For @DavidALudwig

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2019 by drmagoo

She woke up that Tuesday to a gentle breeze and birds singing through the billowing curtains. The sun had been up for a couple of hours, but not so long that she felt like she’d slept the morning away. She asked Alexa for some energizing music, and it started off with one of her favorites. The good songs stayed on all the way through showering and getting dressed, and she sang along, enjoying having nothing to do but enjoy herself.

That day was a treat to herself after sending a book off to her editor. She was going to have some tea and scones at her favorite local shop and then meet up with some friends for an afternoon and evening out. She’d been cooped up inside, working 9-5:30 and then writing every night, and it was time to enjoy the world.

Getting her tea and a cherry almond scone, she found a table outside by the Riverwalk. The day was warm, but not hot, and the sun reflected off the flowing water just enough to throw sparkles on the wall behind her. Settling in, she opened her tablet to find that one of her friends had sent her a beta version of his next novel, and a thrill ran through her – she’d been waiting to find out what happened to these characters for a long time now.

With hours to go before she was to meet up with her friends, she tapped on the link and began to read.

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For @0freetime

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2019 by drmagoo

Thank Goddess for self-driving cars. If I’d been at the controls when the EULA for my golfing app took over my vision, I’d have killed myself or someone else for sure. This was happening way too often lately. If it wasn’t my parenting OS, it was my career app. If it wasn’t my deity skins, it was my citizenship drivers. I couldn’t even get a good night’s rest, there were so many.

I quick-scrolled through the agreement and blinked to accept. The download and install took just a few minutes, but by the time it was done, I’d made it home. I walked into the house, whistling one of my favorite songs. Sitting in the living room was my daughter, Janie2.5, grimacing at my choice of music. “Dad, can’t you upgrade to a newer music profile? That oldies stuff is yucktastic.”

I just shook my head. When Taylor Swift had become oldies stuff, I had no idea, but I was feeling really old. I entered the kitchen to see my husband there, watching dinner simmer on the stove. Oh, we could have gotten an AutoCooker, but the artistry he had with food wasn’t something he was willing to give up. Unlike our daughter, he smiled when I came in. “Hey studly. Good day at work?”

“Pretty good. And I’m ready to kick your butt on the golf course this weekend.”

“Oh, really?” He laughed. “We’ll have to see if you have any energy left. My KamaSutra app had a major upgrade today.”

For @Bluebirdlouise

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2019 by drmagoo

The ability to create life is a heady combination of power and fear. I got excited every time I visited MeCorp knowing that I’d come home with a new Me, a better Me, a Me that mattered. I was neurotic, wrapped up in decades of self-doubt and messages about failure, but the Me I’d buy today knew none of those things about my life. I’d worked with their technicians to create the best possible person science could make out of me.

There was only one problem. I thought other people were more important than I was, and each Me had those traits amped up to the nth degree. The first time I made a Me, he didn’t even eat – gave every one of his meals to homeless people, and he died of starvation within a week. The second time, he roamed bad neighborhoods and threw himself in front of a bullet to save a schoolkid. Didn’t even make it three days. We made too many changes for attempt three, and that Me threw himself into an orgy of wish fulfillment that led to his death from a drug overdose in two weeks.

This morning, we gave life to Me number 6, trying to find a balance between valuing others and valuing oneself. That Me came to life angry. “You ask too much of me. No one can think of others before themselves. It’s all an illusion. We only help others when it benefits us.”

He was perfect. A Me that could take on the world without my self-doubt. I nodded to the technician and she pulled out the needle. I’d made a better version of myself, there was no need for the original anymore.

#ThursThreads, week361

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2019 by drmagoo

Prompt: https://siobhanmuir.com/thursthreads-tying-tales-together-week-361/

I had that dream again. The one where my mom is alive, but I know she shouldn’t be. The one where we’re arguing in our old house, the one I grew up in but left too early, the one that’s filled with pain and anger and sadness and love and comfort and safety.

I had that dream again. The one where I’m in school, but I’ve forgotten to go to class, and my wife and kids are living in the dorm with me but all I do is play videogames. My mom calls, but I don’t answer. I’m too busy.

I had that dream again. The one where I’m being chased down a waterslide by a nuclear missile. I can’t escape it, but it can’t catch me. Somewhere, my mom is calling my name, but I have no voice to answer.

I had that dream again. I’m trying to find someone to date, and I’m thinking, “Didn’t I solve this problem already?” My wife is there, but she wants nothing to do with me, and she won’t tell me why. My mom’s not in this one, but I never feel safe.

I had that dream again. The one where I’m fighting with my mom about nothing and everything, just like we did when she was alive. I know I shouldn’t be fighting with her because this might be the last time we talk, but I can’t help it.

I had that dream again. I was alone.

Untitled, 4/30

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2019 by drmagoo

I’m doing some writing without prompts this week, dumping my brain on the keyboard. Here’s another one.

There is a smell all hospitals have, a blending of saline and disinfectant and bland, underwhelming food that never fails to trigger fear in my gut. Even when I’m visiting someone on a happy occasion, or seeing a doctor who happens to have her office in a hospital, I’m awash in painful memories. Wondering if my kids were going to be okay after surgeries. Wondering if I’d ever make it home again when my body was wracked with infections. I can’t set foot in one of those places without being assaulted by sense memories and the knowledge that pain and death roam their halls.

It’s worse, of course, when there is something wrong with me. The alcohol swabs they use to clean an injection site. The saline they use to flush my IV. The hand sanitizer. The masks. I can’t escape it, I can’t do anything but let it overwhelm me and fight to stay myself.

The medicine makes it worse. Some of it makes me nauseous. Some of it makes me sleepy. Some of it makes me delusional – I hate when they give me that stuff, and I’ve asked them not to, unless they have no other choice. It’s all part of trying to “make me better,” as if getting better was an option. I lay here, sick and getting sicker, leaving my bed only for thrice-daily shuffles down the hall and, if I’m feeling particularly perky, a trip to the bathroom or four. Those IVs really make you have to pee.

So I sleep a lot. What is there to do when I’m awake? Unlimited TV sounds great when you’re six. It’s actually one of Dante’s lesser-known circles in Hell. I can’t focus enough to read for long, not with all the drugs they have me on. I can shift from one side to another, reducing pressure on one wasting muscle or another, but the relief from that isn’t as entertaining as it sounds. I can let the smells wash over me and think of hard times from my life. What I can’t do is talk to anyone – other than the techs and nurses that check on me and poke me with stuff – because I made all the wrong choices.

Those kids I mentioned earlier? Living busy lives (I think) far away from me (I know). I never seemed to have the energy or the time to be there for them, except in crises, and they grew up at best ambivalent about me. I mean, they call sometimes, and tell me to check their updates on Instagram, but I don’t ask them if they’re coming to visit. If they wanted to, they’d come. Better if their kids remember grandpa as a smiling face in old photos than a pre-corpse in a hospital bed, anyway.

Their mom? I haven’t talked to her in five years. Haven’t seen her in eight, not since Janie’s wedding. The kids might have told her about what’s going on with me. They might not have. I’m sure it would tug at her, at least a little – we did spend 15 years together after all – but she’s moved on, just like the kids. She’s with David now, and the last time I talked to her, it sounded like he was a decent guy. I hope he is. I wasn’t able to provide her the marriage she needed, but that doesn’t mean I want her to be miserable.

I want her to miss me sometimes, okay? I’m no saint.

Ha. As if.

Friends? After the divorce, I decided I needed a new start. Needed a new me. Moved to a city I chose by throwing a dart at a map, dated women who were totally wrong for me, and turned into a giant jerk. Or maybe I’d been a jerk all along and being alone gave me freedom to let it out 24/7. I didn’t want that – I don’t know who does – but I wasn’t paying attention anymore. And slowly, people I’d known for decades just found other things to do than be my friend. I’m sure I could pull together some sort of pity party if I made a big deal about having something they still didn’t know how to cure, but who would that help?

Maybe it would help me, I dunno.

I tried to talk to the nurse who came in to flush my IV and switch meds a little while ago, but she got a page while I was just getting started and she had to go. Nurses work too hard to listen to me blather on anyway. Probably. Guess I’ll just push the button that gives me more morphine. The pain isn’t too bad right now, but if I fall asleep, I might stop thinking about all this.

If anyone calls or stops by, wake me, won’t you?

Untitled, 4/29/19

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2019 by drmagoo

This one had to come out. So here it is. I kind of feel like it just tails off, instead of really ending, but maybe that will be written at another time.

Daisy grew up loving and hating the river that flowed behind her house. She loved the sound it made, running over the rocks, the smooth ones that had been the rivers for generations and the rough ones it had recently claimed for its own. She would lie in bed and listen to the conversations it had with the world, letting it tell her stories as she fell asleep. She loved the animals it drew, geese and deer and wilder things. She would watch them frolic and drink and bathe in the mornings, leaving footprints in the dew.

But she hated that she couldn’t go to the river itself, couldn’t play with the animals or splash in the water. The water was too deep, Mama said, and she’d get carried off. And there were rumors of bandits using the river to get away from the sheriffs up north, though Daisy had never seen them. And Daisy listened to her mom, like a good girl, so when she promised she’d stay away from the river, she really meant it, no matter the treasures it held.

Of all the animals Daisy loved seeing at the water’s edge, the ducks were her favorite. She loved the sounds they made, honking their way through the sky. She loved the way their backsides wiggled as they dipped their beaks in the water. But the thing she loved the most were the tiny little ducklings, little balls of fluff that followed their mamas around. She dreamed of keeping ducks for pets, but she knew that Mama would never allow it.

One day, when Mama was down the road at the Smith’s, cleaning their house and doing the washing, Daisy was looking out the window at her river and saw a pair of ducks fly in. She laughed as she watched them play in the water, and as always, wanted to go out and join them. But she was a good girl, and stayed away. As the day passed, the ducks didn’t leave, but instead began flying back and forth, picking things up and returning to a spot near the bank of the river, under a tree. With amazement, Daisy realized that they were building a nest. They’d be out there every day!

That night, at dinner, Daisy told Mama about the ducks, and their nest. Mama smiled, but reminded her that she was to stay away from them and, more importantly, the river. Of course she would, Daisy said, but she was mad inside as she said it.

As the days went on, Daisy spent what time she could watching her ducks. They fascinated her, and every day that Mama left to go take care of someone’s house or do their laundry or head into town, Daisy was at her window. Well, at first. One day it was just too nice, and she went out in their yard behind the house – still far from the river – and just stood there. It was nice the next day, and the day after, and Daisy kept going outside. Either she didn’t notice that she was going further and further from her house or she didn’t want to notice, but she began keeping an eye out for any sign that Mama was coming so she could hurry back to where she was supposed to be.

Then came the day her life changed. As she stood in the grass behind her house, she saw a little duckling emerge from the nest. A duckling! The cutest thing ever! Daisy just had to take a better look and began creeping closer and closer. She knew that she’d gone way further than Mama would ever have been comfortable with, but she needed to see these baby ducks. When she reached the rocks that formed the boundary between the grass and the shore, she knelt down and stayed as still as she could. The rocks were hard and wet under her knees, but the allure of the ducklings was too strong.

Daisy didn’t stay out by the river for very long that day, but it was long enough that she stained her dress and had to come up with an explanation for Mama. Inside her that night was a mix of feelings – excitement at seeing the ducklings, guilt about lying to Mama, the knowledge that she had a Secret, and a firm resolution that she wouldn’t go out again tomorrow.

And she didn’t. Though it was hard, knowing how cute the little ducklings were and how close they were, she stayed inside all day, tidying up and trying to make up for the lie she’d told (though Mama didn’t know she was lying, Daisy hoped). There was a knot deep inside her belly that burned all day. It burned with worry over what she’d done – she’d gone near the river, which she’d promised never to do – and it burned with excitement about the wonderful things she’d seen. That night, Mama laughed with her and told her stories about the people in town, and it was all better. Daisy had gone out to the river – though Mama didn’t know – and Mama still loved her.

So the next day, she went to look at the ducks again. There were four ducklings in all, cute balls of fluff with webbed feet. Daisy stayed out there for hours (though she stayed on her feet, so as to protect her dress) and marveled at the ducks and the river and all of it. And that night, she didn’t have to lie to Mama. Well, was not telling her that she’d gone down to the river a lie if she just didn’t mention it? Daisy didn’t think so. And the next day she brought an old blanket to sit on.

Daisy began spending every day that it didn’t rain out near the river. Sometimes, she’d just watch the ducks. Sometimes, she’d bring little bits of veggies – a spare lettuce leaf or a couple of beans – and she discovered that the ducks would come over and eat right out of her hand! Some days, she’d scoot right up to the edge of the river and look down into the flowing water, imagining it carrying her to places she’d only hear stories about. And sometimes, she did it all.

Lying to Mama came easier to Daisy as time went on. Her dress might get muddy, so she’d make up a story about an accident that happened while mopping the floors. Or she’d barely get home in time, and Mama would wonder why Daisy was out of breath and flush with exertion. But as she spent more time out by the river and she told Mama more lies, the knot in her stomach grew. It burned every day now, her constant companion. She didn’t think that she’d ever live without it. She could never tell Mama what she was doing, that’s for sure, but she didn’t know how to stop going.

So Daisy resolved to just live with it. After all, the trips out to the river to see her ducks – the ducklings would come sit in her hands sometimes when she would feed them! – were the most exciting thing that she could remember happening. And she knew what Mama would say if she ever found out. But somehow the hardest part was that she couldn’t share this thing – this wonderful, exciting thing – with the person she was closest to. So the knot in her stomach grew and grew.

Daisy became irritable when she wasn’t out near the river. She just didn’t feel right, she said, or not enough sleep. What were more lies on top of the ones she’d already been telling? And things between her and Mama weren’t as fun. There wasn’t laughter at night, talking over the stories of the day. When Mama would stay home during the day, or take Daisy with her on a trip to town, Daisy was frustrated that she couldn’t go to her special place.

The ducklings got bigger and bigger, as all creatures do, testing their wings and learning how to fly, and one day when Daisy went down to the river, all of them were gone. Not just the ducklings, but their parents too. She stayed out by the river as long as she dared that day, not playing or doing anything but hoping against hope that her ducks weren’t gone. But they were, and her heart was broken.

That night, Mama asked her multiple times if she was okay, but Daisy just nodded and said she was fine, if a little tired. But inside, the knot that had been there the entire time was twisting and roiling. This was the worst day she could remember, and she couldn’t tell Mama. She couldn’t tell why all she wanted to do was cry. So she lied some more, keeping the emotions inside. And the knot inside her grew.

Daisy still spent every day looking out at the river, but now she did it from inside her room. The water was still there, and the other animals, but when she looked at the river now, mostly what she felt was pain. But she couldn’t stop looking. And although she didn’t go down to the river anymore, she still had her secrets from Mama. Her secrets about lying. Her secrets about the exciting times she spent with the ducks. Her secrets about the pain. She’d never tell Mama, she knew, about her summer days, but there would always be a distance between her and Mama now.

 

Menage Monday, week 2×31

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2019 by drmagoo

Prompt: http://www.caramichaels.com/defiantlyliterate/2019/04/29/menagemonday-challenge-week-2×31/

“Billie! Come back here! No, not on the car!” Billie was three. She would never listen to me, not with this much sugar in her, and there were six or seven more her age running around like lunatics. “Mike, can you catch her before she does the neighbor’s car too?”

“I’ll get her! Can you get Gracie? She’s headed into the backyard!”

“Gracie, come here, girl!” I dashed after the dog, tripped on a balloon string that someone had tied between chairs, and fell, whacking my head on the table. I’d never believed those stories where someone got knocked out and then came to after all the chaos was over, but the next thing I knew, I was lying on the sofa with an icepack on my head and a very teary-eyed Billie kneeling in front of me.

“Mommy? Are you okay? I’m so sorry I put my hands in the cake and on your new car and scared you and you broke your head!” She then burst into tears, and I ignored the throbbing in my head to wrap my arms around her and pull her to me.

“Shh, kiddo. Momma’s got you. It’s okay.” I held her until the crying stopped and she fell asleep, sugar rush over. I looked over at my husband, his arms full of streamers and balloons and wrapping paper.

“Mike. It’s the end. Game over. No more birthday parties. Ever.”

He smiled at me. “Next year, she wants a petting zoo.”