#52weeks52stories “Watching You Watching Me”

This may or may not be Halloween-inspired! 😀 #Suspense #Horror

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#52weeks52stories: Week 41

Word prompt: aroused

Word count – 2656

Reading time – 7 mins

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He blamed Monica Montgomery for his predilection.

Four years his senior, the nineteen-year-old had lured him to her bedroom and introduced him to sex… and erotic asphyxiation.

Terrified at first, he soon learned how the right amount of pressure on her carotid arteries enhanced her orgasms. Her heightened arousal and reaction was a turbo boost to his own and soon he couldn’t have sex without the strangulation hold.

When he arrived at Monica’s for one of their weekly visits, she stopped him at the doorway with a kiss on the forehead and informed him she was headed to Europe to continue her education.

His devastation only worsened when he learned days later, Monica Montgomery moved to Germany… with her fiancé.

Despite his good looks and wealth, high school girls weren’t throwing themselves at him and he was miserable until he got to college.

He found some college coeds were more adventurous and had no problem with his request, yet most girls found it a total turn-off and whispers of pervert and weirdo grew around him.

By his senior year, he was frustrated and humiliated. He stopped frequenting the local favored eateries and pubs of the college crowd and ventured into more adult hot spots, which is how he met the lusty Vanessa.

Encouraged by the older woman’s enthusiasm as she dragged him from the nightclub, he didn’t make his usual sexual request.

Which was a mistake.

Vanessa had screamed in pleasure twice as he still struggled for his release.

Leaning on his elbows, he’d slipped his hands around her throat. He increased the pressure with each thrust and a smile grew on his face as his climax neared.

But the moment was short-lived when Vanessa bucked him off her with such force he ended up on the floor on the other side of the bed. She ran from his apartment naked and screaming he was trying to murder her.

It cost his father millions in legal fees and to buy Vanessa’s silence.

And, he’d lost his spot in his family.

Directed by his father’s attorney, with lightened hair and a new beard, he’d been uprooted from his home in the toney Chicago suburb of Lake Forest and dumped in Denver, Colorado.

No one asked him if he wanted to leave Illinois or where he wanted to go.

The attorney purchased a three-suite office complex and small estate in his name and handed him the keys, an envelope containing several credit cards and banking information… and the business card of a psychiatrist. After admonishing him to keep his therapy appointments and to not cause his family any more embarrassment, the stone-faced counselor walked away, headed for a return flight home.

So began his exile.

But rage and resentment burned in his soul. He should have stood his ground and protested. They had no right to cast him out. He was one of them. He was just like them.

His father called it an enrichment program for girls, but he knew the only reason Peter Stanhope created the nonprofit, Girls Can was to give himself easy access to nubile young girls.

His mother knew all about his father’s habits and couldn’t care less. Rita Stanhope had a thing for blue-collar men and spent her time cruising the construction sites and pubs of downtown Chicago. Stanhope money had lured dozens of working-class men to hourly motels.

And his older brothers? Peter, Jr. and Jarrett worked for the same law firm and between the two of them, had screwed every man and woman in the building, sometimes at the same time.

Joseph had a violent temper and was an abuser. Peter Stanhope had spent millions to silence two ex-girlfriends and two ex-wives.

Even baby sister, Rhonda, at twenty-four, wasn’t an innocent. A hard-core drinker and self-professed pain slut, she’d been thrown out of and barred from most of the BDSM clubs in and around the Chicago area. They didn’t like the type of public attention Rhonda’s behavior attracted.

But he was the deviant. He was the one judged for showing aberrant behavior.

For two days, he sat in his sparsely furnished mini-estate replaying everything in his head. As he railed at the hypocrisy and double standards and fumed over the judgmental glares from his mother and siblings his mind fractured.

With an eerie calm only the psychotic could understand he decided if his family didn’t want him, he didn’t want them, and they didn’t deserve to know his whereabouts.

A quick Internet search brought Marley Hennicks to his front door.

The bottle blonde grinned too much, exposed too much of her breast implants, and reeked of Caron’s Poivre, just like his mother. But she was a competent realtor and in less than a week, she’d sold his home and office building and found him a place in California.

He packed up his Mercedes GLS 450 SUV the same day he signed his sale and purchase documents and left Denver. Eleven hours later, he stopped for the night in Las Vegas. When he checked out of the Double Tree Hotel the next morning, the disgusting hair dye rinse and offensive beard were gone… and so was his mind.

***

Six Months Later

Tonight was date night, she just didn’t know it yet.

But she would. Soon.

He’d planned the evening down to the last detail.

Taking one last glance in the mirror he was pleased with his appearance. New navy dockers he paired with a button-down shirt the same shade as his ice-blue eyes. A fresh haircut to tame his unruly dark curls complimented his look.

She would be impressed.

He went into his back bedroom and peered out the window.

She was home from work.

He could see into her kitchen and dining area and watched her prepare her evening meal.

Gone was the conservative dark business suit she wore every day to City Hall. He wondered what her staff would think of the city’s senior accountant dancing around her kitchen in boy shorts and a tank top.

He knew she was putting on a show for him, teasing him. Running his hand over his crotch he anticipated how sweet she would be, how he would get what he’d craved since the day they met.

She was struggling with boxes in her driveway and he’d rushed across the street to offer his assistance.

“Hey, new neighbor! Can I give you a hand?”

“Oh, thank you! I don’t know what I was thinking of packing so many books in one box.”

He grabbed the box and followed her through the garage to the mudroom, setting the box down against the wall.

“I appreciate the help. Thank you again…” Her words trailed off and he didn’t miss a beat, thrusting his right hand forward.

“Hart Stanhope.”

Accepting his hand, she looked into his eyes for the time.

His stomach flip-flopped and his pulse raced. She had gorgeous brown eyes and smooth clear mocha-kissed skin. A few wispy strands of gray graced her temples, making her older than what he’d assumed.

Hart liked that.

But it was her neck, her long, feminine neck where his eyes rested. He imagined his hands around her neck, squeezing, taking them both to heights of pleasure.

“Thank you, Hart Stanhope. I’m Penelope Driver. Friends call me Penny or PD.”

Startled from his fantasy, Hart stuttered and rebounded.

“It’s… nice to meet you, Penny, and welcome to the neighborhood.

Focusing on the mudroom to hide his embarrassment, Hart took note of all the boxes already stacked along the walls.

“Wow. Are all these filled with books? What do you do?”

“I’m a senior accountant in the city comptroller’s office, and yes, most of these boxes are filled with books.” She looked around as though checking for eavesdroppers. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. These books have nothing to do with my job. I just love to read.” She chuckled and headed for the door.

Hart followed her out to her SUV.

“Need help with any more boxes?”

“No. The movers have everything else and should be here soon.”

It was his cue to leave.

“I’m just across the street if you need anything. I’m sort of the neighborhood geek-to-the-rescue for computer problems. Most of our neighbors are older and every time there’s a Windows update it gets crazy around here. But I’m a consultant and work from home so don’t hesitate to knock on my door. For anything.”

“Thanks, Hart. I’ll do that.”

Only she hadn’t.

Hart waited weeks for her to come to him. But other than friendly waves and smiles as she came and went, she ignored him.

Was there another man?

He’d never seen anyone visit Penny other than friends on the weekends.

Hart took advantage of the high walls and shrubbery people used to isolate themselves, using them as cover and entered Penney’s house several times while she was at work.

She was neat and had good taste in furnishings.

Her bedding was exquisite and he couldn’t help but admire a woman who lived alone and slept on organic linen chambray.

One side of her walk-in closet held the severe suits she wore to work in the obligatory navys, grays, and tweeds, but the rest of the closet was all silks, cashmeres, and wools.

Penny’s wardrobe was worthy of any supermodel or CEO’s wife. But he found no evidence of another man or that anyone was taking care of her.

Hart liked that.

She took care of herself and had standards. Just like him.

She was meant for him and they would be together.

It was time.

The lights in her dining room dimmed and Hart knew she was cleaning the kitchen.

He headed for his garage, stopping to pick up the handcuffs, chloroform, and dagger from the kitchen counter.

He’d never hurt Penny. She was his. But he had to be safe to avoid another Vanessa-episode. His family would find out and he never wanted to see them again… or the disgust and contempt in their lying eyes.

He backed out his driveway, stopping to wave at the Sondheims who were just arriving home from dinner.

He turned right at the corner on to Corral Cove but instead of continuing on to the Huntington Drive main drag, he took another immediate right onto the access alley which ran behind the houses on Penny’s side of the street.

Hart stopped three houses away from Penny’s and killed his motor. He sat there listening to the ambient sounds of the night.

He knew these people and their routines. Those who weren’t already in bed were watching Dancing with the Stars or reruns of shows from days gone by. Some were online chatting with family or hunting down the latest remedy for rheumatoid arthritis.

Locked inside their expensive homes, they were not concerned with what happened on the other side of their doors.

Hart left his vehicle and walked the short distance to Penny’s back gate. He hadn’t been able to master the combination lock but scaled the fence with little effort. His jump to the ground on the other side startled two feral cats and they roared and hissed. Hiding behind a rose bush, Hart watched Penny pull the kitchen curtain back and look out only for a few seconds before returning to her cleaning.

He rushed to the other end of the house and the bedroom next to Penny’s bedroom. He took down the window frame he’d loosened yesterday and pulled the screen back, slipping inside with ease.

Hart stood in the darkened room and relaxed, taking in the scent of Chloe Narcisse. Not pricey like Caron’s Poivre, but distinctive, and its spicy, rich oriental floral blend was a perfect match for his Penny.

His steps were slow but deliberate as he entered the dark hallway. He’d planned to wait for Penny in her bedroom but his need for her propelled him toward the kitchen.

Hart stood just outside the kitchen doorway, still shrouded in darkness. She was still at the sink, singing along and wiggling her ass to some 80s nonsense as she washed dishes.

Just as he was about to step into the kitchen, the feral cats sounded again, this time at war with each other.

She looked out her window again.

“Damn cats! Who keeps feeding you? If they can feed you, they can catch you and take you to a rescue shelter. Damn!”

His heart sank. Her mood had changed and now she was annoyed. She didn’t go back to dancing and singing, but stood with her back stiff, arms perched on the edge of the sink.

He fingered the dagger in his pocket.

He didn’t want to hurt her. He couldn’t.

Hart slid the blade from his pocket. He would only use it to keep her calm… until she realized it was him and this was their night.

He gripped the blade tighter as sweat beaded on his forehead. He looked at the distance between them and counted seconds.

Her shoulders lowered as she relaxed and slid her hands back into the dishwater.

Hart raced toward her, the blade raised in his right hand, but just as he reached her, Penny whirled around to face him.

He froze. The calm in those beautiful brown eyes showed she wasn’t surprised. She knew he was there.

Hart tried to speak but no words came.

Penny’s eyes went to his chest and he looked down… to see the handle of a butcher’s knife—the rest of the knife buried deep in his chest.

His eyes went back to her face. The calm was gone, replaced by a dark, malevolent glare.

She smirked and twisted the knife as she pushed him away from her.

Hart’s brain exploded with pain as he fell to the floor. His mouth filled with his warm blood.

He watched her stoop down next to him, her eyes filled with the same disgust and contempt as his family. She spoke.

“Did you think I didn’t know, Hart? After all this time? I’ve been watching you watching me for weeks.”

He watched her stand, step over him and walk away. He couldn’t go after her. He couldn’t even turn his head.

As his lungs filled with blood, Hart tried to make sense of what happened, but his mind went sideways again and he smiled.

She knew. All the skimpy outfits and sexy dances had been for him.

Hart Stanhope took his last breath and died a happy man. He’d been right. She was his.

***

Penny Driver checked the window Hart came through… to make sure he hadn’t closed it. She went into her bedroom, grabbing her green silk robe and cell phone.

Back in the hallway, she ripped the sleeve away from the robe, dropping it to the floor. She overturned a slim bookcase and lamp table on the way back to the kitchen. She pushed the breakfast table aside and overturned two chairs. Then Penny left the kitchen, never even looking at Hart’s body.

She stared out her front window at the quiet of the night… as she pulled strands of hair from her ponytail and ripped the strap of her tank top.

She sighed, dreading the next few hours.

The cops would show up, spending more time during their thorough investigation staring at her ass and bare legs than doing any real investigating.

They’d decide on the spot she’d defended herself from an intruder and whisk her away to the ER to be checked out.

A victim’s advocate would stand at her bedside, patting her hand and telling her how lucky she was to be alive. They’d go on to explain how difficult it was for the average person to take a life, but they would be with her all the way to help her get through it.

Penny smirked while powering up her cell.

It was a long time ago, but she hadn’t found the first kill difficult at all.

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Begin Again”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 40

Word prompt: memories

Word count – 2328

Reading time – 7 mins

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I can do this.

“Sherry? Over here.”

Her belly roiled as the butterflies in her stomach staged an epic mutiny. She ran her thumb over the empty spot on her left ring finger.

Moving toward her coworkers seated by the stage, Sherry Davenport plastered a friendly smile on her face, wishing she was any other right now than Dave & Buster’s.

Millie Kemp, a thoracic surgical nurse with twelve years’ experience, squealed like a teenager.

“Sherry! I’m so happy you joined us tonight!”

“C’mon, girlfriend. We saved you a seat.” Jaynie Pomeroy, new to their department, motioned to the seat next to her.

“Hey, everyone. Thanks for inviting me.”

Sherry took the seat, sinking into the overstuffed lounge chair and spreading her silk scarf across her lap.

“Oh, sweetie, you just stop that right now.”

Sherry turned to the kind smiling face of Sue Grant. At sixty-two, she was the most senior employee in the department and the best surgical nurse Sherry had ever seen.

“You’ve always had a standing invitation to our Saturday night meet-ups, and not just because you’re our boss. You’re one of us, Sherry. We care and we want you to never forget that.”

Sherry smiled, unable to respond because of the growing lump in her throat.

Prep nurse, Lucy Gomez, agreed. “This last year has been a rough one for you and we get that. But you don’t have to isolate yourself, Sherry. We’ve all lost loved ones and understand. It’s damn hard.”

Sherry found her voice. “Thank you. Thank you, all. I haven’t been approachable for quite some time, but I appreciate everyone’s patience and am touched by your concern.”

A single tear slid down her face as she rubbed the empty spot on her left ring finger.

“Dammit, Sherry,” group cynic Melody Simons barked. “I may be ornery as hell but no one gets to cry in my presence without me joining in.”

Eyes welled up as heads bobbed in agreement.

Bolting upright to the edge of her seat, Sherry threw her hands up.

“Nope, we’re not doing this. You all were gracious to invite me out for some fun and good times and I’m ready for that. Who’s up for a game of pool, and why don’t I have a drink in my hand?”

The women laughed and cheered, lightening the mood.

Melody grabbed Sherry’s arm, dragging her toward the billiard room.

Though she was smiling, Sherry was trying to quell the battle of anxiety and nausea burning in the pit of her stomach. She clenched her fist to avoid rubbing her left ring finger again.

They came to an abrupt stop near the bar. Melody yelled out a drink order that minutes later was passed to her through the crowd.

“Wow, who do you know?”

Melody grinned. “I used to date the bartender’s uncle. We didn’t last but turns out his family likes me more than him. His brother is my dentist and his mom still bakes me chocolate chip cookies.”

Sherry laughed, realizing for the first time the ornery persona was a mask Melody wore.

She’d had no time to get acquainted with the surgical scrub teams after she took over the department before Warren got sick. However, it didn’t take long to learn every team member was skilled and dedicated. Bad management, personality conflicts, and favoritism had driven department moral to a new low. Jealousy and infighting had taken their toll and six employees had taken positions with other hospitals and surgery centers before Sherry took over.

She’d worked to exhaustion interviewing the staff and meeting with administration to find the point of compromise and stop the exits of valuable team members.

Sherry had even taken her laptop with her when she sat with Warren during his chemotherapy treatments. The work distracted her for a while and kept her tears at bay. She could forget the powerful cancer drug was only palliative and stalling the inevitable. Pancreatic cancer would take Warren from her sooner than later.

Startled from her thoughts, heat rose up the back of her neck. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Is your drink okay?”

Embarrassed, Sherry took a long sip through the decorative straw and smiled. “Honey Jack. How did you know?”

Melody smirked and shrugged a shoulder. “I overheard you and Sue talking about favorite drinks one day. Figured the info would come in handy one day.”

It was Melody’s turn to smirk. “I’m keeping my eye on you, Simons… and watching what I say around you.”

They both giggled like school girls and Melody tilted her head toward the billiard room. “Ready to play?”

“Ready to lose?”

Melody choked. “Aw, now I gotta serve you some humble pie.”

They laughed as they made their way through the crowd, selling wolf tickets the entire way.

*   *   *

“Woman, where in the hell did you learn to play pool like that? Pros couldn’t have made some of those shots. It was your dad, wasn’t it? He must have been aces.”

The crowd had thinned and they found seats at the bar.

“Believe it or not, it was my mom who taught me, not my dad.”

“What?”

Sherry guffawed at the woman’s slack-jawed expression.

“Yep… momma.”

Melody frowned, her dark eyebrows forming a deep V.

Sherry continued. “Grandpa Ernie, mom’s dad, was a champion pool player. Even held a national title twice. He started teaching me before I could reach the table. Used to stand me on phone books or in a chair. He passed away when I was seven and momma continued teaching me and my older sister, Angela.”

“How did your dad feel about that?”

“Oh, it irked him that he never beat momma in a game during their entire fifty-two-year marriage, but the bragging rights field was still level. He’s the one who taught me to cook.”

Melody shook her head. “Guess the battle of the sexes didn’t exist in your home.”

“Don’t you believe that. A simple meal of Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes could turn into a cooking challenge with a simple glare between the two of them. Dad would remind momma the best chefs in the world were men, and she was quick to remind him the best chefs were chosen by men so it was a no-brainer. Some nights I thought I would starve while they perfected sauces and plating.”

Sherry laughed aloud at the memory.

Melody turned away.

“Hey, you okay? Did I say something wrong? Melody?”

She turned back to Sherry, her eyes downcast. “No, I’m fine. Ready for another drink?”

“Forget the drink, Simons and tell me what just happened. What upset you?”

Her head dropped, her chin almost touching her chest.

“Just forget it please, Sherry? I don’t want to make you angry or have you hate me.”

“Hate you? C’mon, Simons. Have a little faith in me.”

Melody raised her head and Sherry’s heart broke seeing the dark brown eyes filling with tears.

“I remember your first day on the job. When you introduced yourself to the staff, you talked about your husband and how the two of you did everything together so we shouldn’t be surprised if he popped into the department often. So, when you lost him I know it was devastating for you. But, I don’t know that feeling of loss since I don’t let any man stay around long enough to develop true feelings for them.”

Melody blew out a harsh breath and continued.

“You smile and love is written all over your face when you talked about the things your parents taught you… and those family moments.”

Her eyes could contain the tears no longer and they spilled down her cheeks.

“You lost the people you loved the most. The ones who helped make you the person sitting next to me. I’m not trying to be mean or discount any of that, Sherry, but to someone like me, you caught the brass ring.”

Sherry frowned, not understanding.

Melody held her hands out in front of her, trying to explain herself. “At least you had them, Sherry. You were loved and cherished by good people who you loved and cherished just as much. That’s why losing them hurts so much.”

“But, when you’re a biracial teenager with a chip on your shoulder, you don’t have many good memories, only nightmares… of a father who beat your mom until he got bored and walked away for good; of a mom so broken by him leaving, she drank herself to death, and by a foster care system that can’t decide if you’re black or white, so they shuttle you from one disgusting foster home to another.”

She wiped her face with her sleeve.

“The luckiest day of my life was when an older couple showed up at the residential center where I lived to donate new toys for Christmas. They saw me sitting outside on the swing… in the dead of winter. They talked me into going back inside and they followed me around, asking me questions. It hit me, at last, these good people cared, and we sat down and talked. The director hid in corners as discrete as a KGB agent.  When the Simons asked him about the process to become a foster care home and how adoptions from the system worked, I thought he’d swallow his tongue. By Christmas the following year, I was the legally adopted daughter of Ed and Wilma Simons.”

Sherry’s face was wet too. “But that’s a great memory, right?”

“It could have been. The Simons were good people who were good to me, but they had four grown children who were suspicious of the quiet girl with the tawny skin and kinky hair. Instead of siblings, they felt like cops, always watching me, waiting for me to screw up. Even after my adoption was official, I still felt like if I didn’t something they didn’t approve of, they would convince their parents to send me back.”

“I’m so sorry, Melody. That had to be awful for you.”

“I got through it. At least there was no arguing, fighting, or drinking. I went off to college a couple of years later and developed my own routine for living alone, taking care of myself. Mom died six months after I graduated… dad, a year after that. My adopted siblings washed their hands of me and I was on my own for real… and alone.”

“Where you have painful losses, Sherry, you have wonderful memories to bring you some comfort. I have an empty void and only rejection and fear to fill it.”

Sherry smiled, and Melody’s face scrunched up in confusion.

This was her A-ha moment Angela assured her would come.

Having lost her own husband in an industrial accident nine years earlier, her big sister had tried to be encouraging after Warren’s service.

“I can’t tell you when or where, kiddo, but the day will come when breathing doesn’t hurt anymore. Losing mom and dad rocked us, but losing a spouse is different because you feel like a part of you died too… like your soul’s been ripped in half.

But one day you’ll be able to hold your head up without feeling exhausted. You’ll be able to take a step without fear of falling, and you’ll smile without the guilt of betrayal. The best part is it will be the love you shared with Warren that holds you up and moves you forward.”

As teenagers, Sherry would rather cut out her tongue than admit Angela was right about anything. However, the truth and wisdom of her words made Sherry’s smile grow.

I can do this.

She considered her friend who still sat wracked with confusion.

“It couldn’t have been easy to admit those things, Melody. Thank you for sharing them with me.”

“Wait. You’re thanking me for dumping my drama on you? No more drinks for you.”

Sherry laughed. “Yes, ma’am, I’m thanking you. You’ve made me remember all the good things in my life. I had amazing parents, and I loved Warren with everything I am. We did do everything together and I couldn’t have a conversation without mentioning his name. But after he died, I stopped talking about him… and anything else.”

“You nailed it. I am this person because of the people who loved me and that love and the memories it created aren’t diminished or erased because they’re gone.”

She hopped off the bar stool. “And in that spirit, we shall make new memories. And maybe we’ll start with a man worthy of you.” She twirled around and disappeared into the crowd, but she could hear Melody begging her to stop and come back.

Sherry laughed all the across the bar. Stopping in the hallway outside the Ladies’ room, she glanced back over her shoulder and caught glimpses of a nervous Melody Simons through the crowd, looking around as though something bad was about to happen.

She felt bad at causing her friend stress and would apologize the second she got back to her seat. Sherry had no intention of pressing Melody into anything. She wasn’t ready and Sherry still didn’t know her well enough to know if she would ever be ready for that level of trust and commitment.

Sherry Davenport glanced down at the pale spot on her finger where her wedding ring sat for twenty-three years.

It took as much trust and commitment to take it off as it had to put it on, and both times, she found strength in her love for Warren.

She had no idea what her future held but she’d move into it, even if only by baby steps. She and Melody were both shaped by their pasts and they both had the same problem. Life was happening all around them but they were static, not moving in any direction, and that was no way to live.

Sherry pressed her lips against her barren finger. She couldn’t pick up where she left off, but she could begin again.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Liana”

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This young lady, Liana Daniels, is haunting my thoughts again. She’s talking about her sisters and her father, and about trying to please everyone and be the family cheerleader.

And how she almost lost herself in the process.

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#52weeks52stories: Week 39

Word prompt: cutting

Word count – 535

Reading time – 2 mins, 4 secs

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Knowing her father would be at a job site and her two sisters still in class, Liana Daniels skipped her sixth period chemistry class and rushed home and straight to her bedroom.

Taking the shoe box from the back of her closet, Liana sat on the floor and stared at it. She knew even wanting to do this meant she had emotional problems. There wasn’t much on the subject of self-harm at the library, but Liana vividly remembered two phrases — personality disorder… and schizophrenia.

Suddenly angry, Liana ripped the top off the shoe box. She wasn’t crazy… she wasn’t! She just didn’t understand why her family had to suffer so. Why did her mother go away? How could she leave her daughters? And her dad… even when they managed to all have fun and laugh together, she could still feel his sadness.

She thought the family might get some relief from Sophia, her rigid rules, and need to control when she went off to college. But Sophia came home most weekends… and sometimes popped in during the week. Reina was acting out and getting into trouble all over Granger, and Neema was painfully shy and withdrawn.

She couldn’t add to her father’s growing list of problems with his girls. He needed her to be strong.

Feeling tears burning in the corner of her eyes, Liana removed the single-edge razor blade from the shoe box. Without hesitation, she slipped off the cardboard sleeve, held out her left arm and in a slow, deliberate motion, made a two-inch cut.

Liana didn’t cut too deep, yet she was amazed at the amount of blood… and how she felt! Expecting the burn or sting of pain, she instead felt relief… and euphoria! Making another cut right next to the first, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Gone were the jumbled thoughts and the near panic. Gone were the feelings of guilt and doubt. It was as though a suffocating fog had cleared allowing her to breathe again.

Ten minutes later, feeling light and refreshed, Liana used the gauze and antiseptic she’d also placed in the shoe box to clean her cuts. When she finished, the cuts appeared to be two faint scratches on her arm. Satisfied, Liana wrapped the used razor blade and bloody gauze in a piece of clean gauze and put the tiny bundle in a small brown paper bag.

She returned the shoe box and its contents to the back of her closet and slipped the small bag into her coat pocket. She would have to throw it away on the way to school tomorrow.

Relaxed for the first time in days, Liana stretched out across her bed. The books she’d read were wrong. What she had done wasn’t wrong. She hadn’t used drugs or hurt anyone. She had not caused five minutes’ worth of trouble. And she was not crazy. Liana knew she just needed a little relief… a temporary crutch to get by. She didn’t plan to make cutting a regular thing or do it forever. Just until her family was happy again.

Just until she was happy again.

A few short minutes later, still thinking about her family, Liana fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

 

 

 

 Image from Pixabay

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Break Away”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 38

Word prompt: hunger

Word count – 182

Reading time – 45 secs

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Trapped among the chaotic masses

I’m jostled, kicked and pushed

My personal space invaded as others try to claim their own

My soul hungers for peace

And I rise into the arms of my family

Where I am sheltered and loved

But the shelter turns into suffocation

And the love turns into obligation

Old hurts are new again

And I am to blame

My soul hungers for peace

And I rise to the side of friends

Where I’m accepted and understood

By those who know me best

And have navigated the highs and lows

Of this life’s journey with me

But acceptance turns into jealousy

And understanding turns into the double-edged sword of betrayal

My soul hungers for peace

And I rise again, alone but not lonely

Enjoying the peace my soul craved

I look down

At the chaotic masses

At my family

At my friends

But they don’t see me

Because they’re not looking up

They’re looking down

Under the souls of their feet

Where they tried to stomp out my dreams

And crush my joy

 

I smile… and float away

 

 

 Image from Pixabay

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “the sapling”

sapling

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 37

Word prompt: foundation

Word count – 100 (A Drabble)

Reading time – 24 secs

~~~

a young sapling struggles to stand

as its roots stretch deep to grasp a firm hold

on a solid foundation from which to pull water and nutrients

that will help it grow tall and proud and withstand

the endless battering of the elements as they try

to make the sapling bend to their will

or fall from its foundation, broken,

but their grips are steadfast, sapling and foundation,

their bond unbreakable even as the sapling matures

stretching it leaves and limbs

out to receive the nurturing blessings of the sun

and become a force of nature in its own right.

 

 

 Image from Pixabay

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “A Mother’s Love”

A Mother's Love banner

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 36

Word prompt: softball

Word count – 1286

Reading time – 5 mins, 23 secs.

~~~

Kristen Wisdom cursed Greg Gaines for delaying her exit at the end of the workday.

Since her divorce, the accounts payable manager found more reasons to be alone with the senior accounts specialist.

But Kristen wasn’t in the mood for his reindeer games, especially not today. She’d pushed him aside and barreled out the door, blocking out the profanity-laced threats he yelled after her.

“Stuck-up bitch! Guess you don’t need this job.”

That remark made her whirl around to face him.

“I need my job about as much as you need yours, and the only bitch I see is standing in front of a company security system that records video… and audio.”

Horrified, Gaines flung himself backward through the door as though it would erase the security tape.

She fumed as she inched her Camry along in the stop-and-go rush hour traffic. She’d deal with him later.

Men.

Kristen’s day began with her ex-husband, Sean, backing out of today in favor of a Happy Hour birthday celebration for a coworker.

“This is important, Sean. You need to show up.”

“My job’s important too, Kris.”

“Does Happy Hour fall under other job duties as needed?”

“That’s not funny, Kris. You know how the game’s played. I’m up for a promotion and I need to be seen as a team player. Besides, the new position comes with a substantial raise which translates to more alimony and child support for you.”

“Well, that’s different, Sean. Just toss a fistful of dollars at me. That makes everything better in your eyes and erases your guilt. But you’re still an asshole.”

Gripping the steering wheel, Kristen took a deep, cleansing breath.

Norris and Liz Carmichael taught their only child the only obstacles in life were the ones allowed to exist. She’d put her heart and soul into removing barriers for this day to happen. She’d be damned if she allowed two selfish men to ruin it for her.

An idea flashed through Kristen’s mind as she approached the next off-ramp. She zipped off and let out a loud whoop seeing the green light ahead of her. After a left then right turn, she bounced in her seat and pounded the steering wheel, jazzed at the open thoroughfare in front of her.

Eight minutes later, she pulled into the parking lot of the Leon Buford Memorial Recreation Center. Kristen popped the trunk and traded her suit jacket and three-inch pumps for a windbreaker and New Balance runners. Grabbing her blue and gold mom-poms, she raced across the lot to the rear of the rec center.

Rounding the corner of the building, Kristen couldn’t help but smile at the new black-top area paid for by donor dollars.

The bleachers weren’t packed like they would be for a regular game but she was grateful for the crowd of supporters and pleased the local press was there.

She made her way to the front row of the parents’ section and was relieved to find the game had just begun.

The red-and-white-shirted Colts in the field meant the Iron Dragons won the coin toss. She searched for her son in the sea of blue shirts near the dugout. Kristen’s heart sank when she spotted her fourteen-year-old son.

With his elbows on his knees, Nicholas Wisdom rested his chin in his hands.

Her hand went to the center of her chest, rubbing at the tightness forming.

She knew that look.

Nicholas didn’t expect his dad to show, but after not seeing her in the bleachers, he no doubt felt abandoned… again.

The last five years devastated her family.

Kristen’s already rocky marriage was tested and failed when the winter car accident that took her father’s life also put her son in a wheelchair for the rest of his.

Pushing her own grief aside to be there for her son and grieving mother, Kristen had nothing left for her self-involved husband who showed no sympathy… or empathy toward his family.

Less than a year later, Liz Carmichael moved to California to be closer to her aging siblings allowing Kristen to pour all of her time into Nicholas.

The life adjustments were not easy. Besides learning to live life from a wheelchair, it took several months of family counseling to relieve the depressed teen of the guilt he felt for his parents’ divorce.

It was on the way home from one of their last counseling sessions Nicholas screamed out as they drove past a local park and begged his mother to turn around.

Pulling up on the side of the road, they both looked on in awe at the sight before them.

A group of adults was involved in a fast-paced game of softball… from their wheelchairs.

The Wisdoms wasted no time in joining the game’s spectators.

Kristen got a quick history lesson about wheelchair softball and was surprised to learn there was a national governing body with official rules and leagues.

Nicholas was excited to hear there were also junior leagues, but the closest one was five-hundred miles away in the northernmost portion of the state.

Kristen Wisdom had seen enough disappointment in her boy’s face and that day it became her mission to bring youth wheelchair softball to Madison, Ohio.

Several infections and three surgical procedures sidelined Nicholas as teams formed but Kristen kept up her campaign working with parents and doctors to gather corporate sponsorship.

Now, twenty-seven months after Nicholas saw his first wheelchair softball game, he would get a turn at bat and he’d know his mom was there to see it.

It was mom-time.

Removing her windbreaker, Kristen stood on the bench seat and threw her head back, yelling, “Let’s go, Dragons!”

Channeling her inner junior-high-school cheerleader, she danced, bounced, clapped and sashayed through several cheer chants, much to the delight of the other parents… and her boy.

Winded, Kristen dropped back onto her seat as Nicholas approached the on-deck circle.

Denny Miller hit a double sending his teammate to third base.

Nicholas approached the plate and Kristen’s heart was beating like the drum solo in Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

The pitcher toyed with Nicholas to either walk him and load the bases or strike him out. But after two balls and one strike, he got too cocky and comfortable and Nicholas was ready, hitting an explosive grounder that sent the sixteen-inch ball speeding past several Colts team members.

Kristen was on her feet cheering as Nicholas rounded the bases so fast, the flame decals on his wheels appeared to flicker.

Two Colts members collided and tumbled from their chairs, giving Nicholas the opportunity to get to third base.

So overcome with excitement and emotions, a wave of dizziness hit Kristen as she watched her son grip his wheels and leaned toward home plate.

Virginia Blanchard was up to bat. Also fourteen, Virginia’s diminutive size made people believe she was younger… and underestimate her. Colts outfielders rolled their chairs in closer.

Virginia wasted no time and sent the first pitch to the fence. The fierce female headed for first base, but Kristen’s eyes were locked onto Nicholas as he sailed into home and the cheers and back-slaps of his teammates.

He gave a thumb’s up to Virginia, who’d made it to second base, and rolled toward the dugout.

Kristen Wisdom was still clapping and cheering when Nicholas stopped and glanced up at her. The smile on his face was brighter than a dozen suns and she erupted into tears.

People around her rubbed her back and passed her tissues but Kristen only cried harder.

She would endure it all—pervy bosses, selfish ex-husbands, rush hour traffic—all of it… every single day just to see her boy’s smile.

Nothing was more important to her.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Just Once”

Sunny Day

Drabble time!

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 35

Word prompt: right

Word count – 100

Reading time – 24 secs.

~~~

The minister motioned for her to begin.

“Troy, my love, when we planned this day you said I wouldn’t make it to the end without crying—and neither would your mom and dad.”

Someone sobbed behind her.

“You said we’d get the perfect day with azure skies.”

Her eyes glistened with tears.

“You were always right… except when you said today would be our new beginning.”

She covered her mouth to muffle her sobs.

“Because instead of saying ‘I do’, Troy, I’m saying ‘goodbye’.”

Unable to continue, she placed a white rose atop the polished walnut casket and walked away.

 

~~~

Photo by Adi Ulici on Unsplash

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories The Problem Princess

princess

I’m having another one of those weeks. It will pass soon. 😉

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 34

Word prompt: queen

Word count – 235

Reading time – 58 secs.

~~~

In a kingdom far away there lived a Queen

Who had a troublesome daughter just out of her teens

On her tasks, she did tarry

And she vowed never to marry

And she thought her mother quite mean.

 

The Queen blamed the girl for her migraines

And the lines on her face showing the strain

“This brat of mine

Must get in line

Or I’ll be in court tomorrow getting arraigned.”

 

She got an idea – a Ball!

“Invite a few men, no, invite them all

And make sure this royal order

Gets to my hard-headed daughter

Her time is up, she no longer can stall!”

 

The Princess was tired of the stress

And thought, “I’ll wear a horrid dress!”

“The men will think me quite strange

And maybe a bit deranged

And then I’ll be free of this mess!”

 

When the Queen saw the dress, she moaned

The royal court was filled with giggles and groans

Except for Prince Luke

Who thought she was cute

And wanted to take her home.

 

The Princess considered the crown-Prince guest

Who didn’t mind her wretched dress

“Hmm? Live at home with the Queen

Or marry this man of means

Are you mad? I won’t fail this test!”

 

And that’s how this story ends

A royal wedding with family and friends

As they raised a toast

Her mom couldn’t help but boast

“I’m the Queen, I always win!”

 

~~~

Image from Pixabay

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories Wowie Zowie!

wowie zowie

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 33

Word prompt: flu

Word count – 2105

Reading time – 6 mins

~~~

She put off the appointment for too long and missed her chance.

Flu season had arrived with a vengeance and Teri Wilson’s doctor’s schedule was full.

She knew better.

Along with her daily meds, the yearly flu shot kept the chronic asthmatic out of the ER and off her nebulizer.

Now she stood in line at her local pharmacy to pay out-of-pocket for a flu shot from people she didn’t know.

All because she dreaded making that appointment.

Because Teri Wilson was afraid of needles.

Not just, oh-this-is-going-to-hurt afraid, but anxiety-laced, blood-pressure-raising, vomit-inducing, pass-out-on-the-floor afraid.

It was an irrational fear, she knew, especially for a woman of her years and medical history.

But when Teri looked at a needle, she didn’t see the long hollow pointed part of a hypodermic syringe used to deliver medicines or fluids to her body to help her. She saw a Viking’s sword, poised over her in battle ready to pierce skin and bone and eviscerate her very soul.

And no amount of counseling, sedatives, or taunting had ever been able to change her.

Family and friends who took turns escorting her to medical appointments to hold her hand—or hold her down—would be exhausted from the physical struggle.

Teri’s husband, Leonard, made fun of her and called her a big baby.

“Jesus, Teri. It’s just a tiny prick and over before you know it.”

His smugness annoyed her and wasn’t close to the level of compassion she felt a spouse should have.

“You’re right, Leonard. I should be used to it since I married a tiny prick and it always ends before I even get started.”

He wasn’t amused.

Leonard’s lack of support wasn’t the reason Teri filed for divorce six months ago, but she’d find room to squeeze it in among his long list of flings, affairs, overspending and other mid-life crisis issues.

As if on cue, a couple in line behind her sniped at each other.

“It’s a flu shot, Deb. Stop acting like it will save your life.”

“It might. Remember how sick I was two years ago, Larry? Nineteen days in the hospital. I got my flu shot on time last year and never even had the sniffles.”

“But forty dollars? Isn’t that pricey? I’ve seen them advertised for twenty-five.”

“Well, I didn’t find that price today, and it’s a small investment in my health compared to the visit to the doctor’s office that’s three times as much and not covered by our insurance.”

“I get it. This is about me switching to a cheaper health plan at work without talking it over with you first.”

Teri heard the woman scoff.

“Larry, this is about me trying to stay as healthy as possible this winter so I don’t miss a ton of work and can still take care of the kids.”

His voice softened. “I want you healthy too, Deb. I need you.”

Their voices lowered into cooing and breathy kisses and Teri mentally applauded the man for at last speaking from his heart and not his head.

She hadn’t been so lucky.

The line moved forward five steps and Teri craned her neck to see a divider was added to make second booth to assist with the small crowd.

Droplets of perspiration formed around her ears and hairline.

Don’t start this, Wilson. It’s just a flu shot. Stand still before you embarrass yourself.

She took two cleansing breaths to calm herself and went back to people-watching.

Her gaze fell on a dark-haired boy of about five three places ahead of her in line.

His mother had a firm grip on his hand while her other hand-held the ereader she focused on.

Teri watched the well-behaved child and smiled. He appeared to be talking to himself while waving his hand around in the air.

Was he doing jazz-hands?

Her smile grew into a grin as her curiosity got the better of her. Teri tapped the shoulder of the man in front of her.

“Sorry to bother you,” she tilted her head toward the child, “but can you hear what’s he’s saying?”

The young man in front of him turned around chuckling. “Excuse me for butting in but I was wondering the same thing.”

The adults took a step forward and leaned toward the child.

The first man frowned. “Sounds like ‘Wowie Zowie.’”

This got the mother’s attention, and she faced the small group, a sheepish look on her face.

“He is saying ‘Wowie Zowie.’ Nicholas is afraid of needles and my goofball brother taught him that so he wouldn’t be afraid.”

“Does it work for him?” the young man asked.

Before his mother could respond, little Nicholas looked up at the curious group. “Unkie Tate gave me magic. It always works.”

The young man laughed. “It does, huh? Always?”

“Yep. Long as you believe, anything’s possible.”

Both men high-fived the boy and knelt to talk with him as his mother looked on, smiling.

Teri was speechless, mesmerized by the child’s eyes. They reminded her of Boyd at that age. A chocolate-brown so soft it resembled velvet. What intrigued her about Nicholas’ eyes was the ring around his irises in gradient shades of gold. The contrast of the deep brown against near-platinum hues created a glowing effect.

At least it did to Teri. No one else appeared to notice. The younger man and Nicholas were in an animated conversation about Peppa Pig while his mom and the other gentleman seemed pleased to find out they were both single… and available.

“Next in line, please.”

A couple with two pre-teens moved to the reception counter and now Teri was fourth in line.

A dull roar sprang to life right behind Teri’s ears and competed with the butterflies in her stomach. Clenching her fists, she tried to will away the sense of dread moving through her.

“It’ll be okay.”

Touched by his concern, Teri looked at the boy… and gasped.

His beautiful eyes were glowing.

She looked around.

Nicholas’ mom was at the counter filling out forms. The two men discussed their last bouts with the flu. The line behind her carried on with their conversations, reading, and looks of boredom.

No one saw the golden light shining from the child’s eyes.

Except her.

Teri turned back to the tyke, but he was disappearing behind the divider next to reception with his mom.

She rubbed her temple, unsure of herself and what she saw.

His eyes glowed.

Listen to yourself, Wilson, you sound crazy as hell.

But you’re standing too close to miss it.

About to give in and ask the men if they’d noticed anything different about Nicholas’ eyes, Teri was interrupted by crying from the far divider.

Her mind remembered where she was and why and her anxiety rushed back to the surface.

More crying followed by soft wails assaulted Teri like a punch in the gut. She stepped around the two men in front of her to lean against the counter no longer trusting her legs.

The preteens reappeared ahead of their parents, heads bowed and clutching their arms. Not even their father announcing a stop for chili dogs and fries could raise their tear-filled faces.

“Guess I’m up next.” She heard the young guy say as he zipped behind the divider.

Why is he so happy? They’re about to plunge a piece of metal into his skin.

The pharmacy aide slid a health form over to Teri. Focused on not throwing up, she wasn’t sure what she put on the form but by the time Teri finished the young guy was waving and heading up front for the exit as the first man took his place.

Oh, God. I’m next.

Her vision blurred and Teri cursed herself for allowing pride and a bad attitude to let her come here alone today. She wanted to bolt but knew she’d never make it to the parking lot. Patting her coat pockets, she searched for her phone to call Boyd. Her oldest child was the only person who would come for her and not judge her. Much.

Startled by a sudden jolt, Teri looked down at her hand where the sensation started, to see Nicholas stroking her fingers.

“It’s your turn.”

She studied the child as she allowed him to lead her behind the divider.

His mother was fastening her jacket while the nurse gave her aftercare and injection site instructions.

Nicholas stopped at the small exam table and motioned for Teri to sit.

She considered him again. He was a compassionate young boy who could sense unease in others, one of those old souls people spoke of. Teri chastised herself for thinking Nicholas was anything else.

“C’mon, Nic, we have to go. Tell the nice lady goodbye.”

His mom held out his jacket for him, but before walking away, he gripped Teri’s again.

“It’s gonna be okay.”

“Thank you so much, Nicholas. It was nice meeting you.”

He ran to his mom and slid into his coat.

Teri removed hers while the nurse changed gloves and readied a new tray.

Teri’s brow knitted in confusion. She was rolling up her sleeve as a nurse prepared a flu injection a few feet away.

For her.

And she wasn’t freaking out.

The anxiety and nausea which plagued her only moments ago were gone.

No perspiration trickled down her back.

How had she conquered a lifelong fear in a few minutes? And why today of all days?

The nurse sat the tray on the table next to Teri.

She still wasn’t happy about the shot but she was no longer crippled with fear or filled with dread.

Teri watched the nurse open the alcohol swab and wipe a spot on her arm.

“Remember.”

She looked up to see Nicholas peeking around the divider.

“Wowie Zowie!” He waved his hand through the air, then ran off.

“You’re all set.”

Teri jerked her head back to see the nurse removing her gloves. She looked at her arm and her eyes widened to see a band-aid in place.

“That’s it? You’re done? I never even felt the poke.”

“These new flu shot needles are smaller with a finer point. They make less of an impact on the skin… and patient’s nerves.”

The two women chuckled. Teri hurried to get her coat back on, only half-listening to the nurse’s instructions.

She had to catch Nicholas.

Thanking the nurse, Teri headed for the front of the store. As she passed the flu shot line, she froze. Teri opened her change purse and took out two twenty-dollar bills and folded them in half. The couple who’d bickered over the cost of the shot were now near the front of the line. Teri grabbed the surprised woman’s hand, placed the bills in her palm and folded her fingers over them.

“I hope you both have a nice day.”

Smiling, she turned and rushed toward the exit in search of a special five-year-old.

Her heart fell as she stood in front of the store and looked out across the parking lot.

Nicholas and his mom were nowhere in sight.

What just happened? I’ve never gotten a shot in my life without putting up a fight or getting sick, and today, I didn’t even feel it.

Resigned, she headed to her car, replaying the last hour in her mind. Teri thought she was in the wrong row until she saw the bumper of her Altima sticking out just past a large, windowless, commercial van.

Her smiled returned as she passed the van. Between the van and her car sat a Nissan Xterra. The woman sat in the driver’s seat talking on her cell. Teri looked inside the car as she opened her own door, to see the child fastened in a mini car-seat.

She heard their engine start and waved to get his attention.

He glanced in her direction and smiled, returning her wave as his mom pulled out of the parking space. Holding Teri’s gaze, Nicholas waved the same hand through the air… and his eyes glowed.

They drove off, leaving the dazed woman standing there, her own hand held up in a frozen wave.

Teri dropped her hand, looked around to see if anyone witnessed what just happened, then got in her car.

Sitting behind the wheel, Teri Wilson tried to make sense of her situation.

A lifelong fear… gone.

An adorable little boy… with glowing eyes.

No one else appeared to notice.

And no one would ever believe her story.

She started her car and left the parking lot.

Remembering the child’s words, Teri decided being believed wasn’t important.

Because she believed.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “John & Stella – A Limerick”

theives

Weird week. Hard to concentrate. Too many personal things to deal with, especially with the mister’s and my mom’s health.

Didn’t want to give this week a pass though, so this is my brain under stress. 😀

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 32

Word prompt: triplet

Word count – 125

Reading time – 30 sec

~~~

There once was a man named John

Who was always working a con

On the day he met Stella

John became her fella

And the two began life on the run.

~~~

They grifted in Boise

They scammed in Poughkeepsie

With the law on their trail

John and Stella decided to bail

And spent four days in Reno getting tipsy.

~~~

The duo hid in a cabin in Truckee

And John just knew he’d get lucky

But they weren’t very cautious

Now Stella is nauseous

Looks like these two are having a baby.

~~~

Nine months later the triplets came

John knew he had to up his game

So he taught them the ropes

Raised them not to be dopes

And they’re still bringing fame to his name.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved