Her End Game #FlashFiction 18+

Her End Game

52-Week Writing Challenge – Week 14.  Prompt: games

Derrick slammed the door of his Denali and kicked it for good measure. Turning abruptly and heading for his second-floor condo, Derrick stopped, his shoulders slumping.

That was stupid.

He looked back at the gunmetal gray vehicle he’d saved so diligently to buy searching for signs of damage from his size thirteen Ferragamo loafers.

Relieved at finding none, Derrick Greene followed the walkway leading to his private entrance.

He had to calm down. Anger wouldn’t change his situation, and it certainly wouldn’t help it. After entering his condo, Derrick tried to close the door quietly. He then plopped down on his sofa and massaged his temples.

I am such a fool!

His friends had warned him, but Derrick had been too smitten to listen. He thought himself hopelessly in love with Anita Banks, and no one could convince him otherwise. For the last ten weeks, he had made her his world. Taken her out for expensive dinners and shows. On weekend getaways and even assisted with her monthly bills.

Derrick wasn’t deterred two weeks ago when he saw Anita snuggled up with a former boyfriend outside an all-night taco stand on the east side of town. She’d explained she’d met with him to tell the man about Derrick and to make a clean break. The old beau became upset over losing Anita and she’d offered him a moment’s comfort.

Sounded reasonable to a love-struck Derrick Greene.

But his friends weren’t buying it.

“Man, she is playing you.”

“She’s nothing but a party girl.”

“Anita is always on the prowl for the fattest wallets and deepest pockets.”

“Neither one of them live or work on the east side, Derrick. Why go all that way for a damn taco unless they wanted to hide and not be recognized?”

But Derrick had seen them. Returning from dinner with his brother’s family. A dinner he had invited Anita to, but she declined, saying she had to prepare a presentation for work the next day.

I am too stupid for my own good! Fuck! I’m too stupid to live!

Determined to be a good boyfriend, Derrick was always trying to show Anita how important she was to him. She was home off work again today with one of her terrible migraines. Anita was complaining about them often. Derrick stopped by her favorite restaurant and got her favorite salad, hoping his surprise visit with lunch would make her feel better.

Parking behind her late model Saab, Derrick let himself into Anita’s duplex with the key she’d given him.

He wasn’t surprised to find the living room dark. Derrick’s chest tightened at the thought of the agony the bright light caused his woman.

Walking towards Anita’s bedroom, Derrick was about to call out to her — not wanting to startle her with his presence — when he heard noises coming from the kitchen.

Changing direction, Derrick headed for the kitchen. His steps slowed. He recognized those sounds. It was Anita, and those whimpering and moans meant one thing.

His first thought was to leave and never come back.

But he couldn’t. Derrick had to see for himself. He had to face the truth about the woman he was so sure he loved. And she needed to see him. Anita would have no wiggle room to talk her way out of this.

Derrick paused in the archway which separated the kitchen from the dining area. His anger dissipated and Derrick Greene pursed his lips to keep from laughing aloud at the scene before him.

Anita Banks was naked and covered in sweat, reclined on the countertop next to the sink. Her skinny legs gripped the back of some guy who had his head buried in her neck… and his pants around his ankles.

Neither of them spoke, each lost in their own lusty race for climax.

Since both were still unaware of his presence… and showing no signs of stopping soon, Derrick felt it was time for a reality check and cleared his throat.

Anita’s attention snapped to the archway, her eyes widening. She pushed the anonymous man away from her as though he’d been attacking her. She half jumped, half fell off the counter, attempting to cover her body with her hands as she approached Derrick.

He took two steps backward and glared at her. Glancing over at the still unnamed man who was scurrying to get his pants up and fastened, Derrick spotted the company logo on his shirt.

He laughed aloud this time, but it was more of a joyless growl.

“The water delivery man, Anita? You’re fucking the water delivery man?”

“B-Baby, no! It’s not what you-”

“Shut up, Anita!”

Giving up on her futile attempt to cover herself, Anita reached out to him. “Baby, listen for-”

Derrick stepped back again. This left enough room for the hapless water delivery man to squeeze past Derrick, his back sliding along the wall. He kept his eyes on Derrick Greene… waiting for the man to attack.

Derrick shook his head and returned his cold gaze to the naked woman before him.

“Let me explain, Derrick! Willie and I go way back and-”

“And you told him what? You’re with me now? Then what? You thought you’d just give him one fuck for old time’s sake?”

“No! No! It’s not like that! I’m not like that!”

“No, Anita, you’re not. You’re worse. You can lie to my face about loving me, and as soon as I turn my back, you got your legs spread wide for any man willing!”

“Don’t talk like that, Derrick! I’m not a slut!”

“Name it and claim it, Anita.”

Derrick bolted for the front door, wanting to be anywhere but near Anita Banks. He froze midway through the living room when he realized he was still holding his keys in one hand and Anita’s lunch in the other. Setting the bag down, he removed Anita’s door key from his key chain. When he turned around, Anita was rushing toward him, wrapping an old brown throw around herself.

“Here’s your key, Anita.”

“No, Derrick, please? Let’s sit down and talk about this. We can fix this.”

He frowned and tossed the key at her feet.

“We? We? There’s no “we” here, Anita. There’s just you, Miss Fuck-‘Em-All, and me, the dumb-ass who fell for your games.” He grabbed the bag. “I came here today because I was worried about you… worried! You said your head hurt so bad you couldn’t see straight. I decided to surprise you with lunch.”

He upended the bag. The southwestern salad with grilled chipotle chicken and house dressing on the side fell to the floor in a colorful, but messy pile.

“Surprise! Enjoy!”

Before she could respond, Derrick stormed out of Anita’s apartment, never looking back.

She watched him speed off, then closed her door.

Why did I ever give him a key?

Anita Banks wasn’t sorry Derrick caught her cheating. She was angry with herself for not being more on her guard. Derrick Greene was pissed off for right now, but she’d win him back. Nice guys like Derrick were no match for her wiles. Anita would wear him down… in time. Just in time for that trip to Ensenada he’d promised her.

(Image from Google)

The Pain Game

Week 13 of the 52-Week Writing Challenge

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas of the body. It is the second most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis. Over five million people in the U.S. suffer from Fibromyalgia. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. Research continues.


The pain associated with Fibromyalgia comes in many forms.

Image from Pinterest

Many who suffer with Fibromyalgia can relate to these pain descriptions. Unfortunately, it is possible… and quite common… to suffer with more than one type of pain at the same time!

Regardless of the type of pain, most sufferers can agree — the degree of pain can vary from annoying to irritating to debilitating to… just-shoot-me-now!

Annoying pain can either be tolerated, or treated with over-the-counter medications.

Irritating pain is distracting and can lead to a break in activity. Heating pads, cold compresses, body stretches, hot tea, meditation/prayer, elevating legs, or a short nap along with prescription medications are some of the things which may bring some relief.

Debilitating pain brings life to a screeching halt.

It hurts to stand.

It hurts to sit.

It hurts to lie down.

It hurts to breathe.

Everything… hurts.

This is when it’s time to reach for THAT medication. The one which says, “May cause drowsiness.”

Talk about an understatement! Moments after taking it, you feel yourself slipping into a heavy, drug-induced stupor. Moments after that… you’re snoring!

Did the pain stop?

Nope!

Do you care?

Nope!

You get fifteen or twenty “pain-free” minutes… if you don’t move around while sleeping.

The just-shoot-me-now pain is mind-altering.

Image from Google

You don’t bother with packs, compresses, teas, or pills.

What’s the point? They will not work.

No, with the just-shoot-me-now pain, you find the most comfortable position your body can take — in a chair or in bed — and you do not move!

You don’t notice the lone tear sliding down your cheek as you wonder, “How did I end up like this?”

Vivid memories of 5K-runs and ruling the dance floor on Saturday nights tease and mock you.

Brain fog is setting in. You think you hear your daughter’s laughter as the two of you crossed the finish line to win first place in the sack races during a PTA field day.

Anger rises from the dark abyss in your mind you visit far too often and joins the pain. Painful, swollen hands become clammy, clenched fists.

You curse yourself for whatever you did to bring this bastard of an illness into your body.

You curse yourself for not being stronger.

You curse family and friends and their flippant remarks of, “You just need to try harder.”

You curse neighbors and Co-workers for their asinine comments of, “Are you really sick?” or “You look fine to me.” or the brain-numbing “Be thankful it isn’t cancer.”

You curse doctors and researchers for dragging their asses in finding a cure — more concerned with whom the latest study will be named after or who gets credited than with the millions of people who deal with the pain each day.

People like the twenty-nine-year-old mother who cries each time she picks up and cradles her baby… because the simple task wracks her body with pain.

People like the fifty-two-year-old woman who retired early to care for her husband who lost his legs to diabetes, and now she must have visiting nurses come in… to care for them both. Fibromyalgia has ravaged her body and weakened her resolve.

People like the thirty-five-year-old wife and mother who’s been a jogger for over twenty years, but now needs a cane to navigate her own home.

Image from Google

Because your stress level has increased… along with your blood pressure, the just-shoot-me-now pain takes you to new heights of agony…

… and you curse God — for allowing this darkness to rule your body and change your life.

The life you’ve spent trying to love your neighbor, spread kindness and practice compassion.

Where’s the compassion for you?

Where’s the cure?

Because this is no way to live.

Save

Save

~~ Book Tag ~~

Book Stack

The always amazing Maureen Driscoll tagged and challenged me, after being challenged by the incredible Melanie Friedman at Bookworm2Bookworm.wordpress.com.  I love these questions, especially since it National Reading Month, so I’m playing along.

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I will never tire of that book. It was my first non-kid book, and the subject matter truly hit home.

What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

My easily distracted mind leads me to read 3-4 books at a time. Just starting Ben Burgess, Jr’s Daddy’s Girl, half-way through Petra Durst-Benning’s The Glassblower, and finishing up M.L. Wilder’s The Vampire Mafia, and Uvi Poznanski’s The Music of Us. I highly recommend them all.

I have no clue what I’ll read next.

What book did everyone like but you hated?

50 Shades of Grey.  I can’t figure out the allure. I never saw a romance…or even a relationship. He was a bully and she was a doormat. No…just no.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but you probably won’t?

Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I saw the Dorothy McGuire-movie DECADES ago and loved it. I fully intended to read the book, but of the thousands of books I’ve read, I’ve never gotten around to that one… and probably won’t.

What book are you saving for retirement?

I’m not saving anything. My TBR is so big I’ve forgotten what’s on it. Any book I choose after I reach retirement age will be great… and a surprise!

Last page:  read it first or save til the end?

I love a story’s buildup and anticipation. The last page… remains the last page.

Acknowledgement:  waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?

Definitely an interesting aside!

Which book character would you switch places with?

None! Maureen already chose Rosalind, Liam Kellington’s wife in Never Deny Your Heart, book 5 of her Kellington series. So I’ll just pout!

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter – the true story of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders committed by followers of Charles Manson. The book came out five or six years after the murders and subsequent trials. I was in my mid-teens, and even though the story scared me senseless, I couldn’t stop reading it. I started high school that fall and quickly learned the story scared most people. Just seeing the book or hearing the name ‘Manson’ created a stir.

So… I carried the book, making sure the title was visible, for most of the fall semester – then my mom got wind of it and took my book.

But it was fun while it lasted!

*Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

A retiring teacher gave me his copy of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I had absolutely no interest in Tolkien but grudgingly read it so I could tell him I did. The rest is history! I’ve wanted to move to The Shire ever since. I’m pretty sure my teacher knew what the end result would be when he gave me that book. Well played.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I gave every student in my niece’s first-grade class a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for her sixth birthday so they could all read the book together. She’s eighteen now and still talks about it.

Which has been with you most places?

The Bluest Eye.

Any required reading that you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Beowulf.

Used or band new?

New… always!

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Nope! I tried, I really tried. The DaVinci Code bored me. Even the movie bored me.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Hasn’t happened yet!

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Anything and everything written by the Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten! (Except her pork dishes…Ew!)

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Author A.C. Melody!

*Is there a book outside your comfort zone you ended up loving?

Tolkien’s The Hobbit. While it may not be ‘outside of my comfort zone’, it was definitely WAY outside of my interest zone. (See related * above!)

Okay, now I get to do the tagging….

A.C. Melody at https://acmelodyblog.wordpress.com

Kim from By Hook or by Book

Jordan Robinson from The Eternity Acts

Those are all terrific blogs.  Please check them out!

The Back Forty #FlashFiction

Dark Alley

(Flash Fiction – week twelve of the 52-Week Writing Challenge. Word prompt: alley)

Camryn hated this part of her walk home.

She equally divided her attention between watching the shadowy alleyways and her footsteps. Used needles and condoms, broken liquor bottles, and random pieces of clothing carpeted the dangerous two-block section of 36th Street known as the Back Forty. Grown men avoided the area in mid-day. A woman walking alone just after six in the morning was asking for trouble.

But Camryn had to get home. She didn’t own a car and public transportation in this part of town started an hour later Sunday mornings.

Montgomery Clemens, spiteful, forty-six-year-old married father of five, knew this. Camryn had declined his offer of dinner and cocktails after work a month ago. Monty sought to punish her. As a human resource supervisor at Patterson Banking Systems, weekend scheduling fell into his lap every two weeks. It was a task he despised at first. Now, Monty saw it as a valuable tool he wielded to punish female employees who rejected him. Women like Camryn Evers.

Determined to beat Monty at his own game, Camryn said nothing and worked the bimonthly schedule changes in silence.

She didn’t have too. Camryn could have requested a hearing with the department manager and reported Clemens. However, Camryn was number three on the promotions list. It wouldn’t be long before Camryn was a member of management. When that happened, payback would be a bitch named Camryn Evers for Monty Clemens.

She could have bought a car. Camryn had more than enough money in either of her savings accounts for a car… and a home. But one of those accounts had been started long ago… when she was a different person. When her life revolved around the words of a man. Camryn trusted him. She loved him. And he’d lied and manipulated her. That would never happen again.

Camryn would buy a car when she was ready. Not because some horny, old fool at work didn’t like the word no.

Fortunately, except for the dreaded two-block section of 36th Street, the seven-block walk home wasn’t that bad. The route was well-lit most of the way, crossing through metropolitan and residential areas. Traveling the edge of the Back Forty, however, filled Camryn with dread. Law enforcement made infrequent passes through the area. The one alternate route would add six blocks and forty-five minutes to her journey home. Camryn pushed on.

As she neared the middle of the second block, Camryn’s steps quickened-the bright street lights of Perry Avenue in view.

“Cammie?”

She froze. No one had ever called her by that nickname except family… and her girlfriends from high school. Despite her better judgment telling her to go home, Camryn turned towards the voice in the shadows. A tall figure leaned against the edge of a dilapidated building.

Even though Camryn couldn’t see the face, she knew the owner of the voice. In all her thirty-four years, Camryn had only known one woman who stood well over six feet.

Belinda Glass.

“Lindy? Is that you?”

“Yeah, girl. What are you doing here?”

The former best friends each took two steps forward. Belinda was now under a street light, and Camryn was stunned at the woman’s appearance. Once a mocha beauty, member of the homecoming court, and a standout player and captain of the girls’ basketball team, the years had not been kind to Belinda.

In a stain-covered dress far too short to be considered decent, Belinda leaned against the street light pole. A matted faux-fur waist coat and cheap, spiky shoes completed her outfit. Camryn couldn’t tell if it was a wig or weave, but the long chestnut curls framing Belinda’s face were matted. Camryn could also see traces of lint through the hair even from where she stood. But it was the tall woman’s face which took her voice away.

A mixture of wrinkles, acne, and bruises covered Belinda’s face. Camryn didn’t see an inch that wasn’t marred. Camryn’s gut churned when she reached Belinda’s eyes. While glassed over, her eyes were also empty, flat… dead.

Camryn watched her friend grip the light pole for balance. She didn’t know if Belinda was high, drunk, or both, but she was on something.

“Cammie? Did you hear me? Why are you here… in the Back Forty?”

“I-I… I’m on my way home… from work.”

“Thought so.”

“What are you doing here, Lindy?”

The altered woman glanced upwards as though she was expecting… and dreading the question.

“This is where I… work.”

Camryn’s hand clutched at her abdomen, trying to calm the rising bile. Sadness washed over her when she realized what the stains on Belinda’s dress were.

“Lindy… why?”

“Life is just a bowl of shit, Cammie, and shit happens. But get that look off ‘a ya’ face now. I don’t need or want anybody’s pity.”

“But Lindy, tell me something! What happened? You left the country with Lawrence after we graduated. You both signed to play ball in-”

“Men lie, Cammie. They do it on purpose. Always needing to control women. They say whatever it takes.”

Belinda’s words hit home deep in Camryn’s soul.

“What about you and Raymond, Cammie? I knew you two would get the happily-ever-after.” Belinda didn’t miss the stricken look on Camryn’s face. “But if you were with him, you wouldn’t be out now walking alone, would you?”

Camryn smirked. “Like you said, Lindy, men lie.”

“I’m so sorry, Cammie. You deserved better. You always were the best of us.”

Camryn waved her off.

“I was no better or worse, Lindy. We were kids, trying to grow up. Raymond covered up his true nature for a long time. But once I found out, I walked away.”

“See? Strength of character. You always had it, Cammie. Even with all the lies Lawrence told, the choices were still mine. I knew he was a liar. I chose to believe him. I chose to stay with him.” Belinda glanced away. “Until he didn’t want me anymore.”

“But Lindy, why didn’t you let me know? Or Cyn or Tammie? We could have-”

“Pride, Cammie… pride. I may not have much left, but I have enough to not want my girls from back-in-the-day to know how far I’ve fallen.”

“Bullshit! That’s no ex-”

“Listen! Do not come this way again. Back Forty’s no place for someone like you.”

“Oh, Lindy, stop- “

“Bitch, we are not having a discussion!”

Camryn flinched at the woman’s tone.

Belinda stood to her full height and let go of the light pole. Though an imposing figure, her eyes softened.

“This is the third time I’ve seen you out here, Cammie. And, if I have… other people have too. People with black hearts and no souls who will do what it takes to get what they want.”

She motioned at Camryn with one hand.

“Look at you. Almost thirty-five but still with a school girl’s good looks. Thick, shoulder-length hair, perfect makeup, manicured nails. Morris is always giving me shit because I have no ass. Yours would have him salivating.”

“Lindy, let me hel-”

“Dammit! You always were stubborn! Go home, Camryn Nicole Evers… now! Never walk this way again… ever!”

“Belinda-”

“I said go! Damn!”

The large woman turned and walked unsteadily back to the alley. She paused after a few steps and looked back over her shoulder.

“Cammie… please. Nothing good happens in the Back Forty and I want nothing bad to happen to you. If you keep walking this way… it will.” With that, Belinda Glass disappeared down the darkened alley.

Camryn stood frozen where Belinda left her. Her heart ached for her childhood friend. They had shopped for prom dresses together, prank called boys, and stolen cigarettes from their parents. Camryn knew she could help her friend. It wasn’t too late.

The sound of trash cans overturning and someone crying out startled Camryn. She knew Belinda had fallen. Camryn wanted to go to her and get Belinda out of this nasty, rancid place.

But instead, she backed away shaking her head. Tears were pooling in her eyes when she turned and ran towards Perry Avenue, not stopping until she reached the corner traffic light. The pedestrian crossing sign lit up, and Camryn made her way across the large thoroughfare, thankful for providence.

Camryn leaned against the post to catch her breath. Only then did she look back across Perry Avenue… and down 36th Street. Despite the rising sun, the outskirts of the Back Forty remained blanketed in darkness, untouched by the light of day.

“Never walk this way again.” Belinda’s warning played on repeat in Camryn’s mind.

They were once close as sisters.

Their lives had taken two very different paths… both lain by the lies of men.

Belinda accepted her empty life fueled by drugs and alcohol. Yet she wanted better for a woman she once called friend.

Camryn wanted it too.

She took a few steps from the traffic light and turned right onto Perry Place. Not for the first time, Camryn marveled at the difference in her tiny tree-lined street and the desolate wasteland only a quarter of a mile away.

By the time she reached the door of her street-level cottage apartment, Camryn had made two decisions. First, when the HR office opened at nine, she was calling off work for the next two or three days. Hell, maybe even the whole week. It would serve them right. Camryn had not had an unscheduled day off in almost three years.

There were only six senior account analysts, and while two had more seniority, Camryn was the one with the knowledge and skill. A week of scrambling without her would make them appreciate her more and receptive to her complaint about Monty Clemens. Because she would demand a hearing.

So caught up in her own head to not be manipulated by Monty… or any man, Camryn had played herself. Instead of reporting Monty, she fretted over a job promotion. She had put her life at risk… for a job promotion.

Belinda’s eyes continued to haunt Camryn as she entered her apartment.

She bypassed the living room, tossed her bag and jacket into a corner chair, and turned on the shower. She had enough time to squeeze in a quick nap before calling her job. Then, she would see if any of the numbers she had for Cynthia Kelly and Tamara Alsworth were still good. Camryn wouldn’t tell them about Lindy, but she wanted to touch base with them. The years had passed too fast, making the distance of a few miles seem even greater.

The rest of her day would be spent binge watching the programs stored in her DVR while she scoured the Internet for deals. Tomorrow morning, she’d take on the second decision she’d made.

It was time to buy a car.

Lost in Translation! #MondayBlog

Diversity

Image from Penn State.

One of the best things about the blogosphere is its ability to shrink the planet.

With a simple click, you can discuss writing with someone in London, exchange recipes with someone in India, or brainstorm with someone in Denmark.

The world which used to be of unfathomable size…now fits in your pocket.

One obstacle yet to be overcome, however, is language.

Blog hosts like Blogspot, Tumblr, and our own WordPress, have made it simple for users to create blogs in their native language.

Reading it… not so much.

I have a few bloggers who follow me here on my author blog and several who follow Nesie’s Place, whose blogs I am unable to read. I can stumble through Spanish and French, after that…I’m a deer caught in the headlights!

On a good day…if I’m on my cell, ye olde translator kicks in and automatically translates the page. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. I used my cell earlier today to visit a blog I think was Lithuanian. The translator kicks in, and I’m waiting…and waiting, when suddenly the translator posts the error message, “Unable to translate; no translation found.” It then not only closes itself – something it’s never done before – it also closes the browser!

 

Attempting to translate another blog from Urdu to English, I cut and pasted a paragraph into a window on freetranslation.com and was given a translation of the “blogger had taken his foot for a walk in the park and thrown his dog around.”

Can’t be sure…but I don’t think that’s correct.

It would be nice to be able to do more than visit these blogs and simply leave a like. That’s the lazy way. Better to be able to translate the page and comment accordingly. What if the blogger is advocating for the burning of all coffee plantations or the banning of books, and I casually pop in and leave a like?

That would not be good.

It would be great if blogs could auto-translate…and maybe they can. I’m just not aware of how to access the feature.

If you know of a one-size-fits-most app or add-in that will allow successful language translation, please share it in the comments below. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue.

Not this time anyway.

Edits Done! YES!

MS

Meltdown avoided. Barely.

When I decided to publish the online read Free, a Novella, I thought compile, edit, publish, right?

Obviously I’d hit my head… or watched far too many episodes of Chuggington with my two-year-old grand-nephew, Jordan.

Who knew a tiny 20K novella could be as daunting to edit as a 100K novel?

I did not.

Fortunately, the worst is over. *Looking for a piece of wood to knock on.* Now I just need to clean it up and ship it off to my editor. *And pray.*

This read will be published! Maybe not as soon as sooner, but definitely not any later than later. See what I did there?

As promised, there will also be another installment posted here-and yes, it will be before the book is published! *I heard you mumbling over there.*

Gotta love Mondays!