Friday, October 12, 2018

Granny Candy Part 2

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: pinecone, path, sun, patch, and evolve

They were submitted by:

This is part two to a story I did for my last UYW. I know these are hard to keep up with in multiple segments like this, so I'm probably going to end it here as far as blog challenges go, but I'm not sure I've seen the last of these characters. I kind of love them both. 

here is part 1 if you need a refresher or didn't catch it last time: Granny Candy Part 1


“So when is my funeral, Grimmy?”

The two of them headed back to the Overlook, the hub—whatever it was—each with a Werther’s still tucked in their cheek. Well, whatever he had. She still wasn’t sure what he had going on under that hood. 

I have word it begins in about 5 minutes or so. Your wake was last night. Closed casket as you requested, I believe. We did find that gem of a quote when we did our investigation. ‘I don’t want no [ahem] creepos staring at my dead body.’

“Well, it’s a little morbid. Don’t you think? Beyond weird wanting to look at lifeless bodies. I’ve seen one. It did NOT look like the person it was supposed to be, and I just really don’t know why people want THAT to be their last memory of someone.”

I will not argue that.

“But also, like, how the hell is my funeral in 5 minutes when I’ve been here like 5 hours or something.”

Time is different here. You will become accustomed, but it is much slower than what you experienced in life. It has been nearly a week since your accident there.



“Did you really just say ‘pardon’ while I am in freak out mode over how dead I really am? You are infuriatingly adorable, ya grandma. So, can we, uh, blip on over to my funeral? I bet it’s gonna be lit.”

What is this ‘lit?’

“Poppin’, wild, people crying and shit and saying I was too young. Plus, I want to see how many people I didn’t like show up.”

I am thinking perhaps there will be many people who did not like you.

Lizzy paused a minute staring into the shadows of his hood then stuck out her tongue and crossed her hands over her chest. “You’re getting a little too good at roasting. Fast learner, I see. So, can we go or not?”

Go where?

“To my funeral, ya walnut. Where else? I want to see who shows up. Like, come on, that has to be better than what we were about to have to spend the next gazillion hours doing!”

Perhaps. I do have to admit I am not fond of visiting the Eternal Gardens.


What now, child?

“Who in the ever loving fuck named them Eternal Gardens?”

She could feel his frown. He was aghast, embarrassed. “oh, shit… it was YOU!”

I thought it was quite fancy. Catchy, even.

“Oh, honey, no.” She doubled over laughing in her way, funeral almost forgotten until he cleared his throat loud enough to vibrate her chest.

Go ahead and laugh. Let’s see where this gets you. 

“Grimmy! No! It’s adorable, but, uh, if you take me to my funeral, I’ll help you give the place a name that really works for the new kids coming in, evolve your style. And I’ll help you learn about all the candy.”

There is more than one candy? 

“How has no one ever taught you about candy? Either way, do we have a deal?”

Are there even better candies?

“You bet your ghoulish ass there are.”

Then, yes, we do have a deal. The dead can wait. We do have a queue, after all. It shouldn't be long enough for the line to get too long. 

He snapped his fingers again, and the two of them were standing in the entrance to the cemetery near her old elementary school. The sun shone on the path that lead to the heart of the place. The path itself was dirt, but it was peppered with patches of grass here and there and pinecones from the trees that provided shade and shadows all throughout the property. They could hear voices up ahead—the boom of a preacher especially. Which was odd. That wasn’t at all what she wanted. 

Maybe Grimmy sensed her agitation because he stopped her from moving forward with a hand on her shoulder, are you certain you want to do this? It could be…difficult. 
“Sure as fuck am. I want to see how much my drama queen of a mother made this about herself and not me.”

The two of them followed the path towards the sounds of the voices winding in between trees with headstones both old and new lining the land as far as she could see. “They won’t be able to see us will they?”

Not at all. We are not of this realm. 

It IS rather ‘lit,’ is it not?

She turned to him in shock feeling his sassy pride wave over her. “I’ve created a monster. And I l o v e it.”

The two of them were a few yards off from the actual funeral at this point. The crowd was pretty huge like she figured. People she’d gone to school with that had been awful. People she’d been awful to…aunts, uncles, cousins, and family member she couldn’t remember when she saw last. Her mom was there in this huge black designer dress with a set of huge shoulder pads and an even bigger veiled hat sitting on her head. The thing was gaudy. Like, seriously, someone should have yeeted it straight into a toilet. It would have been doing her mom a favor. The woman was wailing of course, throwing her self on whatever man she’d brought with her, the boyfriend of the week, and sobbing loud enough to make the people next to her cringe. And in the front seats right up near the casket were all her mom's bougie ass friends.

“See, this is her show. This is nothing to do with me.”

Your mother seems rather anguished. 

“For attention. Trust me.”

Lizzy heard a giggle then and shifted her attention to sift out the misplaced sound from the sea of tears and sniffles. When she found its source, she stopped in her tracks, mouth agape, face reddened beyond the shade of a ripe tomato. “You have got to be fucking kidding me. Who does this Post Malone lookin’, body odor havin’, no job holdin’, whole bitch think he is?”

To whom are you referring, child? 

“Do you see that bum ass motherfucker over there with the matted hair wearing that Rastafari shirt?”

The young man with black hat?

“No, the one next to him with the ICP neck tattoo of the little ax guy holding a dildo, the one with the lion on his shirt. That, sorry as it makes me to say, is my ex.”

X? What is an X? Like the letter of the English alphabet? Is it some sort of abbreviation? What is an ICP? 

“No, my dude. That’s E-X as in my ex boyfriend, someone I used to be in a relationship with but can no longer stand the sight of because he doesn’t have all his teeth and still lives with his mom. And no one really knows what ICP is. Don’t worry.”

Was he not a good partner?

“Does cheating on me with my best friend count as good? Or how about the time he stole my rent money out of my purse while I slept and spent it at a strip club with his loser ass friends?”

Cheating, I assume, is a way your era discusses extramarital affairs? If so, he is a terrible human being, and his visit with me will be deliciously terrifying.

The Cheshire cat grin that she felt coming from him absolutely felt every bit as terrifying as he made it sound.

“That’s my cousin he’s flirting with right now. At MY funeral. This waste of oxygen knows I would never want him within 10 miles of my funeral. I had to file a restraining order on him because he kept showing up at my work harassing me with his stunted vocabulary and weed stench.”

How do you know he is attempting to court her?


Bet? But I do not gamble, dear.

“Oh Jesus Murphy Lynn. Let’s move closer and you’ll see.”

Okay, but I feel I must inform you that is not Jesus’ correct formal name.

Her eyeroll was magnificent. “Grimmy, sweaty, that is not the point.”

I do not sweat.
“Oh my god, if I wasn’t dead, I would stroke out right here just trying to have a normal conversation with you. Let’s go over there already.”

They moved the short distance to close the distance between them and the ex ending up directly behind them in the crowd. It didn’t take long for Grimmy to pick up what Jeremy, the ex, was attempting to lay down. He complimented her figure. He talked about his car. He talked about his newfound dj fame. DJ Lickalotapus. He played in a t-rex costume. (And he would). He touched her hair, said he felt sparks the same exact way he did when he talked to Lizzy the first time. AND HE INVITED HER TO HIS SHOW THAT NIGHT AT CLUB SERENITY.

The longer Grimmy listened the more intense she could feel his disgust. Lizzy, I see what you mean. He is, as you would say, a creepo.

“We are going to that show. We are going, we are haunting the fuck out of his set, and we are ruining his chances at putting another woman in my family through the shit I dealt with.”

My services may be needed sooner than that, Lizzy. I cannot leave you here, but I cannot desert my post. I also need your decision.


You need to know I do not think leaving this girl in any way the right decision.

“Wait. Listen. Time goes slower there, yeah? So it’s only been a few moments we were gone?”


“Okay, so let’s snap back, leave a “back in 15 minutes sign”, and blip back over to the club. By the time we get back, any people that need you won’t have had to wait too long, and I’ll help you out with it.”

And we will get more candy after? 


The two of them did their blipping rather rapidly. Lizzy scribbled out the sign and hung it on the door to the hub, and even in those few moments, by the time they snapped through space to the club, it was nearly time for DJ Lickalotapus’ set to begin. And her little cousin was standing right up front grinning and waving at him.

Lizzy was in a rage. Grimmy was determined. That dino didn’t stand a chance.

“How do we do this?”

Do what exactly, my child?

“Haunt his shit! Can we interact with things here? What can I do or not do?”

Our energy is very limited here, but if you have enough emotional output, it is possible to interfere with objects or make others aware of your presence.

“Oh, I think I am topping the gd charts on emotional output. Let me at this sentient premature ejaculation.”

She was, topping the charts on emotional output that is. She pushed her hands into the turntables he was using. Sparks flew alright. But not the kind he was looking for with her cousin. She ripped her arms through his records sending them flying in all directions across the room crashing into walls and making the audience scream. In the haze and smoke from the failed machinery, she was so full of desperate anger that she took form, the smoke clinging to her features. That sad, smelly t-rex saw her. He saw the culprit, a puddle forming on the floor beneath him as he screamed. The lights of the club blinked out from the power surges sending even more people into a panic.

Grimmy stood amidst the chaos, and even though she couldn’t hear it, she felt his laughter, and before long, she was laughing right along with him while people rushed by them for the exits.

So, is this what you mean by ‘popping?’

“Indeed, it is.”

I must admit I have never had so much enjoyment.

“And we haven’t even gotten to the candy, yet.”

I may be starting to like you yet. 


I absolutely cannot imagine you anywhere else


Here are the rest of the submissions:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Friday, October 5, 2018


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 7 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

If you could be any kind of animal what would you be?

It was submitted by:

I took a little freedom with this prompt and wrote a piece of short fiction for it. Hope you enjoy :) It's a bit wholesome which I needed with the current climate.


I woke up that morning and stretched reaching my hands up high while twisting my back to work out some of the stiffness that usually kept me from being able to get out of bed without struggle…but none of that stiffness that had been so familiar for the last several years was there. It was such a part of my life that it almost felt like something was missing, like a phantom limb that was all pain all the time. It felt alien for that pain to be gone in a way that was jarring and gave me pause.

I looked around the room a little, but it was still not light enough to penetrate any of the measures I’d taken to reduce the daylight coming through the windows. The sun was rising judging by the bare sliver of light I could see above my blackout curtains, but it wasn’t full on morning. Not yet. It certainly wasn’t time for me to be up. Not with my nocturnal schedule.

I laid there for a minute more before my bladder screamed at me wondering if I should eat breakfast when I made my way back from the bathroom or come back and cuddle in the covers for some more sleep first. I rolled over to try to turn on the bedside lamp, but I couldn’t get hold of the damned knob to twist it. I tried again and again, but I couldn’t feel my thumb. I couldn’t get a grip on it. And I started to panic more than a little bit to be honest.

A chill hit me, and I shivered. I ran my hands over my arm anticipating a wave of cold, but something was off. Way off. I felt…hairy. Like, you know, ridiculously furry. And my nails felt super sharp even though I’d always kept them trimmed short. What. The. Hell. Was. Happening.

I moved to swing my legs over the edge of the bed and ended up on the floor on all fours, claws dug into the carpet, feeling better, more lithe, capable…predatory even…than I had ever felt before. I had very little time to wonder what was going on before the padding of kitty feet hit my room. They always knew when I was up no matter how quietly I tiptoed to the bathroom or how short a time I was awake.

“Good morning, Mother.”

“Good mor….” Wait. Had I really just heard? Surely, I was losing it, I thought. I mean, I did have 21 cats after all. Most people didn’t think I was all that together anyway. But hearing them? That was new.

I looked across at Mario, the big black and white tuxedo chonker with the kitty stache standing across from me. He sat like a statue, tail perfectly curled around his paws. I reached out to pet him, but my arms wouldn’t reach.

“Mother, please do not panic. We have much to discuss. And, yes, you are really hearing me.”

I fainted. I’ve never done that before, but I woke up with several little faces hovering over me speaking in hushed tones about whether or not it had been a good idea.

“What was or wasn’t a good idea?” I asked.

“To turn you feline, Mother.”

I just sat there looking at them trying to breathe while my vision tunneled, and I felt sure I’d pass out once more. I tried to put my legs between my knees, but I couldn’t get my legs to do the things I needed them to do. I must have looked like a flailing idiot, a fish out of water. “What do you mean? Turned me feline?”

“Mother, you have been so sick the last few years with your-- what you call--cfs, your body failing you. Our boy has been gone on to his new life for awhile now. We thought it might save you to be one of us. Cats do not know this cfs. It can’t ail us like it has done for you.”


“It’s a lot to take in, Mother. We know.”


“Cats are magic. Did you not know?”

“It’s, what, sorcery?”

“Of a sorts. You see we scouted you long ago as a good place for cats to live while we studied humans so we can try, possibly, to take over this world. If there’s anything left to take over now once there are enough of us… Usually, we have to use mind control powers to be able to get someone to house this many cats, but, Mother, you are something different. We thought it was the mind control. We used it, but we noticed the little things you did for us, the toys you made by hand which was never part of any control we had, the songs you made up for each and every one of us, the way you would pet one and never leave anyone out…give us medicine even when we—ahem, Seymour—were not kind about it. Some of the children peed on your things, and we literally raised hell every night. We got into your cheese, woman. We ripped up the house, chewed up wires—it’s a weakness—lost your earrings. And no matter what you still gave us all your love. At some point, we realized it was never the mind control. You kept taking us in because you thought we needed you, and you loved us. Perhaps we did need you. Either way, we want to take care of you now. You’ve done it for us so long. You can be one of us.”

“What about when the boy comes home?”

“We can change you back for that, and anytime we want. Someone has to get us food, of course. Oh and while we’re talking about food. It would behoove us if you go back to Taste of the Wild. Pardon me, but, fuck Purina.”

“So what do we do now?”

“Same thing we do every day, Pinky. Try to take over the world. And lick our bholes and nap.”


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Friday, September 14, 2018

Granny Candy (part 1)

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My words are:

Dialed in ~ licensed ~ tricks-of-the-trade ~ in large measure ~ surveillance ~ phone record

They were submitted by:

So....this was originally inspired by a swap prompt I sent out last month or before (and I checked with that person to make sure she didn't mind me giving it a go! I'd never want to hurt anyone's feelings that way). I just couldn't stop thinking about it, and the words really fit, so here we are. It's probably going to be a multiparter if enough people enjoy it. I feel like it could end rather ok, but I'd like to see where it goes.


Lizzy was dead.

She kinda figured that was the case when the creepy dude in the black robes told her it was time, and they climbed in this weird ass skull boat floating down a bloody river that appeared right beside where she wrecked the car. She had swerved right into an ENTIRE tree trying to miss an oppossum of all things... a fucking marsupial. But now that they were standing in front of a building that looked remarkably like the Overlook Hotel, she was sure of it. She was definitely for real d e c e a s e d this time.

"Is this Hell? Do Jack Nicholson's sentient monster eyebrows chase me down the halls with an ax for all of eternity? Because I have to admit, that's kinda rad, my dude."

She didn't hear the robes' reply so much as understood it. See, total creepfest.

All in due time, Elizabetha.

"Nobody calls me Elizabetha." She squinched up her nose and made a retching sound.

Is that not your name?

"Well, yeah, sure. Technically. But isn't it a little...much?"

She couldn't see his face, but somehow she still knew he was rolling his eyes.

Elizabetha is your name. Why do humans insist on making everything a production?

"Oh? Oh is that how we're playing this? Well, what is your name?"

Charon. Technically as you put it. I have many names in many cultures, but that is my given name.
"Well how about if i call you... 'Death.'"

I prefer Charon.

"The Grim Reaper?"



What?! No.

"So despite having 'many names' you stick to the one you like is what you're saying?"

Very well then....sigh....Lizzy.

She could tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was barely holding off an actual retching sound, and it delighted her down to her newly ethereal toes. Being dead might have its perks.

"Sooooooo...." she rocked back and forth on her feet a little really ramping up her impatient stretching of the o. Such a tiny word for so much sass. "What the fuck are we doing here, Joe Black?"

Why must you lot always compare me to your terrible, cheap cinema?

His look of disgust seemed to move the air around them even while hidden in the shadows of his hood, but she would not back down. No way. "The depth of that eyeroll was deserving of an award, surely. An emmy for best supportive role in a feature film."

This is not a film, child.

"Then why the hell are we at the damned Overlook hotel? Why does this place look like it jumped here straight from a Kubrickian nightmare?"

That would have nothing at all to do with me, dear. You perceive this place as you want to...or need to really.

Now that finally rocked her. Not being dead. Not being escorted by a being older than man who was supposed to be a woman in an on again/off again fling with Deadpool. Her own little quirks could haunt her better than anything. "And this is what my brain has come up with, eh? Well, ain't this telling."


"Smug bastard."

She felt the grin tingle the base of her spine like an ice cold breeze.

"Ok, but where is here?"

It is a depot of sorts. I escort you to the afterlife you chose in life. Christians get their Heaven...or Hell. If one believes in reincarnation, you step through a door and go back to Earth in a new receptacle. If--

"Ewwww. Receptacle? Wtf?"

Body, then. Being. Creature. What do you want, child?

"Anything but receptacle. Creepsville, my guy. No one will ever swipe right on your ass if you talk like that to all the ladies."

Swipe right? What is this swipe right?

"You know, Tinder? Dating app? Booty calls? Friends with bennies?"

My place in existence is not to marry.

"I do not have to be married to sleep around, man."

Are you as certain of that in death as you were in life?

"What's that supposed to mean?!"

No matter. Let's step inside. We have much to discuss this night.

The inside looked remarkably NOT like the inside of Kubrick's Overlook though it did make her think of the darkest recesses of Stephen King's frontal lobes where sharp toothed clowns were born alongside haunted cars, spoiled aliens, and killer dogs. The architecture, stairs, doorways...every chair and desk and couch were all black highlighted by blue lighting that only fueled the shadows instead of disbursing them. It was tacky and weird and everything she ever wanted in a house...when she was a 14 year old Ouija queen holding seances at sleepovers and doing tarot readings at the lunch table. The nostalgic love for it hit her almost as hard as how terrible it all looked. The two emotions intertwined to hit her with a sucker punch that doubled her over in a maniacal laughing fit that would rival even The Shining girls in their pretty blue, bloodied dresses.

This is all you, dearheart. I must admit even I am a little bewildered here, but we must attend to our business. I have a long night ahead.

"What business do you mean?"

It seems we had a little trouble getting dialed in on exactly what your beliefs are.
"I'm agnostic. Was agnostic. How hard could that be?"

Oh, we knew that of course. We sent quite a lot of effort attempting to narrow it down. In large measure even most agnostics have a hope or a holdover belief from family or childhood they want to be true. But you... When I say there was nothing there--not an iota of care--I mean it. We even hired a licensed demon investigator, the best in the business, to conduct some surveillance in your world, check phone records, and all the usual tricks of the trade. My purpose here is to walk someone their spot in the depot, to their version of eternity whatever it may be, and release them--

"Wait. Just wait right there."

Yes, Elizab...Lizzy?

"You mean to tell me everyone was right? All religions are right? All these people fight and hate and ruin each other over religion for...for nothing?!"

That is an extremely limited way of conceiving it.

"So who is right then?!"

No one. And everyone.


It not only is possible, it simply is. If a person lived a good life, they get to live the eternity they worked for. How else would you have it?

"But.... but then they get to think they were right all along and had justification for looking down on others! They never know everyone gets their own deal."



Why does “fair” matter? And who does it matter to? They are dead.

“Because so many of them have been fucking awful? Because a lot of them treat people so terribly and judge lifestyles? Kill for religion? None of that matters.”

You are forgetting that if they have misused their beliefs for hate or violence, there is more than one place they believe they will go. Most religions allow for what you can whittle down to a good place and a bad place. Do you understand? Those people aren’t worried about whether they were right when stuck in a place that punishes their transgressions for all of time.
“I suppose that makes it slightly better then. A smidge. But it still ain’t a great compromise. What about atheists?”

I cannot answer these questions all night. You have a decision to make. But since we needed to visit the Atheist afterlife anyway to help with your choice, shall we start there?

“uhhhhh….I guess?”

He lead her then to a small hallway off from the reception area. Each room had a number like in any hotel. She wondered what this place looked like to others if not this. They stopped in front of 127, and he turned to look at her. Well, she assumed. She still hadn’t seen his face.

We’ll visit several doors tonight. You take a peek in, get a feel for the place, ask a couple of questions if you absolutely feel the need, and make your choice. Most people do not take this much work, so keep in mind this choice can be taken, and I’ll place you where I see fit if you abuse my time.

His eyes lit a fiery, deep orange on the last sentence like he was itching for the opportunity which made her take a step back involuntarily while his laugh surrounded her like a blanket made of spider webs. “I get you and all, but do you have to be so damned creepy?”

He turned, still laughing, opened the door with a little oxblood-colored key card, and the two of them stepped in. It was sort of like they were on a balcony of sorts. She could look down on the city below her, high enough to be above the clamor on the streets but still be able to catch the action. It looked just like home…people scrambling to get here and there, homeless in the alleys, fights outside bars. She could sense everything as it was happening—joy, hopelessness, anger, pain, confusion. “Is this their bad place?”

Atheists do not believe in a dichotomy of afterlife. There is only one place, here. They are given the option to blink out of existence as they believed they would in life, but given the option, most end up here. It is much like where humans spend their lives—a place of madness if you ask me. But no one here is sick or dying. They just live their lives like workers in a child’s antfarm doing their work and turning over green paper for things they think make them feel better. As I said, it’s essentially the world you left with a few caveats.”

“So…I’d have to spend eternity working? With the same kinds of people I lived with? Like, there are libertarians here?”


“No fucking thank you. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS?! Next.”

Very well.

The two of them climbed a set of winding stairs up to the second floor where they stopped of 237.

This, my child, is Hell. Unless you particularly want to have the option, we can skip this one and go down the hall to what they call Heaven. You don’t really qualify for this door, but I am obligated to give you the full tour of options per my supervisor.

“You know…if it had been any other door besides this one, I might be game, but considering there are zombie tiddies behind this one in the movie, I think I am just fine with skipping it. Also, who is your supervisor?”

My supervisor is none of your concern.

They turned and walked a few doors down. Light poured into the hallway from underneath the door like it was just too powerful to be contained. A faint music could be heard….musak seemingly. The internal cringe she felt ended up sending a shiver down her spine. “Uh… can I ask something out here?”

I suppose.

"So maybe you know this, but my uncle Wayne was a pastor of some kind of Christian sect. I don’t know the details, but he was always preaching about eternal damnation, his incontinent cat, and how gay people are selfish. I’m not sure which one or what the deal was, but before I decide about this door I need to know if he’s in there because if he is, well, I can pass this one up right now.

Pastor Wayne... ah, yes. I completely understand. Pastor Wayne was a special case as well. Wayne has his own afterlife. In life, he believed he was the only person living a good enough life to get into Heaven. All ego, that one. So, no one and nothing else is there which, since you know him well, you also understand is really his own version of Hell. He has no one to talk to about himself or feel superior to. It worked out well for everyone that way. I should say, however, there are people similar to your uncle behind this door. But they’re also surrounded by gay Christians and rainbows, so it’s made a bit of an impact on things. In this instance, since you seem to care so much about who was right and wrong, those individuals have had to eat a lot of crow as you humans might say.

“You can tell you meet mostly old people if you think a lot of humans use that phrase.”

They have egg on their face, then.

“Still no.”

Have had to eat their words?

“oh just give up.”

Fine. Do you want to go in or not?”

“No thanks. I don’t think this is for me either. What’s next?”

Jannah. The Muslim version of eternal paradise.

“I mean, I AM curious, but in the interest of saving your grumpy ass some time, I can go ahead and pass. These Daddy type religions are not really my thing.”

So, no to anything associated specifically with Catholics who have their own space separate from other Christians, Jehovahs, Mormons, and the Jewish rooms then?


So, no gods or many gods are acceptable?

“Oh wait what about Scientology? Is that, like, one or many?”

You…you’re actually interested in the Scientology room?

The confusion emanated from him like a dark cloud which made her double over laughing again.

“I really feel like I didn’t get enough shots at them in life, you know? Like I’d love to peek for some meme-worthy jokes.”

I wish you would speak your language correctly. What is this meme?

“Grimmy! You mean to tell me no one has come here and talked about memes? What the fuuuuuuck? Memes are life. How could someone come here and not talk about memes?”

It’s obvious you chose to say “meme” as many times as possible in order to pull one over on me.

“Pull one over on you? You sound like someone’s great grandma. Do you have some Werther’s Originals in your purse, Granny Grim?”

What are these Werther’s Originals?

“Wait. Wait… You’ve never… I was just kidding around and giving you a hard time. Trolling or whatever for shits and giggles. But…do you have money? Like, can we pop on over to the Atheist door and hit up a drugstore? Do they have real food there?”

I suppose so if you feel it is absolutely necessary to your journey, we can.

“Let’s do this!”’

Charon snapped his fingers, and the two found themselves outside what appeared to be a regular ass CVS. Lizzie stared up at him dumbfounded, a look of utter confusion on her face. “Uh…if you can just snap your fingers and take us anywhere we want to go, what’s with the fucked up hotel and the doors and the walking?”

Perhaps I, too, have a flair for the dramatic.

“I’d say that’s an understatement. Now, come on.” She grabbed him by the robe sleeve and pulled him down the aisles until she found the candy. She grabbed the Originals, some chewy Werther’s, and the green apple ones since it was almost Halloween, and she hadn’t had those all year long, omg. Charon paid at the register like he was anyone else. No one bat an eye of weirdness at the creeptastic hooded demon dude, but whatever. Stranger things happened to her back at home. She accidentally walked into a furry convention once while she was high thinking it was some kind of Comic Con event. When they stepped back outside, she pointed to a bench under a huge oak tree in the park across the street, and the two of them made a beeline for it with their bagful of old lady candy.

She sat right next to him instead of moving to the other end of the bench when he sat down prissily on one end. The displeasure he sent her way made her grin. She was having a little too much fun giving him shit, but the Werther’s were definitely going to make up for it. She handed him one, took one herself, and sat back waiting for his reaction while she unwrapped and popped it in her mouth. As soon as it hit, she was flooded with nostalgia which was immediately drowned out by joy so intense she thought she might explode in a cloud of glitter and unicorn farts.

“S’good, eh?”

Mmmmm. Yes. I do agree.

“So, Grimmy…like, don’t you need an assistant or something? Is that a thing?”

It has never been requested. I would have to make a formal request to the supervisor. If I can put up with you, that is. We still have to finish your tour. It is the way things are done here.

“Let’s eat a few more of these first, then.”

Finally…something on which we agree, Lizzy.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, September 7, 2018

Pry My Candy Corn From My Cold Dead Hands

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My Secret Subject” is:

What’s something that “everyone” seems to be obsessed with and you just don’t get it?

It was submitted by:

This kind of had perfect timing. I've been talking about this with people for a few weeks now.


Like anyone else, I have a lot of things I just haven’t been able to get into while people I know sing their praises. TV shows, foods, drinks, movies, brands, activities… The list is pretty long. I couldn’t get into Breaking Bad. I don’t like The Walking Dead. I didn’t even bother with Game of Thrones. I hate root beer. Don’t even get me started on black licorice. Baked beans are the devil. The Notebook was trash. I can’t stand South Park or Family Guy. I have never ever wanted a Coach bag or a Louis Vuitton. I don’t shop at Sephora, and I’ve never seen Frozen even though I love Kristen Bell. I don’t have any plans on ever watching it either.

Can we just take a moment to think about my sick ass trying crossfit? Or watching…*shivers*…football?

Is it even possible to picture me wearing anything that isn’t black or that doesn’t make you want to hold an exorcism?

But those are just me. Those are my opinions and tastes. I don’t think not liking any of these things makes me special or makes anyone else objectively wrong except maybe the black licorice. Sadly, though, that’s exactly the thing that everyone else is seemingly into that I just don’t get—shitting on things other people love for likes and attention instead of just letting people enjoy the things they love.

Youtube is rife with videos titled “how to eat [insert food]” or “how to drink [insert beverage]” and thousands show up on facebook every year of regular ass people throwing away perfectly good food in order to show how detestable something is supposed to be. Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, milk, candy corn, a whole ass plate of Chinese food, and pineapple on pizza are all examples of the subjects of these videos. Adults ordering food or buying whole 2 liters just to film themselves throwing it away in the name of controversy on social media just kinda blows my mind. At no time is that more apparent than Pumpkin Spice season. Hordes of memes making fun of pumpkin spice crowd the spaces of our social media timelines making fun of anyone who dares like a traditional spice selection dating back hundreds of years used for all sorts of baked goods. How dare we, eh? It’s not enough for these people to *not* care for it themselves; they absolutely have to label and tear down every person who does. “Basic,” ridiculous, obsessed… a whole stereotype of woman has been built upon liking a fucking mix of spice.


We live in a world plagued by huge issues. Times are pretty scary especially for women, minorities, and LGBTQIA folks. We aren’t sure of the future. You might even say we’re living in a somewhat dystopian nightmare that we thought we would only ever read about in novels as a cautionary tale. Instead of tearing down folks for finding some small joy in life that absolutely hurts no one else (unless you want to debate the tenants of capitalism), here’s a novel idea.


I can’t watch Game of Thrones for the assault scenes but I don’t trash on the many friends I have that watch it.

I don’t like pineapple on pizza, but I live with someone who does.

I would rather stab my own eyes out than watch a single episode of Family Guy, but I know dozens of people who get a laugh out of it.

Try it with me. Let people have their loves, their fandoms, their tastes, their passions…

Let men wear their hair in a bun without being yet another person to question manhood as if masculinity has anything to do with a hairstyle.

Let people eat their candy corn which must not be that fucking bad since it has existed literally for decades doing just as well as ever.

Don’t debate tea over coffee. Let people drink whatever they want.

Drink Dr. Pepper or milk or Mountain Dew or KoolAid or even Fanta if you choose and let other people choose too.

If a person wants to eat/drink/lather in/bathe with/spray themselves with/gargle with what we call “pumpkin spice” why not try letting them without cutting them down into some narrow stereotype?

Be a Converse person or Vans or even Uggs AND LET PEOPLE WEAR WHAT THEY WANT.

Repeat this after me: no one’s choice of clothing or food or drink hurts you or takes away your choices. And not liking things that other people like makes you no different than everyone else who doesn’t like it.

At best, when you gang up together and talk shit about things other people enjoy, styles they have, and activities they enjoy, you look like a bully, and your children are watching.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Never Ever Give Up Hope


Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, August 17, 2018

Visual Literature

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

school ~ books ~ difficulty ~ letter ~ budget

They were submitted by:


This is my 5th year homeschooling. I think. Time has lost all meaning in the brain fogged existence I lead planning lessons and grading papers and begging, pleading for this child to pull more adjectives out of his ass than "good" or "interesting" when writing an essay and to actually learn to write in such a way that I no longer need a decoder ring to decipher almost every letter in the answers to the questions he's assigned.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe the difficulty of teaching a child, at least MY child, at home. It is a drain of patience and my precious little energy considering what is already drained with me/cfs, and I have realized all too keenly that my child was perfectly constructed so as to be able to tune out almost every single thing I say. He thinks "skimming" counts as reading. He skips rules and takes shortcuts and refuses to ask for help even when he desperately needs it. He loses every. single. pencil. I buy him which I blame all on his father's half of his genes (only half-jokingly).

It's a lot of responsibility. I have to know what the average kid in his grade level should be learning, what the state standards are, and the laws involving homeschooling. I have to make it fun but informative, challenging but ability-appropriate, varied enough to hold his interest but not so varied we lose the sense of routine that helps him stay focused despite being unmedicated with ADHD. I have to prepare this kid who is terrible at written tests (but gets the answers 100% right every time if we do it orally 😑) for a standardized test every 3 years to make sure we're on track with our learning. It's work, hard work. We don't always get along during the school day. My expectations and his motivation are hardly ever at the same level. We end a lot of days stressed the fuck out and in need of a breather.


I don't think either of us would have it any other way. He has not yet answered affirmatively each year when I ask him how he wants to handle things regarding going back to public school, and even though he drives me crazy so much of the time...I like the control I have over what he learns, and I can make sure his education is tailored to him personally. We choose classes together. I choose the books which means I don't go with the ones tailored just for Georgia students used by the school system here that whitewashes much of history and skips a lot of evolution. It's my budget not a school budget dependent upon the overall test results of the students. If we need extra books, we get them. We handle our own supplies and skip a lot of germs. We work on our own schedule meaning we stay up late and sleep in most of the time. If we need a day off, we take one and make it up elsewhere. When he has a grip on a lesson, we move on, and when he doesn't, we repeat it. It's less stress for him than going to an actual school, and he still gets plenty of socialization. And we're obviously doing something right since he tested more than 2 grades above his level this past year in reading comprehension, language skills, and math.

So difficult...but also worth it.

Right now we're doing pre-algebra, biology, grammar, ancient world history, and computer fundamentals. But I also added film studies in place of literature this year, and so far it has been amazingly fun and has gotten us sharing movies and talking about them more in depth every school night. I happen to think visual stories can be as important as written ones, and the work that goes into them can be fascinating. Understanding lighting, color, continuity, transitions, camera angles, and the like can tell you more about the stories you're watching. We've watched Citizen Kane, Jaws (compared to Wet Hot American Summer), What We Do in the Shadows, Almost Famous and This Is Spinal Tap. We watched parts os Sin City and clips from Clerks. Pan's Labyrinth, SLC Punk, Taxi Driver, Snatch, and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World... and we're only 3 weeks into the year. 

I share with him insights as we watch pointing out the elements he has read about in his film studies class. I taught him why the color palette of Jaws is so calm and neutral or why Sin City is in mostly black and white. He learned what film noir is. He knows now why some characters are bathed in light and some in shadow in certain scenes. We talk about why a shot is wide or why it's a close up, what the intent is for the viewer and what the director is trying to say without saying it with dialogue. We looked at Guy Ritchie's signature montages and how he uses transitions and narration so successfully and so uniquely that you can watch a movie and just know when he's the director. And we have so much left to cover--genres, directorial style, plot, chopped narratives and straightforward ones, what defines a "cult classic," scores that change the entire movie, movies that are a product of the culture in which they were created and more.

Now that we've started, he can't stop. Even when he watches movies for fun, he notices the things we've gone over. Finally my child can actually listen to me talk about something and appreciate the knowledge I'm giving (knowledge I had to teach myself)! It only took how many years?! Either way, I'll take this win and put it in my motivation bank for the next time I look at his worse-than-doctor-scribble handwriting that might say plates ate the sordid phantom or might say hydrogen is good.

***Before I go, I do want to add that he listens to me about other things because I like to talk shit about historical characters. it's fun and more relateable for me to call Christopher Columbus an incapable, lying mf than what he can read in a book. it's like he has Samuel L. Jackson for a history teacher.

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, August 10, 2018

Where's the Justice?

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 9 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

“How could this happen..?”

It was submitted by:

I recently picked up a new person (in prison) to write. His case astonished me to be perfectly honest which has not happened too often in my 11 years of doing this, and when I got this prompt, it felt a lot like I was meant to write about it. A few informative links will follow


How could this happen? is something I asked myself over and over again when I read about Ivan Bechtol and why he's in prison for life. At 38, he's been in almost as long as he was ever free, and there's only a slight illumination at the end of his tunnel that might be a sunlit meadow of freedom or might be the tunnel on fucking fire trapping him inside for eternity. The way his life is going I imagine he feels more inclined to believe the latter.

When Ivan was 19, he was using cocaine on top of the usual substances a lot of people that age enjoy. He was actually with a local coke dealer in the wee hours of September 3rd, 2001. Those hours he spent with this dealer would be his unending in a wild tale that reads more like a poorly written whodunit than an actual, believable criminal investigation.

In those early hours on September 3rd, the dealer, William Cron (with a history of sex crimes and drug dealing), stopped the vehicle that he and Ivan were in at the house where Cron's ex-girlfriend was staying with another male companion. Apparently, Jamie Moran, the ex and victim in this case, had gotten some coke from Cron earlier. He fronted it on the promise she would pay him later with the money she got from selling some on her own. After a night of  doing drugs and drinking himself, he became paranoid she wouldn't pay because he owed *her* money and decided to track her down. Ivan had gotten a ride with him when Cron decided to stop by where he figured Moran would be staying.

Cron got lucky with his guess. It just wasn't very lucky for anyone else involved.

Cron cut the phone lines to the house and broke in leaving Ivan in his vehicle. The owner of the house, Ira Henke, heard a dog bark around 6:30 a.m. He went to check and found Cron inside the house, and the two got into a fight. Ivan heard the commotion, ran in, and broke up the fight. Ivan and Cron ran out.

The next morning, Ivan was arrested on a home invasion charge over this incident. He spent most of the rest of the day in a jail cell. Cron, however, managed to slip the police and spent most of his day terrorizing Jamie Moran. He found her new cell phone number and called repeatedly to threaten her at her job. The police were called but didn't find him nearby and left with matters unsolved. Jamie had a friend follow her part of the way home to make sure she wasn't being followed. The intersection where they parted ways was the last time Jamie was ever seen alive.

Not long after leaving her, the friend made a call to check on her and heard screaming. Her body was found in her car in a lake the next morning at 7 a.m.

It has never been disputed that Cron killed her. In his trial, it was indicated that he hid in her trunk wearing a disguise and forced her to pull over. He was physically 100% responsible for her death. No one else was there. He even forced her to write letters clearing him of crimes he committed against her and left them on her body...

That should be where the story ends for Ivan--with maybe a little time served for a home invasion he wasn't really responsible for and a wake up call about the friends he chose to hang around. Instead, he might very well spend the rest of his life in prison. Shortly after Jamie Moran's murder, he was picked up and charged with helping to plot it and hasn't been home since.

At Cron's trial, Ivan's involvement was never an aspect on either side of the case. In fact, Ivan was hardly mentioned at all and certainly was not discussed as playing any part the planning of or execution of the murder. At no time did conspiring with another person even get discussed at that murder trial. Cron was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with there being no doubt about his sole involvement in the murder. It was called a crime of passion.

Ivan's trial involved a completely different timeline, motive, and story. Instead of the straightforward timeline involved in Cron's trial, he was accused of somehow, even with spending most of the day until well into the afternoon in a jail cell, conspiring with Cron to kill Moran to keep her from going to the police about his use of drugs even though she had been using drugs herself. The only real evidence against him beyond his presence when Cron broke into Menke's house to find Moran was the testimony of a jailhouse informant who said Ivan told him he had been involved in a murder. This confession supposedly took place in jail after he was picked up on a DUI charge and because of that alleged confession, he never left. He's spent all of his adult life behind bars. 

That "witness" later recanted.

Let me pause here for a moment. Jailhouse informants are hardly what you might call a reliable witness. It has been proven time and again that many of these informants offer information in exchange for favors, reduced time, dropped charges or even payment or are pressured by attorneys or other authority figures to testify--even to lie. In multiple states, DAs have been proven to have rings of multiple informants. If the DA needs testimony to clinch a case, they simply place one of these informants in the same prison as the defendant, and suddenly there is a confession to help out, help win a conviction. At times, the informants themselves are completely fabricated in order to get warrants or help win a case in court. And while many of these cases are eventually thrown out because it is all lies and bullshit used to pad numbers and win elections, many more remain undetected.

That is very likely true of the informant in Ivan's case. When recanting later, this witness voluntarily offered an affidavit that stated he was coerced and pressured into making that statement by the prosecuting attorney. Ivan never told him anything at all about any murder which has been Ivan's consistent story for nearly two decades. Keep in mind that same prosecutor has already had one case overturned where it was determined he coerced a false confession.

At this point, pretty much all of Ivan's appeals have been exhausted. A recanted testimony alone does very little to sway the appellate court. At the appeals stage, a defendant is looking to prove the trial was unfair. Attacking the evidence used at the trial after the fact only works in the event forensic analysis obsolves the defendant of guilt or that new evidence (like the affidavit recanting the jailhouse confession) is enough to have changed the jury's mind. In this case, there's just not enough to attack, and the trial itself, even if utterly ridiculous, was conducted "fairly" under most interpretations of the law (in a fairly conservative state and certainly a diehard conservative area of the state).

At best, Ivan may be eligible for parole in 2029 when he is nearly 50--too old to start over and have children or live any semblance of a normal life. In letters, he apologizes frequently for being so withdrawn. He's forgotten how to connect to people well. Another 11 years inside isn't going to help him come home and be just fine not to mention he may not even be granted parole in the first place (though I hope to be as much of a help as possible in him getting it). He was effectively given a life sentence for a murder the court knows he had no physical involvement in, committed by, at best, a casual acquaintance at a time in his life when, as the entire field of psychology has proven, his brain was not yet fully developed. His decision making and impulse control at the very least were underdeveloped. Not to mention the way cocaine and alcohol use at such a young age added to that aspect of immaturity. The only thing he's guilty of is the same faulty decision making so many of us have at that age, and he surely doesn't deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison for it.

He did not kill anyone. That fact has never been disputed. He made some shitty choices about drugs and who he hung around, sure. But he wasn't even out of jail long enough to plan a murder that day. He wasn't involved, and there is absolutely no real proof he ever was. The prosecutor wanted another conviction and did whatever it took to get one.

In Ivan's trial, Ira Henke had the nerve to say Ivan is pretty much as guilty as Cron for having broken up the fight, that Henke could have held Cron until the police arrived, and Cron would have been in custody instead of free to murder Jamie Moran. The jury bought into that as much as anything else.

This is where our criminal justice system is at--sending people to prison for life often at a profit to multiple billion dollar industries based on no evidence, psychic predictions like Henke's, and the whims of overzealous prosecutors. Ivan isn't even the first for this particular prosecutor. How many more has he done this to? How often does this happen across the country? How have we gotten this far off the course of actual justice?

How could this happen and so many people not know?

How do we fix it?


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, July 13, 2018

McKenna Speaks (Part 2)

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m using: reconcile, abracadabra, book, learn, celebrate

They were submitted by:

This is a continuation of part 1 of McKenna Speaks which you can find here. I really enjoy a tiny subgenre of stories online that are essentially wholesome demon stories. I'm not sure if the intent with this was ever to symbolize that the very kind of people we demonize are not necessarily what we make them out to be through our beliefs or religion, but that is why they mean so much to me. People like me are often demonized for being queer and looked down on, and so many of us are the kindest people you will ever meet, and it is certainly not just my community who deals with this. The prompt I got for Secret Subject Swap last week kind of fit perfectly for that meaning and this genre, so I excitedly dived into telling my own story about a heartwarming demon. It kind of took on a life of its own, though. The more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it, and in doing so, the entire thing ended up being far longer than I would have guessed going in. I won't apologize for that because I absolutely feel like I created something beautiful here, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The words I received for Use Your Words this week could not have fit better with what I was already writing so here we are. I didn't even have to make it fit. I love when things work out so perfectly like this. Also, thanks to Ash from the blog More Than Cheese And Beer for essentially being my editor on this piece and for always making me laugh.

Content warning for ableism and abuse

To summarize part 1 for you in the briefest way possible: McKenna is a young child who is nonverbal and autistic. Her mom hears her talking one day and finds her with a demon who she banishes out of fear. We see the dad come in later and it is obvious he is not at all accepting of McKenna. We left off when McKenna's mom discovers how her child accidentally summoned a demon because she accidentally does it herself. The father is just about to walk in on that scene.


Chet burst through McKenna's bedroom door and stopped dead in his tracks stammering and stuttering and unable to form an actual question about what was going on.

"Wha--, wh-wh-who, w-w-w-what?"

Tiffani looked back and forth between the demon and her husband trying to figure out what to say and to who or if maybe she should just make a run for it and let them settle things when she noticed McKenna running into the room smiling ear to ear making a beeline for her "fren."

She squealed a little as he reached down and scooped her up in his arms not a claw catching on her skin as if he could retract them like a cat. "FURFUR! YOU BACK TO TELL ME YOUR STORIES?" she yelled so full of excitement she couldn't possibly turn her volume down.

His gravelly voice made Tiffani's insides squirm when he replied, "Yes, tiny girl. But, your mother summoned me, so I shall answer her question before you get your stories."

"Aw, man! I don't want to waaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!"

"Tiny, I will tell you an extra one if you let me conduct my business with your mother. Do we have a deal?"


Mckenna wiggled down out of his arms and ran about the room getting some of her dolls and plushies lined up on the side of her little white four poster bed against the wall for "story time" while Tiffani marveled at the conversation that just took place. Her baby. Her nonverbal tiny baby had things to say. Real things. She had interacted with someone with both words and emotions. It was everything she had prayed for... Tiffani was lost in the wonder of those moments when she felt a sharp pain across the top of her back and fell to the floor.


She felt Chet's hands in her hair pulling her to her feet. The demon pulled McKenna to him shielding her from view as Tiffani stumbled and felt some of her hair rip out into Chet's fist. She pulled herself to her feet again and twisted to face him. "Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me."

He pulled her face toward him and sneered. "Not a chance. Not until you tell me just what the hell is going on in my house."

"You know what, Chet, if I knew myself I would surely let you know just so I wouldn't have to see your ugly ass for the rest of the night, but I don't, so here we are. If you want answers, you're going to have to get your greasy womanizing hands the hell off me so I can get them, you goon."

The shock registered on his face. She had never dared talk to him that way, but it didn't last long before it was replaced with more rage. He backhanded her across the face making her lose her balance. She crumpled on the floor, shocked herself. He might have been terrible since McKenna was born. He may have thrown things in anger and had to fix holes he punched in the wall. He may have worn her down until she was afraid to say no, but he had *never* actually physically hurt her. Not like this.

From her spot on the floor, she could still see the action. Furfur was standing his full height and had McKenna in one arm wrapped in a wing to stop her seeing what was going on, but it didn't muffle her cries. She sounded terrified begging Furfur not to let her daddy hurt her.

Chet was headed in their direction screaming about delivering his child from evil and getting her to the church. Before he could get there, though, Furfur conjured (the best word, she guessed) a ball of light or maybe it was fire. Whatever it was did not at all look like it was good news.

"I do not recommend you attempt to take this child out of my arms. You will not live long enough to hurt her if you do."

Chet stopped mid-stride and watched as the ball grew hotter and redder. She could feel the heat of the thing from her spot on the floor across the room. He stood there 2 feet from it, skin turning pink, mouth open, and eyes wide. Furfur smiled creepily and bellowed out a laugh as the ball disappeared. When his laughter finally died down, he didn't utter another word; he simply pointed at the door. And out Chet went. But, he did turn back looking down at Tiffani and warned, "this is not over. You WILL be answering for what you've done as soon as I make sure I run off this thing you've given our child to." The door slammed, and she just stared, tears streaming down her stinging face.

She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Furfur apparently felt sorry enough for her to offer to help her up. She took his hand...and felt, well, nothing. Nothing strange. She thought she would certainly feel the evil coming off him. She knew the stories. The church talked about demons so much. In fact, in bigger places the priests were taking exorcism classes. How could he feel so normal?

He knelt down and let her see that McKenna had cried herself to sleep. She looked so comfortable there on his shoulder, at home. Or surely at peace at the very least. Tiffani looked from her to him and back again wondering just what the hell was going on.

"Sit down, mother of Tiny. You still get your 1 question."

She sat at the Hello Kitty table watching as he tucked McKenna in. He knew all the rituals--which plushie slept on which side, to take the larger pillow and put it on the open side of the bed, and turn on the little unicorn nightlight plugged in beside the night table. He even pulled the quilt up just right (which meant past her armpits but not quite up to her neck or she would throw down). He absolutely knew her child, knew her quirks, and Tiffani had no idea how to feel about it.

He crossed the distance from the bed to the table and sat across from her. She hadn't really noticed his smell until he got close--burnt musk (which was not pleasant). He folded himself miraculously into a small enough shape to relax at the table and watched her intensely.

Tiffani thought a lot about what she wanted to ask. "Confused" didn't even begin to cover how she felt. This whatever-he-was had acted in ways that contradicted everything she knew. She wanted to ask about God, about life, about how he came to befriend her daughter, if he stole McKenna's soul to help her talk... But, there was one question she kept coming back to that shown solidly and brightly above the others.

"Do you love her?"

"That is what you want to know of all the knowledge in the universe?"

"No. No, of course not. But...I mean, I think right now for me in this moment it is the most important."

"In that case, the answer you seek is 'yes.'"

"But how?"

He laughed knowingly making Tiffani sigh in exasperation. "You get but one question. Does the 'how' change anything?"

She connected with his eyes for the first real time since all this began, searching. "It could change everything I know, to be honest, but, no, my questions about my faith are not as important as knowing my daughter is loved and safe. But let me tell you, I want her soul safe, too. I want her to be loved for who she is not some version of herself you created with...with a magical 'abracadabra' or whatever it is you do. She deserves that, you know--genuine happiness, to be loved unconditionally by the people who look after her, to be celebrated..." She faltered on that last word. The sobs that had been building thundered out of her body, loud wails of absolute mental fatigue and anguish. The demon never moved, never looked away in embarrassment, never violated her boundaries. He did, however, take a handkerchief out of his pants pocket and pass it over wordlessly and waited her out almost as if refusing to make her cry alone. That can't be right, she thought as she pulled herself together. These are supposed to be the most evil, selfish, violent creatures to exist.

"I am not required to explain this to you. You had your one question. I do, however, want you to know, I cannot lie in answer to a summoning question. She is loved without conditions as you say. I have not harmed Tiny in any way. She speaks because she wants to, when she wants to, no other time. I do not want to see you suffer this as it would cause Tiny great distress, so understand I will be at her call as long as she would like me to. I have no words of explanation for it. I believe when she called accidentally her first time, she needed someone to hear her, and I took the time to learn how to listen."

Tiffani nodded through more tears and tried to get up from the table. Her hip had taken most of her fall earlier, and she was beginning to feel it. The demon was at her side in an instant, though, and helped her to her feet then over to McKenna's bed. He stepped back intuitively giving them some space as she leaned over to kiss her little angel on the tip of her nose.

Quietly the gravelly not-quite-human voice from behind her said, "I shall stay the night to see Tiny is safe from that man you call her father. It is my belief you should stay as well."

So she did. Hesitantly. She was torn between the stories she had heard in church, what the word "demon" was supposed to mean, and what this actual demon in front of her was like. But he made her At the very least she wholeheartedly believed he would not let Chet hurt "Tiny" as he affectionately called her daughter. As soon as she climbed in bed and snuggled against the child with these thoughts whirling in her head, she was out.

Gray light was filtering through the windows when Tiffani was shaken awake. She sat up in a panic startling the demon who already had McKenna cradled like a newborn in one arm.

"Something is wrong. The man left and has returned with someone else. The air feels off. Get ready. He is coming soon."

"Wait. Is your name really Furfur?"

"You ask this now?"

She frowned at his amusement. "It just seems like something I should know, ok?"

He nodded affirmation, "Essentially, yes."

Whatever that means, she thought, as she heard Chet's footsteps hit the stairs. She had no idea what to expect.

He slammed through the door without knocking and swaggered inside exaggerating his steps, hat cocked, looking like he was on the set of an Axe body spray commercial. Behind him, Father Wayne from their church looked on the scene with a horrified expression and signed the cross over himself.

Father Wayne had welcomed them with open arms from the very first time they had attended services. His sermons often ran over time. It wasn't unusual for the first Sunday Service to cut into the second Sunday Service, eventually becoming a single, three hour service of monotonous scripture reading with the occasional self-deprecating jokes about being a bald, overweight, middle-aged man. He was prone to heavily preaching on the submission of wives to their husband, conveniently forgetting the rest of the verse regarding a husband's responsibility to his wife. He insisted on pre-marital counseling sessions for newly engaged couples where he gave the ladies 1950's era advice on how to be a good wife, advice which he persistently extended, unsolicited of course, to Tiffani which she attributed to Chet's not very discreet indiscretions. His sermons were peppered with intolerance disguised as God's Word, and while not everyone in the congregation agreed they often wrote it off as a result of him being a "devout Catholic from another time." But, he had welcomed them unconditionally, and something about the unvarying tone of his sermons often lulled McKenna into a nap. Chet always eyed their child sleeping on the pew between them with irritation, but Tiffani was grateful for the opportunity to worship in the Church with other believers and regarded Father Wayne as a slightly misguided but gentle Man of God.

"When Chet told me you were consorting with demons, I just couldn't believe it, my child. But here you are right in front of my eyes in the presence of true evil and allowing your daughter to be ruined by it."

"But I'm not 'consorting' with anything, Father. McKen---"

Chet interrupted as he always did. "We can see quite clearly with our own two goddamn eyes, you bitch." He glanced behind him at the priest sheepishly. "Sorry, Father."

Father Wayne stepped forward and crossed himself again while Furfur hissed and covered his face with his wings. "BEGONE FOUL BEAST IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT." And just as before, the demon disappeared like he was never there leaving McKenna with no support. She hit the ground hard, head bouncing off the hardwood floor, and immediately began screaming.

"Get the child and hold her down, Chet!" the old priest said, elevating his volume above McKenna's wails. Tiffani looked in horror as Chet dragged the child towards the priest and put his knees over her shoulders while Father Wayne opened a book, a Bible maybe?, laid it on the floor beside him, and knelt down to hold her feet. McKenna screamed even more and bucked wildly on the floor obviously in pain and terrified.


Chet turned and glared at her. "This is OUR daughter or did you forget when you laid down with the Devil, Tiffani? And I'm undoing your evil. I'm taking back OUR daughter. Watch and learn how to be an actual parent. Tough love is a fact of life, baby. Suck it up."

"Tiffani, as your Priest, it is my duty to help your family and your child in any way that I can. Chet has asked me for my aid. We have agreed exorcisms must be performed. I called Bishop Bachman a few hours ago for permission upon which he agreed after Chet laid out the facts of your, uh, sexual relationship with this infernal invader leaving you and your child open to possession--if I could verify for myself that this was the case. As I live and breathe I cannot fathom why you would turn to dark powers to fix a child when our Lord was doing his work. How dare you question his timing? You know, I have an incontinent cat at home. You should try living with that! But I get on my knees and pray daily for assistance from our Lord in helping me care for Humphrey rather than doing sodomy with the Devil's brood. Count yourself lucky we no longer burn people like you at the stake. Now run along and get your chores done before it's your turn."

Satisfied, they both turned back to McKenna while Tiffani sat dumbfounded and more confused than ever. Incontinent cats? Sodomy with the devil? She had not a clue what was going on here as Father Wayne began a prayer.

"May Thy mercy, Lord, descend upon us. As great as our hope in Thee.

We drive you from us,
whoever you may be,
unclean spirits,
all satanic powers,
all infernal invaders,
all wicked legions,
assemblies and sects."

McKenna screeched and growled--nothing new--and clawed at Chet's legs trying to get up. She punched herself in the face and scratched anything she could dig her claws into. It was quite a show, but it was nothing out of the ordinary when she was overwhelmed by the unexpected, afraid, or just overstimulated. McKenna absolutely would not stop trying to hurt herself and anyone around her until she was worn out completely and who knew how much damage would be caused by then.

"In the Name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ, may you be snatched away and driven from the Church of God and from the souls made to the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb."

Mckenna growled again. "It's working, Father. It's working," Chet said almost giddily, but when McKenna managed to get one of her feet loose and kick the old, bald priest in the face, his expression darkened again. Chet reared back and slapped the child across the face splitting her lip and quieting her screams and movements for the moment, maybe knocking her unconscious. "I told you not to spare the rod, babe. She throws these tantrums because she is spoiled as shit, and it's your fault."

Father Wayne had gotten her feet restrained once more and glanced at her bloody lip with slight concern before continuing on, but Tiffani had seen enough. She ran for McKenna's drawings still on floor near the table where she dropped them what seemed like a lifetime ago already. The priest recited his prayers while she frantically searched for the page with Furfur's summoning symbol. She pictured him in her mind holding McKenna so sweetly as shaky fingers traced the design. The paper grew hot, but she held on this time pushing her will and thoughts into the rising shape. Fix this, stop them, make this stop, help Tiny, I need you, please let this work, Tiny needs you.

Furfur rose into his usual shape, wings extended to their full size, but Tiffani felt different this time. She could feel him taking up space in her mind, feel his energy. His voice echoed in her head, "Mother of Tiny, did you push your will into the summoning?"
"My name is Tiffani," she responded in her head.

He sighed out loud and in her mind. "This name obsession again?" He chuckled, and it almost instantly put her at ease. "Tiffani. Did you mix your will with the summoning?"

"Yes. I don't know why. I just....she needs you."

"It is good. I cannot stay here long in the face of such prayer alone. Keep doing what you are doing."

"Why not?"

"Mothe....Tiffani, we do not have time for such long stories now, but if we get our Tiny back, I will tell you the history of my kind. Deal?"

She nodded and pushed her need to help McKenna at him hard enough to make him stumble. His eyes widened a little. "Don't underestimate the power of a mama bear needing to protect her baby," she said out loud this time.

He strode forward, grabbed Chet by the collar and threw him through the bedroom doorway. Father Wayne stood up simultaneously pulling a small cross and vial out of his pocket. He uncapped the vial and tossed the contents on Furfur, who howled in pain and rage, and began praying more intensely.

Little tendrils of smoke rose from the demon's fur where the water hit him, but he was otherwise unfazed even as the priest began shouting the prayers up towards him.

"Most cunning serpent, you shall no more dare to deceive the human race, persecute the Church, torment God's elect and sift them as wheat.

The Most High God commands you, He with whom, in your great insolence, you still claim to be equal.

God who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

The demon laughed viciously and leaned down to look eye to eye with the priest. "How DARE you talk to me about TRUTH. Do you tell your flock the truth of why you left your last church? How you filled its pews with the blood of innocents you whipped in His name? Even children? How you were relocated as punishment for your actions?"

The priest stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide and head shaking. He never said another word but turned and walked out of the room stepping over Chet as he went. In the quiet afterwards, Tiffani heard the slam of the front door and the familiar rumble of the priest's truck starting then fading as he pulled out the driveway.

Chet groaned from the hallway. Furfur's voice echoed in her head once more, "what about him?"

"I have never wanted to hurt someone so badly in all my life...but I could never live with myself if he were seriously hurt. Or worse. Can you get him out of here long enough for me to get things sorted so we can leave?"

He nodded. Tiffani went to check on McKenna as the demon made his way over to Chet. She was breathing, bloody but alive. Tiffani felt the tears begin to roll as she heard the demon telling Chet to get out and stay gone, or things would be a lot worse for him the next time. To Chet's credit he was actually smart enough to heed the advice and skulk out but not before he shouted a parting shot of "demon whore" to Tiffani and got a backhand from Furfur for his trouble. That was definitely going to leave a bigger mark than McKenna's split lip.

He'd never leave them alone, though. Not really. And to reconcile would mean McKenna would grow up in a house with a man who didn't understand her and couldn't possibly love her the way she needed. Leaving with her baby was her only option for now.

She watched as the demon picked McKenna up ever so gently and carried her to the bed humming an unfamiliar tune. He sat with his wings against the headboard and his Tiny cradled in his arms while Tiffani started packing suitcases and and called to transfer what little money they had in their joint account to a secret savings she kept from selling crafts and the occasional odd job. Furfur held McKenna the whole time occasionally leaning over to kiss her forehead, clean and ice her lip, or move a stray hair from her face. When Tiny finally woke up, she hugged the demon tight then scooted out of his lap and ran over to hug Tiffani--something she had not willingly done in years.

McKenna didn't say a word from the back of the car as they drove down the Interstate, windows down, a classic rock playlist of Furfur's (Demons have spotify. How appropriate.) playing through the speakers. For once, McKenna's silence was oka--not something that Tiffani felt compelled to fix. She was going to learn to listen to the other ways McKenna communicated, and she knew just the person--uh, demon--who could teach her how.

She glanced over and couldn't help but smile at the demon's long arm reaching back to hold up a tablet so McKenna could watch old episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. He'd only been doing it 2 hours or so...if that wasn't love, the kind of exhausting love of a parent who would do anything to keep their child content and safe, she didn't know what was.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Southern Belle Charm

Wannabe Linguistics