Drop Dead Diva, Gossip Girl, Revenge

I have no idea when we ever found the time to watch all that TV.

I love writing, but I have a lot of trouble deciding on and being happy with what I want to write about.

Going to college was the best decision I’ve ever made, even though I didn’t start until I was 28.

I have a little brother who is 23, and he’s one of my best friends.

I love reading about writing and talking to other writers.

I’m a narcissist.

I can’t write without complete silence which causes problems with the hubby at times.

I love ranch sunflower seeds.

Three months ago, I quit smoking after twenty years and almost two packs a day. I quit by vaping instead.

I am fashionably challenged.

I have a Red Bull addiction–not for the energy. I just love the taste.

I’m also addicted to Diet Coke.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for three years now.

I quit my job last week, and I’m going to try to write full-time until school is over.

I’m scheduled to graduate in December 2015, but I’m considering stretching it out an extra semester. I’d like the extra time to enter more writing contests and get an internship in before I graduate.

I guess that’s enough for now. I’ll save some for later. 🙂

More Random Facts→