I saw the word “lexicon” and immediately went into a dialog with myself.
Lexicon? I want to go!
Go to what?
It’s not a place. It’s a word for a collection of words, a vocabulary used by a specific group.
Well, it sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Would you dress up as a word and see if people can guess what you are? Or the group the words are used by? That doesn’t sound like as much fun.
What in the world are you talking about? Dressing up for what?
The con, silly! The Lexi-Con! It’s like ComiCon but for word nerds like you, a whole convention center filled with word nerds. I went to a Library Conference once. I imagined it would be so quiet, wall to wall stereotypical libertarians from every movie you ever saw.
Sort of, but not really. I saw Ray Bradbury there. He was the keynote speaker and read from his book The Halloween Tree. I bought that book for the kids. It’s one of our very favorites!
Why were you there? You’re not a librarian.
At the time I was volunteering for a state-wide homeschool advocacy group, CHN, and we had a booth there. The idea was to show library’s our publications, what we do, and how they can share information with their communities. Homeschoolers LOVED libraries when I was homeschooling.
Yeah, I remember those days. Story times, craft activities, and all those books the kids would bring home every week. They’d have them all over the coffee table. The one place we never had to say, “No, you can’t have that.” The answer was always, “Yes! Let’s get that one too!”
…sigh…yeah. Good times.
And remember all the weekly walks to the library?
Through all those neighborhoods. We’d play at the park a bit, stop to look at gardens, the train tracks. An all-day adventure.
Today, I’ll be promoting a little writing anarchy. Just a little, nothing too crazy.
Do you have to use writing prompts to create fiction? I don’t think so! I don’t think there’s anything I HAVE to do when I’m writing. I’m reminded of a scene from a movie: “You’ll do it and then he’ll do it and soon enough, EVERYONE is doing it! It’s total anarchy!” Probably not a scene from any movie that was actually made, just one that I believe exists only in my head.
“Bought and Paid For” is the prompt given to me today by Writer’s Write. I’ve heard it used before, in old movies and books, but I’m not totally sure of the meaning, so I looked it up.
Urban Dictionary’s entry was no help at all. Wiktionary was only slightly more helpful. I mean, at least I know how to use the phrase in a sentence now. But where did it come from?
Thinking about the meaning, I saw Santa’s workshop and all the elves working away at all those toys (for good little boys and girls). A small boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, starting to lose faith in the existence of such magic, stumbles across the workshop while exploring old warehouses in the dark heart of a big city.
Magic can be found anywhere these days, if you look for it. No need to sequester it in far off places. Most people would walk right on by this place, maybe even work right along side it, and never see what’s shimmering beneath “reality.”
The boy explores down an alley and catches a whiff of something pleasant, warm cinnamon and cool pine. He follows his nose. Then a tinkling of small bells catches his ear, almost a laugh. A twist. A turn. And then a glow under a large sliding warehouse door.
He pulls but it’s too heavy for him. He lays down on the ground to see if he can catch a glimpse of what’s inside. Laying down, he presses face against the cold damp asphalt, and sees…no…that’s very strange…small green and red felted shoes walking busily back and forth.
The pace of the feet quickens, the singing swells louder, and then it all stops. He hears the clomp of a heavy boot moving towards where he lays, then sees the culprit. Black shiny boots pass in front and stop at his head, facing away from him.
His breath catches at first and he forces his next breath to draw in slow and quiet. Is he afraid of scaring the dream away, waking himself up?
The chattering he heard previously has hushed and all the felted feet turn toward the black boots. The black boots rock forward onto the toes and back again to the heels, while a long heavy breath is drawn in.
Suddenly a clatter is heard, possibly a dropped tool or project supplies, he can’t be sure. The rustle of quiet heads turns in awe. And then… The black boots shiver in front his eyes with a chuckle as it deepens into a belly laugh. A sigh comes from the amassed felted feet and the giggles, singing, and tinkling of bells returns.
But the boots continue to stand there. He imagines the body above the boots surveying the work being done in front of him. When will he move on? The boy is starting to grow cold, though so curious about what’s happening beyond the door. The damp is starting to creep up into his clothes and chill him. Besides…he really has to use the bathroom.
He decides he can wait no longer and slowly, quietly as he can, begins to move his hands under him in an effort to stand up and sneak away, when the boots rock and turn toward him in a flash. The boy freezes in place only to see the crack beneath the door grow dim with the approaching feet.
His breath freezes inside him as the huge sliding door creaks with pressure and then groans slowly open, flooding him and the alley with warm yellow light. He knows he’s been seen but he still can’t will himself to move.
I went for a walk to think of an ending to this story but only came up with, “Does a story ever really end?” Also, I’m out of time today. I never did get to a place to use “bought and paid for,” but I will or maybe I won’t. Writing anarchy!
I am very excited about where the story was going. Aren’t you? I think, for both our sakes, I’ll spend some time on Part Two tomorrow morning. I may not find an ending to the story, just a decent place to stop for a moment, but at least we can find out what happens to our little friend and what might be “bought and paid for.”
Earlier this morning… This is going to be a quickie. Rough and short. So much fun!
What time is it?
I’d hoped for an extra hour of sleep. I was dreaming all night. Crazy dreams about a young man on a bar stool, Disneyland being underwater so we had to swim to rides, on vacation I had the vet put my dog and cat down and I wasn’t sure why or how I would explain it, and I needed my shoes out of the car to go for a walk but my aunt had tied herself up and locked herself in the trunk to get attention.
This is not abnormal. I dream crazy crap just about every night. You could make a movie of a string of them, disjointed and strange. You’d leave the theater trying to puzzle them together. Why? What does it mean? It means nothing at all. It’s just a random string of unconscious thought.
Stumble to my closet, grab my flannel pants (put them on) and my fuzzy warm jacket. Stupid cat scratching at the door. Dog precedes me into the kitchen and paws her bowl. She’s up! It’s breakfast time! Finally!
I’m rubbing my eyes and she’s losing patience. Ok! Sheesh! Fills bowl only to watch her look at it like it’s the worms and lay down beside the bowl.
Coffee. I need coffee. I’ve recently taken to using my travel mug in the morning, even though I’m not traveling. Is that a transgression I can be held accountable for in court? It’s insulated and my coffee stays hot for an hour. I’m a sipper while I read in the morning and I’m always gulping down cold coffee twenty minutes into the book. Not anymore! Consequences be damned!
What time is it now? 5am.
Ugg…I’m hungry. I better eat and THEN write today’s post. I need to leave for my breakfast date at 7am.
Today’s post? You’re writing TODAY’S post TODAY?
Yep. This writing practice is fun. I’ve put the graphic from Writer’s Write for November’s prompts on my background screen, so I see it and remember my plan. Thirty minutes writing on the day’s prompt, edit a few minutes, and then post (even if I hate it).
My point isn’t to write something brilliant every day. I’m only trying to build a new habit of writing without worrying so much about what to write and where it fits in. Too many days, I get to the time of day that I like to write, only to come against a roadblock because I’m worrying if there is any point at all to what I’m writing.
Earlier this morning, I had planned on writing my final thoughts about the book “Rationality” that I finished reading yesterday, but I’m short on time and I’m not sure what I’ll say just yet. If I didn’t have this fun exercise to do, I’d probably skip the post and read a little longer instead. I have an excuse. But not this month, baby!
I opened up a new file, gave it a title of today’s prompt, and started in. And here we are together…humming along, just like we would be if we were chatting over coffee. Me babbling on about nothing in particular and you laughing at what a real weirdo you’re stuck with. Is this love? I think so.
What was I doing? Oh yes, earlier this morning!
I got a bowl of oatmeal, wrote in my journal, made another pot of coffee, and snatched up my laptop, flipping it open as I snuggled down into my spot on the couch again.
What times is it? 6am.
Crap. I’m not going to leave on time if I keep this up. Right. I’ll just play with the prompt for a bit while I finish one more cup of coffee and then hit the showers.
Earlier this morning I’d hoped for at least thirty minutes to write. In the past I’d have skipped the whole months exercise because I know (with all I have planned this month) I’ll never succeed in writing like this EVERY day. I’ll fail, so don’t start.
Not this time! Something is better than nothing and most days are better than none.
That’s all the television, I mean story, there is.
Today’s thirty minute fiction write for your entertainment: “Try” I’m posting these daily, with just a little editing, for fun and practice. They are not fully thought out pieces, most likely ramble and go nowhere, but I’m having fun and want to share them with you as I go!
Here we go. Thirty minutes of words on try.
Try. Try, again.
Try?! That’s your advice? Try?
One does not try to jump off a cliff or get hit by a car. One does not try to perform open-heart surgery. And one does try to…
Try to what? I don’t know.
Try not. Do or do not. That Yoda guy. But we all try things? Right? I always thought that was a silly saying. I try new foods…sometimes. I try my hand at new skills. I try to be nice. I try to understand and fail miserably.
Try. Ok…let’s see.
I paste a smile on my face as I walk into the room but instantly think better of it. A neutral look would be better. Don’t bring attention to yourself. Act natural. This is what people do. They walk into bars, sit down, and order a drink. But this is no bar, it’s a coffee shop. Hmm…
A quick scan of the room shows me there aren’t too many people, plenty of places to sit and watch…I mean, relax while I have a cup of coffee. How does this work? Oh, yes, approach the counter.
“Hello! What can I get for you?” Cheerful. Noted. Sounds positive, non-threatening.
I stumble with the use of the voice. “Umm…” Cough. Heavy breath in. Ok, got it. “Yeah. Um…I’ll have a large black coffee.”
The barista gives a strange looking smirk, I think it’s called. Does it know? I mean, does she know? I think I’m not sure. They all look alike really. “Ok. Room for cream?”
I stumble again. Their language is complicated by emotion and vagueness. On top of that, they don’t seem to listen well. Their communication system really needs updating.
I pause to think, wonder if I have used the wrong words, then realize it’s one of their comprehension gaps, “No, thank you.”
Turning to take a step away, I hear behind me, “That will be three dollars and fifteen cents, please.”
My brain struggles to decipher the words and behavior. Shit. I knew it was too soon to try this. I should have kept a shade and watched from a high corner, or at least remained invisible to move through the motions one more time before attempting to be seen.
“Cash or card?”
Oh! Yes! I got it! “Oh, of course. I’m sorry, my mind wandered.” To another time and place where I didn’t have to try so hard to communicate. Yikes. Waving my hand gently before me, connecting my mind with hers, I create the memory of my payment, and she responds, “Thank you!” She hands me the cup.
I know. It’s cheating. If I want the real experience, I really should have been better prepared. But rather than abort the whole effort, I try to keep going by fudging where I need to.
Taking the cup from her hand, I smile. “You have the most beautiful earlobes.” In my studies, I’ve read they love this kind of compliment, but it seems to fall flat, or I’m misinterpreting the facial expressions. Geez! Why is this so hard?!
Laughing, “I’m sorry. I mean earrings! My English. I mix the words.”
I’m not waiting for a response. I quickly turn away and move toward an empty table near the windows.
As I sit with my back toward the bar, so that I can’t be distracted by the human chatter, I try once again to observe in peace. My gaze lands on the dense foliage outside the floor to ceiling windows and the tiny, winged creatures hopping on two feet beneath them.
Now this is interesting. I hear nor feel anything from these simple creatures. They hop contentedly among each other, pecking the ground and pushing each other aside. Now and then, one spreads its brown wings and flies away, only to be replaced by another. The new arrival begins the same pecking action, at what I cannot see. The particles are two small for my eyes. They do seem so much less hostile than the humans behind me, from which I still hear the discussion of my mistake in nouns a moment ago.
I take a sip of the coffee I procured and settle in to watch the “birds” again.
There’s a hand on my shoulder, not physically, the sense of being brought to task descends on me. “How many times must you read about this, make the attempt, and fail like this? It’s like you’re not even trying.”
Maybe I just don’t want to succeed. I think these birds are far more promising.
I love developing new habits, especially good ones that make me feel like I’m getting somewhere. I have found that I’m a naturally habitual person, so if I can make one little change in my routine stick for a few weeks, I have a very hard time letting it go. I have to be careful though, I can easily make myself crazy with habits. Ok, crazier!
This new habit is writing related! Yay!
I’ve been wanting to write more fiction, but I find it difficult to get started, and then more difficult to stick with a story longer than a day or two. My current writing practice is to use quotes from the books I read as writing prompts, write for thirty minutes, edit the thirty minutes I did the day previous, and then post them. It reflects my attention span, for sure.
A couple of times last year, I was able to get my brain to move in one direction for nearly a week and was very happy with the stories I was able to cobble together. I want more of that! Come on brain! Work with me!
I went looking for prompts and found Reedsy! I haven’t submitted any stories yet, since today was my first day of this new habit, but I’m totally going to. This might be just the sort of spontaneous publicity this girl needs!
As a teaser…I know you’re going to love this…this is what I came up with this morning.
On my side, long pillow tucked under my arm and a knee up, fetal position. Feather blanket and heavy quilt in disarray, one foot partially out from underneath. The perfect temperature.
The cat, perched up on my shoulder, purring away.
I lay there, still, awake but not moving. It’s dark, very dark.
What was I dreaming about? Something disturbing. That recurring one where I’m trying to explain something, and no one understands. No, they aren’t listening, and I get louder and more insistent until I’m screaming insults and epithets in a desperate attempt to get their attention. Blank stares, as if I’m not there at all and then suddenly, comprehension, and anguish in every face. They’re destroyed by my words, pushing away from me in pain. I wake from this dream often, several times a month, not with a start or tears, just quiet and helpless resignation, a deep and still sadness, wishing I could take my words back, wanting the ability to be quiet.
I lay there another minute. I’m warm. I’m safe. It was just a dream.
Then that feeling comes as I lay there waking up…I should get up. I have things to do. Places to be. I can’t be late. What time is it? I carefully crane my neck to see the red numerals of my clock at the foot of my bed. Without my glasses, my sleepy eyes can’t quite make out what it reads. The cat complains of my movement. I’m disturbing his sleeping place. I lay my head back down.
That’s all I have time for this morning. I have a breakfast date with a hot babe! But I’m looking forward to working on this and adding more. Will I actually submit something? I hope so!
I have written some stories in the past. I keep them collected on my Short Stories Page. If you like any of them, please share!
“No meat? No meat at all?!” I heard my Grandmother exclaim when I told her I was bringing my new girlfriend to Sunday dinner. Cary told me not to bother explaining to my Grandma, that she’d just take what she could.
“Don’t tell her, she’ll only make herself crazy trying to make something I can eat. And then what if I don’t like it? Then I’ll feel terrible that she went to all the trouble for me. She’ll hate me.”
I pulled her into my arms and kissed her cheek, “No one could possibly hate you. You’re too sweet.” I kissed her neck and nibbled her ear. “Mmm…definitely sweet.”
“Stop. I’ve got work to do. Call her and tell her we’re both coming on Sunday, but don’t tell her I’m vegetarian. I’ll just make do around the meat.”
But I had to tell her. My Grandma does not take “no thank you” for an answer. She’d be offended if someone at her table didn’t eat something and then if we explain during dinner why Cary is saying no, she’ll be angry that we didn’t tell her earlier so she could make something special for my “new little friend.”
Man I hate it when she says that. I’m 27 years old. Cary isn’t my new little friend, she’s a woman, with a career and her own apartment. We’ve grown really close over the past few months since we met, maybe a little too close. I’m actually thinking about proposing for crying out loud. She’s my girlfriend!
“Grandma, it’s really no big deal. She isn’t a picky eater, but she doesn’t eat meat, any meat. She’s vegetarian. She said she’s happy to eat any beans, bread, or vegetables you make. Don’t go crazy trying to make something special. Please. I just wanted you to know before we got there.”
“Of course, honey. You worry too much. Hmm…maybe I can make a vegetarian lasagna. Carol brought a vegetarian lasagna to the potluck last week and it was wonderful, but your Grandpa hated it. He told her too, right to her face. He said it wasn’t lasagna at all, just vegetables with sauce. He’s always been such a crab to her. It’s like he just loves to upset her.”
“Or maybe I could make a tofu turkey! I saw that on a tv show. It was so funny! It didn’t look anything like a turkey and no one would eat it.”
“What about pizza? Does she like pizza? We could make a bunch of pizzas and everyone could put what they want on them. I love making pizza. It reminds me of my Grandma. She always let us have a ball of dough of our own and my brother would eat it raw.”
“You’re going to make a big deal out of this aren’t you?”
“How could I not? Especially when you’re bringing your new little friend to meet us for the first time. It must be serious!”
“I love you. Do you know that?”
“Yes, I do. I love you too. My very favorite grandchild.”
“Grandma, I’m your only grandchild.”
“Still counts! I’m going to make those little won-tons you like so much for an appetizer. Be here by one or your uncle will eat them all himself.”
A big round number, the first of the double digits, brings me to this point. I’ve watched her for ten cycles. Ten times the clock has come round to 8AM. I can’t really call them days, since “days” brings me back to Earth. I no longer orbit that fiery ball of gas but how else do I measure the time? And should I bother at all?
Here I float in the darkness, stranded, not knowing how much longer I have in this existence, but here I sit, watching her. Shouldn’t I be spending my time more wisely, living in the moment, seizing the day? That is what I intended to do once I realized there was no going back and no going forward either. Sure. I’m alone. Stranded in a strange place with nothing beyond the scant supplies I have on hand and the tin can they called a transport. Why should I not enjoy the last few days I probably have?
Thirty days is a long time to spend in solitude, but the lure of a new world, the prospect of a whole new life was worth the seclusion, worth the risk of travel in this god forsaken can. What would I find there? Who would greet me? I’d heard wonderful things, fantastical things. Would the reality be anything compared to my imaginings? Probably not. But anything had to be better than the hell I was leaving, so I went.
Then that noise came, that quiet thump, a small tick I believed was only my imagination for days, until it became louder. And then suddenly, nothing. No sound at all. The physical sensation of movement ceased completely. It took me a few days to realize my situation. Something had gone seriously wrong and I was stuck with no way to communicate with the world outside my craft. And I was alone.
Until I saw her. And now I lay watching. Day ten. She climbed to the top of my bunk and spun her futile web. There are no flies to catch, my dear. It is only you and I…for eternity. She doesn’t seem to mind. She can’t conceive of the future. She only spins and crawls. My only friend. I wish I were you.