Monday, June 30, 2014

Live Writing Exercise 15

It was actually pretty cold at the cabin (and/or I am quite the wuss), and I built a fire in the stove that only heated the area directly in front of it and the upstairs.  I was only there for a day, but I still managed to get some writing done.  I realized too late that I could have taken my microphone and recorded down in the basement (which nobody slept in), or some recordings to edit.  I'll do that next time.

After a couple of hours writing (on this project and another that I was getting ready to put for sale on Amazon), I made the mistake of checking my brother's laptop for any games, and found that he had Jewel Quest installed on there.  Heck, it may be on all laptops, I dunno.  All I know is, when I looked up, it was after midnight, and everyone else had gone to sleep (you could hear my uncle snoring all the way downstairs).  So, I typed for another fifteen minutes or so, then read the book I'd taken along, "Outlander," until I fell asleep.

I could have accomplished more, this I admit.  But I did accomplish something.


            They were in front of their apartment building, and suddenly Tanissa found herself laying down on the hot sidewalk, pretending to make snow angels.  She didn’t know why she was doing it, only that she wanted to keep doing it, more than anything she could think of.

            “Still think it’s Russian?” Brekkyn asked, putting her hand out to help her up.  Tanissa’s elbows and the small of her back had burned on the concrete, and she rose up, brushing herself off.

            “How did th--” she started to say, then realized she had just fallen down and her friend had helped her up.  She wasn’t usually so clumsy.  “Ow,” she mumbled.  “Must’ve tripped.”

            “That must be it,” the girl said, and laughed.

            She laughed at Tanissa falling down? 

            But how had Tanissa fallen down?  She remembered being flat on her back, but neither her head nor her butt hurt, just her elbows. 

            “What were we talking about?” she asked.  She honestly couldn’t remember.  It was just there in the back of her mind, barely out of reach, like a song lyric you’d know if you only heard the music. 

            Song lyric?  Something about a song . . .

          “We can talk about it later,” Brekkyn said, as though it wasn’t important.  “Just know that I am a princess and the most special girl on Earth.”

            “Okaaay,” Tanissa said, but couldn’t help but think she had missed something, like when her mom fell asleep while they were talking and missed whole chunks of the conversation.

            “We had fun today, huh?” Brekkyn said once they were back inside.

            “Sure,” Tanissa said, but she was still puzzling at her loss of time in her mind. 

            “You wanna come in, have some lunch?” the girl asked.

            Tanissa was starving, since popcorn and junkfood hadn’t been a real meal.  She went into Brekkyn’s apartment, and flinched when the younger girl shouted, “Mom!  We’re home!”

            Brekkyn’s mother was in the kitchen, just putting strawberries into a blender.

            “Hello,” she said to Tanissa.  She didn’t quite smile. 

            Tanissa began to worry once again.  Clearly, there was something wrong with this woman.  She was thin--sickly thin--and her hair was thinning too, and streaked with grey.  She might have been pretty once, but she was now a big-eyed skeleton, stress lines around her eyes and forehead.

            “Hello again,” Tanissa forced herself to say. 

            The woman wore an apron and a pink jogging suit that matched her daughter’s tastes.  She had bandages on one hand, and a nasty burn on her palm.  “Do you like pineapple in your smoothies too, Tamissa?”

            “Tanissa!” Brekken shouted from the living room.

            “Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman said.

            “No problem.  My teachers usually say Tonya or Vanessa the first day.”

            The woman gave her the barest hint of a smile.  “You’re sweet,” she said.

            Tanissa wasn’t sure if she liked Mrs. . . . Brekkyn’s mother or not.  Of course, she wasn’t sure if she liked Brekkyn either, but that was beside the point.

            “What’s cookin?” the girl asked, washing her hands at the kitchen sink.

            “I have pizza rolls in the oven, and Pop Tarts ready to put in the toaster, plus strawberry smoothies to go with them.”

            “Really?” Tanissa asked.  That wasn’t a typical lunch at her mother’s house, not even when Dad lived there.  She wondered if the woman had made something special for her.

            “Do you like banana or pineapple in your smoothie?” she asked Tanissa.

            “Sure, Misses . . .”

            “Conlee,” the woman said, “but call me Muriel.”

            “Okay,” she said, but didn’t feel like she’d dare to call an adult by their first name.  Her own mother would certainly never permit it.

            “Brekkyn has said so much about you.”

            “She has?”  She’d just met the girl the day before.

            “Yes.  You’ve made quite the impression.”  She smiled, then glanced over at her daughter, as if for approval.  Wow, Brekkyn had her mom wrapped around her finger.

            “She needs a friend.  Someone to get her out of the house.”

            “Apartment,” corrected Brekkyn.  “And we went for a long walk today.”

            “Oh, that’s wonderful!” the woman said.  Was it?  A walk?  Maybe if the plump girl never got any exercise.  Tanissa knew a lot of kids who never ran or walked or rode a bike, and wouldn’t even pretend to if they got a game for the WiiFit or Kinect.

            She ate a late lunch with the pair, and though Brekkyn’s mom laughed when her daughter joked, shuddered at the description of the scary movie, and gushed with affection for both her child and her child’s friend, Tanissa got a feeling of weight and sadness from the woman.  It was similar to how her dad seemed when he’d first gotten divorced, but different, more a part of her.  She suspected the woman was putting on a performance, whether for her daughter’s or Tanissa’s benefit she didn’t know.  But she was polite and thanked the lady for all the food, then excused herself to go home and wait for Dad.

            “We’ll go out and play tomorrow again, right Nissa?” Brekkyn asked, shortening her name the way her aunts and grandmother did.

            “I don’t know,” she said.  “We’ll see.”

            “You told me your dad has to work tomorrow too.”

            “Yeah, but then he’s got the rest of the week of--”

            “Tomorrow, then!” announced the girl, grinning proudly, as though she’d won an argument.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Live Writing Exercise 14

Actually, I didn't write this today.  I went camping "yesterday" (actually "tomorrow" when I wrote this), and there's no internet there.  I'm a pretty city-fied person, but I do enjoy going to my dad's cabin two or three times a summer.  Oddly, it seems to be where I do the most consistent writing, staying up alone and typing in the dark while the building settles around me, and the crickets chirp outside, and the wind blows through the trees, and the moths flick against the glass . . . trying to get in to make me cut off my junk.

I fully expect to spend some time finishing a story I owe Big (another Broken Mirror exercise that, ironically, got its inspiration from a premise we decided not to do a few years ago for our Dunesteef contest), and maybe get started on a story that's not yet in my head, and that's kind of exciting to me.

In the meantime, I posted these few paragraphs and scheduled the post to drop while I'm out camping, so I didn't lose a day, since I've been sitting here working on this story the past hour instead of editing Abbie's audiobook (which I worked on two hours ago anyway) or one of the other audiobooks I haven't been working on.  One of them is the sixth E.C. Tubb "Dumarest of Terra" book, which I'm now so overdue on, I wouldn't be surprised if I get fired from the whole series.  I'm not even sure that would bother me, since I've barely made enough on the first five books to buy a single meal for myself and everyone who reads this blog, as long as we went to a fast food restaurant that had a dollar menu.

I dunno.  I'm sure I'd feel bad if I got replaced on that series, but there may not be an army of people lining up to take over those books at the fantastic rate of absolutely nothing up front.  But I digress. 


            “You said you wanted to go to a movie, right?” Brekkyn asked.
            "What?"  The older girl was still thinking.  “When did I say that?”

            “There’s a movie theater on the opposite side.  Should we see what’s playing?”

            “I . . .” began Tanissa, but just closed her mouth and went with it.  It would seem that arguing with Brekkyn Mannion was a fruitless endeavor.  Her mind went back to the odd way she had said, “I have a way with people” on the bus ride over.  It had sounded like an oft-repeated mantra, and Tanissa was proved right when, at the movie theater, they also got in for free. 

            They stepped into the lobby, checked the showtimes.  Brekkyn asked if she dared go see that stupid-looking horror film about bad dreams that came true.

            “It’s rated R,” Tanissa confided.  You had to be seventeen to see one of those, or with someone who was old enough to be a parent.

            “Do you wanna see it or not?”

            Tanissa had to admit that she didn’t.

            “Too chicken, huh?  Okay, you pick.”

            Tanissa picked a comedy that Brekkyn immediately nixed (so much for freedom of choice), but did agree when she suggested the animated spider family musical that had recently come out.

            “I’ll pay you back,” Tanissa said, but the girl didn’t head for the box office.  Instead she walked straight up to the usher tearing tickets and sang once again.  Tanissa hung back, listening.  It sounded like the same tune as before, and maybe it was in German, but it really seemed like just funny noises.  Brekkyn sounded alright when she sang, not quite pretty, but she definitely had a unique talent.  The usher smiled pleasantly, and told them, “Theater 3, on your right.”

            When the older girl said to her, “Okay, what’s going on,” all she got was that rehearsed, “I’ve got a way with people” answer.


            They watched the movie (which was scary, but dumb), and about halfway through,
the girl had left Tanissa alone to go get Icees.

            “Did you pay for these?” she asked when Brekkyn returned with two large Icees and a tub of popcorn on a tray.

            “Shh, no talking,” the girl said, plopping herself down next to her.

            She kept going over the song in her head, the strange singing in the strange tongue, and especially the strange effect it seemed to have on people.  Tanissa vowed to ask her about it if she did it again, and sure enough, she sang to get them a free bus ride home, even asking the bus driver (who was a woman this time) to drop them off in front of their building rather than the bus stop.

            The bus was pulling away, and Tanissa grabbed the younger girl’s arm.  “Okay, what’s with the singing?”

            “Singing?  I don’t know what you mean,” she lied, rather badly.

            “Is it some kind of trick?” Tanissa asked, more willing to believe it was an elaborate prank than something . . . more profound.

            Brekkyn shrugged.  “Remember how I said I can talk to fish and you so rudely said I couldn’t?”

            Tanissa didn’t remember being the rude one, but she said, “Uh huh” anyway.

            “It’s mermaid language.”

            “What is it really?  Russian?”

            “Why would people obey me if I spoke Russian?”

            “Why would they obey mermaid language?” Tanissa shot back.

            The pale girl sighed.  “Alright, you asked for it.”  And once again, she began to sing.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Live Writing Exercise 13

It isn't hard to copy and paste what I've written into a blogpost and publish it.  Or rather, it IS hard, but it shouldn't be.

I often give Big a hard time because he so struggles with posting episodes of the Dunesteef, where he needs to assemble the files, name them, create and attach episode art, upload them, and then create a post for them with all the links.  After all, "I did all the work."  Of course, I can't do the same with the Rish Outcast I've had finished for two weeks.  And worse, I can't even be arsed to stick in a few paragraphs from a Word file every day.  Sigh.


            There was a high-priced sunglasses store at one end of the mall, and Brekkyn wanted to go inside, but Tanissa claimed she needed a drink, so they got smoothies instead.  She wasn’t having fun, exactly, but it was nice to be outside and in the fresh air, and there were a couple of cute boys at the temporary tattoo shop that smiled at her.
            There was a small arcade right before you left the mall, and Brekkyn dragged Tanissa inside.  They had one of those big virtual roller coasters in the back, and it was apparently new, because Brekkyn apparently had to go on it.  It cost eight dollars a ride, and Tanissa blanched at that. 
            “Look, I went on one of these a couple of years ago, and they’re not that great,” she said.  “They just tip up and back and the screen shows tracks you’re not really riding on.”
            “I don’t care; I wanna ride on it.”  She marched in that direction.  “Look, there’s not even a line!”

            “Eight dollars is what a movie costs,” Tanissa argued, not really angry exactly, but on her way.  “More than a movie during the day. And that lasts two hours.  These are over in, like, five minutes.”

            “Tanissa, we’re going on it.  It’ll be fun.  Don’t make me mad, okay?”  It was strange that anyone could argue like this.  She didn’t even try to make points for her case, but simply stated what she wanted, then repeated herself.
            Tanissa felt for her phone.  “Look, I probably ought to go.  My dad said he was gonna get off ear--”
            And then, Tanissa was inside the compartment, snapping her seatbelt closed on her lap.  Brekkyn was by her side, and a pimple-faced attendant barely older than they were was closing the lid on it. 
            “Hey,” she began, “what--”
            Brekkyn made a delighted sound, and the music began to play.  The ride ended up being about eight minutes long--easy to do the math on that one—and a couple of the dips and turns were pretty exciting, but Tanissa still didn’t understand how she’d been convinced to go on it.
            The ride shuddered to a stop—the two girls the only passengers—and Brekkyn sighed theatrically, “We were lucky to survive that!”
            “Do you want to go on it again?” she asked.
            I didn’t want to go on it the first time, she thought, but did not say.  “No, don’t want too much of a good thing.”
            Brekkyn nodded.  “Well, if you could have too much of it, it wouldn’t be a good thing, would it?”
            Tanissa ignored her.  She took a quick moment to check her pockets, but what little money she’d brought was still there.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Live Writing Exercise 12

Okay, so I've decided that Tanissa doesn't have a cellphone (and had to remove the part that would have shown up today, where her dad calls to check on her).  I asked people if it were more believable that a kid would have her own phone in 2015, or that she wouldn't, and I ultimately chose to go with no.  Her parents are separated, which literally doubles their expenses, and that alone should be a viable reason why she doesn't have one.


            “What were you singing for?”

            “It’s no big deal,” Brekkyn said.  “Just forget about it.”

            That was not an easy task, but Tanissa looked out the window, watched the neighborhood go by, making a note of places she might go with her dad.  Not having a ton of money was going to be difficult on this trip, and she wondered if she could do something around the apartment--cleaning or cooking--to earn a few bucks from her dad.  She didn’t want to be a freeloader--something her mother had inferred a time or two when they were fighting--but she didn’t want to be stuck doing nothing all week either.

            “This is our stop,” Brekkyn announced, louder than necessary.  They stood up and moved, along with an elderly gentleman, to the doors.

            The bus driver flashed them both a crooked smile. “Thanks for riding with me, ladies.  Welcome anytime!”

            They got off the bus, Tanissa watching it go.  “That was interesting,” she began, but Brekkyn lowered her eyebrows. 

            “I told you to forget about it.”  Then, as if she had never spoken, she said, “So, do you have any brothers and sisters?”

            Tanissa told her about her half-brother, who she’d only met the one time, and asked Brekkyn the same.

            “I don’t know,” she muttered, and started moving toward the outdoor mall, which was on the high end, with way too much to look at and almost nothing to buy.  They each got a Cinnebon, which was so sweet as to make Tanissa a little bit sick, and tried on stylish jackets in bright colors that offered absolutely no warmth.

            She noticed that Brekkyn was very demanding of her attention, always wanting a comment on what the girl pointed out, or a compliment on the sunglasses or earrings, and Tanissa got the impression that the majority of Brekkyn’s friends had been the imaginary kind.  Still, that was a mean thought, and she pushed it from her mind, trying to be as excited about a lava lamp or a solar-powered cellphone charger as the other girl was. 

            Brekkyn, who claimed to come to this mall all the time, was much more enthralled by the vendors and displays, including a little “shoppe” that sold only scarves.  Several times she asked Tanissa if she wanted something and it felt strange, to have a kid she barely knew offering to buy her something, like a grandmother or a rich aunt.  One of the scarves (with a price tag of $49.99) had dolphins and seahorses and octopuses on it, and Brekkyn said that if she liked it, she’d buy one for each of them.

            “But it never gets cold enough to wear a scarf,” Tanissa said.  “Does it?”

            “You don’t wear it ‘cause it’s cold,” the younger girl preached, “You wear it ‘cause it’s cute.  I’m getting one.”  

            One of the sea creatures on the scarf looked like the god Poseidon.  That reminded Tanissa of something.  “You really know mermaids?” she asked.  “Seriously?”

            “No,” Brekkyn said, surprising her.


            “Not anymore.”  She looked around, making sure they were not being overheard.  “When I was three, my mom took me away from them, and we moved to Covina, then Eugene, then here.”

            In stories, mermaids were glamourous and beautiful, not at all like the skinny woman in Apartment 4 (much less like her daughter).  “Your mom isn’t part mermaid, then?  Half?”

            Brekkyn shook her head, whispering, “She’s not really my mom.  Adopted.”

            For a moment, Tanissa felt sorry for her.  For a kid with everything her heart desired.  “You know, I used to pretend I was a princess too,” she said, giving her a sympathetic look.  “I was the long-lost heir to a kingdom in the jungle or something.”

            “You stole that from Tangled,” the other girl muttered.

            “Well, maybe.  But I’m just saying--”

            “I’m not pretending.  I could swim before I could walk.  Fish in pet stores got so excited to see me.  I could talk to them.”

            “Fish always do that.  They think you’re feeding them.”

            The girl was stubborn.  “Well, I was special.  And they knew it.”

            Tanissa, for lack of a better plan, decided to play along.  “That’s great.  What do you remember about mermaidland?”


            “I guess,” the older girl indulged.

            She looked into the middle distance.  “It was quiet, and so warm, always warm, like L.A. is.  There were other merpeople there, not just mermaids, but sharkpeople and sealpeople and seahorsemen.”

            This was a vivid imagination the girl had, and Tanissa admired it.  Maybe she’d grow up to be like that man who wrote Harry Potter or the lady that did the Narnia books.  “You’ll have to take me there sometime.”

            “You can’t go there, stupid,” Brekkyn said, not even seeming angry, just rude.  “I couldn’t go there now.  It’s been too long.  My gills are gone.”

            “Right, right.  You can barely see the scars.”

            Brekkyn didn’t pick up on Tanissa’s sarcasm, and continued, “Maybe someday, my mermaid relatives will come and find me, and welcome me back to the ocean lands once again.”

            “I hope so,” Tanissa said, mentally adding, And soon.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Live-Writing Exercise 11

I'm getting really behind, aren't I?  I realized it yesterday when I posted a few paragraphs, and realized how I probably could have published this whole thing in twenty posts, but am going slow enough to have to double that.  I will try harder today.


            “There’s a bus stop one block down and another two blocks up,” Brekkyn said, immediately playing tour guide once again.  “There’s usually one every fifteen to twenty minutes on weekdays.”  They started toward the one Brekkyn indicated was closer.
            “Do you have to know the number?”

            “Number?” asked Brekkyn, not understanding.  “It’s not a cab.”

            “I know, but--”

            “Do you wanna take a cab?  I do sometimes.”

            Tanissa had never ridden in a taxi before, and she was tempted, but she had little money, and she knew it had to cost more than a busride.  “No, I meant, do you know what number of bus to take to the mall?”

            “Oh.  Just the green or blue lines.  You’ll see.  Every once in a while a yellow comes along, and they go uptown.”

            Tanissa didn’t ask what that meant, whether north was up and south was down.  They walked to the end of Center Street, and waited for the bus to come along. 

            Her dad’s neighborhood wasn’t a run-down one, but it wasn’t like the house in the suburbs where her mother lived.  She wondered if Dad missed having a lawn and a garage and a backyard of his own.  And a wife and daughter, she mentally added.

            Ten minutes later, a bus pulled up with Downtown above the windshield.  It stopped and a couple of people got off.  The bus driver was a big man with beard growth and a chunk missing from his eyebrow.  Tanissa was hesitant, but her friend patted her back and she went up the steps, approaching the man.  “Hi, I . . .”

            “How far you goin’?”  the bus driver all but barked, and Tanissa froze.  She didn’t even know the mall’s name.  “I was . . .”

            Brekkyn started up the step, giving Tanissa something not unlike a shove.  “Go sit down.”

            She was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  “I only have a twent--” she started to tell the man.

            And then Brekkyn started to sing.  It was a high, lullaby-like tune that didn’t sound like something you’d hear on TV or the radio.  There were words, but they weren’t English, or any language familiar to a twelve year old American girl.

            Brekkyn glanced at her, raising her eyebrows at her friend.  Tanissa opened her mouth to say . . . something, but didn’t get anything out.  The song ended with more nonsense syllables, and Brekkyn patted the bus driver on the back.

            “Hey there,” he said to Tanissa, indicating behind him with his head.  “Just sit wherever you like.”

             “I don’t . . .” Tanissa began, but Brekkyn grabbed her and practically dragged her away from the driver.  An old woman gave them a questioning look as the girls went back three rows to the first available seats.  Brekkyn insisted on getting the window seat, but that was fine, since Tanissa was still confused about the little performance.

            “Do you know him?” she asked as the vehicle started moving again. 

            “I have a way with people,” the girl boasted, and Tanissa got the feeling she’d planned to say this all day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Live-Writing Exercise: ALSV 10

            And that was it, the girl just walked out the front door, Tanissa following.  She felt a bit guilty, sneaking away like that.  But Brekkyn seemed to have a very different relationship with her mother than, well, most did.  Tanissa’s mom would want to know where they were headed, who would be there, and when they were coming back.

            But Mrs. Manyon looked terrible, maybe she was sick and distracted by her misery.  “Is your mom alright?” she asked as they walked through the hall.

            “Why?  What was she doing?”  It sounded suspicious.  “In the bathroom, you mean?”

            Brekkyn stopped in her tracks, turning around slowly.  “Stay here,” she said, and stalked back to her door.  As she disappeared inside, Tanissa thought she had it all wrong with her new friend—clearly Brekkyn was concerned about her mother, even if she acted like a brat.

            Still, the way she’d marched in there, it was like a prison guard investigating an escape attempt, but that could’ve been a show she was putting on to impress her new friend.

            Only second later, she came out again, and there was a look on her face--a hard to define one--as though she was proud of herself.

            “Is she okay?”

            “What?  Who?” the other girl said, then put on a happy face.  “You said you wanted to take a shower, right?”

            “What?” Tanissa asked, suddenly tempted to sniff her armpits, right there in the hall.

            “Go ahead and do that, and I’ll meet you in a half hour or so.  We can go then.”

            Now she was worried about the woman.  “Is everything alright?”

            “It’s fine.  I’ll see you in a few.”  And the younger girl turned and headed back to her apartment.  Stalked back, would’ve been a better description.  Something was going on between mother and daughter in Apartment 4, and it made her want to call her mom up and apologize for the friction they’d had lately.

            Tanissa got a shower, drank some water (Dad had bought a bunch of bottled waters, which sat in a line in the fridge, even though one of his favorite complaints was about people who pay for water, just retrieved from the tap at the bottling plant), and put on some better shoes for walking.  It wasn’t long enough for her to even relax before there was a knock at the door.
            Tanissa looked through the peephole and saw the portly white girl there, rocking impatiently on her heels.  She opened the door.

            “Hey, girlfriend,” Brekkyn exclaimed.

            Tanissa had to consciously keep from rolling her eyes.  “Hey,” she said.

            “You all clean now?” she asked.

            “I guess so.”

            “Oh.”  The girl walked into the room and looked around.  “Did you notice this is the same as my house?  Except the window is in the wrong place.”

            Tanissa nodded.  She wasn’t sure whether she liked this girl, but she wasn’t going to be mean to her.  There had been mean girls in school who seemed to spend all day thinking up cruelties, and Tanissa would never do that.

            “I got some money,” Tanissa said.  “But it’s gotta last me at least this week.”  

       Brekkyn ho-hummed at this, but a moment later, they were heading out to the stairs.  It was a warm day, but windy, and they walked up and down the block, talking.  Brekkyn wanted to know her birthday, what cities she had been to, her favorite song and color, and whether she thought smoking was stupid or cool.  Mostly, Tanissa felt, she just wanted the opportunity to give her answers to the same questions.  Even though she had everything a person could want--including her own Netflix account, a motorized scooter, and nearly fifty pairs of shoes--she didn’t have any brothers and sisters, and she had no friends.

            “I’m your friend,” Tanissa said, putting on a reassuring smile.

            “I don’t mind being alone,” the pale girl said, shrugging.  “It’s hard for children to relate to me.”

            Tanissa looked over at her, squinting.  “Say what?”

            The girl wrapped her hair around her finger, then finally squared her shoulders.  “I really shouldn’t tell you this, but I’m one-fifth mermaid.”


            “It’s true,” Brekkyn said, seeming to be boasting.

            “Mermaids aren’t real,” Tanissa said quietly.

            “My grandma was one of them.  So I’m a minority too.”

            Is that what this was about?  “That’s nice.  I’m three-quarters Bigfoot.”

            “That’s not funny.”

            “Alright,” said Tanissa.  It had seemed funny in her head, but no big deal.  “My grandmother was Cleopatra, so I know how you feel.”  That too, seemed funny in her head.

            “I’m not lying,” Brekkyn argued, though Tanissa hadn’t inferred she was a liar.

            Tanissa put her hands in the air, the non-verbal equivalent of saying, Okay, okay, you win.  That seemed to work.