Flash Fiction – Iowa by Dar Williams

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This week’s flash fiction is inspired by the song “Iowa” by Dar Williams. The lyrics and a link to hear the song are below.


I’ve never had a way with women
But the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could
And I’ve never found a way to say I love you
But if the chance came by, oh I, I would
But way back where I come from we never mean to bother
We don’t like to make our passions other peoples concern
And we walk in the world of safe people
And at night we walk into our houses and burn

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

How I long to fall just a little bit
To dance out of the lines and stray from the light
But I fear that to fall in love with you
Is to fall from a great and gruesome height
So you know I asked a friend about it, on a bad day
Her husband had just left her, she sat down on the chair he’d left behind
She said, “What is love, where did it get me?
Whoever thought of love is no friend of mine”

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

Once I had everything, I gave it up
For the shoulder of your driveway and the words I’ve never felt
So for you, I came this far across the tracks
Ten miles above the limit, and with no seatbelt, and I’d do it again
For tonight I went running through the screen doors of discretion
For I woke up from a nightmare that I could not stand to see
You were a-wandering out on the hills of Iowa
And you were not thinking of me

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

I glanced behind me as I shut the screen door as quietly as I could. It was early still, the sun wasn’t even starting to show it’s colors yet and I couldn’t hear any sounds in the neighborhood except a couple of dogs stirring. But I needed to be careful, I didn’t want anyone to hear me. Throwing my bag in the front seat of the old car, I put the key in the ignitition and slid it into neutral. It was a struggle to get the car down the driveway and into the road, but I managed it without knocking over the mailbox or crushing any flowers. Once I was a couple of houses away, I thought it was safe to start up the car. It roared to life with the sound of a small tank.

But that was the sound of my freedom.

The first truck stop I came to became the final resting place for the house key and my engagement ring. I was never going back and I didn’t want anything tying me to that place. I was finally traveling my own path and I had a specific destination in mind.

I drove all day, barely stopping, too excited and yet terrified at what I was going to find. There had been conversations, notes, hints, but nothing definite and here I was putting it all on the line. By the time the sun was sinking again, the pale pinks and oranges staining the cornfields, I was turning onto the drive leading up to the old white farmhouse. It looked just as I had imagined it, weathered and well-tended and wonderful.

The ancient muffler announced my arrival before I even made it to the top of the drive and almost immediately a woman in jeans and a flannel shirt appeared on the front porch. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as I turned off the ignition and climbed out of the car in the blessed silence.

“Sadie?” she said, disbelief plain in her voice.

“It’s me. I’m here Amy. I did it. I left him, and I came here to you. Please tell me I made the right choice.”

She answered me by running down the steps and throwing herself into my arms. Wrapping myself around her, I could smell fresh apples and the Iowa air. I was finally home.

The links to the other bloggers’ stories are below:
Jess
Bronwyn

Wednesday Randomness – Mistakes from My First Manuscript

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This week’s Wednesday topic is mistakes from my first manuscript and how I’ve grown as a writer. Well, I’ve only ever made it through one full novel-length draft, so I guess this will be mistakes from my one and only manuscript. And boy did I make them. 

The first thing that comes to mind is using people’s names too much in conversation, kind of like I do when I’ve had a bit too much to drink. So it made it sound like a bunch of teenagers were constantly tipsy. “Gwen, let me tell something, let me tell you Gwen, I have something to tell you…” It wasn’t pretty.

And then of course there was the word repetition. There are only so many words for boardwalk and pier, and that leads to another mistake. One of the characters kept telling one of the other characters that he should do this one particular thing while he was in town, over and over again she kept bringing it up. Well, he finally did and it was completely anticlimactic. The whole thing was a waste of word count and had no point in the story. The town where the book takes place is real and I felt I had to work in all the known landmarks come hell or high water.  

I also, in a couple of circumstances, decided to cover important scenes in two sentence summaries and instead spend my word count on less important scenes that didn’t move the plot forward. They were still interesting, in my mind, but maybe not as integral to the plot points. 

There were countless other mistakes, but those are the big ones that come to mind. In the writing I’ve done since then, I’ve tried to keep these issues in mind so I can either avoid them as much as possible or at least make more conscious choices about them. I like to think I’ve improved since I finished that first manuscript, at least a bit. 

Check out the links below to see how the other bloggers have come along in their writing:
Jess
Bronwyn
Jessica
Gwen
Kris

Flash Fiction Monday

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10-2015 - WomaninWhite

Click.

There she was, finally.

Click.

He’d been hiding in the trees outside her house all day, waiting for her to return. She’d left in the morning, dressed all in white, perhaps for a party, looking beautiful as always. He hadn’t expected her to be gone so long, but still he’d waited.

Click.

At least this time she was alone. Last time he’d stood here, he’d had to watch as that moronic boyfriend had pawed all over her, clumsy teenage hands and hormones everywhere has they said goodnight. It had taken all the willpower in the world to stay in his hiding place.

Click.

One last picture as she slipped inside the back door.

He followed her progress through the empty house, watching lights turn on and off as she made her way upstairs. He knew she had the house to herself this weekend, her parents were out of town and like the good girl she was, she was home alone and would go to bed early.

He waited patiently for the second floor light at the front of the house to go out, the one he knew to be her bedroom. Once the house was quiet again, he left his hiding place behind the trees and made his way to the back door. Even in the dark, he found the hidden key without trouble and let himself into the house. Careful not to make a sound he bolted the door behind him and pocketed the key.

Making his way through the dark house, he was careful to avoid the hall table and the large vase that sat on the floor near the foot of the stairs. It wasn’t his first time in this house in the dark. He was careful to avoid the squeaky third step on his was to the second floor, his breath coming in quick gasps the closer he got to her bedroom.

He paused in the doorway, watching the way the moonlight fell across the bed making her dark hair glow. Her pale skin virtually shone in the light coming through the window, her breathing was deep and peaceful. It wouldn’t be for long.

Closing the door as silently as possible, he set his bag of tools at the foot of the bed before walking to stand next to her. He allowed himself one more minute of silence to watch her before making her aware of his presence. Finally, he decided it was time.

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a black scarf, something he could use to tie her hands. But first he wanted to wake her up, she had to know he was there, what was coming for her. In one swift motion he pinned her wrists against the mattress with one large hand and covered her mouth with the other.

“Wake up, Elizabeth.” he whispered into her ear.

Her eyes flew open and stared at him in terror, in recognition. She tried to scream but it came out muffled.

“Shhhhhhh,” he whispered. “Don’t bother screaming. It won’t help.”

He stared down at her, reveling her in beauty as a single tear slid down her cheek. It wouldn’t be her last.

Check out the links below to see what stories the other bloggers came up with:

Bronwyn
Jess
Kellie
Jessica
Kris

Wednesday Randomness – A-Z Recipes

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Believe it or not, I actually completed both blog topics this week. Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years!

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This week’s Wednesday topic is A-Z Recipes, either ones we love to make or want to try making. I had to make up or alter names for a few of them so they would fit certain letters, but I made it work! I didn’t include the recipes or link to them because most of them or either in books or in my head, but if you’re interested in one, let me know and I can write it out in the comments.

A – Asparagus and Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry (totally takes the place of wanting to order Chinese take-out)

B – Basil Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

C – Chicken Fricassee (one of the first “real recipes” I ever tried cooking)

D – Dad’s Chili (I’m very picky about chili, not too tomato-y, although I do make a few changes from his recipe)

E – Edamame Chicken Pot Pie (it’s just Chicken Pot Pie with Edamame in it, but I really like it and it worked for “E”)

F – Fried Chicken (never made it but my Southern roots make me feel like I should try it)

G – Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Panini

H – Homemade Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies (these are beyond sinful, I usually only make these at Christmas because they are kind of labor intensive and have ridiculous amounts of butter in them)

I – Invisible Parrot (2 parts Sprite or 7UP with 1 part Malibu Rum and a slice of lime – delicious)

J – Jones’ Family Famous Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (actually my husband’s recipe)

K – Kayleigh’s Signature Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies

L – Lasagna (I love my mom’s lasagna recipe, I’m not big on sauce on hers is not saucy at all)

M – My Grandpa’s Parmesan Chicken (it could be in any Italian restaurant it’s that good, if he would just give me the recipe)

N – Not Your Mom’s Chinese Spaghetti and Meatballs (it involves ground chicken meatballs with Chinese Five Spice, pea pods, and sesame oil on the noodles)

O – Orange Tempeh Vegetable Stir Fry

P – Pesto Pasta with Italian Chicken Sausage

Q – Quiche (never made one, only had it for the first time this summer but I really liked it)

R – Redskin Garlic Mashed potatoes (simple but I love them)

S – Skinny Burrito Bowl (so good!)

T – Thanksgiving Squash Casserole (it’s really just a squash casserole, but I only make it on Thanksgiving)

U – Utterly Delicious Apple Pie Rolls (I just saw these on Pinterest, you use Crescent rolls and put a slice of apple in each one along with spices and nuts, then roll them up and bake them; I can’t wait to try them this fall)

V – Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

W – Walnut Oatmeal Banana Bread

X – Xasperating Pumpkin Roll Cake (it’s so good but very tricky, again a Thanksgiving only recipe)

Y – Yummy Summer Apple Salad (apple, pineapple, butterscotch pudding mix, and whip cream; very easy and tastes like caramel apples)

Z – Zucchini Taco Boats

Check out the links below to see what the other bloggers love to make (or want to try making):

Bronwyn
Jessica
Paige
Gwen
Kellie

Flash Fiction Monday

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09-2015 - KeyInHand

I sat on the floor, turning the key over in my fingers, staring at the box where it sat on the small table. it was a wooden box, about twelve inches square and covered in Celtic-looking carvings. It stared at me just like it had for the first thirty years of my life, locked, its secrets unyielding.

Not two hours ago, I had answered a knock on the door to find my grandfather’s lawyer standing there with an envelope. Apparently, this key had been part of what I had received from grandfather’s will, but it had taken awhile for anyone to find it. He’d been gone three months and the key had only now shown up.

So there I sat, turning the key over and staring, almost scared to open the box and finally find out what was in it, my family inheritance, or family legacy, I suppose. The wooden box had been packed on the day I was born and locked, to be opened only when my legal guardian died. Or that’s what the letter enclosed with the key had said. Up until then, I had always been told the box had belonged to my grandmother and the key was long lost. I just kept it around because the carvings were beautiful and I liked having something of hers.

Well, I couldn’t put it off anymore. Grabbing the box, I pulled it off the table and settled it on my lap. I traced my finger over the carvings just like I had as a little girl, marveling at the smoothness of the wood. I inserted the brass key into the lock and turned it. I was expecting some resistance given how long it had been since the box had been opened, but the lock clicked smoothly. Letting out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, I slowly lifted the lid of the box, no idea what to expect.

Gasping, I threw one hand over my eyes as a bright purple light shot out of the box. The lid fell all the way open and I felt a tingling sensation start at the tips of my fingers and toes. The feeling worked its way through my limbs and slowly coalesced around my heart before dissipating.

It was astonishing, the sense of lightness and utter completeness I suddenly felt. It was like a part of me had clicked into place after being out of sync for my whole life.

With the light gone, I could now see the actual contents of the box; a note and a leather bound book. I opened the note and smiled when I saw the familiar scrawl that belonged to my grandfather.

Katherine,
I know this will be a shock, and I’m sorry I’m not there to help you through this.
Unfortunately, this how it’s done in our family. One witch active at a time, so upon
my death, you’ll get your powers. If you’re reading this it means I’m gone and I miss
you very much. This book will tell you most of what you need to know, the history
and many basic spells. This key also opens a trunk in the cellar of my house where
you will find more books. It’s up to you to carry on the family traditions and prepare
to pass them down to your descendants.
Learn them well.

Well hell, I thought, I was witch.

Check out the links below to see the other bloggers’ stories:

Bronwyn
Jessica
Kellie
Paige
Kris

Wordless Wednesday – On My Bookshelf

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IMG_1229 IMG_1228  IMG_1225  IMG_1221 IMG_1215 IMG_1220 IMG_1218 IMG_1216 IMG_1217Click the links below to see what the other bloggers have on their bookshelves:
Bronwyn
Jessica
Gwen
Jess

Flash Fiction Mondays

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This week’s flash fiction post is inspired by Kylie Minogue’s song, Love at First Sight. The video is below if you want to give it a listen.

The violet and red lights pulsed in time with the music, making the dancers in the club seem to flash in and out of sight as they moved. The bass pumped and my body pulsed in time with it.

“Shot of tequila,” I told the bartender, keeping my eyes glued to the crowd. I was alone tonight, I had left my normal group of friends behind so I didn’t have to worry about them keeping track of me. I scanned the crowd, looking for…anyone, really. I threw back the shot the bartender handed me and decided I might as well get on with it. I moved into the pack of writhing bodies, finding the beat and dancing with anyone who approached me.

After about an hour I noticed a man watching me, tall and lean with dark, wavy hair. Just my type. I made eye contact with him and kept dancing, swaying my hips and making sure my low cut top did its job. He took the bait and made his way to me across the dance floor. I pushed my current dance partner away and pulled the new guy close, plastering myself to him. He didn’t seem to mind.

We danced for the next two hours, stopping only for drinks, barely talking. I didn’t ask his name, I didn’t want to know it. This wasn’t love at first sight, but it was something. Once I thought I had him hooked, I laced my fingers through his and pulled him off the dance floor, heading towards the back of the club. I led him down the hallway towards the delivery entrance and pushed him out into the back alley behind the club.

“What are we doing…” he started to ask.

“Shhhh,” I said, pulling him towards him as I leaned against the brick wall. “No one will notice us back here. It’s totally private.”

That’s all it took and he was on board. Suddenly, his hands were all over me and he was pushing me harder against the wall. I sighed, it was always the same. Time to get this over with. I ran my hands up his neck and into his hair, pulling his head down towards mine. I took a deep breath and sank my fangs into his neck. The blood flowed over my tongue sweet and warm as he moaned in pain. He wouldn’t remember this in the morning, which was good. I would, I remembered them all. And that was the problem.

Check out the links below to the other stories inspired by this month’s song:
Bronwyn
Gwen
Jess

Flash Fiction Mondays

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07-2015 - BarefootInField

I stared at the printouts on the table in front of me. Each one was dated June seventh for the last five years and detailed similar deaths of different men. All were found in hiking clothes in the same stretch of land, and all had no apparent signs of trauma. But they were all estimated to have died the day before, on June sixth, and they were all my fault.

Have you heard of a Woman in White? I hadn’t in either, not until a couple of years of ago, not until I realized that I had created one. A Woman in White is considered folklore, just a story told that no one actually believes, something that’s fun to scare yourself with around the campfire.

A few years ago, back before all this started, I had a fiancee named Penny. I loved her, I was going to marry her after all. But I was stupid, like so many people are. I strayed, I cheated on her. I had a relationship with another woman that lasted about six months and Penny found out. She apparently knew for awhile but decided to wait to confront me about it until we were alone, with no hope of anyone interrupting us. She had a plan, you see.

I didn’t deny anything, she knew the truth and trying to convince her otherwise would have been pointless. Plus, I was done with all the lying. Penny told me she just needed to be alone for awhile so she could decide what she wanted to do, about us, I guess. I left her there, in that field. Like she asked. I told her I would come back later to pick her up, there was nothing close by she couldn’t walk to anywhere from there. When I went back a couple of hours later, I found her hanging from a branch in a tree. She had apparently hidden a rope there earlier in the day, knowing all along what she was going to do.

At the moment she had died, I created a Woman in White; a jilted woman who takes her own life doomed to remain as a ghost taking vengeance on unfaithful men.

And every year, on the anniversary of her death, Penny killed one man in the same spot. They were far enough apart and that spot was frequented enough that no one seemed to catch on, except me. But this year would be the last. I was going to stop her, one way or another. This was my fault and I couldn’t let her hurt anyone else.

I wasn’t sure when she normally appeared, but I’d wait all day if I had to. I gathered up my supplies and left my truck in the same spot where all the other victims’ vehicles were found. I was going to do everything they did, leaving nothing to chance. I started at the head of the trail and hiked into the forest, knowing eventually I would end up in the field where Penny and I fought, and where she died.

The trip took the better part of the day, but I welcomed the exercise. I used the time to go over, again, what I would say to Penny to when I saw her. How I would apologize, how I would tell her that killing these other people didn’t set right what I had done and couldn’t she see that? I had to make her see that. She wasn’t this person, or hadn’t been in life. I didn’t know what she was anymore, I guess.

Once I reached the field, I sat down under the tree where she had died and noticed that someone had carved her name into the trunk, as a memorial I assumed. I waited for Penny to appear, thinking I probably wouldn’t have to wait long. I fit her criteria and I had to be her ideal victim, I just hoped I could get her to listen to me before she did anything too permanent.

As afternoon turned into evening, I was starting to lose confidence. I saw no sign of her, felt no chill in the air. I had read that was a sure sign that a ghost was near. I refused to give up though, I would wait all night if I had to. I must have fallen asleep at one point, I woke up suddenly when a branch from above broke off with a loud crack and landed on my ankle. Crying out in surprise and pain, it was then I noticed that the temperature had finally dropped.

And there, in front of me, was Penny. She looked just as she had on the say she died, same long dark hair and white sundress. But her eyes, they were black and angry. Her mouth opened and she screamed at me, but no sound came out. And in that instant, she was no longer my Penny but a vengeful demon. I didn’t know if reasoning with her would work, but I had to try. I pulled myself to my feet.

“Penny, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about what I did to you, that I cheated on you. That I treated you like that. But what you’re doing now, it’s not right. These other guys haven’t hurt you, they haven’t done anything to you. You shouldn’t be killing them.”

Those black eyes just stared at me, I couldn’t tell if she even understood anything I was saying to her. There was no change in her expression, just a further drop in the temperature around me.

“What can I do so that you’ll stop? Is there anything I can do to help you move on from this, whatever this existence is?”

At that, the expression on her face changed. She broke into a horrifying grin and the temperature dropped yet again.

Oh god, I knew what she wanted. “Is that what it will take? If you kill me, will I be your last victim? Is that what you’ve been waiting on this whole time, for me to show up?”

Slowly, she nodded.

“And if i die, you’ll leave this place?”

She nodded again.

I didn’t even have a chance to tell her to do it. I felt a cold hand reach inside my chest and wrap around my heart, squeezing it until I thought it would burst. I started to black out from the lack of oxygen but the last thing i saw before I died was Penny, my Penny, brown eyes and all walking off down a path in the early evening light.

So, you wanted to know how I ended up a lonely ghost wandering this stretch of the woods? That’s my story. In order to move on, you have to complete your unfinished business. Penny was my unfinished business, but she’s already gone, so I don’t have anything to finish. I’m destined to wander here for eternity, unless you think you can help me somehow?

Check out the links below to the read the other stories this week:

Jess
Jessica
Paige
Bronwyn
Kris
Gwen
Kellie

Wednesday Randomness – A Few of My Favorite Things: Music (Artists/Groups)

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This week’s blog post is another favorite things topic, this time focusing on music.

I listen to music constantly, while I’m working, writing, driving, reading, cleaning, doing anything really. It helps me focus, in a way. Like there’s a part of my brain that wanders but if I have music playing, that part of my brain has something to focus on. And since music plays such a large part in my day, what I listen to is pretty important.

My husband would say I’m stuck in the 90’s. I might agree with that, to an extent. I do like a certain amount of music from that era, but who doesn’t like to listen to what they did in high school? So yes, I totally still have Toad the Wet Sprocket, Counting Crows, and Better Than Ezra in constant rotation. I even saw TTWS and Counting Crows in concert last summer and my little Doc Marten wearing heart soared. Here’s a big throwback to the 90’s…the original Mr. Jones video. Oh my god, I feel so old right now.

I love U2. I know a lot of people don’t like Bono, but I don’t care. I love their music. I gravitate towards the Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby albums, but I also really love All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Thought I’d throw in a little 80’s U2 for your viewing pleasure, I still love this video.

What else? I’ve always loved “oldies,” Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is one of my favorites. I’ve been listening to Simon and Garfunkel since I was in the womb.

I know there are so many more I’m missing, but this gives you a taste of my favorite music. I listen to a wider variety than is represented here, but I definitely lean towards a certain type as my “core” music, I guess.

Check out the links below to see who the other ladies are listening to:
Jess
Bronwyn
Gwen
Jessica
Kris