It’s Killing Me

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole, and it is a long way to the bottom.

The lady in front of me is tall. Her hair is white from both age and stress. Clearly, at this moment, she is the rabbit. Although, these halls are so familiar, I feel that this is my hole. Everything from the waiting room to the computer in the small alcove are all mine. I have them all precariously placed on the ledges of my hole, distant memories begging to be reviewed. Everything is about to crumble.

I see me, about seven, twisting and turning in the green and gray patterned chair, stalling on the next math equation my uncle is begging me to finish. I’ve been doing school in the waiting room for so long; I’m tired of playing with all the toys set out for kids ages two to five. Aside from my sister who is too young to care, I am the only one who hasn’t been allowed to see Grandma. I have been told what she looks like, but I can’t imagine her with tubes hooked up inside of her.

I want to drink the elixir that makes me shrink. If I could disappear I would, but I turn right, following the rabbit’s quick paced steps. To the left is that computer and straight ahead is the nurse’s station. To the left of the desk are two halls I’ve been down a hundred times. I close my eyes and remind myself to breathe. I don’t remember drinking any shrinking potion, but now it feels like my lungs can’t or won’t expand to their full capacity. Now I want to eat the cake and grow. Right now I would give anything to grow to climb out from this place.

We are at the nurses station. Please, turn right.

We turn left.

Please don’t take the right hall.

We take the left.

I am led into the ICU. There is no secret key I have to retrieve or keyhole I have to climb through. The rabbit steps right up, and the doors open at her presence. The place smells heavily of antiseptic. I want to tuck tail and run.

“Here we are,” says the rabbit.

I wish we were late.

I see me in my black turtle neck. (I hated that shirt.) I pause in the doorway, not sure if it is safe to walk in. There’s the tube in her throat, and she is barely aware of what is going on around her. None of the descriptions mom gave me before could have prepared me for this moment. The moment my lungs stop and my heart can decide whether to speed up or to slow down. I’ve skipped to the end of the book, and before me is the jabberwocky.

“Hello, Grandma,” I say. She turns her head toward me, and she moves her mouth, and a frog croaks instead. I grab her hand, and rub my thumb in circles. Her skin is wrinkled, bruised, and feels like velvet. I look up and smile. “I love you too.”

“She was t-boned,” the rabbit says. “This is her second time being in a coma, and she doesn’t want to be revived. She doesn’t want to fight to live.” I muster my strength and respond back in a controlled voice. The conversation is short. It is clear I am eager to leave. The trauma of being in the hospital for eight years struggles to resurface. The memories try to cave in and burry me alive.

I am relieved once I leave the rabbit hole, this not-so-wonderful land

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IHOP Mom – Narrative

This is based on a lot of truth I heard as I talked to IHOP Mom–rather, as IHOP Mom talked to me. She inspired this short piece, and is the star of this narrative.

IHOP Mom walks by and swiftly removes everything from the tables. She had been around for seven years and isn’t about to make a mistake on her job. She is fast and efficient. She loves the students who come in during their freshman year, and she watches them grow and graduate from the college down the road. She calls me baby, and says she heard me reading. While she talks to us, their is a smile that lights up her face. It carves crow’s feet around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. When she turns around I watch the smile fall from her face. She is focused on the work ahead, and the long night she has to get through. After she is done here she still has a home to go to. There are other people to feed, not just random strangers and college students that wander in past curfew. She has a family too: grown children and grand babies that require her attention and stretched smile. She is worn thin, but she is far from frail. She is a strong cornerstone. She is someone who remains consistent in the passing students with last minute homework and the police officers that come through the doors for a late night coffee pick-me-up. She is here at two in the morning, and it will be a while yet before she goes to bed.

Swimming with Sharks

In this moment, the world is engulfed in dark blue. Giant leathery creatures cut through the water observing me just as much as I am observing them. I watch them in wonder, at times face to face and at other times, through the lens of my camera. These sharks are powerful. I watch as their bodies ripple when they turn and the fast movements of their fins. Toddlers are running back and forth all around me, screaming the delight that I am feeling but not vocalizing. There is one girl talking loudly to her father about random facts about these massive sharks. A part of me wants to listen and learn, but the rest of me just wants to watch.

The light hitting the water breaks apart and shoots everywhere giving the place a more majestic feel. There are times when the light touches the rocks on the bottom of the tank, and they look like gold doubloons. These white sharks are only guarding their treasure, I tell myself. These sharks have stories, and I want to know them. I want to know what battles they have fought and what scars they have earned. I read on a sign that the people who clean the tanks have to wear a chain mail so that they do not get hurt. I look at the sharks in wonder. I am captivated.

Somewhere in the tunnel is a family speaking Spanish. I am distracted from the fantasies I am creating. I look around me and notice how surrounded I am. Everyone is talking loudly, pointing their flashing cameras at the sharks. The flashes light up the otherwise dark room. I squint my eyes and cringe; I feel small and trapped. I glance at the sharks and nod my head in acknowledgement of their condition then I leave the tunnels. My swim with the sharks is over.

Character Profiles!

My favorite thing whenever it comes to writing is sketching out the character until it comes to life and can finish creating itself. Have you ever had that happen? You’re happily writing along until a character makes you backspace a few words and gives you a few new verbs so that they can act according to their personality, or maybe they pack in a few more adjectives so that you can describe them the way they would prefer to be described. Even in dialogue, sometimes you can see your female character pop a hip out to the side, cross her arms in front of her chest, and ask you, “Would I really say that?” Sometimes as writers we raise our characters, argue with our characters, and fall in love them. Before all that happens, though, we must first give birth to them.

I imagine the process of us giving birth to characters is very similar to how Athena actually gave birth to her children. We think them up, design them in a very specific way, and soon enough there it is going on adventures and fighting dragons, and it isn’t long until they’re doing that without our assistance. One day we’ll wake up from a long coffee induced night of writing and find a complete manuscript staring at us from whatever word processor we’re using. So where does this imagining process start? How does it begin?

For me, it starts here:

Name:

Every character must start with a name. And so this list continues until sketched out before me is a person about ready to step off the page. All that’s left is teaching this new character how to walk. Here is what a complete character profile looks like for me:

Earth Name: Beatrice Glasser

Other Name: Averice Glasser

Nickname: B and Ave (probably Rice when she’s being teased.)

Eye color: Stormy blue-gray (sapphire blue eyes)

Hair color/style: Strawberry blonde hair cut in a neat bob, with permed curls that rest neatly along her neck and around her ears. (Long, curly white hair, with lowlights so that it is not completely bleach blonde.)

Age: 22

Height: 5’ 7”

Build: She is tall and lithe from running. She is not overly muscular since she prefers cardio more than weightlifting. Her shoulders are rounded forward slightly from sitting hunched over her computer or sitting on the floor reading. She has the most spectacular legs with curves to die for and small ankles and feet. (Still tall, but a more narrow than straight waist, and more of a muscular build than just being lithe.)

Clothes: Imagine every K-Pop artist. She mixes and matches various styles. Probably one of her favorite outfits is her ripped, boyfriend jeans paired with blacks heels. She will wear either her green or red and black plaid flowing tank top with either a short sleeved, long jacket or a colorful kimono over the top. (Black lace up boots, that go to the knee, black and white striped leggings, and a lacy, high-low, black skirt. To literally pull everything together is a full torso, black corset clasped in the front. As a separate piece, she has flowing, lacy, black sleeves that tie in front of her neck.)

Profession: She is currently a student attending ________ going for a degree in Creative Writing, and possibly thinking about getting a masters or doctorate in linguistics.

Characteristics: Averice is bubbly and witty with a dry sense of humour. She smiles a lot and loves people. Although, behind all of that she struggles a lot with self confidence and pride.

Residence: Xi Nu Theta (At school) Her house is in Michigan.

Extrovert or Introvert: Ambivert. She loves people, but she definitely gets her fill of them. She recharges from being alone, and honestly loves curling up with a book than with a person.

Hobby: Reading; watching T.V.; updating her blog on the rare occasion she remembers; learning languages in her rare spare time.

Favorite activity: Running. She could run for days, but classes and social situations normally demand her attention.

Favorite Meal: French Toast or any Asian meal, but normally French Toast.

Favorite Season: That middle moment in between Winter and Spring when the snow is melting and everything is muddy, and there is that slight smell of rain water and slushy snow in the Meijer parking lot, but there are also shoots of grass popping up, and Robins start appearing everywhere.

Darkest thought: Maybe if I took like eight of these Benadryl I wouldn’t have to wake up for a few days. No more people.

Deepest secret: HELLA GAY. Nah, not really. She loved a man once, but things got ugly, and now she hates love. Unless it’s on other people.

Friends: Taryn (Tarence) and a bunch of other useless acquaintances.

Mortal enemies: That stupid cat.

Achilles heel: She wears her heart on her sleeves and trusts everyone she meets.

Goal: Find the cat and graduate with a degree. Possibly survive.

The profile is always different depending on the project. Sometimes I take away some of the questions and sometimes I add more. It depends on how detailed or how basic I want my character to be. For example, all my characters don’t have two names. This character does because she goes between two different worlds.

An empty character sheet looks like this:

Name:

Nickname:

Eye color:

Hair color/style:

Age:

Height:

Build:

Clothes:

Profession:

Characteristics:

Residence:

Extrovert or Introvert:

Hobby:

Favorite activity:

Favorite Meal:

Favorite Season:

Darkest thought:

Deepest secret:

Friends:

Mortal enemies:.

Achilles heel:

Goal:

Please feel free to copy it, or go to this google doc. I want to share this with as many people as possible.

Creating characters is one of my favorite things and this is how I do it.

Are there any other methods that you use? I would love to hear them! I would also love to see what types of character you’ve created! Comment below or shoot me an e-mail, and let’s get some dialogue going.

Keep writing! You can complete the story inside of you. 加油!

Genie Pendant

She is the type of girl who puts feathers and flowers in between the leaves of her Bible. Her own skin is ink pressed and crinkled with age. A cigarette hangs between her calloused fingers. Girl or woman, I can’t tell the difference. Her body shows signs of age, but the way she talks is as if she’s back in middle school experiencing her first love.

She is the type of girl who knows she is dirt, but “start dust” is what she calls herself. She will smile and show her crooked, nicotine, yellow stained teeth. Although, nothing about her shines gold. Actually, she is rather bronze. Maybe back in the day she wore a gold medal, but I can’t tell. To me she is more like a sticky penny from 1988. 

She is the type of girl who sits on a whicker basket behind a blanket full of timeless wares. She clasps a necklace around me, and tells me that the pendant was once home to a genie. For a second I think she is the genie. She tells me stories about all of these things, wounds from her past, that she is avidly trying to get rid of. 

She is the type of girl who bled gold once, but it tarnished overtime as she slowly forgot her worth, and here she is trying to earn it back; and here I am, dragging knives across my skin, paying in blood, creating wounds, that I too will sell in the future.

At least I get a genie pendant out of it. 

Story Time

The Dragon Sash

I still wore the veil held in place by a jade comb, but I refused to wear the elaborate headdress. I relented to wearing everything else. The shoes I was wearing were made with a soft red fabric. Green turtles were stitched into the sides. The dress I was wearing was white with a red robe. The sash tied around my waist was also white but with red dragons stitched into it. It was the final piece to the whole ensemble. It was a gift, he had asked me to wear it.

We were out in the peach grove under all of the blossoming trees. I was in a palanquin, a light silk fabric screening my face from him. I came from just as much a royal family as he did. Surrounding me were twelve men. He was alone. We had only meant twice before and those times were only coincidences. He held out both hands. Folded over them was the sash. He said he would be honored if I wore it. How could I have refused him? It was probably the most beautiful gift I had ever been given. However, I should have known the intentions behind it, especially since it was coming from him.

It was only a few weeks after that, when I found myself sitting in my room surrounded by maids. They were all combing my hair, touching my skin, trying to decide how to paint my face. I turned to them and said, “Dress me how you want, but you must choose whether I wear the headdress or the sash. I will not wear both. I will not let others seal my fate when I am perfectly capable of deciding my future for myself.”

I was without the headdress, but the sash suddenly felt too tight. I wanted out of the Bridal Chair and into the open air. I wanted out from behind the curtains and the veil. Looking ahead I saw the palace doors open. Looking behind me, I watched them close. With the gates behind me and the crown prince somewhere in the palace in front of me, I knew the dragon sash tied around my waist had tied me to this occasion. I now had little to no part in my own future. I knew that whether I liked it or not, I was now bound to the crown prince and his future the moment I accepted the sash, something I never should have done.

Story Time

Thirty Seconds

“Choose one.”

On the table in front of me was a razor blade, a pair of scissors, a steak knife, a bottle of Hydrocodone, a bottle of Oxycontin, a syringe filled with Dilaudid (which is eight times stronger than morphine), a Colt 1911 .45 caliber pistol, and a picture of my family whom I slaughtered. Behind me in white uniforms stood two men. In their hands they held long black staffs. The man standing behind my left shoulder raised his staff and hit the back of my head. I brought my head back up, flipping my hair over my shoulder. I rolled my eyes. “Only one? But they all look so fun.”

“Choose one.”

I raised my cuffed hands. “Do I get to administer my own death or am I even denied that pleasure?”

The man on the other side of the table in front of me slammed his hands down. His eyes were wide. I imagined that if they bulged out any further than they would pop right out of his head. “Any pleasure you have been denied is because you sacrificed it.”

I nodded toward the picture on the table. “Are you referring to them being a pleasure?” His right eye twitched. “Because, if so,” I leaned forward and rested my elbows on the table, “I didn’t find them pleasurable.”

“Choose. One. Now.”

“Pistol.” He reeled back and grabbed the pistol. He aimed it at me. “But, then again that would be too simple wouldn’t it be?” I smiled. He slammed the pistol on the table. “The steak knife, now that would be messy.”

“Choose one!”

I stretched my arms out and lightly ran my fingers across everything in front of me. “The medicine. That would be painless, but boring.” I brought my arms back and looked up at him. I pouted my lips and gave him the best doll face I could. “Don’t you have anything more fun than this?”

A vein in his neck began to pop out. I snorted as he got closer to my face. In a low voice he said, “Choose. One.”

“Syringe.” Before he could grab it, I snagged the needle in my cuffed hands and injected it into his neck. He quickly reached up and pulled it out. His elbow began to shake and eyes began to close.

I had thirty seconds before he collapsed. I snagged the gun. He fell onto the table. I stood up, and as I turned, I kicked the chair behind me. Both men easily avoided the chair. I shot the one who had stood behind my right shoulder. The one to the left was on me in seconds. He brought his staff down hard on my wrists forcing me to drop the gun. He quickly dropped his own staff and grabbed my wrists. He forced them above my head while he pushed me back onto the table. He placed one hand on my shoulder holding me down while He grabbed my wrists and brought them down to my abdomen. He flipped me over onto my stomach. The razor blade, the scissors, and the steak knife were right under me. I squirmed underneath the pressure of his hand on my back. He pressed harder. He pulled out a walky-talky and started calling for backup. There was a reply in seconds.

The pressure on my back lightened as he yelled orders into the walky-talky. He was giving the person on the other end a rundown of what I had just done. I squirmed a little more, maneuvering the steak knife into my hand. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the handle that I grabbed. I could feel the blade cutting into my skin, and I could feel the scissors pushing against my arm. I closed my eyes and took a deep a breath. I opened my eyes and began kicking at his legs. He momentarily lost his balance. I took that moment and was able to get my hands out from under me by moving them to the left. His hand slipped off my back and he fell on top of me. I quickly flipped the knife around in my hands so that I was holding the black handle. He braced his hands on the table and was about to push himself back up when I started repeatedly stabbing the steak knife into him. I was only going to count to five and then stop and push him off, but in my anger I lost count and continued stabbing him.

When I realized he wasn’t fighting to get up anymore, I shoved his body off of me. I took a few deep breaths before I got up myself. I dropped the knife and looked around the room. The man I had shot was lying on the floor. He had a hand pressed to his chest. Blood was bubbling out of his mouth. His lungs were filling with blood, and he was struggling to breathe. I picked up the gun and shot the man a second time. This time, I didn’t miss his cranium. I put the gun in the waistband of my pants. I moved back over to the table. I rolled over the man slumped on top and began rifling through his pockets. I pulled out a set of keys and pocketed them. Then I slid the picture off the table. I folded it in half and slid it into my pocket with the keys. I looked around the room before I left. It was time to go clear my name. I didn’t slaughter my family; they were still alive.