The Gears Are Still Turning

“It usually helps me write by reading – somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.” – Steven Wright

For those of you who’ve noticed, I’ve been publishing a series of installments in my larger piece titled “Together” every other Friday this summer. I’m not sure what it is or is going to be just yet but I’ve run out of the prepared installments and need to work on writing more. I do have more planned and have started writing some of them but I’m still undecided as far as what I’m going to be doing with them when I’m done. I might publish a few more here to my blog but I’ve also been toying with the idea of self-publishing them (depending on how many I have and how long the overall finished collection of them turns out to be). I’d love to know what my readers think of that idea as I continue to work on “Together” along with the other projects I have in progress (I’ll get them all done eventually, I swear).

In the meantime, I’m going to go back to posting flash fiction on Fridays as well as installments of my Literary Travels series and updates to my progress/recaps of my 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (Sort of) Challenge.

If you have ideas for what I should write about in my flash fiction pieces (photos, a sentence, even just a single word – that was all my college roommate gave me when I needed something to get started and “Bees” was the result), either leave it as a comment or send it to me at lenny9987@gmail.com.

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Together – The Call Pt 2

“Vanessa? I hope this isn’t a bad time.”

“Who is this?”

“It’s Rick. The only guy who would call that phone and ask for you.”

“Point taken. You managed to catch me during prep time. What do you need?”

“You hung up on me earlier before we figured out what we were going to do about swapping our phones back.”

“I did? Good. I thought we’d settled on something and I’d just forgotten. It’s been one of those days.”
“I’m familiar with those days. They’re part of what keeps me employed. Along with bachelor and bachelorette parties.”

“So, are you working at the bar again tonight? I can drop by on my way home later.”

“It’s actually my night off. I’ll be back at the bar tomorrow but you probably need your phone back before that.”

“Yeah, that’s the number most of my colleagues have and while I doubt there’ll be a snow day tomorrow or any other emergency, I don’t think you’d appreciate having the principal wake you up.” Continue reading

Together – The Reconciliation

Rick was waiting on her couch when Vanessa came through the door after work. He looked tense, leaning forward with his elbows and forearms propping his head up by resting on his knees. His coat was on the arm of the couch beside him, removed only so he wouldn’t overheat during the wait. It was a moment before he looked up from his lap which gave Vanessa little time to process the rush of conflicting impulses and thoughts that passed through her mind and paralyzed limbs.

Relief that he was still alive, fury that he hadn’t returned any of her calls and had made her worry, frustration with herself for caring so much when she’d spent the last few days pushing herself not to, and fear that this would be it, the end, that this would be the last time he’d walk away from her and that he wouldn’t look back again or come back. Was he back?
“What the hell are you doing here?” She couldn’t help the harshness of her tone and immediately wished there was a better way to convey her relief along with her frustration.

“I used my key,” he said a little sheepishly. He pulled it from his pocket, placing it gingerly on the coffee table, where it became a boundary of sorts between them. Was he really just here to return her key? Why would he stick around? Was he trying to make her cry?

He saw her struggling for control over her body which had begun to shake and thought she was fighting against the impulse to scream and scold, maybe even attack him physically with the purse that was slipping from her shoulder or, worse, the noticeably full work bag that was working with gravity to rest on the floor.

“I, uh… I was going to just wait for you out in the hallway but then Mrs. Jenkins came home with a bunch of groceries and gave me a funny look and I didn’t want her to think we’ve been fighting so I pretended I had been looking for my key and had just found it.”

Vanessa nodded but remained silent and continued to hold her stuff by the door. Rick took a deep breath and stood up. He looked down at the key on the coffee table and spoke to that instead of to her.

“I want us to move in together.” Continue reading

Together – The Meeting

“You remember the signal?”

“Yes, now go or he’ll get here and see you talking with me and wonder what’s up.”

“Okay, I’m headed over there now. Wish me luck.” Susan hiked her purse up on her shoulder and teased her bangs before walking off.

“You’re gonna need it,” Vanessa called after her in a teasing tone but Susan was already across the bar and setting into a booth. Vanessa spun the bar stool back around and found an angle where she could see Susan reflected in the mirror behind the bar.

“What can I get ya?” The bartender said as he moved towards her, wiping the bar down on his way.

“I’ll have a coke,” Vanessa answered as she shifted and contorted to see around him and re-establish her eyeline to Susan’s reflection. The bartender stepped into her way again, deliberately trying to get her attention. “Rum and coke or just coke?”

“Just coke. Designated driver.” She’d found Susan’s booth again but was nearly sitting on the barstool next to hers.

He moved a little ways back down the bar to fill a glass with ice. Vanessa straightened up and watched as the guy Susan had arranged to meet approached her booth. Then the bartender was blocking her view again and placing the soda in front of her with what became an inquisitive smile as Vanessa began to twist to see around him again.

“You meeting someone?” Continue reading

Together – The Scare

Vanessa came first. As she felt Rick’s rhythm alter, building to his own rapidly approaching climax, she had a flicker of doubt that blossomed into panic.

“Did you put on a condom?” she gasped, not having had time to catch her breath yet.

But it was too late and Rick finished with one last thrust. He only rested against her breast for a moment, then rolled still holding on to her, still inside her (though diminishing). Now on his back with Vanessa astride him, Rick responded.

“Did you say something?”

“Were you wearing a condom?”

“No.”

“You idiot. Why not?”

Continue reading

Together – The Call Pt. 1

“Hello?”

“Who is this? What are you doing with my phone?”

“Am I speaking with Vanessa, by any chance?”

“How do you know my name?”

“I’ve got your phone, remember? I could have looked it up but I actually just remember it from last night.”

“Right. But that doesn’t tell me who you are or why you have my phone?”

“Our phones got mixed up at the bar when I put you in your cab.”

“So we met at the bar? You’re not Susan’s date are you?”

“I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Susan but I think you told me all I need to know about her.”

“We didn’t… hook up or anything. Did we?”

Continue reading

Together – The First ‘I Love You’

Vanessa pulled off her shirt and looked at herself in the mirror, debating whether she should leave her bra on or take it off. She folded her shirt and put it at the end of Rick’s bed. She shook her head and picked it back up, shaking it out and tossing it haphazardly at the dresser. She kicked her shoes off in the direction of the door then crossed to set them neatly side-by-side, out of the way. Finally, she gently kicked one over and nudged it a little further away from the other. She let her skirt drop to the floor next to the bed and crawled between the sheets in her panties and bra.

Removing a balled up t-shirt from beneath a pillow, she settled comfortably in and debated how she wanted to pose herself for when she heard Rick coming. Blanket up to her neck? No, that wasn’t sexy. It would make it look like she had something to hide and not in a good way. Blanket covering her bra? Or not? Should she lose the bra altogether?

Vanessa looked at the clock on the bedside table. 1:30 am. Rick wouldn’t get off work until 2, and he probably wouldn’t get back to his apartment until quarter after or even half-past. She laid back so that she couldn’t see the clock and tried to guess how much time had passed since she last looked, attempting to stretch the time between peeks and will the minutes to pass faster.

When she felt herself fading at 1:58, she searched for something to occupy her attention and keep her awake. Leaning over the edge of the mattress, her hand clutched around in the space under the bed as she struggled to stay between the sheets warmed by her body heat. All she found was an old Playboy, its pages ruffled with age and she was afraid to imagine what else. Gingerly putting it back, she debated venturing to the living room where her workbag was hanging out with her purse on the floor next to the sofa. She could probably make it through the spelling tests before Rick made it home, but given how tired she was, she didn’t trust her eyes to see straight enough for that. The book reports would only make it harder to stay awake. The history quizzes would have been fine but they were still in a pile on her desk at work, waiting for Jimmy Flenderson to make his up at recess on Monday.

With each minute that passed, the bed became warmer and harder to leave; the pillow became more inviting and her eyelids heavier. At 2:43 she lost the battle and sleep triumphed. Continue reading

Together – The Fight

Vanessa tossed her keys down onto the decorative table in the hallway. They clattered against the blinking answering machine. Rick came through the doorway behind her, yawning.

“Why didn’t you wake me up? We could’ve left you know.” He pulled his coat off and threw it across the back of the easy chair in her living room.

“I thought you could use the rest,” Vanessa said as she put her purse on the table and hung her coat in the closet. “Besides, it would’ve been louder to wake you. You tend to scream if you’re startled awake.”

“What? You’re lying.”

“Really? What about that time I forgot to put my phone’s alarm on vibrate? Your neighbors almost called the police.”

“I just didn’t expect you to have that song for your ring-tone.”

Vanessa laughed. “Do you even remember which song it was?” She looked him in the eyes with eyebrows raised in expectation. He didn’t break that contact until his mental straining for the answer failed.

“Its… irrelevant.” He blinked.

“Ha!” She kept laughing and watched as he sunk down onto the arm of the chair bearing his coat. “You weren’t the only one asleep. Didn’t you hear the guy down front snoring after they killed off what’s-his-name?”

“No, that was when I lost interest and fell asleep. I mean, he was the only one of them that I liked. Why’d they kill him so early?”

“I don’t know. He was the only one I liked too. Though, it was almost entertaining to see just how bad it could get.” Rick raised his eyebrows. “I said ‘almost.’”

“You could have waken me up,” he paused. “Woken? Waked? Anyway, we didn’t have to stay.”

Vanessa flipped through her mail and set it back down beside the answering machine. “I told you, it’s fine.”

“But it’s not,” he insisted. “It was supposed to be a date night and I know I have a broad definition of what constitutes a date but even I don’t consider me falling asleep during a terrible movie to be a date.”

“I agree with that sentiment.” She crossed from the table to where he had perched on the arm of the chair his coat had been thrown upon. “But we can still turn the evening around.” She wound her arms around his neck and kissed him. His arms came up to hold her by the waist. She pulled back and headed for the kitchen.

“Where’re you going?” Continue reading

Together – The Work Thing

“Are you sure you want me to go?”

“Of course. You’re not backing out of this, not now. Taste this,” Vanessa held a spoon out for Rick to try. If it had been an experimental dinner or lunch attempt, he would have dug around for an excuse to avoid her catastrophic cooking. But the spoon bore something sugary. Desserts were her specialty and even when they didn’t turn out as planned, they were still pretty tasty. He could taste chocolate and a hint of raspberry, warm and rich and creamy.

“Mmmm.” Rick licked his lips as Vanessa turned back to the bowl and continued mixing. A timer went off and Vanessa whipped around to the oven and pulled out a golden pie shell crust. Rick hadn’t even seen her put the oven mitts on her hands, she’d moved so rapidly and fluidly. A trivet was waiting on the counter and she set the crust there to cool before moving to the freezer and pulling out a plastic bag of raspberries.

“Why do they need to be frozen?” Rick asked. He used his finger to wipe up some of the chocolate mixture that had run down the side of the bowl. He popped the finger in his mouth before Vanessa could turn back around and catch him.

“I didn’t have the time to make this earlier so the crust won’t be able to cool completely. If I did it with fresh raspberries, I think they would get too mushy too quickly.” She was carefully lining the bottom of the crust with the frozen berries. “At least, I hope this will work. It won’t have much time to set either, just however long it takes me to shower and get dressed. I hope this helps, but I really have no idea.” She poured the chocolatey mixture over the berries and gingerly carried it to the refrigerator.

“I’ll go to the party if only to have a chance to try the finished product,” Rick was using his finger to scrape the excess chocolate from the bowl.

“Don’t get any on your shirt. The only change you have here is that vile monstrosity and there won’t be time to stop by your apartment on the way to Deb’s.”

She threw her apron on the table and hurried off to change. Continue reading

Together – The Tip

“Is this seat taken?”

Paul looked up and saw a woman indicating the seat next to him at the bar. The carpet had muffled her footsteps as she approached. As she gracefully alighted the seat of the high barstool, her knee length navy dress rode up just enough to show a little thigh. He wished he had been watching her wen she’d come in. Maybe she had scanned the booths and tables before noticing him and strolling over.

The bar tender was at the far end and nodded to acknowledge he had seen her and would be there momentarily for her order. Paul’s window of opportunity would be brief. Picking up his glass, he downed the last of his bourbon Manhattan then raised the remaining ice to indicate he’d like another.

He swiveled to face the brunette beside him.

“And what will you be drinking tonight?” Continue reading

Stubbornly Flexible

“Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.” — John C. Maxwell

About two years ago now I began writing on a project that I intended to self-publish through a platform like Smashwords. I haven’t worked on it much in the last eighteen months, however, and I haven’t had much time to work on writing flash fiction pieces either. It’s not a project that I’m particularly passionate about or one that I was even sure about how I would ultimately assemble it. An examination of a modern romantic relationship and the dynamics between the two parties, I have abandoned the plans to compile and self-publish it as one unit (at least for the foreseeable future).

But rather than let the handful of completed episodes languish in a folder on my desktop, I have decided I’ll post them here. There was no set order to the episodes (pretty much the only thing I had settled on was that they wouldn’t be presented in chronological order of occurrence). I only have vague ideas for other episodes I intended to include and maybe I will get to them eventually. For now, though, I’m going to be posting these episodes every other Friday to make up for the stunning lack of my own creative fiction in recent months.

So make of them what you will. The working title I had for the piece as a whole is Together.