Lines

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week on Write on Edge, the Red Writing Hood prompt was:

write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. Explore the motivation of your character and possibly the consequences of his or her actions. In 450 words or less.

Check out the other responses, or post your own by following the RWH link above.

Apparently I’m feeling a bit maudlin lately.  This continues right after Cheap in the Necessary storyline.  If you want to read it all in order, check out the Fiction tab at the top of the page.

The picture below is by Vivi, click on the image to check out more of her work on Deviant Art.

I shivered in my underwear, shifting uncomfortably on the toilet lid.  Face cupped in my palms, I felt the icy water falling from my hair, dripping down onto my legs and drizzling down my calves.   I struggled to maintain some kind of composure. I was tired of being that girl.  The crying girl.  For once, I’d like to get mad or sad or flustered without that prickling sensation behind my eyelids, the blurry shiver of salt water welling up and blinding me.

The narrow strip of vision I had showed a vacant sink, the overflowing garbage can, cheap crumpled paper towels scattered around it.

“Your shirt is almost dry,” Joanna called out, over-loud above the rattling whoosh of the old hand dryers.  “I don’t know about your jeans, though – you might just have to put them on damp.”

“O-“ I croaked.  Coughed, tried again.  “Ok, thanks.”

“What?!”

“I said OK!” I tried to sound cheerful.

A few minutes later, she passed my newly rinsed and dried shirt over the stall.  It still smelled like gravy.  Or was that my hair?  I ignored the wet that soaked through the shirt the moment I flicked my braid behind me and snagged the damp jeans from the door.

Beggars can’t be choosers.  I sighed and swung open the stall.

“Are you ok?”  I asked, surprised.  She’d been all fire and fury while helping me rinse smears of starchy potatoes out of my hair.  Now, she looked worse than I did.  Her eyes were haunted and watery, her face was drawn and haggard.

A grin fluttered weakly across her face, but crumpled in an instant.

“What’s wrong?”

“Her brother-“ Joanna pressed her fist against her mouth.  I tried to remember ever seeing her as upset as this before.

“What?”  I laid a comforting hand on her arm, but she stepped away.

“Nothing.  It’s just… nothing.  I should never have said anything about him.”  She hugged herself tight, staring down for a long moment.  She met my eyes and whispered, “Do you think I’m a bad person?  Like… really bad?”

“What? No!”

“You were mad at me for not caring about your feelings.  And I…  Katie and I… we used to be friends.”  Eyeliner tears traced black down her cheeks.  “And I used it against her, just like I did to hurt you, only… worse.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat.  I couldn’t believe she was acknowledging that behaviour so openly, so apologetically.  The difference between now and that night at the club was like night and day.

“You were just trying to protect me.”

She let out a sob and sank to her knees.  “I used her dead little brother to hurt her.”

Cheap


This week’s word on Trifecta was

cheap adj \ˈchēp\

1 a : purchasable below the going price or the real value

b : charging or obtainable at a low price <a good cheaphotel> <cheap tickets>

c : depreciated in value (as by currency inflation) <cheapdollars>
2 : gained or done with little effort <a cheap victory> <talk ischeap>
3 a : of inferior quality or worth : tawdry, sleazy <cheapworkmanship>

b : contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities <feeling cheap>

I’m picking right back up after A Mask in the Necessary storyline.  To read the rest in order, click on the Fiction link at the top of the page.  I really want to go back to magical things happening, but that story didn’t seem quite done enough.  Plus, as one commenter (my sister, for those keeping track) mentioned, the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t just appear that way… how did they get to be the bad guy?  Not to mention, is he really bad?

A few questions – does this seem at all realistic for a high school scene?  Characters/events/etc?  I’ll be honest – I drifted, oblivious, through highschool with very few interactions with the ‘mean girls’, and, unfortunately, in those few interactions, it wasn’t me they went after, because they go after the one least able to defend herself.  Like hyenas.  Moving on.  What kind of vibe are you getting from new-character-Katie?

Link up or read some of the other responses over at Trifecta.

The picture below is titled “Defeated Dragon”, hopefully it works with the story as well as it did for me.  Check out more of Daniel Dociu’s work by clicking on the image.

It wasn’t worth it.

She told them I was just a spiteful wannabe, lying to hurt her.  Her coterie of hangers-on flocked to comfort her – so hard to be so beautiful, so popular.  Lesser beings use their cheap, nasty words to hurt you.  So hard to be Jennifer.

I cringed at the whispers and glares.  I slunk, eyes glued to my cafeteria tray, towards the already seated Joanna. 

I stumbled.  I looked around in surprise, having barely prevented myself from face-planting in my food.  A football jock met my stare blandly, pulling his foot casually back under the table.

I slammed my tray down and slumped over in my seat.  “We should have gone there for lunch.”

Tears prickled behind my eyes.

She smiled sympathetically and waved a carrot stick at me.  “It’s tough, but she only wins if you run and hide.”

“Woops!”

I gasped as the mess of creamed corn and mashed potato dripped down the back of my neck and soaked into my shirt.  The girl behind me, I recognised as one of Jennifer’s posse who had avoided eye-contact with her during the fight.  Her empty tray hung limp in her fingers, and, though she had a pleased smirk plastered over her face, I couldn’t help but notice the unhappiness in her eyes.

“You-“ my voice broke.  I give up.  She backed up in alarm when I stood up.

Joanna swung around the table and stood toe to toe with the girl.  “Did this get you back into her Royal Highness’s good graces, Katie?” she snarled.  She thrust her chin forward like a fist, causing the girl to stumble back a step.  She lowered her voice.  “If your brother could see you now.”

Katie jerked back as though she’d been slapped, her face crumpling. 

I pinched the bridge of my nose, willing the tears back.  “Joanna, stop.”

“Why?”

“She’s winning anyways.  Don’t sink to her level.”

“Fine.”

I left, blurry eyed.

I didn’t see Katie leave in the same state.

Verbal Jousting

Head over to the Trifecta Challenge to read this week’s prompt responses.  The word is:

clean (adjective)

1: free from dirt or pollution
2: unadulterated, pure
3 a : free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind <a candidate with a clean record>

b : free from offensive treatment of sexual subjects and from the use of obscenity <a clean joke>

c : observing the rules : fair <a clean fight>

That, combined with seeing this funny bit of word-play, inspired me to try my own battle of wits.  And, since nothing is ever entirely normal in The Necessary, there had to be a referee.  This bit would probably go somewhere in the early part of the Necessary, so, without any particular reason for it, I’m putting it in after ‘Lazy Afternoons’.  To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing that would work in an actual story, but I had a lot of fun finding fungus, moss and fern related words to use, and writing is meant to be enjoyed.

If you want to read all the pieces of this story in order (though with gaps between them, I guarantee), check out the Fiction page you’ll see near the top of the screen – it has the story links in order.

Let me know what you think – am I terribly punny, or just terrible?

The Ref wore a striped top hat and matching tailcoat, his white gloves pristine and his black shoes gleaming.  He looked out of place in the small boxing ring.

My opponent looked like he’d been born there, grubby tank top, baggy shorts, and attitude.  He sneered at me, whiskers twitching at the end of his ratty muzzle, pink nose constantly twitching.

Don’t throw up.  Breathe.

“Do I have to do this?” I whispered through clenched teeth.

Joanna squeezed my shoulder from behind the ropes.

“Knock em’ dead.”

The Ref cleared his throat and adjusted his monocle, glaring at each of us in turn.  “I want a clean fight tonight.  Topic: Mushroom – begin!”

“Some say I’m a fungi” He oozed confidence.

Deep breath.  “en-chanterelle-d to meet you.”

“You don’t seem very fern

“Wait ‘till you see what I have in spore for you” polite applause and he bounces back against the ropes.

“Is there a morel to this story?” more applause, I’m pushed more sharply back.

Moss there be?”  This isn’t so bad.

“I like to root out the pearl of wisdom in the oyster.”  Ouch, that time hurt more.

“Tis ‘naught but a truffle.”  He loses his sneer as he is pushed back so hard the ropes creak.

Enoki of this Shiitake – why don’t you just leaf?” The breath is knocked out of me as I slam back into the rope.

Veil-ed insults are in pore taste, don’t you a-tree?”  I return the favour.

“You moss be lichen our game?” he gasped

A sharp whistle and a red flag dropped.  The boy is knocked back so hard he is flipped out of the ring all together, landing with a thud on the ground outside.

“Repeat, automatic disqualification – the Otherlander has stolon the show.” The Ref spoke so dryly that it took me a moment to grasp his meaning.  The crowd roared their enthusiasm and Joanna hugged me, adding her own excited voice to the din.

I grinned my triumph, and yelled, “Never again!”

A Mask

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
Yesterday didn’t work out so well for me in prompt-land.  I failed a bit at the timing of it all, which is unfortunate, but it got me to write anyways, which is always a plus.  This week on Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood challenge, the prompt was to use an antagonist.  So I’m introducing a character, one who must definitely have been encountered before, but who hasn’t been mentioned before in any of the pieces of the story I’ve written before.  She must have existed in this story, though – she’s in every high school.

In the name of clarifying storylines, I’ve got a new tab up top for stories.  If you’re just starting to read this (or just very confused at the pieces you’ve read so far), that tab is the ideal location in which to find all the pieces of this story in order of how they ought to be read, as opposed to the order in which I wrote them.  This prompt response is in the “The Necessary” storyline, right after “So Blue“.

Head over to Write on Edge to submit your own responses, and to read the other ones.  Click on the image below to see more from the artist who did it.

I felt an immense sense of relief at being on speaking terms again.  We linked arms and headed towards second period, having missed the entire first with catching up and apologies and waiting for my face to stop being splotchy and terrible from crying.

I peered in through the door at the class still in session and joined Joanna on the floor nearby.

How sweet, the Lezbos have kissed and made up.”

God, I hate her.

Jessica smirked down at us, one hip jutted forward in her designer jeans, perfectly manicured fingers hooked in the belt loops.  Her cronies did their best to match her pose, smug in their safety behind the firing line.

Joanna, as always, remained serene.  “Sorry, Jess, I know you were hoping to be my rebound.”

I was proud of Joanna and jealous at the same time.  I wish I was as confident.

“Whatevs, freak.”  She dismissed Joanna with a roll of her eyes and cocked her head at me.  “Trying red, yonkers?”  She casually pushed a strand of her own deep auburn hair behind her ear.  “I’d suggest that you try something less… fire engine… but I really don’t think any hair colour will help to make you look like anything more than a hayseed.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, though, so, thanks, I guess.”

I blushed, my hand going up as though to cover the bright colour.

Jessica snorted derisively and exchanged a satisfied look with her entourage.

She’s such a bully.  I wished desperately that I could call her on it.

I thought back to the tree woman, her confidence a force of nature, her personality bludgeoning even Joanna into submission.  Vibrant and warlike, her entire tree fighting to protect a single leaf.  And I stood up.

“Hey, Jess – your roots are showing.  I would give you my hairdresser’s name, but she doesn’t deal with homophobes.”

It was her turn to redden, but hers was anger.  She snarled, perfect white teeth clenched, “I do not dye my hair.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes and smirk.  Inside I quaked.  I hoped desperately to cling to this fragile mask long enough to get out of Jessica’s way.

“Interesting, you think your big dye secret is the important one to protect.  You try to make me feel bad for being myself and for expressing myself, and you call me gay like it’s a bad thing.”  I stepped forward, she retreated.  “Considering how many people go to this school, I’m betting at least a few are gay.  I’m tired of hearing your nastiness, and I’m sure they are, too.”

Her minions avoided eye contact with her as she scanned the crowd for a teammate.

“Alright, let’s break up this social circle and get to learning.”

The spell was broken, Mr. Sherbrooke at the door of his room, gesturing us in.

I could feel the strength draining out of me, my hands shaking at my sides.  Jessica’s hate-filled glare singeing my back.

Was it worth it?

So Blue

trail verb \ˈtrāl\

1 a: to hang down so as to drag along or sweep the ground
b: to extend over a surface in a loose or straggling manner <a vine that trails over the ground>
c: to grow to such length as to droop over toward the ground

2 a: to walk or proceed draggingly, heavily, or wearily : plod, trudge
b: to lag behind : do poorly in relation to others

3: to move, flow, or extend slowly in thin streams <smoke trailing from chimneys>

The rule in Trifecta is simple – use the third definition of the word, use it as it is written, and make the response between 33 and 333 words long.

This piece of the story fits in after this.  Be warned, the pieces of the story are not in order in my posts, but you can find a list of them in order on the (NEW) page I created for stories.

Check out Trifecta to read other prompt responses.  You would find mine there, buuuuut I dropped the ball on this one.  I am pretty sure that the link closed about an hour before I remembered that I left this post as a draft.  Lexy for the win!  Enjoy it anyways!

I stared at the trail of indigo tracing its way slowly down my arm.  There was a smear of it on the creamy white of my towel, a thumb-print on the shower curtain.  Each drip of water from the blue streak in my hair was inky.  I leaned over the sink and twisted my hair tightly, squeezing more and more indigo droplets out.

I glared at my reflection, daring the tears to fall.  Blue splashed purple in the dreadfully pink sink.

The blue streak the tree woman had left in my hair in the spring had grown with my natural hair colour, never a blonde root to show for it.  It was as though my natural hair colour in that spot was blue.  Until this morning, a trail of indigo swirling down the drain.

I slouched low at breakfast, toying with my overcooked eggs and wallowing in my own personal pity party.

A gentle hand down my back in silent greeting, and a mug of tea set in front of me announced my mother’s arrival.  I stared at the trail of swirling tendrils of milk seeping into the tea, trying to ignore her cheerful presence, perched at the table with one leg tucked up, chin resting on her knee.

“Love the new look,” she said, pleased.

“You would.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You weren’t exactly happy about the blue.”

She looked puzzled.  “Yes, but-“

I stood abruptly, my chair scraping loudly against the floor.  I couldn’t deal with this conversation right now.  I felt as though I was losing the Nowhere, one connection at a time.

**

“What happened to your hair?”

I looked up, surprised.  This was the first time we had spoken since the blowout at the bar.

I was still angry at her, under the hurt.  I would say something scathing.

“I don’t know, it just happened,” my voice caught, betraying my emotions.

“I’m really sorry.”

“You didn’t do it.” I sniffled.

“Not about your hair, stupid!  About everything.” She smiled.  “Besides – red suits you.”

Music from the Heart

 Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week on Red Writing Hood we were told to listen to the songs that were top of the chart on the day of our birth and let them inspire us in 300 words or less.

These are the songs I got with my birthday

UK – Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship

US – (I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew (this one, I picked… mostly because I recognised it most out of this and the UK top song.  It also suits the mopey mood in which we find our character.  )

Australia – Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room) – Paul Lekakis (seriously? no.  Just… no.  Australia, you had weird taste in music in 1987.  I forgive you, though, because you brought us a ton of other, much better music, according to wikipedia.)

This is a continuation of The Necessary, right after This piece.

If you want to read in order of how it would go if it were in a book, it’s this, this, this, this, and then the story below.  Because writing things in order is far too practical an idea!

Check out the other responses, or join in yourself at Write on Edge.

wow, now that's some impressive hair.

“I love that song.”

I yelped in surprise at finding the boy from the club so close.  The purple and silver scrollwork of tattoos up the side of his face was even more surreal in daylight.

I tugged my ear buds out by the cord and stepped back.

“What?”

He flashed his wickedly sharp teeth in a grin and sang, “Oh I, I just died in your arms tonight.”

I didn’t say anything, just twisted my headphone cord around my fingers.  He was cute enough, in a punkish way, but his smile brought to mind piranhas.  He was definitely Joanna’s type.

“We haven’t been properly introduced,” he held out his hand, and I accepted it reluctantly.  “Ren.  We nearly met last Thursday.”

I tugged my hand out of his over-warm grip.  I was sure he wanted me to ask about his hearing, but I’d met enough Necessarians that it really wasn’t all that surprising to meet a guy with pointed ears and bat-like hearing.

Ren tugged at a charm suspended from the silver wire spiraling up the side of his ear, head cocked expectantly.

I was tired.  Coming here didn’t feel the same without Joanna, didn’t have that same sense of adventure and wild abandon.  Ren’s presence was a reminder of last week’s fight, salt on the open wound of my dead friendship.

I walked away.  I did my best to pretend he wasn’t there when Ren fell into step beside me.

“I saw Cutting Crew play live in ‘81 – great concert.”

“They weren’t even around until 1985.”  I glared at him, taking in his youthful features, his torn jeans and Converse and added, “and you couldn’t possibly have been around at that time.”

“She speaks!  And she knows her music history.”

I fought a smile.

“Charlotte.”

“I know.”