Category: writing

38 Pickering Street

One firmly placed, steel-toed booted foot and a strong kick at the weak spot of the door was all she needed to gain entry to the house. She walked into the foyer of what had been someone’s home. Maybe it was once their sanctuary, the only place they felt safe. She always thought that, for an instant, as she crossed the threshold.

Then she remembered. No place was safe anymore.

Jenna listened. A telltale shuffle. A cough. The smell of a snuffed candle. Anything could give them away. She was alert, but she was not afraid. Two years and eight months, give or take a week, since the End. If there were someone alive in here, they would be weak from malnutrition. Or insane from the pleasure of their own company and the contaminated water supply. It was better these days. Only one a hundred or so was dangerous. She had grown braver. Foolishly so, her boss would say.

She checked the rooms on the first floor. A dusty piano, no fingerprints. If someone was here, it was not the person who had played the piano. She scanned the floors for footprints in the dust. None. No sounds. Probably another empty house. But she had to complete her search, had to cross number 38 Pickering Street off the list by the end of the day before she could move on.

The wall going up the staircase was full of framed photos of smiling people. A couple and one child. The son had been around ten years old at the End, or they had never bothered to frame more recent photos. These were the kind of thoughts that Jenna held on to; kicked around in her head to keep out the loneliness during the long weeks on Mission.

In the last bedroom on the left, she found the answer to her question. The son had never grown much bigger than the pictures. He had not been dead long. She could still tell he’d been blonde. She turned away.

A raspy breath. She spun back around, an arrow in her bow in an instead. She scanned the dark room for the source of the noise.

The shadow in the corner was barely a woman. The mother. Jenna kept her bow aimed.

“Get up,” she ordered the frail shape. She wasn’t sure the woman had enough strength to stand. She would have been dead in a matter of days. When was the last time she’d eaten? Impatiently, Jenna strode past the corpse and grabbed his mother’s arm.

“Up,” she repeated.

“Are you…” The woman’s voice was barely audible. “Who?”

“Your savior. Get up. You won’t die today.” Jenna said brusquely. The woman’s eyes were fixed on her son’s lifeless body. She said nothing.

Jenna dragged the woman down the stairs and out the door. She shriveled from the sunlight, cowering and backing towards the house. Jenna looked her over. Barely 90 lbs. She hit the button on her walkie talkie.

“Pete, do you copy?”

“Go ahead.”

“I’ve got one. Female. Forties.”

“Be there in twenty.”

The woman sat on the stoop with her back against the door. Jenna sat down beside her.

“Where?” she asked.

“You don’t want to know,” Jenna answered.

The longest night

Stay up all night with bated breath, pressed against cool windows, frost spreading over glass. Watch the mottled snow, the hushed world under dancing Christmas lights. The sleepless.

Those who see ghosts around corners, whose memories dance like unwanted sugarplums. The lost, the lonely. The ones who would rather forget, those whose heart aches to remember. Those who wait under mistletoe or airports or for phones to ring. Those whose fingerprints wear the edges of photographs. Those who ache to wake up next to someone. Those who wish to escape. Those looking for a way home, driving further and further with each tired tire mark.

Watch the world drift to away and hope it comes back.

Those who stare past their reflection. Those with masks, those with grandiose plays and moves to hide behind. The silent. Those who bear the burden of the people they could have been, those who sink under the weight of their what ifs.

Those whose only hope is to survive this and hope for morning. Who think: if I can get through this, the longest night, surely I can get through what’s to come.


lights by me

Excerpt #4

There are definitely two hot Irish men in this book…

Lexi stirred from Dechlan’s bed in the morning light. She made her way to the living room, where she expected to find Deck on the couch. He was missing, a mess of blankets in his place, so Lex continued to the kitchen to put on the coffee. And maybe start breakfast. But, most importantly coffee.

She might not be able to pour a pint, but she could definitely work a coffee marker. Soon the kitchen filled with the smell of fresh brewed coffee. Lexi poured herself a mug and searched the fridge for something she could turn into breakfast. She extracted some eggs, checking the expiry date carefully. They passed the test and she began to make some scrambled eggs.

“Oh, breakfast. Grand,” Dechlan grinned. Lexi turned to greet him, and nearly dropped her fork when she discovered he was only wearing a towel. A small towel. His chiseled abs and shapely arms were dotted with drops of water from his still wet hair.

“Um,” she coloured, “Good morning.” She couldn’t tear her eyes away from him and the small, thin towel that did nothing to dull the thoughts of what lay beneath.
“Morning, lass,” Dechlan grinned at her. She was dressed in one of his shirts, and probably underwear, though he couldn’t quite see them. If she would just raise her arms slightly…
“Clothes…” Lexi said suddenly, incoherently. Deck frowned.
“What?”
“I need clothes,” she said. She looked down at her outfit, then back to him, “Like, my suitcase.” Dechlan laughed.
“I don’t know, I quite like seeing you in my shirt, Lex,” he grinned. Lexi blushed.
“But I can’t wear it out,” she replied.
“No, that wouldn’t do…” Dechlan trailed off, distracted by the allure of her wearing his clothes.
“And my other clothes smell like beer,” she reminded him.
“Ah, right,” Dechlan said, “I’ll drive ya down to Athlone today.”

Making

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was a decision to be proactive. The last thing I made was 50,000 words of a novel. I made a decision to use my excess of time to do something worthwhile. Something other than watching seasons of TV shows and talking to cats.

I used one very buggy copy of Microsoft Word for Mac. Which, in keeping with the tradition is established while I was writing my dissertation, completely stops working after the first 10,000 words. I desperately need to switch word processors on a permanent basis. I used Pages for my dissertation after the night it self destructed. But I stuck it out with Microsoft Word of a laziness for NaNoWriMo.

I also, inevitably, used my MacBook Pro. This beautiful creature (whose key’s I’m stroking right now) has been permanently attached to me in the last year and a half, and I love it so.

And, of course, I used Wikipedia. Because who doesn’t? I started all my research on Wikipedia, and rounded it out with further internet searches and some guidance from Kitty, Irish history expert extraordinaire.

I would like to make a conscious effort, in the future, to write more books. Always. Because I love it. Some days it’s the hardest thing in the world to sit down and stare at that blinking cursor. But other days you can’t wait to get home to write the scene that’s been playing in your head all day.

I hope that someday soon I’ll have less time to write, simply because I desperately need a job. But I hope when that does happen I’ll be able to remind myself to keep writing anyhow.

Excerpt #3

And back in the 21st century!

“What is it?” Lexi asked.
“A ring. It’s gold, a fede ring from-”
“The 13th century,” Lexi paled visibly. Dechlan gave her a curious look.
“You know it?” he asked.
“I saw it yesterday…” she said quickly.
“I was thinking it was the 13th century, but I wasn’t sure,” Dechlan said eagerly, “What made you think it was 13th?”
“I, uh, saw something like it once,” Lexi shifted uncomfortably and her chair answered with a series of squeaks. Dechlan watched her levelly.
“Where?” he asked.
“I don’t remember,” Lexi lied.
“Too bad, I was looking for some precedents. Let me know if you remember, lass,” he said brightly, turning back to his book.

Lex stared back down at her book, her thoughts swimming anxiously through her head. How had her ring ended up buried under Roscommon Castle? Well, if you weren’t there to wear it, her mind reminded her.

She finally focused back on her books. She heaved open the large volume of Kings. It was a ledger of the family history, carefully recorded to include the names of all family members, where they were born, when they died. The more important Kings had several paragraphs or even pages of history. She scanned through them quickly until she got to the 13th century. She saw at least ten Aedh Ó Conchobair’s, and struggled to remember his complete name. Finally, she lit on Aedh Muimhnech Ó Conchobair, listed as born in 1247. Wives: Caiomhe Muimhnech O’Conchobair and Alexandra Ceallaigh Ó Conchobair, cousin to Domnall Ua Néill. Lexi stopped and stared at her name on the page. In front of her was concrete proof that she wasn’t delusional, that she had existed in 1275 as Aedh’s wife.