Excerpt from Hannah’s Rainbow

“Do you think dogs go to heaven?” the girl asked, her voice nearly a whisper in the wind.
Hannah smiled sadly. “I’m sure they do.” She put an arm around Irma and drew her close. “Heaven is all things good. Dogs are among the best things in life, so how could it be heaven without our most loyal friends there?”
Irma smiled up at her sister. “Good.”

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Cherished

I have not,

In all m years

Upon this tainted earth,

Looked upon anyone

More beautiful than you.

You are worth every breath

I take of this cleansing air.

I had no found myself

Until I saw my reflection

In your deep eyes.

A fire burns so hidden, intense,

And I long for its unspoken passion

Only found when two hearts are one.

We make love

Upon a sea of silk sheets.

Darling, I utter but one word:

Cherished.

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Excerpt from Mile Marker 139 (WIP)

Her feet pound on the treadmill. The rain comes down outside. She stares into the blurry window at the parking lot and keeps running, not getting anywhere.

Better the window blur than her eyes.

The music blares in her earbuds. Enimen talks about losing himself in the moment, in the music. Sarah tries to forget yesterday. The conversation with her mom. The uncertainty.  

But yesterday’s talk plays over in her head:

“I’m sorry you couldn’t reach me, dear. My phone died. Your aunt and I went out for lunch after the appointment, then had our hair and nails done. It was lovely. We bonded in a way we haven’t since high school.”

“I’m glad you had a good time, Mom, but you can’t ignore the fact of what they told you at the clinic.”

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Ashes and Dust

Sand engulfs my hand,

Sinking it farther in to the trap.

I choose not to bask here in the sun,

Wet tendrils of hair drying to my skin,

As the air whips at skin’s softness,

Burning and breaking the surface,

Exposing pain…

I wish to dive

Back into the water,

Swim away.

The clouds roll in like ashen arms,

Mingling with the sulfuric haze.

Breathing into longest lungs,

I want to break free and cry,

Cry for sweet release,

Not stare aimlessly

At towering mountain peaks

Imprisoning my lone form,

Afraid for my life,

That one breath

Might steal away my soul,

Leaving it to fly

On the breaking breeze,

Carrying it somewhere faraway

To burn and smoulder

To ashes and dust.

I pray the tide comes quickly.

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Excerpt from Mile Marker 139 (WIP)

She puts the phone in her pocket and retrieves her cigarettes.  She stands and lights up, allowing the smoke to do its calming job.  She glances at the building, knowing Sarah isn’t there.  It’s her day off.  Mike went home hours ago.

Still, the phone sits in her pocket like a hot rock.  She is reminded of the game hot potato she played as a kid at friends’ birthday parties.  No one wanted to be stuck with the supposed potato.  She begins to walk toward the woods.  Her thoughts don’t make sense.  That phone is her connection to her friends, her tiny world.

But it’s also a leap of faith, her first tentative step in taking a chance at life again.  And that scares her.

Shelley’s legs shake as she ambles through the recovering grass toward the budding trees.  Everything is coming alive again around her.  The breeze is fresh breath on her face, the cacophony of birdsong a symphony of promise.  She enters the woods for the first time.  There is no marked path, yet she desires to be lost in her solitude for the moment.

Tall trees surround her.  She closes her eyes, tries to imagine skyscrapers.  The warmth of the sun kisses her face.  She feels Russ’s lips on hers.  She sits on the moist ground, reaches out, touches a mossy rock–the softness of skin on another human being.  Her eyes gently open.  The tears she held in break from their cages.  Unsure of the reason for them, Shelley lets them fall.  Maybe she can name every fragile stream that leaves its mark on her, every heartache, every memory, every person who has come and gone in her life.

She sits in seclusion for a while, the distant hum of the highway and the birdsong the only sounds.  Unaware of when she fell asleep or had even been so worn out and worn down, Shelley’s eyes snap open when the first raindrop hits the crown of her head.  She stands, pulls her hood over her head, and makes her way out of the woods.

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Left

I gaze at the setting sun,

Broken and bound,

As the first glimpse of twilight

Streaks across my face.

My eyes close,

And the tears no longer fall.

Why dare to cry

When there is no one to listen?

Monuments of history’s accomplishments

Rise in the background,

Tainted with crimson hues

From a blood-red sun,

Though one would think it beautiful,

The painstaking pain,

I dare say,

Wrenches my heart,

For I know the moment

The sun is swallowed,

My life ends, left unloved.

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Excerpt from Mile Marker 139 (WIP)

Mike’s parting words remain with Shelley long after he shuffles across the dining area toward the lobby.  …I’ll be around for a while…and I don’t just mean tonight.  His form is blurry now.  It’s not because of the physical distance.  Shelley’s eyes are one part of her that has always worked right.  Her tears obscure clarity.  Fifty feet away, sixty feet, seventy, Mike is a dark blue blob.  

Her eyes shift to the phone flipped open in her palm.  The downward movement of her eyes casts another tear out, banishing it from her churning insides.  The blackened screen hids Sarah’s number, Mike’s message: call if u need anything.

The phone snaps shut.  She sniffles, blows her nose on the only napkin left.  The other one is with Mike, a piece of her, a bit of trust.  An open door.

She lifts the cold coffee to her lips, sips.  It goes down like liquid gold, the caffeine another friend.  She sets the cup down and fingers her coat pocket–empty of cigarettes.  She smoked her last pack two days ago and swears, for the umpteeth time, that she’s quitting.  Yet she shakes, unsure if it’s withdrawal or frayed emotions.

Maybe both.

She finishes the coffee in a few long gulps, then stands and tosses the cup away.  She goes outside to her spot.  

The picnic table ought to have my name engraved on it after all these months, she thinks.  Now she is alone with her thoughts, yet she tries to force them out like the tears.  Emptiness is easier to hold than an overfilled vessel of heartache.  Heartache spills and leaves stains in its wake.  

Everywhere Shelley has driven, visited, these past several days has left a trail of heartache, like tire marks on the road from trying to speed away at the last minute.  Or the desperation to stop, just throw on the brakes.  Just make life halt.  Marks left.

She gazes out toward the turnpike.  The drone of traffic in the night is a drug.  She can almost hear tires squealing on the pavement, leaving more marks.  A vehicle crashing into the concrete barrier, repeatedly, a nightmare replayed, a life wasted.  Her life?  Whose life?

My life.

She reaches into her pocket again, wishing for the cigarettes.  She comes away with the cell phone, opens it.  A rueful smile creases her face that Mike cares.  Sarah.  Russ.

She’s already visited the cemetery, the church, the house, the workplace…driven through all the old haunts…stirring her memories.  Her vessel spilled months ago.  Now she’s just trying to clean up the mess.

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