27 July, 2019

Fiction Friday - A Healthy Meal

“Just start from the beginning.” 

“I had a salad for dinner.” 

“I’m sorry?” 

“That’s the beginning.” 

“Really? No story begins with ‘I had a salad.’” 

Morris sighed and rolled his eyes. “The irony is not lost on me. Do you want to know what happened or not?” 

The detective raised his hands in surrender and leaned back. “Alright, go. Just remember you’ll have to sign a statement that what you tell us is the truth.” He motioned at the camera in the corner. 

Morris looked at the 2-way mirror on the wall behind the detective and rolled his eyes again. An exaggerated gesture this time, hoping he was being watched. 

“It was her idea. My girlf-“ 

“Carla…” Detective Klug consulted his pocket notepad. “…Weiniger?” 

“Yeah, Carla. That new salad-themed restaurant was opening and she said we should go. I didn’t want to. Salads? How can you base a restaurant on salads?” At least the detective had the humanity to scoff in agreement. “Freakin’ salads. That woman is always trying to change me. ‘Eat more vegetables,’ or ‘Throw out those hole-y underwear,’ or ‘we need to…’ do something that sucks and eats my soul.” He blew out air toward the ceiling. “So we went,” he said to the tube lights above him. “Grand opening.” He looked back to Klug across from him. “They must be hooked up, ‘cause there was press.” The detective made a note at that statement. Morris slit his eyes to him. “You know that already. Or you would as soon as you looked on the internet. Don’t be a tool. Let me talk.” 

Detective Klug laid down his pen and notepad. He wanted Morris to keep talking. A better idea, he picked them up and returned them to his breast pocket. They were recording the conversation, after all. He didn’t really need to take notes. It was just habit. “You have my undivided attention.” 

Morris nodded and closed his eyes, blocking out the annoying detective and his stupid actions. “So we went. To the grand opening. Reservations and everything. Carla knew someone or something. Whatever. I looked at the menu.” He opened his eyes and leaned in toward the detective. “Not bad, honestly."

Klug didn’t know what to do with that. His eyes widened and he sat stock-still, deer-in-headlights, waiting for Morris’ wild-eyed gleam to dissipate. “Yeah?” He offered, to keep him talking. 

“Man, there was bacon, or ‘Canadian’ bacon on half of them. They even have one called ‘Meat Lovers’!” Morris was excited now. His eyes were spastic, like a cat watching a laser-dot, as he relived the memory. “Man, my mouth was watering! Whoever these people are, they know, man! They know TONS of guys are gonna be dragged there by the women in their lives.” He settled back and nodded as if to confirm his own claim. “Man, that Meat Lovers looked so good…” He stopped talking for so long, Klug was ready to interject, but his eyes were closed again and he was wearing a wistful smile. The detective glanced over his shoulder into the observation room and shrugged. Finally, Morris roused himself. 

“The waiter came, and that’s what I ordered. Meat Lovers. It was the best looking thing on this crazy, girly, menu.” A shadow crossed his face as he leaned over the table. Klug saw raw rage in his eyes. “She said NO! That… how could… I was only there because she made me! She told me no and then ordered for both of us.” The distaste and anger was clear on his face. “Some stupid ‘double green salad’ whatever that is. Sounds gross. I couldn’t believe it.” His eyes were closed again as his head shook with the memory. 

“When the idiot waiter just walked off with her order, she started in, but didn’t hear anything. My head was on fire, man. And when the plates came - she has this thing that we needed to eat at the same time. So I was loading my fork while she did, but I wasn’t happy about it. She knew it too. But she thought it was ‘bonding’ or something? She reached over and put her hand on mine.” 

Eyes opened, he brandished the back of his left hand, which had a band-aid covering a nick in the middle. “I stabbed her hand with my knife. She screamed and I reached across and stabbed her in the throat.” Putting his hands palm-down on the table, he looked squarely, calmly into Klug’s eyes. “She won’t be telling me what I can and can’t eat again.” 
Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments, when possible. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below.

23 July, 2019

Another Year, Another Home

So, we're moving again.😲 I know, shocker, right? 
Not too far this time. We're staying in the same town.

Still. That'll make it an even 7 moves in 7 years for me.

Good news is, we have a 2-year lease this time! Woo-hoo! Of course, life changes so we'll see how that works. Vietnamese landlords have a habit (according to numerous expats who've lived here longer than we have) of changing terms mid-contract, or building on and changing their setup, or selling out. We think we have a new situation lined up that will preclude those things happening, but, well... "Stay Flexible!" is our motto.

I don't have decent pictures yet. I'll show the house when we actually take possession. This is a quick turnaround and my head is still spinning a bit. Our lease is up on August 15, so we were prepared to sit down and negotiate a new lease sometime soon anyway.

On Thursday, while Brett was teaching, he got a message from the landlord - the one building a nice, big homestay next to us - saying that, now that they are building a place with rooms to rent and a pool, they want to use our house for more rooms to rent. Since they like us, we can stay, but since we will now have access to a pool, the rent will be jacked up significantly.

After Brett was done with his classes, we talked about our options. We could still negotiate, but it wouldn't hurt to look and see what's on the market now.

Friday, he got up and went for a walk just to see if anything jumped out within our neighborhood, since we know the area and have relationships with the vendors here. By 10 a.m., he decided to contact a real estate agent recommended by a couple different people. By 11, that agent had two places lined up for us to look at. By noon, we had paid a deposit on one of those two. We sign the lease on Friday. WHAT!!

This has been the most painless house-hunting we have experienced. And we've done a lot of house-hunting in our five years of marriage! 

That's it, really.  I'm slowly packing things up, so that we can take a load over on Friday after signing the lease. We are very happy with this house. It's just one story, and we lose a bedroom, but things that stand out:
The view on entering. Sort of.
It's spacious.
The kitchen has functional cabinets - up AND down.
Bathroom sinks have counter space.
There's an outdoor shower.
Eye candy like the divider between living room and kitchen.

Space! I don't need a separate office, because I can just set up my desk next to that inside window to the bedroom. And the living room has a lovely window space that could be my yoga area. Who needs a balcony?

20 July, 2019

Fiction Friday - In Search of Silence

"Will you PLEASE keep it down?" M gripped her face, the fingers of each hand pressing into her forehead while her thumbs braced against her chin. The noise today was awful. Why were they fighting so much?

When the incessant buzz of infighting simmered down to an occasional hiss, she placed her hands on the table in front of her and took a deep breath. She had work to do and it required concentration. There was an orb on the table before her, but that wasn't her work at this moment.

She caressed the ancient tome sitting between her hands, feeling the throbbing energy of a long-forgotten wisdom. Elevating her hands millimeter by millimeter above the closed cover, a gentle smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. That magnetic force between the book and her hands was delicious. It was a rare treat, and all the sweeter for the long spans of time between the occasions she sought the guidance of the ages.

This was not a gift to be trifled with, so M exhausted her own wisdom and trickery before ever going back to the book. Only if a problem or disturbance proved too much for her own skills did she go into the depths of the hidden room to find another solution. She might be in here for days, consulting those who had gone before.

Especially if those restless... "SILENCE!" It never took very long for the noise to elevate, when they were in this kind of a mood.

Again, she waited for the rumble to subside before touching the book again. This time she opened the cover and began leafing through pages, watching the words transform as she paged through. Key words would show when she reached the answer she needed.

And the noise. Again. "CEASE! Or I will bind you," She cried, staring straight ahead of her at nothing. The hissing, screaming sound increased at hearing her threat. "Fine," she said, and went to a cabinet in the corner. In the cabinet she found the burlap binding that usually sufficed, and a lightweight chain.

Medusa moved to the mirror in the corner and captured all the snakes on her head, wrapping them in burlap and tying them down with the delicate chain. In moments, they were quiet, like birds with a cover dropped over the cage.

"Talk about your bad hair day," she muttered as she resumed her seat at the table and continued her work.
Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments, when possible. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below. I hope you liked that story, based on the prompt "bad hair day".

If you choose to join in for Fiction Fridays, post a link to your story below in the comments. I'm going to stop pre-selecting a writing prompt, but I'd love to read your story. Just share a link!

18 July, 2019

NOT About My Past

I'm just going to blather about nothing for a bit.

I sat at supper alone the other night and wrote out a blog post I thought I'd share yesterday, but then it sounded absurdly personal and maybe a bit whiny, so I never typed it in. Am I the only one who, as an adult, finds out things from the past and gets to feeling resentful? It's not a good feeling, and I'm not proud of it, especially since everyone is just making their choices of what to say and what to do in the moment as we progress through this journey called life, and how can I objectively remember how I behaved back then, and whether or not my actions and attitude caused another person to withhold information that now I wish I'd known?

I'm doing a lot of internal work on ... oh I don't know, call it "mindfulness" - that's part of it - but also on trying to accept people/things/situations without negativity. That needs to include the past. It's not instinctive for me.

[I'm not talking about supressed trauma. That's different. Just tiny things that if you'd known then, maybe you would be different now? Maybe would have helped?]

But the thoughts I wrote down the other night are a step backward, so here I am sharing inanities!
How I write.

I sent my novel to a few Beta-readers last weekend, so I've been taking a week off from writing or editing. Maybe I'm drifting a bit.

I started looking up this ancient Chinese poet: Du Fu (Also translated as Tu Fu. I know, you were confused by the "D".) I took a picture of the full moon the other night, so the first poem I looked up was called "Moonlit Night". Not at all related to my picture, but here they both are:
It was a full moon, and I was walking home from supper through the rice paddies. Heaven.
The text of "Moonlit Night" as translated by the first website I clicked on:

The moon shines in Fuzhou tonight,
In her chamber, she watches alone.
I pity my distant boy and girl-
They don't know why she thinks of Chang'an.
Her cloud-like hair is sweet with mist,
Her jade arms cold in the clear moonlight.
When shall we lean in the empty window,
Together in brightness, and tears dried up?

I'm no poet, and yes, it's a translation, but even so I feel that I need to take a course in Chinese poetry if I'm ever to understand what the heck it means! 😂

Any insight from any poetry lovers? Maybe I just need to read more of this Ancient Chinese Dude, to get into his head. The last ancient poetry I read was Beowulf. I loved that one, but epic poems are easier I think, because they tell a story.

See? I told you I'd blather about nothing. What nothing is new with you?

12 July, 2019

Fiction Friday - The Party

Thanks to D.B. McNicol for the image

♫"You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht..."♬ 

The line from Carly Simon's song flashed through Addy's brain as the teeth walked in the front door. Those perfect - and perfectly white - teeth were grinning out of a tan face belonging to a man of average height wearing an old-fashioned grand-dad hat at a jaunty angle. Addy had never understood what Carly meant in that song until this moment. 

He owned the place. 
Or at least, the hearts of anyone who saw him. 
And he knew it.

Between the hat and the neatly trimmed shadow on his jaw, Addy would define him as "hipster" but she knew she might be wrong. Classifications often eluded her. If she read Urban Dictionary every day of her life, she'd never catch up to the pulse of modern life.

One of Addy's fellow call-center employees had invited her. Becca's cubicle was caddy-corner (north-east) from Addy's, and Becca was always hanging over her cubicle wall to chat with Matt, who worked in the north-west corner of their foursome. (Addy called it "the four-square", but only to herself.) The southeast corner was occupied by Barb, when she bothered to show up to work. Addy had overheard Becca telling someone in the break room that Barb was sleeping with the manager, so she was given a lot of leeway on work standards. Addy picked up a lot of Barb's slack, probably because their cubicle openings were adjacent, so if anyone saw Barb was gone, they'd just dump their load on Addy's desk.

Becca had joked that Barb was trying to overcome her old-fashioned name, Barbara, by being a slut. Poor girl, she was only 19, and 26-year-old Addy thought she was really pretty, but if Becca was right and she didn't like her name, surely she could just ask people to call her Barbie? That name would suit her look, at least.

She was at the party, too, hanging out near the cooler out back, talking with three of the guys from their floor when Addy decided to come inside. 

Coming inside didn't help Addy. She wasn't comfortable at parties. She wasn't comfortable saying no to an invitation, either, which is why she was here at all. Becca had only invited her (Addy assumed) because Addy could hear the conversation when Becca was inviting Matt. Addy had risen to walk to the washroom at the moment Becca invited Matt, chatting over their shared cubicle wall. Addy caught Becca's eye and she threw out a "You should come, too, Addy. I'll send you the e-vite."

Not knowing what the party was for or about, Addy said, "okay," and left for the Ladies room. Only when she saw the e-vite later did she realize it was a huge party because someone in Becca's circle of friends from college was turning 21. Addy only knew a few of the names on the invitation list that were also names on cubicles at work, but she had already said "okay" so she didn't think it would be right to suddenly decline the invitation. People planned parties based on numbers, didn't they?

Addy was facing the front door, standing just inside the living room, back near the doorway to the kitchen. There were a handful of people scattered around the room, making out or in animated, private conversations. She leaned against the doorway with her Mike's Hard Lemonade, out of the way, considering leaving, when the teeth walked in.

He was magnetic. No one was there to greet him, but he looked like he belonged anyway. A glance around at the people in the room - jutting his chin at the one guy who caught his eye and did the same in return, and this paragon of... something ... crossed toward the kitchen doorway. Toward Addy!

She was conscious of everything wrong with her in that moment. Standing taller, she fixed her posture, but her hair was just a mess of stringy spaghetti pulled back in a stupid claw-clamp. Stupid! Why did she do that? Raising her drink to her mouth, she tried to form a smile on her lips and closed her eyes to drink. As she lowered the drink, she saw he was looking at her! Not through her, at her! He caught her eye and smiled back at the half-smile that she had managed to maintain over the butterflies leaving her stomach through her mouth.

"Hey." He stopped walking right in front of her. "I don't know you, do I? Trey. Trey Krall."

"Hi. Addy. I work with Becca." Since it was Becca's house, she figured this guy who walked straight through the house so knowingly must know her.

"Cool." He looked at her bottle. "Looks like you're almost ready for a refill. Come on." As he continued walking past her to get to the booze outside, he waved for her to follow. Addy couldn't believe it. He was halfway through the kitchen before her feet unlocked from the floor. 

She reached up and released the claw-clamp from her hair, throwing it onto the living room floor as she followed Trey, mesmerized.

Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments, when possible. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below. I hope you liked that story, based on the prompt "a co-worker's party".

If you choose to join in for Fiction Fridays, post a link to your story below in the comments. Next week's prompt is: "bad hair day". If you join me next week, be sure to come back and share a link to your story!

06 July, 2019

No Fiction This Friday

It's Fiction Friday - actually, it's Saturday already here - but I'm taking the day(s) off. I woke with a cold the other day and I'm a huge baby. I can't think properly with this fuzzy, phlegm-filled brain.

I'll be back next week, following the prompt I posted last week. Sorry about that. Just wanted to say why I'm a bit absent. Now off to drink some o.j. and rest some more.

04 July, 2019

Water, Water Everywhere - Oh Wait, That's in the States

Our water is out.

Often on Thursday I sit and write out a draft of whatever my Friday Fiction will be, but today, our water is out.

Turns out, I'm not imagining that it is too dry here. It IS too dry, and they are cutting off water at different times to different parts of town, but there is no announcement about when each area will be hit?? Apparently? I don't yet know the language, so I wouldn't know if there was an announcement, but that's the scuttlebutt that I hear now that I tried to fill a pan with water to boil eggs this morning and started talking to people. 
Like my landlord, who assumed we were fine although our whole area has been without water for 3 days.

I asked her to check with us next time, because if I had known we'd be cut off, I might have delayed that load of laundry that I did the other day!

We decided we will not make dishes that will need to be washed. (I have an avocado and tomatoes that need to be eaten today however, so I will make my tom-avo salad, put some drinking water in the plate when I'm done and just leave it to soak overnight... because supposedly the water will come on "a little" tonight? I'll believe it when it happens.)

Anyway, I just went out and bought a case of beer, because apart from our bottled drinking water and noodle bowls, BEER comes in it's own disposable container. YAY BEER! No dishes!
I'm not stranger to water rationing. As a kid, at boarding school in south India, during the dry season we had rules about water usage. 
It was planned. 
It was known. 

This "I assumed you are okay" situation is for the birds. Nope, nope, nope. Our lease is up next month, and as much as I love the space we have in this house, our landlords don't communicate things that they should be communicating. Even if they didn't know when it would hit our particular building, they could have given us a heads up that this was coming. 

Maybe it is time to move again.
 >sigh< I don't want to. 
Did I mention I've moved six times in the last seven years?