Friday, May 17, 2019

Tea For a Few

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: remote, roar, register, resident, and rest. 

They were submitted by:


I left my apartment early that morning with my Nikon D5, a cheap recorder, and a sack lunch in my unicorn backpack ready to take on the world. I’d been inspired in a way by the Humans of New York creator a few weeks back after seeing a 5 part story that absolutely left me devastated. I wanted to do more with the stories. I wanted longer ones, but I wanted to write some of my own perspective too. I didn’t want to leave things unsaid and up for viewer interpretation. I wanted to do updates and dig into stories a little deeper—present all of them in parts and skip the fluff. And of course, I’d be doing all this in the grittiness of the poor South. There are some spots down here that are like an oasis of blue and prosperity but most of the landscape is a red desert of struggle. I wanted to show that side of things, get out of the city where it’s all too easy to find a dichotomy of posh or destitute and find people who’s everyday were paycheck to paycheck struggles resonated with the average person.

But on that day I got a little more than I bargained for and ended up tabling the whole idea.

I got in my car and traveled mostly westward until I hit this little area that wasn’t much bigger than a village. There was a Mom and Pop style diner right on the edge of town that looked like it was straight from the 50s…and hadn’t been updated since then either. It got me curious and I figured it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a little caffeine, so I stopped in and took a seat at the counter.

I was taking a quick scroll through my phone checking notifications I’d gotten on the drive when I heard a grumble in front of me. I lookup up to find a large, grizzled older woman in front of me in a powder blue uniform complete with white apron. It was pressed with precision, not a single wrinkle, even though there was no telling how long she’d been on her shift. She had her gray hair swept up in a massive bun and smelled like maple pancakes and Comet. Her nametag said “Alice.”

Without the slightest hint of a Southern drawl, she asked, “whatcha havin’ sweets?”

“just a coffee.”

“Honey, you’re gonna need more than just coffee,” she replied and slid a menu over my way.

I took a quick look and had my curiosity piqued by the Southern Comfort special—extra buttery grits, scrambled eggs (with or without cheese), ham steak, and 2 made from scratch biscuits with a side of sausage and milk gravy. My stomach growled just reading it. Her laugh was coarse and raspy when I pointed it out on the menu and asked if it was any good.

“Everything I make is good, sug. But are ya up to the challenge?”

“Maybe,” I said even more sure than ever that I was in the right place.

It was a short wait surprisingly. The coffee was gourmet. It felt like velvet on my tongue with a rich chocolate flavor, and the minute I took a bite of biscuit I felt like I’d died. She stood there smiling knowingly, one hand on her hip. Sassy.

I took a second to wipe my hands, grab my bag, and take out the camera and recorder. Her brows furrowed, but she said nothing while she waited on me to finish my bite. “This is amazing” is all I managed to get out before I shoved a few more bites in my mouth then a few bites more. She waited me out enjoying watching me savor every crumb that made its way in to my mouth. Before I realized it, I had eaten the rest of it and felt like I needed to unbutton my pants just to be able to breathe.

“Impressive. You ready to check out?” she questioned and pointed at the register.

“Uh, that’s up to you.” She squinted her eyes but kept quiet. “See, I’ve been traveling around taking a couple, few photos of people and getting important stories about their life for my website. Have you ever heard of Humans of New York?”

“Must be new. I’m from New England, a small town in Massachusetts actually, so I’m from the general area, but I never heard of it. What is it?”

“Well, it’s a website where the guy walks around the city taking photographs and asking questions. He posts a snapshot of the conversation with the photo online and gets a lot of interaction. He’s expanded and been around the world and has been able to really help some people with funding, jobs, things like that. It’s been pretty incredible to watch, the human connection of it all and every day people’s desire to help others, and it kind of inspired me to do something similar in the South. I just want to tell people’s stories. The kind of people living out here in The Middle of Nowhere making shit work the best they can, you know? Every day kind of people.”

“And, you need what from me?”

“A photo or few and a story. Any story you want to tell. The most interesting story you have, how you got to be here, who you are… whatever you want to tell.”

“Are you sure you want my most interesting story? It’s a bit unbelievable. In fact, if I hadn’t lived it, I’d tell me I’m full of shit.”

“I’m all ears.”

“well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I should have listened to her warning, but here’s what she said on the recording.

“So I had this job, right? I cleaned the ‘apartments’ for residents at an assisted living facility. Basically, the residents themselves were older and couldn’t quite live alone or without someone able to check in on them regularly, so it was not quite a nursing home but not far off, you dig?

Anyway, there were these two gals who lived together, Mabel and Lulu. There were a bit more than ‘pals’ if you catch my drift. I never really asked how they’d found one another or were allowed to live together. The facility…well, they frowned on what they called ‘deviant’ activity which definitely included lesbians. But they’d made it work, kept their secrets from the right people. That’s what I thought at first. Guess I was wrong about that in the end.

Guests could visit each other anytime during daytime hours, and these two ladies loved to host old fashioned tea parties. Everyone invited was required to dress their best or be turned away. Tea was served always, but the desserts were always something different. Biscotti, pies, cakes, cheesecake, cookies, brownies, crepes. It was lavish, the setup, and I had no idea how they managed to pull it off week after week. They weren’t baking them. I was in charge of helping clean up, you see? There was never any baking dishes afterward, and none of their cupboards held so much as a sack of flour. Maybe they went off site and bought them, but it seemed a pretty extravagant expense, and it wasn’t like the town we were in had a fancy bakery like you might find in NYC. It just added to the oddity of what was to come. That’s the point by telling you that part.

The ladies, they were pretty strict about etiquette including not to talk to anyone else about what went on at the parties. The residents were pretty good about that. They wanted to be invited back, right? The only thing you ever heard out of them was how much fun they were. How they felt more alive afterwards, felt young again. And, you know what’s crazy? They looked it too. They’d leave there absolutely goddamn glowing.

But there were still stories.

I heard all of them over the time I worked there. All the people working there had gossip to spread about Mabel and Lulu—the parties, the sassiness, that they were witches. I didn’t really buy much into it, but then the stories started about their relationship. I’d always had a feeling it might be the case, but it wasn’t my business to say. Their sex life is their own, and I didn’t give a shit what they chose to do in their own time as long as I didn’t have to clean up a huge mess. It got weird though. Every person that spread the rumor ended up not coming back to work. No call ins, no resignation, no word.

It wasn’t really a big deal the first couple of times. That’s not easy work. The residents aren’t always easy to deal with. The pay wasn’t great. Hell, it wasn’t even good. Pennies, really, for what had to be done by the various types of employees. So the turnover rate was pretty high, and the last thing you worry about when it comes to a shitty job you can’t really take anymore is giving a notice so you can spend 2 more weeks cleaning up literal shit and getting metaphorically shit on. It wasn’t all that out of the ordinary at first is what I mean.

But it kept happening.

I didn’t make the connection at first really, but one of my good work friends, someone I went out for a drink with after our shift some days, went shopping with a few times ended up missing not long after a sordid conversation over White Russians in a bar called Jubilee’s. Apparently, Sandra, that’s my friend, had walked in on Mabel and Lulu in what she called ‘a passionate embrace’ on the first White Russian but then described raunchily as “two old witches finger banging it out” by the 3rd one.

I never saw her again.

I knew where she lived, her phone number, all that jazz, but she didn’t answer not once over the two weeks I tried to call. She was never home. Her car was nowhere to be found, and her landlord (he lived in the apartment beside hers) hadn’t seen or heard from her the entire time. She wasn’t the type of broad who’d just disappear like that. She had family around and a kid in college. I tried finding the kid on social media, but you know how that goes these days. Damn kids have all kinds of funky, fucked up names for themselves. It’s not so easy as just typing in a name anymore. Guess I can’t blame them. who wants to live their whole lives as themselves? Anyway, point being is I tried a lot harder than management to figure out where she was, but I couldn’t find anything, and when I went to the police, I was told she was a grown woman and had probably found greener pastures elsewhere. That was that.

Or so I thought.

I gave my two weeks’ notice not long after that. Shit was weird, you know? The stories about Mabel and Lulu were amping up. There was a lot of tension. People kept dropping off the face of the planet, and management didn’t care as long as they had plenty of people to hire for the bare minimum pay. New hires started out at next to nothing and had to work their way up. It was a win-win for the company itself. So I figured with my time being just about up, I couldn’t really give two shits if I broke a few rules to sneak into Mabel and Lulu’s place when they were out getting whatever supplies they could for their tea parties, so I could figure out just what was going on. I don’t know what exactly I thought I’d find. I mean, nothing would bring Sandra or the others back, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and I had to know….something. Anything.

I, well, I stole a universal keycard from the nurse’s station during morning shift change. They kept them in a passcode protected safe in there, and I just happened to be in there during shift change a couple days prior and slyly recorded the code being entered while pretending to check my phone before my own shift. So I get one of the key cards, sneak out, and wait for the ladies to leave.

By 11 that morning, they were on their way, and I snuck in unnoticed to hide in a bedroom closet until it was time for the party. I figured I could probably get to their laundry room right off the kitchen and watch from the doorway once everyone was there. 2 p.m. I just had to make it without being found until 2 p.m.

I did it, but let me tell you when they got home I was scared to so much as breathe for fear of being caught. I did not at all expect to leave unharmed if I were. But I got through it. They were so focused on getting things ready for the party they didn’t really even move past the kitchen before guests started showing up a few minutes before 1. Not too early, not too late was part of their etiquette rules. Either a few minutes before or a few minutes after but never exactly on time. Who ever heard of that shit? So yeah, once the house filled up with the other residents, the cackling and gossip began, and I easily made it to the laundry without even a glance in my direction. I had a pretty good vantage point. I could hear everything felt pretty safe peep around the doorframe every now and then if I wanted to check something out.

Here’s where it got dicey.

So the ladies start chanting, okay? I can’t make out what words are being said, but when I look out, they have umpteen million candles lit (they weren’t supposed to have any at all) and were naked. Seriously. I thought I might have a heart attack and die right there. I mean, I’m not talking shit about anyone’s body, but that’s just really not what I expected to look around and see, you know?

I backed away from the doorway and tried to grab a black blanket looking thing hanging over something in the corner of the room to shove in my face to cover the screaming fit of nervous laughter that threatened to come out, but that was a mistake. Biggest mistake really. When I tugged on it, I found Sandra. Well, I thought…think…I’m pretty sure it was Sandra, but she looked like a mummy. Her mouth was open in a silent scream, and her face was contorted, but I would swear it was her.

I screamed this guttural sound I’d never made before or made since, more of a roar to be honest. I made a bolt for the door while the ladies clamored around screaming themselves, high pitch normal sounding ones if screams can ever be normal, and trying to get dressed. I figured they thought it was a peeping tom. I didn’t stop running until I got to my car in the parking lot, peeled out, and never went back. I packed a couple suitcases as soon as I got in my place and headed straight here. I wasn’t taking any chances on turning out like Sandra.

Yeah, so that’s how I got here and my most interesting story all rolled into one.”

I was speechless. I sat there in front of congealed gravy bits, empty coffee cup, mouth agape. I had the wherewithal to stop the recorder and snap a few pictures, but it was like my brain existed on some remote island and had to travel thousands of extra miles to get back to me about what I should do. I stumbled through a couple more questions, but I honestly don’t remember what I even asked her. I was in shock. I don’t even remember how I got home.

It’s been 2 months. Every time I’ve sat down to try to write it, I spiral and blank on what to say. I haven’t gone out to do photos or stories since. I mean, what do you do with something like that?

Witches. Lesbian witches in a nursing home. AT A TEA PARTY. WITH MUMMIES.

I’m not writing it…what if they’re, like, immortal and track me down? What if Alice was one of them and just baiting me into spreading gossip? My mind has covered all the possibilities, and it’s safe to say, I don’t like any of them.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

The Bergham Chronicles

On the Border

Southern Belle Charm

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Follow Me Home

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, May 10, 2019

Thanks For The Memories

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:

Your uncle you never knew you had left you a fortune. What do you do with it?

It was submitted by:


It's interesting I received this prompt.

A few months ago my paternal grandma passed away. We hadn't spoken in 10 years. I'd say it was mostly my choice, and she would have said the same, but in all those years, she didn't bother to call or check on me or reach out in any way, and that says as much as anything doesn't it?

I grew up with her in my life. My brother and I spent a lot of afternoons afterschool at her house. We spent summer days helping her fix lunch for my grandfather's fence crew (he had his own chain length fence business). They had a weekend retreat on Lake Seminole that we often spent time at with them. It wasn't much--a smallish mobile home with a dock on the lake--but it was better than being home. The few fond memories I have of childhood are mostly times I spent at their homes, but it wasn't so much that my grandparents were really the loving, doting, spoiling kind. They just left us alone enough to be kids. They didn't care if we built blanket forts if it kept us out of their hair. It was an escape, being with them. At least until I got old enough for both of them to harp on my weight, my looks, the way I dressed... "Diet" was a constant refrain that only got worse the older I got, the softer and rounder I became.

After my parents divorced, I lived with my dad for awhile getting even more grief from Granny about how I chose to dress, what I ate... Eat, diet, eat more, diet, you're getting too fat, here's some more dumplings, I made a salad for you. But she also blamed my dad's increasingly erratic behavior on me not trying hard enough to control him especially when she argued with him, and he got violent. What grown ass adult tells a 13/14 year old kid she is responsible for stepping in and stopping her 6'4, 250 lb father from doing any damn thing? That's the way it was though, and by the time I left his house, my relationship with her was really beyond repair.

I tried. I called when she didn't, but it was never enough. I dieted, but it was never enough pounds to be valued. Nothing I did had any worth, I didn't have worth, unless I was a weight they found acceptable. I bounced between a 10 to a 16, and none of it was ever enough even when I made myself sick and battled eating disorders to get smaller. Not once in my entire life was I ever enough, and the worst of it is that their obsession with weight, even though both of them were larger themselves, led to my aunt's brain aneurism and death. Even losing a daughter by focusing so damn hard on making her thin didn't stop them from devaluing me the same way.

Still I hung in there. I hung in when I was chastised for not having a better relationship with my dad even though he blamed me for my own sexual assault, abused me, and made my life a living hell. I hung in through the criticism and the hurt. I made an effort through all of it to still call and stop by, but it was never enough. I was the worst grandaughter. Fat and weird and uncaring.

My dad remarried around the time I left his house for good, and my new stepmother gleefully latched on to this dynamic and found a way to work herself in their good graces. Say the right things, criticize us, eat the right food, take her to a few appointments, and she was set. So that's what she did.

When my dad died in 2006, my stepmom moved on pretty fast, but she still kept up appearances with my grandparents. She begged for start up capital, land for her kids, down payments, car money, lawyer money, and she got it. She'd found her niche after all. I kept trying, though. Calling to be compared to the woman who'd burned our childhood things and made any reconciliation I could have had with my dad out of the question, put down for not doing more all while still being shit on for every decision I made and what I looked like on any given day.

When my grandfather died 3 years later, my brother and I both left our jobs dropping everything to go be with her. I cleaned the bathroom he died in just hours after he was removed while she greeted guests, and still once we were gone, my stepmom convinced her we were only ever there for money. That was it for me, for both of us. There was nothing we could do to stop that train from rolling, and it had been a lifetime of abuses at that point, so we got off it.

10 years.

For 10 years, we lived our lives doing our own thing. I didn't miss any of it. What I did miss was something I never had--unconditional love from a grandparent. For 10 years, though, my stepmom bounced between new men but sticking around my grandma just enough to stay in favor through DUIs, lost businesses, and bad decisions. She spent every dime that was given to her and put up with shit I refused to endure for 10 years and spent that time telling anyone who would listen that WE were the ones who were all about the money. Poor her...she had to step in and take care of her former mother in law because no one else would while denying even to herself that she made it that way for a reason.

Projection is a hell of a drug.

A couple weeks ago, I got a notice in the mail that I had been disinherited by my grandmother and that my son would have gotten a small sum of inheritance (not my brother's kids though) IF my stepmother hadnt already spent every dime my grandmother had left while she was aging and dying.

So if I got some inheritance from an uncle I never knew, I'd be sure to send some to her. She obviously needs it more than any other person on the planet, certainly more than I ever did.

I just hope someone tells her money can't buy class.


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

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

The Bergham Chronicles

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Southern Belle Charm

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fuzzy Wuzzy

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:

furniture ~ super ~ shift ~ eyes ~ purpose

It was submitted by:

Well. i mean, I don't know where this came from, but here we are.


Living alone has its perks. There's no one who cares how clean the place is or whether you change out your pajamas on your day off. You can be alone like really alone with no noise, no snoring, no loud chewing... when life is too much, it becomes a safe bubble of you that no one gets to invade.

On the flip side, the con side, are those same things to be honest. When I lived alone a dew years ago, if I got lost in a depression slump, I had no motivation to change it. I had no one to talk to. I had no one to tell me it was okay. I retreated from everyone I knew, and there was no one around at home to chase and invade the bubble. And, honestly, there's also no one to help you move the furniture when you come out of the depression slump and need a change either. Some things are better with extra hands.

We do what we have to, but as much as I love solitude, I don't miss living alone. Not that I can anymore. Not after what happened.

I couldn't have a pet in that first shithole apartment, and it WAS a shithole. No pet could have possibly made it worse, but those were the rules, and with my craptastic part-time retail gig and dwindling crochet projects, I couldn't afford anything else. A pet maybe would have given me a reason to want to live on bad days, a reason to get up, a way to connect. It was a time in my life I needed that kind of unconditional love. I didn't quite realize what a void I'd created by moving away from my parents and their cat and dog at least not then even as I spent most of my free time watching other peoples' pets online. I lived vicariously through them and went down youtube blackhole after blackhole of funny/cute/heartwarming pet videos.

Embarrassingly, that's also when the plushie obsession began.

I won a toy from a claw game. Like, I never win anything even now but definitely not then. There were days back then that it felt like the entire universe was against me, so when I won a little black cat around Halloween time out of the claw machine at work, I was ecstatic. I think I took it as some kind of symbol that things were looking up. Plus, the damn thing was so cute. It was so soft with a little pink heart-shaped nose and wide green eyes, and it was wearing a jack o'lantern costume which, of course, went right with my Halloween Everyday aesthetic. I named it Salem. Cliche but perfectly so.

The night I brought him home I posted him on all my regular social profiles--IG, Facebook, Snap--to tons of likes. Everyone loved my new furbaby. I enjoyed the rush of that just as much as I did hugging him every night as I drifted off to sleep, so I kept posting...and I kept adding to the plushie squad. I had a bat, a couple spiders, a baphomet, some Pokemon, a Lionheart Carebear I found at a thrift store, and more. I posted them as much as I saw people posting their real pets and was overjoyed when people started sharing their own collections on my posts. I made good connections. People really understood the struggle of needing but not being able to have a pet in their lives, and it, well, gave me a little bit of purpose.

So I didn't really think much of it when a few folks asked for my address to send more toys to add to the collection. Someone even found a plush angler fish to send. It was amazing honestly. I just felt so less alone in the world.

But then a strange package showed up right outside my apartment door one day.

Most people let me know they were sending me something. They had to ask for my address after all. But this one arrived out of the blue wrapped crisply in black matte paper. My name and address were written in blood red hand lettering. The handwriting was gorgeous, an artistic skill that must have taken hours and hours of practice. But there was nothing else on the paper. No postage, no postal markings that would be there from circulating the u.s.p.s., no return address.

I found it all quite peculiar and went straight to the building super's apartment to ask if he knew where it came from. Most of my packages were kept at his place, and he left a note for me to pick them up, so the thing being right at my door was odd in and of itself, but I figured maybe he had something to take care of and didn't need the added burden of holding my mail for me...

But he didn't know anything about it. He hadn't seen anyone come in with it. It hadn't arrived with the regular mail. He was just as shook as I was about the whole thing, so he offered to open it for me in case something went awry.

And it did. Not then. But it did.

We opened the box carefully, taking our time with the wrapping and tape, but all we found inside was a small plush toy about the size of my hand. Even to this day I can't say exactly what it was. It looked like a creature someone might draw if they'd never seen a cat but had someone describe how they act and move. Alien and a n g e r y but svelte and charming. The ears were cat-like but too large and too pointed. There were no whiskers, and the face was almost flat like a human's but with the barest hint of a snout and button nose. Its fur was a mottled red, and it had goat-like eyes, rectangular and foreign but intriguing. The body itself was squat, chonky with a nub of a tail. The most peculiar part though was the pair of legit-feeling stubby horns perched upon its head. They certainly weren't stuffed and felt all too like the antelope and water buffalo horns my folks gave our dog on Christmas.

I squeaked a sound somewhere between horror and adoration that scared the literal shit out of Dan. Seriously. He shit himself and recoiled from the toy immediately. I couldn't understand his reaction at the time. It was love at first sight for me. I hugged it tight to me while he stared, jaw slack, in abject disbelief then skipped down the hall to my apartment.

Things were great at first. I posted Lovecraft (i know, i know with the cheesy names...) everywhere and got so many mixed reactions. A lot of people fell in love with the weirdness of it, and others stopped following me altogether which they, of course, couldn't do without giving me their opinion on the toy and that I should burn it. If I'm really being honest with myself, though, the contention made me love him that much more.

But then weird shit started happening.

At first, it was just little things being out of place or going missing. No biggie. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I kept trying to chalk it up to my own terrible memory, but it just kept happening. I mean, I can be scatterbrained but not on THAT level, you know? It was daily. Sometimes multiple times in a day. It wasn't that big a deal when it was my deodorant in the freezer, but it was another ball game entirely when i found my hair straightener at the bottom of a half-filled tub.

Shit really got weird when the other plushies started going missing then pieces of them turning back up all over the apartment. I was devastated. I'd worked really hard to get that collection and the following I had. I didn't want to lose any of it, and to add to the stress, I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. There was just no way someone was breaking in to do these things multiple times a day, not leaving a scent or a trace, and locking back up on the way out. But I still didn't connect the things going on at home to the toy. Not until a picture of him stabbing me through the heart was pinned to my pillow with a knife while at was at work...drawn with my fucking lipstick of all things.

So of course when I find the note to the pillow, the bedroom door snaps shut. It's not my toy standing there, though. It looks like my toy on a mega dose of steroids come to life. Or maybe like a supervillian that fell into a vat of toxic waste. Either way, it sure as hell wasn't human, and I have no idea how I didn't simultaneously pee myself, vomit, and die on the spot just looking at the thing.

I kept my calm somehow trying to talk to it like I had in toy form cooing sweet words about his adorableness and how much I loved him, but that only seemed to enrage him. I was trying to buy time to get to the knife. My nerves fucked me though. He saw my eyes shift to it one too many times and figured out my planletting out a scream of rage in the process that literally blew my hair back and rattled the window behind me.

I couldn't give up. I was so not ready to die. Okay, well, I mean I joked about it like everyone else my age, and some days I didn't want to be alive, but that was wholly and completely different than actively plotting my own death, ya dig? I was ready to fight.

I made a beeline for the knife at the same time it rushed me, but I was close enough to grab it just before he powered into me knocking us both to the floor and sending us rolling. It beat me up and stood panting over me in a rage. I grabbed the knife from where it had landed beside me and tried my best to look convincingly deadly as I scooted further away, but it closed the distance in a hurry.

It snatched the knife from me and lifted its arms over its head for a deathly blow letting out what I could only assume was some kind of diabolical laugh in the process when Dan, bless him, kicked in the bedroom door armed with a rifle, aimed, and fired right into the thing's back. Greenish black liquid sprayed out of the exit wound on its chest burning my skin everywhere it touched. It let out another one of those screams, turned towards Dan, and collapsed.

It was over. I didn't even really have a clue what had happened or what the thing was, but the torment was over. The body turned back into its stuffed toy form perfectly healed. The only evidence anything had happened was the singed carpet where the thing had bled out and the burns on my skin.

Dan helped me clean up and dress the burns and attempt to salvage the carpet. I slept on his couch that night, and the next day the two of us took the toy into the alley beside the building and burned it. I moved out soon after and in with a friend from work. I haven't been able to live alone since.

Never got my deposit back on that shithole either, but I did get my husband Dan out of the deal so I guess there's that.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

The Bergham Chronicles

On the Border

Follow Me Home

The Crazy Mama Llama

Southern Belle Charm

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Stacy Sews and Schools 

Friday, April 5, 2019

If the Dog Could Talk

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 10 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: One day your (pet of choice) looks at you and says ........

It was submitted by:

I'm not sure I really have an explanation for this.


I felt like living with so many pets had turned my life into the sort of chaotic weirdness of a Shel Silverstein poem. So I wrote one. And then I read it aloud to them all:

"Rost Bubbert "Bubby" French filled the house with an incredible stench.

It wafted through the kitchen across puddles of drool and came right for us, this posse of fools. It brought tears to our eyes, that stench, stinging our nostrils and causing pained cries.

Each pet took notice, every single French, and all of them added to that merciless stench.

Layla rose from her slumber and gassed her kennel cover off. Now even the cats began to cough. Donnie, not the bowler, howled out a horrendous toot while we managed to yell, "it's a good thing you're cute!"

But still each and every French added more and more to that hot cloud of stench.

Cash, always wanting to be part of the crew, squealed out a tiny fart or two. His brother Pee-Wee, the smallest pooter of all, blasted his stink through the living room and into the hall.

But they were not done, these Frenches with their awful stenches. Not done at all.

The cats joined in singing "the more the merrier" 'til each one of our chests grew quite a bit hairier. Each butt trumpet played a foul-smelling tune filling, to the ceiling, every single room.

But were they yet done? Not even a chance. Across all of our faces that stench cloud still danced.

Finn and Fiona, two peas in a pod, added puffs of their own that smelled of American cod. Me-Mow and Wigs, both nearly blind, let no disability stop them from tooting in kind.

It didn't end, that stench. There were more gas clouds left from the fur gang named French.

Aloy and Zelda lived up to their names and tooted while parkouring like in video games. Olive and Popeye, spooked by the noise, sharted while playing with a few of Rost's toys.

But that stench, having now grown misty, continued its travels smelling rotten and fishy.

Seymour and Mario, brothers for life, shot out foul streams that hit like a knife. But, it was Burton and Andy, the sweetest of lads, who farted right on me and gave me the sads.

Was it over yet? I dared to dream, and that's when all the b-holes really began to scream.

Scully and Marceline, the weirdest of the bunch, waltzed around the kitchen cropdusting our lunch. Queenie and Garth, not to be left out, tooted in unison while prancing about.

That stench grew bigger and bigger yet still. It filled every corner and continued to spill. The pressure was rising; the house began to quake. But the French pets still farted. How much more could we take?

The house expanded with every gaseous poof until finally one loud blast exploded the roof. It shot into the clouds and continued to soar into the stratosphere and a little bit more.

But still these Frenches tooted the smelliest smell until even the walls splintered and fell. So there we stood homeless and reeling. Words couldn't describe the feels we were feeling.

We did make plans though right then and there. This could never happen again; it wouldn't be fair. So we went to every store, every mall, and online and bought every box of gas ex we could possibly find."

When I'd finished, finally, Rost looked at me and said, "what the fuck, ma?"

But I didn't have an answer for him.

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

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

The Bergham Chronicles

The Crazy Mama Llama

Southern Belle Charm

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Stacy Sews and Schools

Friday, March 15, 2019

Take It Easy, Beezy

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: duvet, handle, sky, trampoline, and project. They were submitted by:

This is probably not the kind of story that comes to mind when you see this list of words, but I already had the idea for it and wanted to get it written, so here we are. the words fit perfectly.


It started innocently enough with me waking up to my cat sitting on my chest on top of the duvet. She was bent over close enough that I could smell her ocean-whitefish breath and staring me down like I’d just stolen the last hairball treat in her stash. The whole scene kind of creeped me out a bit. Who likes being watched while they sleep? Sometimes I snore, though, so I figured she had heard me and wondered if I was possibly dying, and I just happened to catch her at the moment she’d leaned in to check. She’d been with me long enough to know my quirks, but cats can kind of be sensitive about those things, so I gave her a few pets and reassuring words, then rolled over and promptly fell back asleep.

In the light of morning with all traces of darkness fading from the sky, it was nothing more than a hazy feeling of weirdness that I soon forgot as the chorin’ for the day wore me down and kept me busy.

But then it happened again the next night.

And the next.

And, well, for a whole week every single night I woke up with her green eyes shining down on me haloed by the glare from my Frankenstein night light. I was more than a little creeped out, but I figured she was going through something hormonal and would take her to the vet if she acted out of the norm in any other way.

On night 8, she was quietly meowing in a rhythmic tune while she stared. Like she was chanting… A few nights later, she was moving her paws in circular patterns in the air in rhythm with her little chant. I hated to do it, but it was time to put her out of the room while I slept. So I tried. Didn’t work.

Didn’t work the next night either. Or the next when I actually put her in the kennel I used to take her to the vet and closed her in the guest bathroom.

I wasn’t sleeping. At least not at night. I fell asleep in a team meeting about a new community project at work and got a write up. I fell asleep in the car on the way home one night and almost wrecked the car. I was falling asleep on the toilet, in the elevator, and every time I was still for longer than a moment. I couldn’t handle it. I felt like I used to as a kid when I’d fall on the trampoline at my aunt’s house and all my cousins would keep jumping closer and closer to me so I couldn’t get up. I’d panic and flail and beg them to quit while they laughed and bounced me harder. It was like all the air had been knocked out of me and left me spinning.

It was time for the vet.

Okay, it was probably beyond time for the vet, but that’s where I drew the line. I made the appointment in a sleep-deprived fog, don’t remember the drive there, and stumbled my way through the motions of the sign in wondering just how I was going to explain what was going on. Obviously, I left out the parts about about chanting and paw movements. Who’d believe that? But I at least went through the waking up with her in my face every night and that something just felt…off. The vet had more questions, but I hadn’t changed anything up, no changes to her schedule, same food, same litter, and there were no other symptoms. She got her answers, did the standard checkup, and said everything looked fine and to call if anything changed. Ha. Everything had changed already. Everything was weird and different and fucking scary. I wanted answers for myself. I left feeling defeated and drowning in a web of confusion. She wasn't just any cat, and if something was wrong, I needed to know.

That night, it was more of the same. I didn’t even bother with the kennel or putting her out of the room anymore. What was the point? She’d end up in my face no matter what doing her creepy little stalker thing. It was just part of the routine now. It wasn’t until a couple days later that I felt something more in the room. I wrote it off as sleep paralysis at first. I hadn’t been sleeping well. I was exhausted. Sleep paralysis made sense. I woke up several nights in a row feeling absolutely terrified but unable to see anything at all. I could feel this swirl of anger and resentment pressed into me like a weight keeping me from moving. It was so intense one night I nearly choked, unable to lift my chest enough to get a good breath in.

As the nights wore on, that weight felt more and more real. I thought I could see a shimmering outline of a figure in the corner a couple times, but it was never solid, and I could have sworn I could smell something rotten. I convinced myself I was losing my mind and withdrew from everyone. I took a year’s worth of vacation time from work claiming I had to go in for surgery and basically isolated myself so no one would have to bear witness to my descent into madness.

I kept holding on to the fact that none of this was happening during the day. It kept me hoping that I wasn’t making any of it up or hallucinating it. I wasn’t seeing it all the time or anywhere I happened to be. It was just my room, my bed really, in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe I could figure it out…or maybe I could have if I wasn’t so fucking exhausted.

A couple nights before I had to go back to work I woke up with that same presence and Maude Lebowski (my cat) doing her little thing, but this time, it felt more defined, and the smell was very real. The dread and fear were there, but that weight of anger wasn’t suffocating me. The figure was solid but shrouded in darkness. I couldn’t see features, but it didn’t much matter. As soon as I heard the laugh, I shut my eyes so tight I couldn’t see a fucking thing anyway. Tonight I could move and took full advantage of snatching the covers right over my head. If I can’t see it, it can’t get me. Funny how that kid logic sticks with you when the shit hits the fan.

“Human known as Claire Ramona LaFleur, I have a message for you.”

What in the wide world of fuck? I thought. A message. A message? From who? Or what? What the hell was going on?
I know I whimpered out some kind of mumbled, garbled version of “message?” But it understood fully what I meant and replied in its deep, gravelly voice, “Maude Lebowski has requested that you purchase her the food you used to buy because, and I quote, ‘that new shit is crusty, and I’m not here for it anymore.’”


“This is your feline companion Maude, yes?” It pointed.


“Maude has summoned me and traded exactly one of her 9 lives in order for me to request that you buy her, and, again, I quote, ‘that good shit.’”

“my cat summoned a….what?”

“Demon. You can call me Beezy though I do think we both hope this night is the end of all this mess.”

“Okay, Beezy. Beezy, Ok. Let me get this straight. Maude has been torturing me for two months with the nightly wakeups and the weird ritual shit and what I can only assume was your presence for at least the last couple weeks. And she did all this because she wants Taste of the Wild not Blue Buffalo? AND it took 2 months to accomplish it?”

“Yes. That is exactly the deal. Also, it took so long because I can’t understand cats very well, and she can’t speak my name or do the symbols very well. It took a lot of tries and a lot of frustration for the two of us to get it together. But she made good on her deal, so I had to complete my end of the bargain no matter how long I took. Here’s the thing though: I’m thoroughly amused now that I can see the look on your face and your reactions, but hear me—I’m done. I want no more of this insanity. Please for the love of everything evil, buy your cat the fucking food she wants.”

And with that, it was gone.

I got myself dressed and made coffee, so I could wait in the parking lot for the nearest pet store to open. I wasn’t going to take any chances on Beezy coming back. Besides, who could sleep in that room smelling so strongly of sulfur and death? 

So that's the story about how I met Beezelbub. As they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.

Oh, and I buy Taste of the Wild every time now no questions asked. I perfectly understand what that says about my cat owning me. But until your cat summons a literal demon into your bedroom, you have no room to criticize.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script 

Southern Belle Charm

The Bergham Chronicles

On the Border

The Crazy Mama Llama:

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Lady Who Pet a Bear

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:

What is your biggest fear? Why?

It was submitted by:

Okay, so this probably isn't really my biggest fear, but my health has been extremely poor lately and has put me in a negative headspace, and I wanted to keep this light. If I talked about the kinds of fears I have associated with being sick, I'd just dig that negative headspace deeper to the point I might not be able to dig out. it's been hard enough to find good days as it is. thanks for understanding.


If you’re my facebook friend, you might recognize this story, but it’s a story that needs to be told in order to understand the gravity of my situation.

I was showering with the dog a couple weeks ago. Let me add here that we all take turns showering with the dog because it’s easier. Pushing a 150+lb great dane into a tub takes W O R K. And that’s before you factor in that if you put him in the tub, you’re going to have to get in there with him if you don’t want the entire bathroom soaked after he jumps out and flees out the door. So he showers with us. None of us like it except him, but dogs have no shame. At all.

There I am trying to shave. With the dog in the shower. I have no good explanation for why it couldn’t wait, but it just couldn’t. The leg I’m shaving is propped above the dog’s back on the back wall of the shower, so I could get the job done without getting my hair wet. But here’s the problem—my foot slipped. My foot slipped down the wall until it hit the floor on the opposite side of the dog, so there I am, naked, with one leg on either side of the dog.


For clarity, I am, in fact, naked. In the shower. With the dog.

Here’s the even bigger problem—the dog is taller than my legs are long, so that when my foot initially slips and lands on the floor, my other foot lifts up, and I can’t really stand with that one anymore. I don’t have my balance and kind of teeter there with my toes sort of gripping the shower floor at alternate times. My life flashes before my eyes because I just cannot see this working out in my favor when I finally managed to get a stable grip and get my shit together. Crisis mostly averted. This time.

While I finished shaving—obviously it still had to be done--I realized my entire purpose in life is to embarrass myself as much as humanly possible every single day.

Can you imagine the horror of falling and hurting yourself and whoever finds you also finds you in the shower, naked, and with the dog? And the harder you try to explain how things went awry, the more ridiculous and unbelievable you sound…

I figure that the likelihood I become some urban legend kind of story, some weird death or injury or hilarious anecdote, is looming larger than life, and who wants to be reduced to that?

Lady, 37, dies at home after slipping on a puddle of dog drool and gets eaten by her 16 cats.

Neighborhood woman gets trampled at local dairy farm while attempting to “save the cows.”

Georgia resident dies attempting to pet a bear, screams “fuck yes” just before the attack.

Local woman dies from rabies after attempting to save an injured raccoon.

Climax woman goes missing after calling a local militia member a “walking participation trophy.”

Get the picture? At some point, I am absolutely sure that my lack of judgment when it comes to pets and animals or just in general is going to make me some kind of laughing stock erasing every good I’ve tried to do in my life. Just a “foot in my mouth” legend who might have dreamed of cuddling a cheetah cub. Who knows? What I do know is I have no idea how to turn it off at this point in my life, so I guess I’m just going to live in fear that I won’t realize how terrible my judgment is until the moment it all goes south while hoping for the best.

And maybe I’ll actually get to pet a bear.


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

Never Ever Give Up Hope

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Southern Belle Charm

The Bergham Chronicles

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Face-Stuffing, Running, Decaying, Ghost -Torturing Dead

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 were: autistic, you never know, stuffing, manual, heart, build. They were submitted by:

Okay so full disclosure: this isn't a 100% original idea. I saw a prompt of the general point of the thing and wanted to write it, so here we are. I sort of made the words fit instead of letting them fall naturally where they do like I have with a lot of other UYW posts, but I think it still turned out pretty good. 


The first sound Vanessa uttered in her afterlife was an exasperated yawn. See, she didn't quite realize yet that she was dead. To her, it was any other day she didn't want to get out of bed to face. Another day, another $1. Well, another $.25 if she wanted to be realistic.

The thought of money made her brain kick through the sleep fog and realize a couple things at once. The late afternoon lighting meant she was about to be late for her evening shift at work. Again. And she was *not* looking forward to getting her ass chewed out for it or the potential write up and suspension she might face.

And, two, she wasn't actually at home.

What in the wide world of fuck? She was in the middle of a cemetery.

The breeze she felt and the lighting is what really made her open her eyes and focus long enough to take in her surroundings. Tombstones, creepy angel statues, the cloying scent of too many dying flowers, shade trees every few plots as if the dead got hot in their little rectangular dirt prisons and needed some respite...definitely a cemetery.

The thing of it was, though, being in the cemetery was actually not as shocking as the fact that it was filled with ghosts. Like, actual translucent beings hovering inches off the ground. There but not there. Eerily familiar but not. Ghosts without a doubt.

"Holy fuckeroni! I have never seen an actual ghost before. I didn't think they were real! Huh, you never know with this life. You never know."

A tall drink of ethereal paleness in dr. martens and a flannel shirt floated in her direction, "uh, honey, do i have news for you then."

"What's that supposed to mean?!"

"Take a good look at yourself."

So Vanessa did. Her shock grew by miles as she took in her luminescent skin, the fact that she could see the ground through herself, the fact that she almost but not quite touched the ground. No being in the history of the universe had ever screamed as long and as loud as she did in the few moments following.

"Was that necessary?" the flanneled ghost with the slim build asked her.

"Maybe," she huffed while internally she cringed at how much she was checking out this ghost seconds after finding out she was dead. Always thinking with her heart not her brain. Okay, okay heart and vagina. Mostly vagina.

But in her defense, the girl ghost was definitely hot.

"I'm not a girl. They/them pronouns please."

"Whaaaaaat?! You read minds? And I apologize for assuming gender."

"No problem. But to answer your question, you're not human anymore, you know. What you are now was pretty much what your mind consisted of when you were alive. Your internals are all out here in the ether, so, like, everyone knows everything about everyone else until they're finally at rest."

"Okay.... creepy. Also, 3 questions real quick. 1) what the fucking fuck? 2) How do you know all this? 3) what do you mean 'finally at rest?'"

"In order: 1) it is what it is. 2) there's not a manual like in Beetlejuice. We figure it out along the way. 3) you know that cliche movie plot where ghosts exist because of unfinished business? Totally true."

"I don't have any unfinished business. I barely have finished business. All I do is work and watch Netflix. No great mystery there unless it's about finishing my 12th time watching Trailer Park Boys start to finish."

"Remember how you died?"

"Oh. No actually. Was I murdered or something?"

"How the hell would I know?"

Vanessa started to speak then stopped, one ghostly finger in mid-air while she paused before finally saying, "you're the one who said everyone knows everything about everyone!"

"Only if you know it. I mean, otherwise how would the info get to me? Just think back and see if you remember anything at all. Maybe it's a clue."

The last thing she remembered was calling in sick to work with a fever, cough, and stomach cramps. She'd been home in bed trying to relax with comfort tv, something to make her laugh but that she'd seen enough that she didn't really have to pay attention and how could she so loaded up on medication? A little weed, nyquil, Phenergan she had left over from the last time she was sick, and a vicodin for the cramps. No wonder she didn't remember much.

"You were sick, you say?"

"I didnt 'say' anything but yes why?"

"Shit. You're not going to like this."

"Well don't leave me hanging!"

The ghost drew closer and pulled her away from her spot. "It's almost time. If I'm right, you can see for yourself in a few moments then I'll explain."

"What if you're wrong?"

"Let's hope I am."

The two of them sat together quietly for awhile as the sunlight streaked in multicolored tendrils across the sky and began to fade. When the last of those tendrils started to pull away, she heard it--a faint scratching coming from the freshly covered dirt plot she woke up on. Her eyes grew 5x their normal size as she saw a hand shoot out of the ground like something out of a Romero movie. Not just any hand. Hers. She'd recognize that botched nail job she did herself the day before she got sick anywhere.

Never day drink on your day off and try to do your own acrylics.

The other hand followed then a muddy face growled and pushed its way out of the ground. She stared across at her own self in absolute terror. It *was* her, or, at least, it looked like her, but it was also eerily devoid of any sort of--well, for lack of a less cheesy word choice--life.

Her body pulled the rest of its way free from the dirt and made a shambling run for the gates.

"I was afraid that would happen."

"Well what the fuck happened? What is going on? Why did I just climb out the damn ground and make a run for it while ghost me is still here?!"

"That wasn't the real you. It was zombie you."

Vanessa's jaw dropped open a few inches leaving her utterly speechless which was all fine and well considering she heard growling and screams coming from the entrance. Apparently, someone had chosen the wrong time to visit their loved one's memory, and she, er, her body, or, uh, zombie her was taking advantage.

"Look at zombie you stuffing her face! She's really putting back that thigh meat."


"I mean, looked to me like zombie you just ripped the sucker right off and bit a huge chunk out, clothes and all."

"No, asshole, how did that...thing...happen? How am I... how is my body or whatever... fucking whatever. How does that zombie exist?"

"I guess seeing my lifeless body reanimated and tearing into the first warm body it could find would be a shock for me too so I'll forgive the 'asshole' comment. Just this once though. As for the zombies--yes there are more than just you. You aren't that special--there was a measles outbreak in the northwest then the northeast then it spread to the South and mutated. We could talk all day--or I could at least--about conspiracy theory culture, the legitimate fear Americans have over their own healthcare system, and the resulting need for research and self diagnosis, but regardless of the nuance and need for that conversation, this is different. *THIS* all started in an area with a bunch of crunchy moms who were terrified about vaccinations making their kids autistic despite all the evidence to the contrary. Oh no your kid works differently. The fucking horror, amirite? Either way somewhere during its travels across the country it mutated and became something else entirely. I don't quite know how it worked on a molecular level or why it affects humans the way it does, but that's why the stuff that made you who you are is here and the physical you is working its way through a 250 lb man like he's a candy bar."


"And my guess is the ectoplasmic you will exist until someone takes your body out however long that takes."


"Are you okay?"

"um. no?"

"Fair enough."

"What am I supposed to do?"

"Enjoy my company. Obviously. I mean, you do think I'm hot after all. wink, wink. We can follow your body around and make bets on how many humans you take out in a day and see how long it takes you to figure out my name, Van."

The familiarity of the nickname made her smile in both sadness and nostalgia. "I guess there are worse ways to spend eternity, but it would be lit if I didn't look like death."

Vanessa shrugged when she realized her unintentional pun, and the two set out after her physical self already arguing over who would win the night's bet as more zombies gathered around the closed cemetery gates trying to free themselves for a night of gluttony.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

Southern Belle Charm

The Bergham Chronicles

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom