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Conversations with my mother

Published March 29, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Saturday, 7:45 a.m.

Me: I have dance rehearsal from 2-5 tonight. If everyone’s going out after that I’m going with them.
Mom: Okay.

Saturday, 7:55 a.m.

Mom: I’m doing laundry tonight when I get home from work, so bring me any dirty clothes.
Me: I won’t be here.
Mom: You won’t be here at 3?
Me: ………

Saturday, 8:05 a.m.

Mom [on her way out the door] Are you going to be home for supper tonight?
Me: [dead silence]
Mom: You’re not gonna answer me?
Me: I already told you.
Mom: Excuse me, I’m old, I forgot.
Me: [muttering] No, you’re just not listening.

If she’s that forgetful about something I told her 20 minutes ago, I hope she remembered to put her teeth in. Or put on underwear. You know, little things.

 

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Brandy Alexander (Warning: Contains Profanity)

Published March 22, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

I swear, I think Wendig and I are on the same wavelength. Tuesday on the way to work, I thought about a few story angles for a short story I wanted to write about a new character. I already had a name for her: Brandy Alexander. Possibly told in vignettes, the story would chronicle Brandy’s layoff from her job, which would later force her to move in with her parents until she got back on her feet. But how would life as a single woman work if she was living under her parents roof again? By Thursday, I’d already jotted down the path the story would take.

On Friday, Chuck Wendig posted this week’s flash fiction challenge: Write a 1000-word story, but split it up into ten chapters. While the story, Brandy Alexander, is not as vignette-y as I had originally planned, the story is told as I’d envisioned it on Tuesday. It clocks in at 980 words.

Chap 1 – Doomsday

Monday, April 10

Brandy Alexander sits in her boss’ office hearing only fragments of his words.

 “pink slip…cuts in all departments… by seniority.”

She blinks twice, trying to focus on his face. He looks uncomfortable, as if he just realized he shit his pants and is still sitting in it.  

The last thing she hears him say is “You still have three weeks, so if I were you, I’d use up any accrued personal days.” At least a full sentence registered in her brain that time.

She’ll start hitting the temp agencies tomorrow. Short-term jobs are better than nothing.

Chap 2 The Job Search

Monday, April 17

The hunt is on. Only two weeks left to go until she’s out of a job. There’s not one damn job in human resources. Ain’t that a bitch?

The Dairy Barn’s hiring, no experience necessary. Does she really want to work at a local burger-and-ice cream joint for minimum wage?  Sure, there’s a discount on the meals, but she’ll come home every night smelling like stale fries. Thirty years old isn’t supposed to look like this, right?

Brandy circles the job in the newspaper. It can’t hurt to apply. Work nights at The Barn and temp during the day.

Chap 3 The Doctor’s Office

Monday,April 24

“You can always move in with us.”

Yeah, as an absolute last resort, Brandy thinks. “Mom, I gotta go. They just called me in.”

Her doctor sees her on the examination table and notices her jeans are still on.  “No pelvic exam?”

“No way. You got your little tool stuck last time,” she gestures toward the speculum.  “So you’re staying clear of this area,” and she motions over her crotch with her hand.

She lies on the table. “Besides, this will be the last time you’ll see me for awhile. Let’s celebrate by keeping away from my cooch.”

Chap 4 Butch Tomboy, the Workout Queen

Monday, May 22

8:30 A.M. Brandy shows up for a three-week light industrial temp assignment.

“Help unpack desks and chairs then assemble them. Report to Tammy Dagneau,” the lady on the phone says. Should be easy enough.

By lunchtime, Brandy is on her way home. One morning working for Tammy, aka Butch Tomboy, is all she can take.  When you’re the supervisor of a worksite, it’s apparently necessary to stand around all morning, be bossy with the temps, sneer at their contempt for manual labor and talk about working out with your two minions.

Thank god she still has her weekend job at The Dairy Barn.

Chap 5 Is this the real life?

Sunday, August 13

Her savings is almost gone. Now is the time for the full-on panic attack.

Sunday dinner at her parents’ house. No visible signs that children ever lived here. Her old room is an office. Her brother’s old room is a scrapbooking room.

“When you move in next week, you’ll have to sleep on this,” her mother motions to the loveseat that, until recently, has been in the garage for eight years. Brandy leans in for a whiff. Gross. Rancid mildew. Mental note: buy sprayable deodorizer and a decent air mattress.

Chap 6 Moving Day

Saturday, August 20

Brandy drops her last box on the floor of the scrapbooking room, aka her bedroom. All her furniture and anything she won’t need for the next few months are in a rental storage unit. We’ll be back together soon, my babies.

Any day now, she’ll find a new HR job and Brandy Alexander will be back on top of the world. Until then, keep doing temp jobs. Office work only.

The smell of fried chicken wafts through the house. Bonus to an adult moving back in with the parents: Mom does most of the cooking and laundry.

Chap 7 The Tell-Tale Wand

2:00 A.M., sometime in September.

Her vagina is not happy. It’s been too long. Good thing she has her vibrators. Problem: how to use them without waking her parents. Bean-flicking on the air mattress will be loud.

This looks like a job for Rancid Mildew Loveseat.

Chap 8 Brandy Alexander’s Guide to Noiseless Masturbation

Open the closet door. Stay still for five minutes. Feel around in the dark for the box that holds the large black backpack. Take the backpack out of the box. Stay still for another five minutes. Take small green daypack out of the backpack. Take the Hitachi Wand out of the daypack. Hello, old friend. Plug the wand in. Lie quietly on the loveseat for five minutes. Lay a cushion on the loveseat, lay a towel on the pillow, then put the Wand on top of the towel.

Climb on and have the ride of your life. Just try not to make any noise when the orgasm hits.

Chap 9 Date Night

Wednesday, November 29

Brandy’s got a date with the new guy at The Dairy Barn. A little younger than her at 21 years old, but cute as a button. Problem: what is she supposed to do at the end of the date? Take him back to her parents’ house? She’ll cross that bridge when she gets to it.

They make out in his car before and after pizza. At the end of the date, he’s pissed off because she won’t put out.

Now she’s pissed off. “Oh, so you buy me a couple of slices of pizza and now I gotta let you fuck me? My pussy’s worth more than that!”

He drives her home, still stewing. She gets out of the car without even looking at him. Tomorrow at work is going to be awkward.

Chap 10 The Comeback

Monday, February 12

Victory at last! Thanks to her diligent efforts, she’s going back to work at the first place she worked at out of college. She now works as an HR generalist, bringing in almost twice the salary she made at her last job.

As soon as she gets her first paycheck, she’ll start looking for a place. It’s a good thing she moved in with her parents when she still had money in savings. Now she’ll have money for deposits, a moving truck, and a few new items to spruce up her new place.

The Infernal Bargain

Published March 13, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Hello, kids, it’s that time of week again: Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. We had a challenge of 1500 words, I come in at 1480.

This is my favorite type of challenge: Chuck gives us a few lists with multiple possibilities. We roll a die (i.e. online random number generator) and write a story with those elements. I rolled the virtual die and got a 9 and a 2: a faithful hound and an infernal bargain, respectively. I played a little bit with the idea of a faithful hound, as you’ll see. Enjoy!

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/03/07/flash-fiction-challenge-must-contain/ 

Briony woke up but she did not open her eyes right away. What was the point? Assuming she had counted correctly, today was day sixty of her imprisonment; for two months she had been in the custody of an alien race for a murder she did not commit.

She reluctantly opened her eyes when she heard the door open. D’lheera, the alien doctor, walk in the small room.

“At last, you are awake. Excellent. My master has an important job for both of us. You will lead the task and I am to accompany you.” D’lheera almost sounded excited about this job, as if she was happy to finally get out of the house.

Thank God. Then maybe Briony could go home. “What’s the job?”

“Master will inform us tomorrow in a special audience.”

“Wait, you’ll accompany me?” Briony said.

“Yes, my master is calling upon my natural skills as a huntress, which will be of great use to you. And depending on the danger of our mission, you may need a doctor.”

Oh, great, Briony thought. So this assignment, whatever it is, could kill me. I’m dead any way you look at it.

The next day, Briony’s guards ushered her into a small, ornate room and she stood on the spot indicated by one of the guards. A side door opened and D’lheera entered and sat on a footstool placed very close to a large chair. Her mouth turned up slightly and she gave Briony an encouraging smile.

The sight of what next came through the side door made Briony’s heart stop. She wanted to scream but no sound would come. Instead, she stood there with a horrified look on her face, her mouth wide open as if to scream. The largest spider she had ever seen scurried toward the large chair and sat down, its metallic blue body shimmering in the light above Briony’s head, the only light in the room.

“Do not be afraid. I will not harm you,” the spider said and Briony began to relax a little. She was clearly hallucinating, for there was no such thing as a talking arachnid. “You are aware, Earthling, that you are in my custody for the murder of my son, the heir to my throne. However, D’lheera informed me that you were not guilty of this crime. Other intelligence confirms this fact.

This same intelligence informs me that the Gondeks perpetrated this horrible act. I have no issue with the daughter, the one they now call the Spider Hunter. She spared my life in an act of mercy. Her mother is a different matter entirely.  I will release you and allow you to return to your home planet on one condition: you must infiltrate the Gondek kingdom kill their leader. D’lheera will go with you as your guide. Even among her own race of excellent trackers, she is one of the best.” Briony watched the spider as she spoke, understanding that refusing to do the job would not be an option. Was the spider aware that Briony had never killed anyone and had no training for this kind of thing? She glanced at D’lheera who shifted slightly in her seat. She would not have thought anything of it if D’lheera skin had not suddenly gone so pale.

The spider motioned to the guard on her left. The door opened at four guards came in with what, to Briony’s eyes, looked like a human man: tall with dark black skin. As she turned to look back at the spider, she noticed the horrified expression on D’lheera’s face.

“Briony, this is one of the sons of the Gondek leader,” the spider said. “I’ve brought him here so that you know how to recognize the Gondeks.”

Briony turned her attention away from D’lheera’s shocked face and back to study the captive. She looked into a pair of emerald green eyes, a striking contrast against his dark skin. Around his neck was something that appeared to be a gold necklace, but upon further scrutiny, Briony realized the skin surrounding the collarbone was golden.

“The gold around his collarbone identifies him as a member of the royal family. The plebian Gondeks will not have the same mark.” She extended a leg toward D’lheera’s head, causing D’lheera to flinch. Her body relaxed a little when the spider’s leg stroked her head. She turned and stared into her master’s eyes.

“This was not, perhaps, the best decision, D’lheera.” The spider’s calm voice matched the soothing touch she applied to her servant’s head. “You foolishly thought you could hide this from me. If you fail at this task, or if you do not return,” she pointed to the captive in front of her, “then your husband’s life will be my recompense.” She turned to the guards. “Take him away.”

She motioned to the guard at her right. He walked forward and produced a garment, then handed it to D’lheera, allowing her to smell it so she could recognize the scent. This struck Briony as odd, but perhaps the Ka’chera leader found it necessary.

The next morning, in the spacecraft on the way to the Gondek side of the galaxy, Briony looked out the window and stared up at the stars, amazed at their expanse and brilliance. She had often done that on chilly, cloudless nights on Earth. But her enjoyment of the view was short-lived for she remembered the task at hand: murder. Or maybe she would wake up in her own bed and realize this had all been a bad dream.

“Who are the Gondeks?” Her voice trembled.

“My master rules the western half of the Andacassian galaxy. The Gondeks rule the eastern half.”

“Your leader said ‘I have no issue with the daughter.’ What was she talking about?”

D’lheera told Briony the story of Gondek leader and the long-awaited birth of her daughter – an event dating back nearly twenty Earth years – and how this now-adult daughter spared the life of the Ka’chera leader. At least Briony understood why there was a feud between the two races.

“And now we’re supposed to kill your husband’s mother.”

“Yes.”

“But there’s a good chance that we’ll be killed.”

D’lheera said nothing at first. When she finally spoke, her voice was like that of a frightened child. “The Gondeks are highly skilled at combat.”

Great, Briony thought, that means there’s a 99% chance we’ll be killed. They were quiet for several minutes. “Why didn’t you tell anybody you were married to a Gondek?”

“Many reasons.” D’lheera answered shortly. She then turned to Briony. “Master let me see my husband last night. We both agree that you never should have been involved in this feud.”

“Well, that makes three of us,” Briony retorted. “You said ‘many reasons.’ Like what?”

D’lheera looked at her for a long moment. “Well, Gondek subjects may marry whomever they choose. The offspring of the Gondek leader, on the other hand, may only marry another Gondek. That way, the future descendants to the throne will not have the tainted blood of another race.

Also, if my master were to learn that one of her most trusted servants married the son of her enemy…” her voice trailed off.

Briony didn’t see the issue. D’lheera’s master had clearly been aware of the marriage for some time and didn’t seem offended. Except for the whole ‘kill his mother or I’ll kill him’ thing. A punishment for D’lheera?

“But, if you’re married to a Gondek, why aren’t you working for them instead of the spiders?” The giant, talking spiders, she corrected herself.

D’lheera shook her head sadly. “Impossible. I do not have the luxury of leaving.” She saw that Briony looked confused and continued. “In the time of my ancestors, about three or four generations ago, my people were conquered by the Ka’chera. Though it was usually their custom to annihilate their opponents, they recognized our loyalty and our natural skills as hunters. We have been in their servitude ever since.”

D’lheera sat up a little straighter and smiled. “I am different, though. When I was small, my intelligence brought me to the attention of the leader of the Ka’chera. Because I was far more intelligent than the other children of my race, my master sent me for training as a physician.”

“And you’re loyal to your master, no matter what,” Briony observed. Loyal, outside of the fact that she hid the truth of her marriage from the Ka’chera leader. Maybe this was an indication that D’lheera – and maybe even her race – was ready for a new master. If Briony could somehow change D’lheera’s allegiance, then her intelligence and loyalty would work in her favor. She wouldn’t have to kill anyone, she could go home, and D’lheera and her husband could go live somewhere else in peace and freedom.

The question remained, how could Briony make D’lheera loyal to her?

The Sounds of Snoring

Published March 3, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

This week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/02/27/writing-exercise-describe-one-things-ten-ways/

I just finished reading Ozzy Osbourne’s memoir , in which he said that one of his roommates at Betty Ford snored “like a moose with a tracheotomy.” The belly laugh I got out of that inspired me to write my descriptive list about snoring.

  1. like a hibernating bear
  2. A jackhammer in the middle of the road, noisily pounding away into the concrete.
  3. the sounds of an unidentifiable wounded animal
  4. Darth Vader with a sinus infection
  5. the sound of a blender on the ‘frappe’ setting throughout the night
  6. Powerful enough to dislodge window dressings (a sure sign I grew up watching endless amounts of cartoons.)
  7. a lion announcing his presence
  8. an auditory form of Chinese water torture for the non-snorer sleeping next to them.
  9. a prophet of doom heralding another sleepless night for their non-snoring sleepmate
  10. a chainsaw buzzing through the trunk of a giant Sequoia