Monthly Archives: January 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense

Yet another challenge from Chuck Wendig.

Present Tense

Are you surprised to see that I’ve moved on?

Oh, darling.

Do you understand yet what a mistake you made?

I pull the curtain back so I can see you from the window, but you don’t know I’m looking.  You’ve slimmed down.  Your hair has grown out.  And your sleeves are pulled up so I can see that horrible tattoo that you only got out of rebellion because I always told you it was a stupid idea.

I wonder if you look at that tattoo and see me.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I don’t want you to see me when you look at your forearm.  I don’t want you to think of me when you look in the mirror and see that loop in your nose, like the one I used to wear.  I don’t want you to think of me when you’re talking to other women.  I don’t want you to lay awake at night and mull over all of the ways you could have saved us, all of the things you should have done.

But I know you do.  I know it hurts.  I know.

I know this because I know now what a completely unique, beautiful, one of a kind person I am.  I know now that any man would be lucky to have my love.  I know now that I have worth.  I know now that my smile is pretty, my hair catches the sunlight, my eyes are deep, and my skin is soft.  With you, I was ugly.  You made me ugly.  Without you, I am free to be beautiful.

Seeing you makes my physically ill.

My last memory of you was how you looked sitting in that green jump suit, cuffed at the ankles and wrists.  Your hair was fuzzy, beard unshaven, eyes downcast.  I remember how it felt to sit there, looking at the face of a man I used to love and knowing that everything inside has changed.  The boy I fell in love with, the fat kid with the acne and the red mowhawk and the busted down Converse, that boy would have never raised a fist toward me in anger.  I also remember running my fingers over the bruises under my hair line from the knuckles of the man that sat in that court room, the man who now buckles our son into his car seat.

But you know what?  I let that curtain drop, and I smile.

I have moved on.  I stumbled a lot after we split, sure.  But now, I’ve made my mistakes and I’m moving on with my life.  Finding my happy center.

I say I need a cigarette.

He says, “Is that a hint?”

I say yes, and then we are in his car lighting our cigarettes.

The way he smiles, the way he laughs, I can’t help but smile and laugh along with him.  He’s goofy, too.  A little unsure of himself.  He fumbles over his words sometimes, and when I say what he’s struggling to allude to, he’s prone to blush.  Being with him makes me feel like the best version of myself.

I could go on, I could fill pages.

But what I want to tell you, what I want you to understand, is that you are an afterthought.

Does it hurt to know that you don’t even compare?

What I want you to take away from this, what I need you to always remember, is that a woman will only take so much.  She will only love you to a certain extent, she will only go to a certain length, she will eventually give up because you will drain her.  The loveblood that flows through your heart is dark, poisoned.  You are toxic, and it’s because you can’t let go of the past and let yourself be happy.

Every drink has to be medication for some past hurt.  Every smile has to be squeezed from the melancholy of a bad memory.  Every laugh has to be in defiance of your damage.

Oh, darling.

Let go.

You will never know your father.

Certain wrongs cannot be undone.

You are not condemned to the harbor the hatred you nurtured from such a young age.

Your past, the things that have happened to you before, those memories are immaterial, gone like yesterday‘s snowmelt.

The future is yours to build.  Sure, you may have to detoxify your soul, but nobody will ever be able to love you if you continue to embrace your toxicity.

Your future starts right now, darling.

And mine, mine starts right now as well.

Present tense.

My soul is white and inviting, my eyes are wide open.  I am intoxicating, I am intoxicated.

I am happy.

Are you?

— No, don’t answer that.

I nearly forgot, I don’t care anymore.

800 words


Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Photo Story

I kept asking for writing prompts, which was silly, since Chuck Wendig offers challenges once a week.  This week’s challenge is to write a 1,000 word story based on three randomly generated Flickr photos.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend quite a bit of time looking for just the right three photos.  But, after much searching, these are the three I settled on:

Stories Never Told

I remember sitting here, on this rock, in this field, telling you to look around you.  Look at the trees, the tall grass, that creek bed glimmering in the sun.  I said, “This will never change.  Those trees will outlive us, and probably already have.  The creek as well.  And the grass will keep growing, and generations of birds will keep singing.”

I said, “This will go on with or without us.”

I thought, This will go on without Nicole.

It was a sunny day in May.  As we sat here, Nicole had been dead for eight hours.  Twenty four hours before, the three of us had been sitting together on this rock.  All of the blood was still in her veins, all of her hair was still on her head, her face was still beautiful.

And now, six years later, it’s hard to remember what she looked like, what her voice sounded like.  And the scenery has changed.  Trees have fallen under the pressure of winter snows, the creek has acquired new twists and turns, and for some inexplicable reason the rock we sat on has split in two.

It had been the three of us, and then the two of us, and now it’s just me.

Anyway, I’m only here because I’m visiting my family and I wanted to see this place one last time before my mother dies and I never have a reason to come back.  But today, on this snowless, muddy, January day, the magic has been robbed from our secret place.

I walk on anyway, up the hill, toward the wolf tree at its top.  The grass still doesn’t grow below its wide spread branches.  I can almost hear the phantom whisper of wind through long-fallen leaves.

Here is the place where we spread out our blanket so many times over our years together, the musky smell of autumn in our noses.  We kissed for the first time, made love again and again, right here in this spot, on that blanket.

I run my finger over the grooves you made in the oak tree that spell out our initials encompassed by a heart.  Slowly, I walk around the tree.  My heart feels as if it’s slowing in my chest as I search for the bullet scar in the tree trunk.  And there it is, just below my hip.  I wince and look away.  I don’t want to remember what you looked like when I found you.

Here is the place where it all ended.

I want to remember you with all of your blood in your veins, still warm with life.  When you were still beautiful.  When you were still in love with me

You don’t know it, but you were the best part of my life.  I never understood why you chose me.  Where you were fireworks, I was a whisp of cloud in a milky morning sky.  Where you were the crash of symbols and the rumbling of drums and the wail of a guitar, I was a single harp string.  I was shy and quiet and you were a chorus of summer thunder.  You were the warm center my world crowded around and I was the brush of a winter breeze against yellowed grass.  You were beauty and love and life, and I, I —


The sound startles me.   I look up into the branches at a kitten, alone in the winter, curled up in the crook where branch meets trunk.  I reach my hand up – psst psst psst – but the cat doesn’t move, rather it curls tighter into its little ball and watches me with its dark little eyes.

I sit down where you sat, lay my head against the tree, and feel the same sensations you did in your last moments of life.  The damp, cool earth under my legs, rough bark against my spine.

This is the last time I will mourn for you.  She left, but she didn’t have a choice.  You left because you were a coward.

Finally, the cat does come down to me.  I lift my head from my hands and look at it.  His little black eyes hold mine, ears perked up, head cocked.


I reach out and offer my fingers for the cat to sniff.  He rubs up against my hand.  I scratch behind his ears.  I smile.  He purrs.

And I’m walking away from this place, for good and all.  I’ll never come back again.

And I’ll take the cat with me.  I’ll feed it and love it and comfort and spoil it because, unlike you, I won’t leave something so small and fragile alone in the cold.

784 words

1/17/12 Was A Bad Day

If I could do today over, I wouldn’t.

Here’s a life lesson for you, so mark this down and take it to heart: never, never, never mess around with a married man. Even if his wife tells him she would rather have aborted their children than be married to him, even if he starts sleeping on the couch, even if he promises that a divorce is well on its way, even if he’s already started moving his things out of the house, even if he’s talking to land lords about moving closer to work, even if he’s really good looking and a total charmer — no bueno. If there’s anything shiny on that left hand, walk away. Better yet, run away.

The thing of it is, people lie. They lie to people they care about, people they hate, people they don’t even know. They lie to themselves. Sometimes they think they’re telling the truth at the time, but in hindsight it was clearly and always a lie.

What I’m trying to say here is, nobody is ever entirely blameless. I shouldn’t have flirted. He shouldn’t have pursued me after I walked away. She shouldn’t treat her husband like a yard dog.

But, it’s whatever. We’re moving on.

I moved in with my mom yesterday. It’s a relief, really, to be around people again. Being alone too much really took its toll on my senses (obviously). My parents are chill about it so far, which is great and a huge relief. I’m back to doing dishes after dinner and holing up in a room by myself most of the day. In a way it feels something like being a teenager again, and I’m completely fine with that at this stage in my life. Maybe it sounds weird, but there’s something innately comforting about opening up the fridge or the cupboard and seeing so much food. If there’s one thing that’s always been true about my mom, it’s that she’s got enough food stored away to feed a legion.

No, you know what? We’re not moving on. We’re backing up.

Let’s get a few things straightened out, hm?

First, I left Spike because he was toxic. There’s only so much negativity, hatred, and anger I can tolerate without becoming the same. My life with him amounted to waiting for the next fight. People said, oh, you should have stuck with counseling. You should have given him a better chance. No. It takes two people to make a marriage work, but it only takes one to decide not to keep trying to breathe life into something that’s been dead for too long.

Furthermore, I love my son. I have him three days a week, and during those three days I am the best mother I can be. The other four days of the week, he’s with his father. That’s part of a divorce: going days without seeing your children. Those other four days, I am me. Completely, utterly, and irrevocably me. That’s my time to live. But on those days when I do have him, I’m a mother. Through and through. My personal life never effects my ability to love my son.

Most of all, I’m not a bad or worthless person. Sure, I make mistakes. Sometimes, especially lately, they end up being big ones. Well-intentioned big ones, sure, but good intentions or no the mess is always there. And sure, there are casualties, innocent bystanders that get caught up in the wake of my blunder. I’m not saying I’m a perfect person, and you’ll never hear me claim to be a saint. But the bad things that I’ve done don’t define who I am. How I handle the mess, what I do with the knowledge I gain from the consequences of my actions, that defines me.

I can be cold. Oh, so very cold. My heart can simply turn to ice.

I can also be hot. Very, very hot. I can make your heart melt in the palm of my hand.

I can go from hot to cold in a moment’s space. That’s a bad thing about me, the one thing about myself I don’t care for.

What do I like about myself? Plenty of things.

I like that I’m confident, I like that I’m a little cocky. I like that I can be a dude about it. I like that I don’t take shit, that I can walk away from an argument without some overblown sense of pride tripping me up as I walk.

Look, I’m 21. I’m still young. Most people my age are spending their Fridays at the bar, or running drugs, or working on degrees, or just now thinking about having a family. I got married a few months after I graduated, moved to California with the Marine Corps, had a baby when I was barely 20. I’ve had a very different walk than most people, and all I’m trying to do is iron out the wrinkles while I’m still young enough to bounce back. That’s it, and that’s all.

Work Hard Play Hard Woman

The worst thing a woman ever did was burn her bra.

Yeah, I said it.

I get that Rosie the Riveter had to go to work when Dear John ran off to fight the Japs. I get that. Someone had to jump in those factories an keep the world’s most powerful country running.

But then Rosie had to be a man about it and refuse to leave her job. Now, thanks to that big armed bimbo, I can’t do what I was made to do and be left alone about it.

Thanks to Rosie, I’m expected to be self-sufficient. Get your license, Katelyn. Get a job. Come on, get an apartment and pay bills and blah blah blah. Look, I’ll do this stuff of I have to. I’ve got Jude and I have to put him first so don’t take what’s to follow as some kind of admission to being a lax parent. There’s the real world and there’s the fantasy land where everything I want to happen, does. What follows is hopes and dreams and a lot of hot air.

Let’s get down to basics. What are females for? Babies. We conceive, carry, and bear them. Wide hips, narrow waist, big chest is the basic formula for beauty because it’s the instinctual magic combination for fertility. We’re not as strong as men but our endurance is higher. We’re softer, smaller, and weaker by nature.

Men, on the other hand, are built for another function. We propagate the species, they provide for its welfare. With the exception of the last century, it has always been understood that men bring home the bacon. Look at the animal kingdom. Males are always dominant, fighting for females with shows of strength or competitive beauty.

To me, to me, the sexiest man is the kind who doesn’t stop until the work boots come off. Yes, work boots. I want greasy hands, the kind with scars that tell a story about metal working, machinery, carpentry. And facial hair. Whiskers under my fingers, brushing against my upper lip.. wonderful. To sum up, the more testosterone the better.

And what’s my answer to all that masculinity?

How was work, honey? Dinner’s on the table. How about a cold one? A sandwich? I’m on my way to the kitchen anyway. Oh, so much tension in your shoulders. Get a shower and I’ll be waiting for you in bed. Coffee’s on for the morning, lunch is packed in the fridge.

Here’s the thing: if I’m not happy, I’m not doing shit. Dishes, house work, laundry? If I’m not smiling, it’s gonna stay the way it is and I’ll be on my way out if you don’t catch the hint. That’s one thing I learned being married to my dreaded ex, I have to be happy to do what I should.

The thing about a man that I love is his work ethic. I’ve seen enough of what a man’s work ethic can do for his life. Really, my father figures have shown me what a man can make out of his life if he has to work. In their own way, how they provided for me very well.

And my mom. Oh, my mom. Suffice to say my mom has taught me what it is to be woman. A woman makes dinner every night. A woman makes men take their hats off at the table. A woman will knit, or shop, or …well …gossip. We’re fickle things, but with the right balance of hard work and love we do something a man simply cannot do. We are the soul of the home, an emotional temperature gage. Put simply: when we’re hot, we’re hot. We love longsufferingly, our smiles light up rooms, we cradle newborns in our arms, our lovers say we’re beautiful – we make a house a home.

Now here’s where I lose people.

I don’t believe it’s my job to be the backbone of the home. I don’t think that should be my responsibility. A man who chooses to be a provider is the yin to the woman’s yang.

Work hard, play hard. It’s the secret to life.

D. H. Lawrence and The Muse

All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in dark recesses of their mind wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams open eyes, and make them come true.
– D. H. Lawrence

The wind blows, chill biting my lips. Street lights cast ghostly orbs of sterilized light against grimy shadows that crowd closer to the pale mirage of warmth. Music in my ears, and I am chasing my muse through abandoned alleys and desolate roads in a sleeping village. He is always the same, sitting just beyond the light, eyes and shoulders heavy. Footsteps echo against concrete glimmering with frost. Breath comes in deep gasps, legs burning, puffs forth evanescent steam. He is pale and lean, blue eyes beg to be brought to life. Pencil to paper, finger tips to keys, I lace words with the drug that sustains him. In the night, in the dark, where secrets hide in shadows and kisses rise like steam, I chase my muse, scrawl my dreams. But the inevitable daylight breaks through, dispelling the cover of darkness, and he is gone. And yet not, lingering still, in the spaces of stolen time. One day I will bring my muse from the shadows. He will not disappear in the dawn, and I will sleep soundly through the night like the rest of this tired place. Eyes wide open, unafraid, we will blaze brightly even against the glare of the midday sun. But for now I wait, content in these nightly visitations, occasional day time touches, future wishes.

in which MC KatieLea spits derogatory rhymes (poorly)

It doesn’t work if you say it out loud. So don’t try.
Written in the style of broken prose left over from my ’06 poetry binge,
and to a soundtrack of masterful rhymes from Lil Wayne.

Reader discretion advised.

I’m laced
eyes are a sedative
can’t get enough of this.

I getcha high
higher and higher


heart thuddin
sternum vibratin
vision tracin

euphoric euphoria
part your lips and sing it out:

and don’t worry about him
he’s just hatin
can’t handle it
my empowerment
he’s fake shit
thought he could run my shit

well run and tell him this

miss Katie Lea’s on the prowl
and there’s no stopping it

so tell that fake bitch
to run and hide her man

oh wait
too late

already got him

too bad for her
and too bad for you
runnin your mouth like I’m a slut

yeah I heard that rumor flew
it ain’t true

sluts fuck, real women make love

and if you don’t believe that, believe this
my love life’s none of your damn business

don’t get me wrong though
I don’t waste my time on
thinkin about little boys with delusions of manhood
who hit women

that fish ain’t swimmin
that bird ain’t flyin

and I ain’t lyin
when I say I’ve got this shit on lock down
done gettin knocked around
through with the drama, sound
of little boys tearin me down
makin me frown

takin the power back
takin my smile back

the love I’m laced with is like a motha fuckin heart attack

so I’ll say it again,
one more time and loud so you can hear it
if you don’t like the sound I’m makin
learn to fear it
cause I’m not leavin
I’m not hushin

the midnight disease cannot be cured
cannot be silenced
I will be heard
no matter how absurd
or how violent

best believe it,
love it or hate,
keep comin back
you’ll get more of the same


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