Jessica Michelle Singleton

Usually I try to come up with some snazzy, artsy, punny title for my posts. You know, something that has a vague allusion to the subject I’m writing about, something a “Writer” *hair flip* would do. Not for this one. It’s important to me that right off the bat, we know what we’re dealing with.

Jessica – or JMS, as I (never) call her, when I want to make her sound like a battleship – is so many things to me. I told her at…let’s check….11 PM last night, when I wasn’t quite drunk but was starting neatly into my cups, that I had to write about her, that it would kill me not to. That wasn’t the alcohol talking. It’s the fact that she’s phenomenal.

I went to school with Jessica. She was a year ahead of me, and I had transferred from a different high school after my sophomore year, so we only got a school year together. I’m not sure exactly how or why we crossed paths, but we got along immediately and became friends quickly.  We’ve kept in touch since.

She had a dream, and it was… well, to be honest, a daunting one. She wanted to make a career as a comedian, one of the hardest artistic professions to not only break into but do well at. It’s a profession that very often doesn’t take women seriously, and Los Angeles is a city that I absolutely love but fucking eats the souls of those not ready for it. I know. I moved there when I wasn’t ready for it.

When I turned 21, I moved to L.A. with two friends and no plan. I was going to be an actor/writer, I thought to myself, with six middling theatrical performances and a handful of questionable short stories under my belt. I even got headshots done. Did it matter that they were taken in a mostly abandoned warehouse by a man with half a dozen cats, arranged by a guy who ran a softcore pornography website as a side business? Not to me. I didn’t even see it when my friend said that one of my pictures looked like someone had just told me my pet had been run over by a car.

I was going for, I don’t know, pensive? It doesn’t matter. I didn’t become an actor/writer and my sheer unpreparedness for the city left me chewed down to gristle. The distance from the only home I had known, financial concerns, an unsupportive woman and, ultimately, myself left me broken. I moved away, defeated.

Jessica didn’t give a flying shit. Or maybe she gave all the flying shits. Either way, she moved down with an idea of how difficult things would be, discovered first hand the reality that it was so much more difficult than she could have imagined, and she endured it. With the storm that raged inside her continuing to roil and churn, she pushed it back and let sheer force of will keep her there, keep her fighting for every minute she could get on stage, every single person she could tell a joke in front of.

And she made it work. She has been making it work. She’s made a full-blown career out of it, doing a mind-boggling amount of shows each year, a cross-country tour, an international tour, radio shows, television pilots, YouTube sketches. She’s partying with Brian Regan in Las Vegas.

She came home for her high school reunion and did a couple surprise performances. I caught the latter of the two, the fourth time I’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform live, and she absolutely slaughtered the crowd. Just killed it. In a scarce three years, she has gone from doing fifteen-minute spots for nobody headliners to headlining shows with an hour and a half of solid material and hosting tours.

She’s a woman who had a dream, a horrendously difficult one, and spat in the face of adversity, wrestled that dream into something that not only supported her but brought genuine joy to others, and continues to make it work for her. The opportunities continue to flow her way, due to her hard work and her talent.

Professionally and artistically, I respect and admire her a great deal. She is doing what I meekly tried to do and continues to pursue her dream ravenously, with a fervor and talent that leaves me dazzled. It was a pleasure and a privilege to see her give an audience so much, so gleefully, striding across her element with a confidence I haven’t felt in over half a decade. She’s a hero to me.

And if it was just that, it would be enough, but she’s still so much more.

Jessica has been an invaluable friend. She’s that rare breed that won’t bullshit you, but also understands exactly what you’re going through and empathizes. Empathizes, which is much more difficult to do than sympathize and is typically much more emotionally taxing for both parties involved.

There is parental resentment. There are creative struggles. Most critically, there is trouble with mental instability, something I’ve come to learn recently is shockingly more prevalent than people are comfortable discussing. She talks about depression and bipolarism in her sets. She mentioned it in the first (and only, so far) guest post I’ve had written for my blog, which you can read here. Fun fact: That was written exactly one year and two weeks from yesterday.

I have texted her drunk, and not, at 3AM or 3 PM, wracked with angst and insecurity and desperation, and she has walked me through some storms. She is patient and guiding, despite the distance, despite anything else, because she gets it. She has been supportive and encouraging, and I will always, always be grateful for that.

Three days ago, I caught her warm-up set at an open mic comedy show. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to catch up some, and I expressed how proud I was of all that she had accomplished and was continuing to accomplish going into her high school reunion.

“Mine’s next year,” I said. “I’m 27 years old, and all I’ve done is write three books that don’t sell for shit.”

“But you’ve written three books,” she said. “Do you have any idea how crazy that is? What you’ve actually done?”

It’s so easy to discount every aspect of my life and get into a rut where I feel like a failure. Like I haven’t done anything. Like I’m not doing anything. At several critical moments since I’ve met her, Jessica has been there to gently pull my head from my ass. She has reminded me of the positive things that I have, that I’ve done, that I am. She’s been there, a thousand miles away, while I’ve wept and railed against the world, and she’s made me feel okay and normal when I was anything but.

I love her to death. That my first novel is on her bookshelf is a deep moment of pride for me. That we are friends is a shining diamond in my life.


Jessica Michelle Singleton. Beautiful. Loyal. Intelligent. Raunchy. Wild. Hilarious. True.

You can follow her on Facebook here, check her site out here, and follow her on Twitter at @JMSComedy. Also, just Google or YouTube her or some shit. She’s funny. You won’t regret it.


Recap Redux

I’ve written or shared a hundred posts now, and it has been an absolutely rewarding experience so far. From being able to experiment via short stories set in worlds I plan on exploring in more detail later to reflecting on my life/my relationships/my family and friends, what started out as sort of a trial outlet for my thoughts and creative endeavors has turned into a cathartic routine.

Even more so, by sharing it online and via Twitter and Facebook, I’ve received a number of comments and personal messages expressing a wide variety of emotions. That’s good! That has been the point of this. I want you to be able to experience my type of art. I want you to think and to feel things, and if you’re going through an experience or feelings similar to something I’ve gone through,  I want you to be know you’re not alone.

Every fifty posts or so, I’ll create one of these as sort of a recap. With so many posts coming out of me and with no real regular schedule,  there’s a chance you may have missed something that pertains to your interests. This is meant to act as a quick guide to the posts, separated more or less into different categories.

If you read something you feel particularly thought-provoking or touching or infuriating or garbage, I encourage you to share it with others.

First off, you can find a quick recap to the first 49 articles here: FIVE OH.


About Me:
My Own Worst Enemy
I’m a Man Who Was Raped
Oktoberfest, Or That Time I Crippled Myself
Distilling Who I Used to Be
The Metal That Gave Me Mettle
I Fell In Love
Playing the Doldrums
Kisses Have Pictures Beat
Office Space
Story Time With Grampa Jered
Just Plane Silly
The A Word

Family and Friend Profiles:
Go Out and Get ‘Em, and a Birthday Note
Mama Mia
Father Of Mine

Writing Tips and Opinion Pieces:
Six Reasons Why 50 Shades of Grey Sucks, and Why It Doesn’t
Ten(ish) Books That Tickle My Fancy
Getting the Gang Together
Things I Love: The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Thanksgiving: A Better Christmas
No Place Like Home

The Best Medicine
The Beautiful Last Breath of Day
The Wedding Bells Are Ringing
The Carolina Reaper

A Nice, Slow Day
Satori and the Key
The Wrong Kind of Flop
The Velvet Anchor
Love and Bullets
The Balloon Trick: An Absolute Zeroes Story
The Owl Part I: A Curious Shoppe
Trixie: A Flatliners Story
The Lost Journey of the Stalwart

Shadow Hurt
Stoke the Fire
She, Of the Pale Stars
You Know
I Could Write
The House In the Ocean

Guest Entries and Shared Posts:
Life Is a Coping Mechanism by Jessica Michelle Singleton (follow @JMSComedy)
10 Tips and Tricks For Creating Memorable Characters by Charlie Jane Anders (follow @charliejane)
As Good As New by Charlie Jane Anders
How to Create a Killer Opening For Your Science Fiction Short Story by Charlie Jane Anders
Cars. Booze. Central Oregon. by Robert Brockway (follow @Brockway_LLC)

So there you go. Hopefully you’ll find something you haven’t seen before that you like, or you’ll have a convenient way to link a friend.

Thank you to everyone who has followed, shared, commented, read, or even encouraged since Word Whiskey has started. It means the world to me.

GUEST POST: Life Is a Coping Mechanism

I am incredibly excited and incredibly blessed to bring to you my very first guest post. Jessica Michelle Singleton is a stand-up comedian who came from humble origins in Alaska and didn’t let it put a hitch in her step to becoming a successful stand-up comedian who does hundreds of shows a year. She lives and performs in Los Angeles primarily, but she tours the other states and even won a contest to participate in the Montreaux Comedy Festival, taking her jokes across the European nation.

Jessica and I are school mates. She’s prettier and funnier…and more successful than I am, but I love her dearly. In fact, that’s why we’re friends. I get her runoff paramours.

In all seriousness, I love her dearly. Artists tend to come from a certain place where things hit us a little more deeply, and Jess has been one of those rare few who understands where I come from in my darkest times and encourages me to pick up the pen and always get back at it. It’s a blessing to have such a support.

She’s home in Anchorage tonight for a one-night show and I can’t wait to see her perform again. I could use the laugh. AND SO COULD YOU! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @JMSComedy. Worth every second.

Anyway, I asked Jessica if she would write something exclusive for my blog. Anything she wanted, I told her, and about any topic. She said she did better with direction, so I thought about it and I realized that – as with writers or actors or painters – there is more to comedians than their material. Fucking obviously. But when I asked her how her personal life affected her career, instead of rolling her eyes at me, she was eager to explain.

For you, this was her response:

Life is a coping mechanism.

I suppose I should preface the rest of this by telling you that this isn’t a humorous piece. That’s not to say you shouldn’t laugh at anything I’ve written here. It’s just that if I’m going to open up, I’m going to need to lower any expectations that everything I say is hilarious.

To be fair, most of what comes out of my mouth is meant to make the people around me laugh. It’s a sickening type of pride you feel when you can make people laugh in the worst of situations. I’m not great at having real emotional connections with people, but I can flip the fuck out of a frown. I don’t know if I would trade the ability to make people laugh for the ability to connect at a deeper leve, simply because I can’t even imagine my life without comedy.

People will always appreciate the person who can make them laugh when they feel like crying. And believe me when I say there isn’t a much more desirable thing to me than to have someone appreciate me. This is a skill I am so glad I can share with the world, but it hasn’t come for free.

If you are the type of person to get offended when someone makes light of a serious and sad situation: Congratulations! You have probably never really suffered. That’s where the ability comes from. When I make jokes about a terrible situation, or my own insecurities, or the fuck ups in my personal life, it’s because that’s all I can do. What are my other options? Wallow in sadness? If I didn’t twist the dark thoughts in my head into jokes to make others or, at the very least, myself laugh…all I would have is a head full of terrible thoughts.

Everyone has their own means of coping. Some people smoke, some people write poetry, some people sweep it under the rug and just pretend everything is okay by ignoring the problems in their life. I tell jokes.   There is a common saying that “Tragedy + Time = Comedy”. Given that theory, if I told you my entire life story, it wouldn’t make sense for me to be anything but a comedian.

I was abandoned, neglected. I’ve lost several friends in unbelievably horrific manners. I’ve been sick and I’ve more or less been on my own my entire life. But I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t gone through all of those things. There are moments when I think I would trade being a comedian if it would erase some of the hurt or if I could have the ability to let people in. But all of that fades the minute I get on stage and hear the laughter I’ve created. People need laughter. There’s a reason it’s called the “best medicine”. It makes you feel good. It takes you out of your own head full of dark thoughts and allows you to escape to a moment of sheer happiness. And if you ask me, in today’s world there aren’t nearly enough of those moments.

Yes, I’ve hurt. So many of us have. I don’t think character is developed through suffering, but I believe you learn a lot about a person’s character in how they handle that suffering. Laughter is how I handle mine. And if my pain manifests itself into material that will brighten other lives, then maybe life isn’t so bad after all.

I can’t say much more than that except reiterate how amazing Jessica is. She’s incredibly hard-working, so driven, ridiculously talented, one of the best friends you could have and an inspiration to artists of multiple arenas.
Again, check her out on Twitter and Instagram at @JMSComedy . Thanks for stopping by Jess, and break a fucking leg!

Something In the Water

I was going to save this for later this week, but after yesterday’s pretty heavy post and with court tomorrow morning and because I need to cheer myself up, here’s the conclusion to the story that started with Goodbye, Horses and With a Kiss In the Wind.

Just a head’s up, the first two entries were pretty PG. This one is PG-13, maybe even a soft R. Hope you enjoy:

“What about you, Marisol? Anything interesting happen to you over the weekend?”

“Hmm?” Marisol looked up from her coffee to the two friends that had managed to drag her out for an evening of catching up. A smile crept across her lips like a cat. “Well… I met a guy.”

The girls leaned forward over the table, gripping their cups with both hands. Marisol flipped her hair over one shoulder nonchalantly.

“Oh, you actually wanted to hear about it? Alright…”


Tom lay in the bed of the truck, staring up at the clouds. That one looked like a turtle. That one, a giant middle finger. Hmph.

His buddy walked around the side of the vehicle, wiping the grease from his hands that he had accrued while working on the engine. He looked annoyed.

“Are you going to tell me about this woman or what?”

“What makes you think there’s-”

“Don’t play coy with me, Sawyer. You’ve had a shit-eating grin on your face all week. You’re blushing, for Christ’s sake. Blushing. What are you, twelve?”

Tom smirked and sat up, propping himself upright with his hands. “Fine. You want to know? I met her this last weekend.”


They reached the creek about the same time. Marisol claimed victory and Tom was too busy catching his breath to dispute it. The waters were mostly clear and gurgled over uneven stones. The afternoon sun shone between the trees on either bank and reflected as several golden patches along the surface.

“Thought you were a track star,” she said, chuckling between small gulps of air.

“I keep forgetting how long ago high school was,” Tom replied.

He began emptying his pockets. Down went his cell phone, his driver’s license. He pulled free three punch cards to different restaurants he liked to frequent. There was a money clip with fewer bills than he felt comfortable with wrapped around a debit card that had seen better days.

“What are you doing?” Marisol asked.

“You wanted to get in the creek, we’re getting in the creek. It’s shallow, but better safe than sorry.”

Marisol plopped her long leather billfold atop his things and beamed up at him. She gestured to the creek.

“What, that’s it?” Tom asked. “Nothing in your pockets? No money in your bra?”

“You should get a clutch, Tom. They’re wonderful.”


Tom patted himself down just to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything and then stepped carefully down to the edge of the creek. He could make out a handful of coins scattered amidst the rocks. Did kids toss them in for good luck? That was ridiculous. It wasn’t a well. There were no stories about wishing creeks.

He stopped, the sudden realization hitting him that if he was mentally dissecting the proper protocol for wish fulfillment based on tossing coins into a body of water, he was probably thinking too hard.

He reached down and began hiking his pant legs up to his knees. He had barely gotten one rolled up before a firm presence on his buttocks sent a shot of adrenaline directly into his heart. He opened his mouth to protest, but before the first word could escape, the foot on his ass pushed and sent him pinwheeling into the creek.

The water was cold and gritty. He tried not to think about what chemicals had been leaked into it some point along the way or what kinds of things the pathetic little trout who lived in it got up to. He floundered for a minute, struggling to gain purchase on the slippery stones beneath him. When he did get traction,  he pushed himself up in a spectacularly ungraceful spray of water.

On the bank, Marisol had Tom’s phone in her hands. She was staring at it bemusedly.

“What’s your password?” she asked.

“What are you doing?”

“I want to put my number in.”

Tom slicked his hair back. “What makes you think I want in there now? The water is freezing.”

It was a fair question. Marisol had taken a gamble with what she had initially thought of as a playful gesture. Did he think she was just trying to mess with him? He would be part right, anyway. She decided she could only respond with the first thing that popped in her head.

“Because I’m going to warm you up.”

Tom opened his mouth to retort but his eyes widened and he faltered. “Five-five-seven-seven,” he eventually blurted.

Marisol smiled again, her different colored eyes standing out against the foliage. After a few minutes of fiddling around with the phone,  she set it back down next to Tom’s money and strode into the water without hesitation.

He was right: it was cold. Her pants were the first to go, clinging to her legs like saran wrap. She lowered herself so the water came up to her waist, her stomach, her chest. She leaned back so that it covered her shoulders and then temporarily submerged her head, ignoring the icky feeling she got from even considering it. After all, fair was fair.

She surfaced and positioned her legs under her so she could rise back up into a standing position. The water pushed into and past her legs at a height just above her knees. Strands of hair were plastered across her face and she pulled them away from her mouth with two fingers and a funny expression. Goosebumps dotted her flesh and her nipples pressed hard against her drenched brassiere and shirt.

Tom stared. There was no way to play it off or make it any more charming. Marisol ‘ clothes clung to every curve and contour of her body and the way her wet hair gleamed under the daylight was strangely alluring.

Suddenly self-conscious of the way his own clothes were sticking to him, he tried unsuccessfully to adjust the front of his pants, pulling at the fabric over his legs to try and alleviate the tightness in his crotch. It wasn’t as subtle as he would have liked it to be.

“Too late, Tom. I know all your secrets now.”

Marisol smiled softly and began thrusting her legs towards him, shuffling up stream. Her legs were tired from the race and fighting the current wasn’t helping. Just as she got near, her foot slipped on the smooth kind of rock made for skipping and she began to fall backward.

Tom reached out and caught her hand. Her wet palm almost slipped from his, but he was able to pull her up and wrap his other arm around her waist. They were pressed against each other, they both realized, and the cold was definitely beginning to fade into something different. Tom felt himself stirring. Marisol felt it, too.

Their eyes were lost in each other, occasionally dropping to look at the other’s mouth. They leaned in. Their lips brushed. Their lips pushed. Slowly, but firmly. His tongue probed the line along her upper lip. She took his lower lip between both of hers. Their lips pulled. Their lips brushed. They leaned out.

“That was probably highly unsanitary,” she whispered. “Creek water and all.”

“I realized that, immediately before realizing I don’t give a shit. That’s why God made doctors.”

She smiled and bit her lip. He brushed locks of wet hair behind her ears. A rustling from the bank broke the reverie and they turned as one to see a teenage boy sitting on his bike just off the trail.

The kid turned beet red and looked either way, as if someone was going to extricate him from the situation. No one was coming.

“I was just…I’m going to go.”


“So what happened next?” Marisol’s friend asked. “Did you get him out of those wet clothes?”

“And then?” Tom’s friend asked. “Did you smash that?”

“You’re a barbarian, man,” Tom said. “We just talked.”

“We picked up our stuff and dried off in the sun,” Marisol replied.

“But we’ve got a date this weekend.”

With a Kiss In the Wind

Every once in a while, I’ll find myself not just attracted to a woman but inspired by them. I pay special attention when that happens because that’s the kind of thing that helps pick my spirits up and encourages my mind to get working.

To that end, I’ve decided to continue the flash fiction I began with Goodbye, Horses. Hopefully y’all will like this as much as you did the first part:

The sun was warm against her side. The grass was soft under her hands, the emerald tips tickling the contours of her palms. Two gulls circled lazily overhead, their wings glinting in the rays of the summer day.

Marisol and Tom rested across from each other. She was sitting cross-legged while he lay on his back, arms folded behind his head and face turned sideways. He was watching a pair of children kick a pale pink ball around fervorishly.

When she first spotted him in the bookstore, she had seen a sadness in him. It hadn’t been overwhelming. She wasn’t worried about him breaking down in tears in public or shredding some classic piece of literature that no doubt reminded him of some heartless ex. The signs were smaller. A slight hunch in his shoulders. The way he shuffled his feet from aisle to aisle instead of picking them up. The lines that curled around his eyes and pulled in towards his mouth.

She could relate, she thought. A feeling of complacency had taken over her life and what had started as a sense of contentment was quickly transforming into a profound restlessness and wanderlust. At work, the pointless chatter of her co-workers was starting to gnaw at her. She didn’t care about who drank how much or what somebody’s bar tab was. So what if this person was cheating on that person and vice-versa and no, she didn’t think couple’s therapy would work.

She wanted stories of adventure and culture and coincidences so profound they might as well be classified as miracles. She wanted to see pictures of exotic places and hear about fleeting love and near-death experiences and moments where someone finally found out what living was.

But she wasn’t getting that. She was getting drivel.

She had left work early and retreated somewhere she could be alone with her own fantasies and longings for spur-of-the-moment action. That’s how she had wound up at the bookstore. She didn’t even know what she was looking for, but it was quiet there without being as stifling and formal as, say, the library.

That’s where she had found Tom, with his weary expression and shoes that left smoothed streaks in the carpet with every “step” that he took. He looked like she felt: a frayed knot that could probably benefit from just being unwound a bit.

She took a chance. She didn’t know why, but each foot she got closer to him was charged with more energy than the last. He hadn’t noticed when she finally reached him; he was too busy scowling at  the large book he’d been flipping through for several minutes. She opened her mouth to speak, choked on the first word, tried again and asked, “What are you reading?” in a voice much more confident than she felt.

She had surprised him with the question, with her presence, but if he felt put upon he didn’t show it. Instead, she saw a gentleness in his eyes. A kindness and a little bit of caution. Tom wasn’t used to being approached by strange woman and that was fine, because Marisol wasn’t used to being the strange woman getting up in men’s business.

But he responded and they talked. It wasn’t quite about nothing, their conversation, but it was close. It also came easier and felt more… relaxed than any conversation she could remember having in recent times. They both laughed. He rolled his eyes at her corny jokes and references, but she could see the smile behind it all. When he asked her to join him out, she accepted, though she didn’t know why.

That’s not true, she thought. I do know. I needed to get away. I needed to have a real conversation that wasn’t mired in drama and pointlessness. I wanted to be around someone who was as fed up with the day-to-day as I am.

She looked at Tom, laying there, watching youth dart across the park, slapping a toy that probably cost half a dollar to make and thirty-five to buy. The lines in his face had smoothed out. It was hard to tell for sure because he was flat on his back, but she could swear the slump in his shoulders had straightened out a bit as well.

Marisol wondered if she showed physicals signs of discontent as well. If so, she wondered if he had noticed them.

He wasn’t conventionally attractive in the sense that the girls at work wouldn’t gawk at him with Ohmigaw’s and I-could-just-DIE’s, but he was handsome. His hair looked like he had just rolled out of bed but it worked on him, somehow. There was an attentiveness to him; even as she watched him, she could see how he took in every little detail of the day and the people enjoying it. He made her smile with his words and, considering the idiots she spent most of her time around, that may have been the best quality of them all.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked.

“Mm,” Tom murmured.

He turned his head to look at her and the position, unflattering for anyone, gave him a small double-chin. She snickered and covered her mouth, trying to mask it as a cough.

“What?” he asked.


“You laughed.”

“What? No, I didn’t.”

“You did. What’s so funny?”

“I didn’t, I coughed. Must have been…uh, pollen.”

“Pollen,” Tom said.

“Yeah. Or something. Tickled my throat. What were you thinking about?”

Tom smiled, which made the chin worse. Marisol barely restrained herself.

“I was just looking at those kids, thinking about when I was younger. I picked this park because my friends I would always come down here, stir up some trouble. We would go down the bike trail and play in the creek, see if we couldn’t find something cool that somebody tossed in or left behind.”

“And did you?”

“Found a tacklebox once. A few bicycle skeletons. My buddy Derek found an engagement ring once. Couldn’t find the owner, so we pawned it and bought a pizza. Looking back on it, I think we probably got ripped off.”

Marisol smiled and looked out towards the gap in the trees where the bike trail wound through. The sun was still sitting high and even the faint breeze rustling the leaves and tousling their hair was warm.

“Let’s go play in the creek,” she said suddenly.

“You want to what now?”

“The creek. Come on. It’ll be fun.”

Tom sat up. “I didn’t bring an extra set of clothes. Or even a towel. Kids play in creeks. I-”

“Got boring as you got older?” Marisol asked with a grin that flashed her teeth.

She saw a light flare in his eyes. He shook his head slowly. “I’ll only get in that creek on one condition.”

“I beat you in rock, scissors, paper?”

“That would never happen. You have to race me there.”

“Deal,” Marisol replied immediately.

” I’m warning you, I took track in high-”

Marisol leapt to her feet and sprinted towards the bike path. She could hear Tom curse – softly, as if he was hoping she wouldn’t hear – and her grin broadened. Her legs pumped and she bolted between the two kids, leaping over their rolling ball.

Lilac trees lined the park, a brilliant frame to the picturesque park. As she raced along, hair blown backwards, she could catch a scent of the amethyst flowers and she hoped Tom would smell it, too. It wound through the field like a kiss in the wind.

–This didn’t have as much dialogue or humor as the first piece, I don’t think, but I enjoyed writing it all the same. Hope you all liked it, because I’m definitely thinking of writing a third and final part soon.

Update: Here is the third and final part: Something In the Water

Goodbye, Horses

I’ve been having a rough couple weeks, to be honest, and it’s striking to see how quickly things can turn around. Friendships can become complicated, narratives muddled, feelings distorted. It has left me in a bit of a rift as far as inspiration goes, so I’ve been wrestling with what to write today. I’ve got a few blog posts in the wings, but without proper motivation spurring me on while writing them, I fear they would fall flat. It’s the same way you can’t approach a project you’re not in the mood for: it needs your love, not your feeling of obligation.

So they’re there, the post about my grandmother, the dissertation on remakes, reboots and sequels. They’re waiting for the light of day to breathe their first breaths and bask in your dis/approval.

Couldn’t do it today. I wanted to get a little weird with it, so I opted to write a flash fiction about… well, nothing really. Nothing except a concept fluttering behind a heavy chest of discontent. Hopefully you lot find it worth a read:

The day was lazy. Thin clouds loitered in a pale blue sky. It wasn’t the hottest it had been that July but it was close; parks were full and offices empty, the rash of calls claiming sickness fooling nobody.

Tom was inside longing for outside, but he had resolved not to leave the bookstore until he had found something suitable to plop down on the grass with. He had been wandering the aisles of bookcases for an hour and he couldn’t pinpoint whether it was an excess of books appealing to him or a dearth. He just walked, looked, fingered through and sighed until his aimlessness had him halfway through The Essential Guide to Horses.

He didn’t like horses. Well, that wasn’t quite true. The concept of horses appealed to him. The history of horse husbandry was interesting, and he admitted that there was a majesty in the way their muscles rippled as they galloped. He would probably eat a horse, if he saw it on the menu.

But like them? No. When he was a child, his father had insisted on trying to teach him to ride without actually providing any more assistance than words to do so. The animal had taken off despite Tom’s bleating requests for it not to and had majestically galloped him into a low-hanging stable roof. He hadn’t expected the wood to yield and the wood didn’t disappoint,  driving the wind from his lungs and sending him sprawling into dirt and hay.

Behind closed eyes, “When you fall off a horse, you must get back on” floated in cartoon letters. This thought was immediately succeeded by, “To hell with that, I’m buying a bicycle.”

So, horses. Tom wasn’t a fan.

“What are you reading?”

He looked up into the eyes of a woman about his age. Her hair was dark and bangs curled down to just over her eyes. Not every woman could pull off bangs. This one was working them like a job and his immediate response evaporated in his throat and came out as a dry, “Uh…”

Her eyes were heterochromatic. The right iris was an almost teal blue. The left was the color of honey.

“Stable animals,” he managed.

“It’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for,” she quipped with a wink. “So, you like horses?”

“Uh, yeah. They’re, you know…the best.”

“I hate them,” she said rolling her eyes.

“Thank God. I was actually just thinking about how I would eat one. If a restaurant were serving it, I mean. I’m not going to sneak onto someone’s farm or anything.”

“But you’re reading about them.”

“Know thy enemy and all that.”

She leaned back and appraised him again. A slow smile crept across lips the color of bubblegum.

“I’m sorry,” Tom said. “Do I know you?”

“Do you think so?”

“I think you would be difficult to forget if we had met before.”

She shook her hair and tucked a lock behind one ear. “I saw you over here and wondered why you weren’t soaking up the sun somewhere.”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“Oh, I’m allergic.”

Tom’s brow rose. “To the sun?”

“Like Doctor Moreau.”

Tom found himself matching her smile. “Now that’s a reference.”

“Marisol Avila,” she said, extending her hand.

He took it in his own and gave it two small shakes. The skin of her palm was soft. He wondered if she used lotion and, if so, what it smelled like. She seemed like an apricot kind of girl.

“Tom Sawyer.”

“Really?” she asked and crinkled her nose.

“Unfortunately.” He had never forgiven his parents for that. Thankfully, his name and putting him on top of wild animals were the worst crimes they had committed towards him. “You caught me trying to find a book to read. I’m hoping I can make a decision before thr day decides to stop being so nice. I just, ah, got a little lost on the way.”

“I found myself in the same predicament.”

“Well, what kind of books do you read? Maybe we can help each other out.”

“You know those supernatural romance novels that have been getting big lately?”

Tom winced. He couldn’t be sure if he did it physically or internally. “Yeah…”

“Anything but those.” She flashed her teeth. They were impossibly white. One of her lower incisors was crooked. It fascinated him.

“Then I don’t have any suggestions, sorry,” he said and she laughed. He looked around at the other customers browsing. One older woman had looked over at the sound and smiled at them. Tom cleared his throat. “I have a question and it might sound a little crazy, but if I don’t ask I’m going to kick myself.”

“I love crazy questions.” She leaned in and her two-colored eyes zeroed in on his own, as if they were trying to find the query in his mind before he could ask it.

“What if we didn’t buy books?”

Marisol gasped. “Abandon the mission?”

“Adjust our objectives.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“I was thinking…” Tom hesitated. He had never been a forward man, but something about her inspired confidence in him. “What if we went out to a park and just kept each other company.”

“Or someone’s lawn,” Marisol said eagerly. “Like, their backyard. Communal sun sharing.”

Tom snorted. “Sure. We could get to know each other better. You seem more interesting than most of the books in here.”

“I don’t know about that,” she said coyly. “But I’m definitely more interesting than a horse. Sure, Tom. I think I’d like that. I’m your Huckleberry.”

“Har har. Wait… is that a Tombstone reference?”

Marisol grinned. “Two birds with one stone, that one.”

Tom shook his head and closed the book. He gestured towards the entrance of the bookstore and they began to walk out together. This was the kind of story he had been looking for. The dread he felt at turning the page was the good kind. The uncertain kind.

“Tell me something about yourself,” he said.

“Well, I have two different colored eyes.”

“Do you? That seems like the kind of thing I should have noticed.”

Marisol pushed the door open and they stepped out into the warmth of summer. The portal closed behind them and the world opened before them. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.

–Halfway through writing this, I thought it might be interesting to do this story again from Marisol’s perspective. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to necessarily post the same story twice on my blog. It seemed like a cop-out. If I did it. If you read this and you would like to take a crack at it, feel free! I would love to see your ideas and perspectives. And either way, hope you enjoyed this. It was cathartic to write, at least.

And Part Two: With a Kiss In the Wind

And the Conclusion: Something In the Water