Tag Archives: revenge

The Vocabulary Lesson

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The seven-word prompt was to make use of as many of these words as possible in a short piece: knickers, oneiric, cigar, shenanigans, cold-cocked, finish and sun-dried. You needn’t check.  I used all of them. The November writing prompt was “Lipstick Lover.”

The Vocabulary Lesson

She was more than irritated. Pissed, really, as she thumbed through the dictionary in search of the word “oneiric.” Any word that needed to be looked up didn’t belong in a “Dear Jane” letter anyway—as though to the very end he was trying to demonstrate his superiority—her inferiority.

BASTARD! She slammed the dictionary to the floor, picked up the half-smoked cigar he’d left in the ashtray last night, relit it and surveyed the new paper cut on her index finger. Just one more of his shenanigans, she thought. Right after he’d cold-cocked her with the news that he and she were finished—that he was leaving her FOR HER MOTHER!!!!!!, he’d lit up his Cubano for one more puff before grinding it out and handing her this letter, telling her not to open it until he’d gone.

His finish had been pretty much like their beginning—with him ending up on the floor. But this time she was standing over him rather than lying on top of him. Idly, she flicked an ash into his open mouth, hitting him squarely on his tongue. The sun-dried blood on his lip looked like the smudge of a lover’s lipstick. Around his head were the remains of the crystal candlestick her mother had given them for their wedding.  She sucked at the paper cut, then at the gash across her palm that she had gotten from a shard of the candlestick that had taken a far smaller part out of her than it had out of him.

Far away in the kitchen, the phone rang and rang. Probably her mother. Well, let her get her knickers in a bunch waiting for him. Let her think (for as long as she could put off coming to investigate) that her daughter had reclaimed her property. She was in possession for now and everyone knew possession was 9/10ths of the law. She took another long draw before examining her wounds again.

Then, her curiosity getting the better of her, she moved back to the dictionary to thumb through the o’s. When she’d found the word, she chuckled and looked back at her lost love. Gone from this world, but no one would ever know it if she just shut his jaw and wiped off the bloodstain. As a matter of fact, he’d look downright oneiric!

 

The Nov. 8 Nov. Writing Prompt is Lipstick Lover.

Dental Retaliation

 

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Dental Retaliation

Do you remember toothbrushes lined up on a rack
in the medicine cabinet, at the mirror’s back?
Your father’s brush was ocean blue, your mother’s brush was green,
your sister’s brush the reddest red that you had ever seen,
whereas your brush’s handle had no color at all—
as though it was the ugliest sister at the ball.

How you yearned for color, reaching for your brush
as the first summer’s meadowlark called to break the hush
of the early morning while you were sneaking out
to be the first one out-of-doors to see what was about.
Making that fast decision, your hand fell on the red,
thinking your sister wouldn’t know, for she was still abed.

You put toothpaste upon it, wet it at the tap
and ran the brush over each tooth as well as every gap.
Each toothbrush flavor was different, your older sis had said,
so you thought it would be different brushing your teeth with red.

Your father’s brush was blueberry, your mother’s brush was mint.
Your sister’s luscious cherry—its flavor heaven-sent.

“But because you are adopted,” your sister had the gall
to tell you, “they gave you the brush with no flavor at all.”
You waited to taste cherries, but that taste never came.
That red brush tasted like toothpaste. It tasted just the same
as every other morning when you brushed with yours.
You heard your sister stir upstairs, the squeaking of the floors.

You toweled off her toothbrush and hung it in the rack
and started to run out the door. Then something brought you back.
You opened up the mirror and grabbed her brush again.
A big smile spread across your face—a retaliatory grin.
The dread cod liver oil stood on the tallest shelf.
You were barely big enough to reach it for yourself.

You dipped her toothbrush in it, then quickly blew it dry.
Replaced it, shut the cabinet, and when you chanced to spy
your own reflection in the glass, each of you winked an eye.
Then you ran out to cherry trees to catch the first sunbeam
and brush your teeth with cherries while you listened for her scream.

Yes, we really did have a cherry orchard behind our house. You can see the trees peeking up behind the wild rose bushes directly behind the trellis in the picture above. This is my older sister Patti and I.  Yes, she really did tell me I was adopted. (I wasn’t.) No, I never did smear her toothbrush with cod liver oil. The retaliation part is just a mental one, sixty-some years too late, I’m afraid. She has since redeemed herself.

The prompt today is toothbrush.

Most of the Time: A Serial Tale, Chapter 5

Most of the Time

                                                                           Chapter 5

All she can hear are the sighs of cars and the rumble of trains and the sounds of everyone hurrying through the cold.  Peter calls out to her from his study, but she is immersed in her book–hurrying to keep step with Hercule Poirot.  His stumpy little legs move him curiously fast over the buckled pavement of a seedy street and she isn’t sure yet where they are going, but  she hurries after him, as much for a means of escape from Peter as curiosity over where he is going and what he will find once he gets there.  The lives depicted in the book she is reading are a way to avoid her everyday life with Peter as surely as hanging around bars where she would know, if she thought it out, that she will never really meet anyone to replace him with.

This man she chose for her husband calls out again, this time louder.  “Susan!  There’s a gun missing from your case.  Did you forget and leave it in the car?”

Damn.  She had forgotten to take it out of the tool box. Peter is in the doorway now.  No way can she get it out of the garden bin and back into its locked case in his den tonight without him seeing her.  Her mind spins as she tries to come up with a plausible excuse for the missing gun.

“The action jammed at the range today.  Luckily, Randy from the gun shop was there and he said he’d take it in for repairs for me.”

He didn’t answer, but she could hear him shuffling down the hall, rattling papers in front of his nose as he walked, again restored to his potential fortunes. As she returned to her book, she looked down and realized she was wearing her flouncy skirt.  Not appropriate.  Why hadn’t Peter mentioned it?  Her arms were bare, which meant she was in one of her tight spaghetti strap tops.  But actually, she didn’t have to worry on Peter’s account, because she realized now she wasn’t at home.  She was on a dance floor, dancing close with a man who was missing two teeth.  He dipped her, pulling her close against his chest and bending over with her as she bent back.  His breath was not unpleasant and with the exception of the missing front teeth, he was a handsome man.  But although the coloring and features were right and the body mass in all the right places, there was some lack–of intelligence, perhaps–in his face.  Or maybe what was missing was integrity–something that had to be there for her to be attracted to a man.  Peter had had it once.

Susan snapped to attention, aware that she’d nodded off.  She looked for the gap-grin man, confused for a few seconds between dreams and reality.  She missed him, a little, when she became fully awake.  She wondered how she would have gotten out of that last dip.  Would he have pulled her up again?  Surely he’d have to. What kind of dance partner drops his partner after the dip?  She laughed then, aware that she seemed to be caught up in her dreams more than reality.

Her few little adventures.  Where did they get her, really?  She recognized that most of it was revenge against Peter. But of what good was revenge that he did not know about and that did nothing to change her life in any meaningful manner?  She decided then and there that there would be changes. Her next sojourn would not be to any of the dives she had visited in the past.  Nor would she wear her usual tacky disguise.  From now on, at least for awhile, her  rare escapes would be conducted strictly in first class.  She’d go shopping tomorrow.  Drop her emergency clothes from the trunk off at some Goodwill store  and up her ante.

When she again picked up her book, she no longer felt the cold chill of London.  She strode arm and arm with Hercule, the shoreline exposed by half-moonlight.  The hydrofoil loomed up before them. They crossed the channel at midnight.

Beginning and final lines from Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See.” Thanks to Candace Spence for furnishing the first and last lines in this chapter. 

Does someone have tomorrow’s lines for me?  Just choose a favorite book and tell me the title, author and first and last lines in a comment.  If I don’t receive one, the book is finished!!!!

Most of the Time: A Serial Tale, Chapter 4

Most of the Time

Chapter 4

 “And the tea, as always, was marvelous!” What?  What had Marjorie just said to me? Her statement was a complete non-sequitur, for I had been daydreaming about rum and Cokes and it was microwave pizza I had tasted as I bit into dainty canapés selected from a tray at the ladies luncheon in support of something-or-other.

Although I hadn’t been back to see Ninny Ricketts in the month since I’d first visited, she was often in my thoughts,  as was her “zero” quote.  “If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world. ”I hadn’t been able to resist asking Peter what he thought it meant, but he had just stared at me in that puzzled and somewhat irritated manner that signaled this was not a topic worthy of his consideration, then went back to the fascinations of the Dow Jones Average or stock issues or whatever it is they display on the Money Channel’s report of the roulette wheel-like game they call the Stock Market.

How anyone could find the making and losing of money to be their primary hobby was as much a mystery to me as my humming was to Peter.  How in the world had we wound up together? Marjorie was now going on about something else.  I caught every tenth word or so, but luckily there was an entire table full of women hanging on her every word, so I was absolved of the obligation of following her drift.  “Paisley . . . carpet nap . . . ceiling coves . . . The words faded away.

My hidden adventures had started the third year of my marriage.  It was my friend Sharon who had suggested “slumming it” by going to one of the pool parlor bars frequented by both blue-collared locals and college kids from the nearby University.  We were barely beyond college age ourselves, both disenchanted with our “picture perfect” marriages, though we had not yet admitted it to ourselves, let alone to each other.

We’d know each other since we had scabs on our knees and chigger bites on our skinny shins from rolling in the grass clippings left in the wake of my dad’s hand-push lawnmower.  She’d always been the adventurous one, pulling me along in her wake.  She had helped me pad my first training bra and crammed my first tampon into me, stubbornly insistent in spite of my protestations that it would never fit.  She had procured for us our first fake i.d.’s and explained the logistics of diaphragms and KY Jelly long before we needed either.  With three older brothers, she knew the ways men thought and wasn’t afraid of them—a feat I never have become versed in, despite years of her tutoring.

She knew how to get along with men and was one of those women who, by merely sitting down in a booth in a bar, somehow attracted invitations to play pool or to dance or play darts from whatever close fraternity of men that was pursuing that pastime.  She was the one men sent drinks over to, the one who was responsible for us sailing into packed clubs while others stood in line to do so.  She was my tutor of sin and even though I wasn’t a very good student, somehow some of what she taught me has stuck to me to be resurrected when I needed it most—when I was sinking in, mired by the awful normalcy of life in the affluent suburbs.

That was when we began our twice-yearly other life­­­­­—the shopping trips to Ross Dress for Less to buy slutty tops, cheap skirts and strappy shoes­­—the nighttime trips to workers’ bars and gay bars and V.F.W.’s.  The object was never to find a new man or even to find a man for a one-night-stand.  As a matter of fact, after twenty-two years of such sojourns—first with Sharon and then on my own—I was still a virgin slut.  The thrill was in becoming who I might have become if I hadn’t married Peter, just for a night or an afternoon.  To try to fit in with people who may not have had much else but who still possessed the ability to have fun. To let go. To be what I wanted to be without worrying about what other people would say or think or do.

It is inevitable that we got into some trouble—the one night flirtation that turned out to be the new dentist who had come so highly recommended.  “Don’t I know you?” he had asked, as I prepared to open wide for my first appointment.  He had looked at me quizzically three or four more times during the appointment, and just as I was leaving, he had said, “Aren’t you . . . ?” But I had left quickly and never gone back.

“Why don’t you want to go back to him?” Peter had queried, but I hadn’t answered.  Finally, the fifth time he quizzed me, “Bad breath” I had said. He was surprised. No one else had had that problem with him, he said, and insisted that he wanted to make an appointment with him himself to check him out.  “He hums under his breath all the time,” I said.  “And whistles.”  Peter put down the phone.  Neither of us ever saw the quizzical dentist again.

I squeaked by that time. Peter faded away into the man cave that would one day house my guns as I settled back into my Hercule Poirot mystery.  So many years ago, I was living a vicarious life and therefore had more of an appetite for the literature of adventure. It would have been reassuring to me then to know that one day, I would be less dependent on mystery authors for my thrills and would be ready to write about my own adventures.

The book I have written and the book you are now reading is a saga of stubborn adherence to a belief that adventure is something that can be dammed up but never completely squelched; that revenge need not be executed by violence; and that by looking through the zero, one can sometimes actually see the world that society seems to be trying so hard to keep obscured.

But way back then, over twenty years ago, I was dependent on Agatha Christie to impart fairness to my world. I am both your narrator and that long-ago self as she settles back further on the cushions of the sofa and raises the book closer to her eyes. There is murder in this book, the second most famous in England, but what I intend here is more than a saga of violence.

220px-DavidSuchet_-_Poirot
Thanks to Joni Koehler for today’s prompt, which was a doozie.  It was from Erik Larsen’s “Thunderstruck.” First sentence: “There is murder in this book, the second most famous in England, but what I intend here is more than a saga of violence.” Last sentence: “And the tea, as always, was marvelous.”  Thanks for furnishing a real challenge this time, Joni.  You devil!

If you go backwards for the past three days in my blog, you will find Chapters 1-3 of this tale.

Who will give me the next prompt?  Nope, still not doing the WP Daily Prompt.

The Queen of Iceland

The Queen of Iceland

Pete didn’t even come into the kitchen. He just bounded right down the steps and out the front door like he had mornings for the past month, calling back at the last possible minute, “I’m late. I’ll grab breakfast on the run. See you tonight!”

He was back within minutes, searching along the walk and in the bushes. He came into the house, his alibi some forgotten business papers. So close to the truth. That’s what a good liar learned to do – to stay as close to the truth as possible, merely omitting the details that formed the lie. She heard him run up the stairs, the almost silent opening of the closet doors, the flushing of the toilet as he checked the bathroom.

It was almost fun observing him. He was like a character in a movie who doesn’t know what the audience knows. It lets the onlooker feel wiser than the character on the screen, because the audience gets to figure it out first.

“Find them?” she asked as he entered the kitchen.

“No.”

“Want me to help look?”

He eyed her suspiciously, as though it had just entered his mind that perhaps she had already found what he was looking for.

“Tell me exactly what you’re looking for, and I’ll come help look for it.”

She could see his distorted reflection looking back at her from the chrome-like polish of the stainless steel blender, their eyes meeting as though in a mirror. His eyes revealed confusion, fear, a bit of anger.

What did he see in her eyes? She tried to feign indifference.

He worried the change in his pocket, fisting the coins and then letting them fall. Up and down, up and down, they pulsed like his blood and his indecision as he tried to decide what to do.

“What do the papers look like?” she asked, making off in the direction of the stairs.

It was then that he had decided he must have left the papers at the office and had quickly left for work.

She took the stolen letter out of the blender. She had been right. He had never thought to look there. She saw Pete’s neat handwriting on the sealed envelope she had found in the pocket of the jacket she had taken out of the closet for a quick pressing this morning. Running the iron over the pocket, she had heard a crackle that was the stamped letter addressed to a woman unknown to her. In the upper left hand corner was his name and return address–a PO box unknown to her.

She had had time to do little other than find a fast hiding place for it, because she knew that when he got to the letterbox at the corner and discovered the letter missing that he would be back fast to try to find where he’d dropped it. And she’d been right about it all.

Now that he was gone for the day, she slit open the letter with a skewer and read:

“I feel like one of the ceramic figurines on the shelf in my Grandmother’s house. Chosen so long ago, it is not clear whether I am of value or merely a familiar part of the environment. The insecurity that has kept me from writing sooner is based on that same metaphor: my feeling that the fact that someone once chose me does not mean that I have enough value or taste or appeal to anyone else in the world.”

She stopped reading, then reread the first three lines again and again, as though trying to wring all meaning out of them before plunging again into the letter. Was she referred to in those sentences? Was her life being scrutinized as in a novel? And if so, was she to be villainess or heroine? She probed her own memories for proof supporting one view or the other. Knowing oneself from the inside out, how could anyone ever claim complete innocence? For the world knows us by the decisions we make whereas we know ourselves as all the alternatives seriously considered before making a choice.

“She caters to me like she caters to guests. Polite, fair, maintaining her distance, she is like a really good household staff member.”

She stopped again. Reread the sentences. Reread them. Reread them. Unfair. He was not being fair. He made her sound so cold. If it was she he was describing. She picked up the letter and read on.

”I feel like the exception, the holdout in her life, for everyone else loves her. I, who know her best, am the only one she can’t convince.”

She sat down on the kitchen stool, plopping down hard more by necessity than design. It was the greatest infidelity. He was placing someone else’s mind and affections before hers. Talking about her, like the vilest gossip.

Each sentence farther into the letter, she was being pulled closer to the core of him and seeing herself strained through and stained by his consciousness; and she realized suddenly that it was the greatest self-cruelty that prodded her to read more. And so, although there was a page more of writing, she folded the letter without reading on. She had learned as much of his truth as she ever wanted to know.

She folded the letter into the envelope, then folded the envelope into a tight roll and put it back into the blender. The apple juice sat on the counter where she’d put in readiness for him. Next to it were all of the other unused ingredients for his morning cocktail of blended fruit, juice, cereal and soy milk. Neatly, she sloshed out a cup of juice. She reached for the soy milk next, then the banana, papaya and frozen blueberries. She put on the lid and watched as sweet ingredients mixed with the bitter words to form a purple mass. She lifted the lid and began to add the eight ice cubes, one at a time. When the action grew sluggish, she added more juice and heard the clunk of the eighth and last cube meet the propellers.

She turned off the blender, leaned over to extract a very large plastic glass from under the counter. The mess in the blender filled the glass and another just like it. She took one in each hand as she left the kitchen, climbed the stairs. She walked down the hall. To her right and her left, the hall was lined with the portraits of his ancestors. Beautiful and prosperous, they seemed to form some unattainable goal, like trophies lined up on a shelf. Winners all, they dared her to live up to them.

As she walked between them, she felt as though she were running the gauntlet. Her eyes went from glass top to glass top, watching so as not to spill a drop.

She walked down the hall to their bedroom, sat down on his side of the bed and put one glass on the night table as she bent over to open the wooded door of the night table. Inside was a small freezer full of Healthy Choice frozen nonfat yogurt bars, sugarless popsicles and frozen natural health-food candy bars. She slipped the two glasses into the freezer along one side, then shut the door.

The alarm rang as usual at 6 a.m. the next morning. Jarred from her sleep, she sat stiffly upright, like a mummy rising from the tomb. As she felt her way down the stairs, still half-asleep, he fumbled around in the bathroom. Ten minutes later, she was back with two mugs of coffee. As if rehearsed, he cracked the door to the bathroom and stuck his hand out. She placed the insulated mug onto his palm and the hand withdrew, leaving the door ajar.

“Early meeting again today?” she asked, walking across the room to perch on his side of the bed.

From the bathroom came shaving sounds. “Yeah, all this week.”

She bent down and opened the bedside mini-freezer, withdrawing a tall glass.

“I thought that might be the case, so I made your shake yesterday morning and froze it. If you put it in the microwave for a minute when you get to the office, it will thaw out enough to drink.

“Thanks, Rita. I’ll owe you one—anything you want.”

Her eyes caught on the steam sifting out from the cracked-open bathroom door as she climbed back into bed for an hour’s more sleep. Nestling more snuggly down into the pillow, she answered him in thought only.

Anything, Pete? You should be careful. You know me–I’m fully capable of making you eat your own words.

(Here’s another fictional response to today’s prompt, Fight or Flight.)

NaPoWriMo Day 3: Unlove Spell

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is write a charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe/nursery rhyme. It could be a charm against warts, or against traffic tickets. It could be a charm to bring love, or to bring free pizzas from your local radio station. I’ve decided to give a recipe to dispel the pain of an unfaithful lover.

Unlove Spell

For relief from suffering­­­ and a cure for love,
pluck a feather from a dying dove.
Press the feather in a hemlock crotch,
then fill a cauldron with his favorite scotch.
Wait for dark and stormy weather
to stew the hemlock crotch and feather.
Then add as listed all given below,
stirring steady with flame turned low.
Write your lover’s entire name
over and over and over again,
then shred this page of purple prose
with a thorn you’ve pried from a withered rose.
Add the paper, shred on shred,
recalling what he’s done and said.
Cast in the pot, till your mind is freed,
each slight recalled, each dreadful deed.
Add a patch you’ve torn from his favorite chair
and a single strand of his pubic hair,
wedding pictures of Niagara,
nose trimmers, hair dye and Viagra.
Add his hernia girdle and knee-length socks,
his shoes, his T-shirts and his jocks.
Cut all his pants off at the knees
and add them to his soggy T’s.
Stir the cauldron round and round.
If music’s playing, turn up the sound.
Sing along to the lyrics of
song after song of broken love.
“Don’t come home a cheatin’ with a lovin’ on your mind.”
Let these lyrics fill your thoughts—or others of their kind.
Call his mother on the phone. Say what he’s done to you.
Record her comments, rip out the tape, and add it to the brew.
Call all his girlfriends, all his buddies, everyone on your block,
Tell them that he’s impotent and has a little cock.
Write a note of what you’ve done and tape it to the pot.
Turn off the flame. Walk out the door. Forget the whole damn lot!!!