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In his eyes*

Wake up. Wake up! His brain yells through the sleepy fog that hangs low and heavy on his consciousness. He tries to lift his eyes but really he is just too weary. Somewhere faraway, a phone is ringing. Now it’s become a fire engine roaring down the street. And now it’s an alarm. The fire is in front of him.

It’s jarring but he’s a spectator even in his own dream. He’s not spurred into motion. He simply watches the house burn down around him, sensing the urgency but unable to rouse himself.

Slowly panic engulfs like the flames, but still he remains stagnant, knowing he’s about to die, but too paralyzed to do anything about it. He is a prisoner of his broken body and his over-medicated brain. His heart hammers against his chest.

Deep inside his head, he knows that he no longer lives in a house.  The small detail reminds him that he is still sleeping. The screaming alarm is once again the phone.

The call is from his daughter. He can envision her face right now, cradling the phone on the other side of the world, 45 minutes away, children flanking her on all ends – frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, but not surprised. It’s far from the first time he hasn’t been able to get to the phone, even for a wakeup call he asked for; one that he needs to make a doctor appointment he has already rescheduled three times.

She is a good girl, his daughter. He sees her as child; the long dark pig tails, the green eyes that match his own, or at least used to when his own eyes were less muddied; the ready smile reserved just for him. He has failed that little girl who he promised in her crib to protect from harm. He never expected that he would be the one hurting her.

He pushes the thought away. It wounds and he needs not to think about it. Right now, he needs to focus his energy to wake up, to answer the ringing phone, to make his appointment.

With monumental effort, he forces himself to open his eyes. Through blurred vision he takes in the vials of medication scattered on the table, the clutter of boxes overloaded with books and papers, the slop of food on the floor from a 4am binge on cereal and ice cream that he barely remembers. A few pills lie there as well. He momentarily wonders if they are medications he never took, or extras that dropped after taking something he shouldn’t have. His heart quickens.

The ringing stops.

Disgusted by his failure but filled with relief, his eyes droop back down.

She will never again look at him the way she did once upon a time ago when he was a hero.

A tear slides down the side his face. He was a hero, strong and beautiful. Ah. I remember you, he recalls wistfully, drifting off; his mouth lifting in a small grin.

Go to sleep. Go to sleep. His brain now commands and all pain fades into unconsciousness.

Once again he has found peace.

Strong and beautiful

Strong and beautiful

I’ll Worry About It Later *

* This was my week 2 blogger idol assignment which was to write about my day as a man.*

When I glance at the clock this morning, I can feel right away something is different. My back is sore and my crotch area itches a bit. Instead of jumping out of bed to run downstairs and make lunches for the kids, I decide, eh, whatever, and just roll over and sleep a little longer. Weird. I NEVER sleep longer.

One of my kids finally wakes me out of a drooling stupor. “Mommy!! It’s almost bus time!” I lift one brow and try to focus. The clock reads 7:50 am. The bus comes at 8:15 am. “F*CK!” I blurt out, which startles me more than the clock. I never say that, at least not in front of the kids. My seven year-old stares at me wide-eyed and is grinning like he’s just learned the best secret.

I make my way slooowwwlly out of bed to the bathroom, my kid following the entire time. Why do I feel like I have a hangover? “Go get ready.” I order and scratch my ass.

“But you always pick out our stuff.” He whines.

“Do it yourself.” I grumble and then fart loudly. His eyes perk again and he runs out giggling.

Ah. I sit myself down on the can for a nice, long time and flip through the paper. Heaven. By the time I get downstairs, it’s 8:10am. The boys have miraculously made themselves breakfast and are at the door ready to run to the bus stop. I give them the once over. My oldest has his shirt on inside-out, his shoe laces are untied and he’s wearing two different socks – one short and one long. My middle son looks perfect for a soccer match, and my youngest is wearing thick brown sweats, a brown tee shirt and brown rain boots. I scratch my head, amazingly unconcerned. “Did you guys brush your teeth?” They all look at each other and shrug. “Homework?” I ask, and my oldest pulls out a crumpled ball of paper from his bag. “Okay then, have a good day!”

As they bound to the bus, I notice that my oldest son’s backpack hangs open. There’s something I’m forgetting. What is it? Lunches! Oops. I have an epiphany, maybe I can get Dominoes to deliver to the school. That’s genius. Why haven’t I ever thought of that before?

I have a half an hour before I need to get my youngest to Pre-K. In the kitchen there has been a cereal explosion, but I casually crunch my way past the table covered with Fruity Pebbles and spilled milk over to the coffee maker. Oh lucky. The container of milk is right here on the counter. And cookies! I shove a few in my mouth without a thought. I should really clean this up I think, and gulp down my coffee while my child dressed like a big doody eats the cereal from the floor.

 The phone rings. It’s my mother. I’m way too busy to answer.

“Let’s get to school, buddy.” I say. “But how ‘bout a catch first?” We leisurely throw the ball on the lawn for a while before I finally get him to school 15 minutes late. A bunch of nursery moms are still hanging around and chatting as I bounce by with him on my shoulders. Wow, one of them has a really nice rack. I can’t seem to stop staring. I feel unusually drawn to her, but realize I’m wearing my pajama tee-shirt with the holes and somehow I forgot to put on a bra this morning. I don’t really feel like socializing anyway, especially after one of the flat-chested moms gave me a strange look when I whipped her daughter up and threw her into the air. I totally thought she was laughing, but turns out the kid cries like a laugh. How would I know that?! I have a strong urge to return to my bathroom and the sports section.

Comfortably seated back on my toilet I think about what I have to do for the day. Gym, supermarket, dry cleaners, I need two birthday party gifts, a school meeting and I must do laundry. Hmmm. None of that sounds like much fun. I’ll definitely do the gym. Maybe I’ll just blow off the rest of it and go hit some golf balls. That’s an awesome idea. I am so Awesome! I think and then realize there’s no toilet paper. “Hey can you bring me some toilet paper?” I yell out, but there’s no one there to get it. I shrug and go back to the newspaper. I’ll worry about it later.

*Putting finishing touches on my week 3 entry now. I’m partnered up with Meredith from She is hysterical and awesome!!! Get ready to vote Wednesday/Thursday at Thank you all for keeping me in the game. 🙂 *

Draw the Shades, Honey.*

Draw the Shades, Honey.*

Danielle wished he would look her way. She had been eyeing him from across the boardroom table, hoping to catch his attention, but he was so involved in his presentation he didn’t even notice her. It was hard not to notice him. He stood center of the room, gesticulating wildly. His strong features, animated in defending his work, brought out a palpable energy. His hair, a mass of curls as unruly as his temperament, bounced around as he did. Dan Steel was on fire and the whole room stood at attention, but none so much as his assistant, Danielle.

She had worked for him for over a year now and knew what he was going through. These idiots around the table wouldn’t know a good idea if it hit them in the face, possibly because the only things going into their faces were mouthfuls of muffin. She had worked side by side with Mr. Steel to make sure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed. The campaign was brilliant, why couldn’t they see that? It seemed they were all against him. It made him all the more attractive.

A smarmy, know-it-all, who had the nerve to grip Danielle’s arm before the meeting, look down her blouse and ask for a cup of coffee, started speaking, “Mr. Steel, while I appreciate your efforts here, I don’t believe what you’re suggesting is a right fit for our target.”

Danielle stifled an audible puff of absurdity. The whole boardroom turned toward her. She really had to work on those stifling skills.

Smarmy man raised a brow, “Excuse me, miss? Did you have something to say?”

Danielle flushed deeply at the attention, bringing a gorgeous rose to her high cheeks, and brushed a thick curling wave of hair away from her face. She hesitated, but spoke forward, “I was just thinking that as the demographic you’re seeking to reach, I for one, really respond to this campaign. It speaks to my generation honestly, without pretense or being condescending. Maybe you’d consider an informal focus group of my peers before making any conclusions?”

There was an extended moment of silence while they considered her and her words.
“I like it,” said the figure closest to Mr. Steel. It was John Blake, president of Blake Industries, the company they were pitching the marketing and advertising strategy to.

Commotion and coordination ensued as the teams worked to come up with a plan to test the ideas. As they shuffled from the room, Mr. Blake briefly rested a hand on Danielle’s shoulder. “Nice job, little lady. Hey Dan,” He called out, “give this one a raise. I’m sure you’re not paying her enough.” He winked at Danielle who glowed, happy that she helped, and didn’t make a fool of herself. “Thank you, Mr. Blake. I really like your new product-line.”

“Do you now?” The older magnate said. “Yep, this one’s a keeper, Dan.” He affirmed as he walked out.

The last two left in the room, Dan Steel looked down at Danielle with an unreadable expression. “Yes sir, she is.” He agreed. His eyes bore into her, penetrating her skin, setting fire to her clothes, igniting her from within.

She was naked before him. Bending down, he breathed low and gruff in her ear “That was risky. Don’t take risks with my company.”

Danielle lowered her eyes, focusing on the hard yellow of her high heels to keep steady. “Okay.” She whispered, still unable to meet his gaze. The intensity of his nearness made her light-headed.

“Okay what?” He challenged, his breath like a hot caress.

“Okay, Mr. Steel.”

“I’ll deal with you later in my office.” He bit her lightly on her ear lobe.

She almost melted into the floor.

She couldn’t wait.

*This is a response to write in the style of a writer who influenced you. I chose Danielle Steel because from the age of 17-22 years-old, I couldn’t put her books down. At the time, she inspired me so much that I tried my hand at my own romance novel. It still sits waiting, yearning for someone’s touch under my smoldering, hot bed. Come on, you know you want it.


His Name was Puppy

Today she had a done a bad thing. She knew she wasn’t supposed to open the door but her father was calling to her from the other side, cajoling her into acquiescence. “Come on, sweetheart, open the door for daddy.” Her mother shouting from behind her, “Don’t you do it! Don’t you open that door!”

She stood in the middle. Turning both ways, conflicted, afraid, overwhelmed. She couldn’t take it anymore, the pleading, the yelling… it was too much. So against her mother’s wishes she had opened the door, and then flew out of it, away from her mother, right past her father. Running. Running. Out of the house, around the block, until finally, panting, she rested against a tree. She took a few deep breaths, lingered a bit to pick at the bark of the tree and then walked slowly back to the house. Where else was there to go, really.

When she returned, her parents were sitting there in the yellow kitchen, waiting. “I’m sorry ‘bout that, doll-face.” said her father, tussling her hair and grinning sheepishly.
Her mother knelt before her, grabbing her arms with her hands, “I shouldn’t have done that to you. It’s okay that you opened the door. I’m not mad.” Her mom gave a comforting little smile, “Okay?”

She shrugged. She could take it. She could take it all. It was no big deal. “Sure. Okay.”

Her parents exchanged a strained glance, and sent her off to play in her room.

She sat there now on her bed with Puppy, her favorite stuffed animal since she was a baby, and “A Wrinkle in Time,” one of her favorite books, semi-listening to the angry voices billowing up the stairs. The voices were loud and full of hurtful accusations. At 10 years-old, she was well aware her parents were divorcing, but it didn’t make her cry or anything. In fact, unless the fighting was particularly hateful, she could block it out completely.

Years later, her grandmother would relate a story about how she walked into the enraged house to find the little girl coloring a picture on the floor, her parent’s screaming all around. The grandmother bent down and asked, “What’s all that fighting about, pussycat?”
The little girl answered, “I don’t hear anyone fighting, grandma.”

The little girl listened for just a moment, hugged her worn, torn, well-loved Puppy a little closer and returned to her reading. It was no big deal. No big deal at all.

Puppy lived till the ripe, old age of 17, when all the thread in the world couldn’t put Puppy together again.

He is lovingly remembered.

The Sounds of Silence*

The Sounds of Silence*

My house screams with quiet. There are no feet stomping down the stairs. No yelling for the bathroom, or at each other for stealing a toy, or a friend. There are no iPods singing or ICarly chatting on the television. The Wii dance party has shut down and someone else will have to help Mario save the princess. The whirl of the electric Sponge Bob toothbrush has ceased. The crack of my son’s bat hitting a home-run, just an echo. No hamburgers sizzling or Kung foo battles. No sing-offs, or screaming fits over homework. No honk of the bus or for the friend being picked up. No more reading The Three Little Pigs over and over. No more tantrums for treats, or crying while washing hair. No more slammed doors, loud farts or chanting for “Ice cream!”  No more calming their cries. No more, “Mama, come.”

I can almost hear the cock of the Nerf gun, right before one of my little boys shoot me in the back; and my own voice as I sing my babies to sleep. Almost. The giggling and tickling, laughing and whining is gone. My feet scrape loudly in empty silence. It’s just so quiet now. It’s almost as if it all never happened.

*This is a response to the weekly WordPress writing challenge on the role of sound in writing.