The Lingering Conflicts of a Leftover Life

I left Sayre when I was 18, and that was nearly two decades ago. It was a month after I graduated that my dad and my friend Joy helped me load the U-Haul in front of the rent house I had been living in and head two hours East to Oklahoma City. There are parts of me I left in that town. I buried them in the cold red clay and walked away. Discarded pieces of the person I used to be and no longer wished to remember.

Just like that I moved into a rent-controlled apartment in a not so nice neighborhood with no friends. I lived by myself and nearby distant cousins; family members I did not know that well, truthfully. The city had close to a million people in it, and the town I had just left had fewer than 2,500. Geographically it was about two inches on a map. But those two inches were a world apart.

Those first few months I drove back at least once a month and visited my friends, but eventually I did not even do that. That town became like a faded photograph, a memory that I could once connect to with ease had now become an image I didn’t see myself in at all.

The parts of me I left behind, those parts were what people remembered about me. As if by shedding them and leaving them there I was making sure those were my trademarks.

Ideologically I could not be further from that scarred girl who drove off to the big city to live by herself and go to college. I knew that the only way to grow was to push myself as hard as I could to be the person I wanted to be. I used to drive into the center of the city and then find my way home to my lonely apartment each night. Before GPS and cell phones I knew that the only way I would be able to get around would be to memorize the layout in my head. Along the way I would see signs advertising jobs and I would apply. It didn’t take long and I had a job, I made new friends, I started college. Then, I got married, graduated twice, bought a house, had a kid.

And I didn’t really ever look back.

There are still good people there. People I care about and people who know the core of who I am. But I haven’t been back to visit in years. My parents live outside of town so I will go and visit them and then return home all without setting foot inside the city limits.

I think now that I have avoided having to reconcile the “me that was” with the person I grew into. They are two sides of the same coin. I could not be who I am now without her, but there are days I have a hard time facing her. And she is intricately woven into the fabric of my hometown and the people that I grew up with.

So, to ignore her, I blocked them out.

This probably would have been the end of it. I might not have thought that much more about it, in fact, if it weren’t for what happened last night.

Last night there was a tornado that started near my parents’ property and their home and traveled just a few miles to the East and into the neighboring town. I realized that even though I have no claim to this land anymore that it still hurts. These people, many who I grew up with, were suffering and I felt bad with them. I wanted to let them know how sad I was or how it hurt to see someplace I had been so many times as a teenager left in ruins.

I felt myself wanting to share in their collective pain. But how could I? After all, I was the traitor that left and no longer had ties to the town. I was the one who had done nothing but peripherally stay current on social media with all of the people who had once been close friends. What right do I have to share in their pain and their agony? Who am I to offer empty words of sympathy?

While I do not know if I have a right to lay claim to the pain and sorrow that I am feeling right now, I want everyone affected to know that I feel your loss too, and it hurts much deeper than I would have believed.

New Short Story $0.99 on Amazon

I have released my latest short story on Amazon today, and it can be yours for less than a dollar. What if you had a chance to take a different path? Or change something you regretted? Would you take it?

Click here to buy it now! 

Here is a brief excerpt of the story:

So much grief, he thought, turning back to the conversation at hand at the sound of Daniel’s voice.

“I’m sorry, what? I missed most of what you said,” he mumbled. Daniel had been a friend of his since junior high school. They were all one big group back then, and it seemed nothing would have been able to get between them. That’s what he’d thought all those years ago, when death was nothing but an abstract concept and not a solid mahogany casket waiting to be lowered into the frozen ground.

Fletch had pushed his shoulders up to try and prevent the Oklahoma wind from ramming into the side of his head and freezing his ear. Now he forced himself to relax long enough to let in the nasally sound of Daniel’s voice.

“I said, she told me to give you this.” He held out a manila envelope in front of him like he was brandishing a prize.

“Who?”

“Lauralee. She gave it to me about six months ago, along with a couple of other things for different people. Said that when she died I needed to pass them out.”

Fletch looked up at Daniel’s face to see if he was fucking with him. If this was some kind of cruel joke that the pudgy bastard thought might be funny. But he could see from the set of his jaw and the sharpness of his gaze that it was not the case.

“What do you mean? She died in a car wreck. No one knew she was going to pass away. Not her, not Christ, not anyone.”

“I know.” Daniel sighed and looked back over his shoulder longingly at the people who were still gathered there. “When she came to me and told me what she did I thought she was crazy. I mean, she swore that she wasn’t sick and that nothing was going on. Said she just had a feeling that this was something she should take care of now. Before…”

Click here to buy it now! 

Flash Fiction Mad Lib #1

  1. I asked for sentences…and you guys delivered. Here is the first story cobbled together from your ideas. I hope you like it!

Made of Stardust

It was a doorway to the stars that should never have existed. The metal of the knob had been cool in her hands, but the door itself was hot beneath her fingertips as she pressed them into the wood surface. The cool/hot duality reminded her of the warmth of summer when it first began to press in on the windows of their air-conditioned living room.

Right after it appeared Ari had asked her mother about it. Her mother’s steel blue eyes had cut into her with precision, and after a sharp silence she had answered only with a curt shake of her head before she turned back to the television. The haunting look that had been on her mother’s face shook her, and even though a word had never been uttered between them, it took months before Ari found herself standing in front of the plain wooden panel, knob in her palm, muscles flexed, breath tight in her chest.

At first the wood swelled and tightened in the frame, stubbornly holding in its secrets. There was a calming wave building in her, and she could feel its icy waters lapping at her anxiety like a numbing balm. Whatever happened, she knew things would be better.

All she had to do was pull.

The light seeped in around the edges of the door and pushed its way into the darkness of the room, invading in giant strides. Ari looked up and the stars poured into her. She could feel the heat and light pressing against her flesh like a solid weight. When she opened her eyes she saw that her flesh had darkened. Buried inside her were metallic flecks that began to glean back, reflecting the stars.

Ari stared down at her arm. It looked like the polished Hematite Ms. Miller had shown them in geology class. She remembered how it’s surface shone so bright in the sunlight.

I am here. Right here.

The voice was a strong one, and it marched its way across her thoughts. It vibrated through her, a charged current roaring across her flesh. Ari thought of running back into the house and telling her mother, but held fast to the edges of the frame remembering the last time she had dared to mention the door.

And still the stars poured into her, transforming her: tendrils of light floating across the darkness, reaching through that impossible door to embrace her. Ari watched as the light drained into her, turning her exactly into what she was meant to be. There was no judgment here, no rules, no harsh gazes, just the heart of the universe.

Ari tossed one last look over her shoulder and then took her first step into the abyss, the light now pouring from her as the pad of her foot left the cold tile floor of her house and pressed down on the air. It held, and she kept walking, trailing her worries. They fell behind her the way a flower girl sheds petals as they march down the aisle. There was nothing left of fear or anger; they had been hollowed out.

She had absorbed the stars, she was holding the galaxy within her.

Stretching out she pictured the darkness around her as water. Eternity stretched out before her as she floated lazily in the deep, staring up into the starless night and taking solace from the darkness.

 

 

Midnight Sun now available for $2.99

 

Midnight Sun: Book One of the Anastomosis Series 
The first book in my new series is out at Amazon for $2.99. 

A detective assigned to track down a serial killer finds himself wrapped up in a case involving a demon hunter, a psychic, and a creature far more evil than he could imagine. Will they be able to stop it before it feeds on more human souls?

Dectective John Walden is meticulous down to the last detail on every aspect of the job, while the rest of his life is left in chaos and disorganization. The trail of the serial killer is putting him adrift in his solid logic and reasoning. He can feel that there is something bigger just beneath the surface. Does he dare to grasp at the edges of reality to reveal it? Would he be able to confront the truth that might lie in wait for him?

Amy was homeless when the darkness found her: broken and alone. She longs for the power and control over her life that was stripped from her at a very early age. His whispers are dark promises she cannot resist. Will she follow him at the risk of losing her identity? Or is the price just too much?

Evelyn has always had powers: the ability to see into people and situations. But she’s kept this information close, keenly aware she is the embodiment of what people fear most. This time, this case, is different. She cannot ignore its call. Should she risk everything? Will doing this stop the nightmares or will she just find herself thrust deeper into the horror?

Orele has a past that’s been scrubbed clean, a life in the mystic underground, the lingering darkness that she can never catch: her trade is flesh and information and she’s on the hunt. Should she venture outside her comfort zone for help? How can she trust anyone when she can’t remember why she’s here?

#serial killer#demon hunter#psychic#lost girl#supernatural thriller#kindle ebooks#ebook reader#demonic possession#midnight sun#anastomosis

The Hunter – Orele

The Hunter – Orele

A past that’s been scrubbed clean, a life in the mystic underground, the lingering darkness that she can never catch: her trade is flesh and information and she’s on the hunt. Should she venture outside her comfort zone for help? How can she trust anyone when she can’t remember why she’s here?

 

The Psychic – Evelyn

The Psychic – Evelyn
She has always had powers: the ability to see into people and situations. But she’s kept this information close, keenly aware she is the embodiment of what people fear most. This time, this case, is different. She cannot ignore its call. Should she risk everything? Will doing this stop the nightmares or will she just find herself thrust deeper into the horror?

 

Lost Girl, Amy

Lost Girl Amy:
She was homeless when the darkness found her: broken and alone. She longs for the power and control over her life that was stripped from her at a very early age. His whispers are dark promises she cannot resist. Will she follow him at the risk of losing her identity? Or is the price just too much?

 

Midnight Sun: Book One of The Anastomosis Series

I’m pleased to announce that the final edits for my next book are finally done. The book should be up for preorder in the next few weeks and it is part one of a paranormal/fantasy mystery series.
A detective assigned to track down a serial killer finds himself wrapped up in a case involving a demon hunter, a psychic, and a creature far more evil than he could imagine. Will they be able to stop it before it feeds on more human souls?

 

Does This Read Like Erotica to You?

Included below is the rape scene excerpt from the story that Amazon classified as Erotica after I published it with a Content Warning. I’m only including it here now so people can see how deeply disturbed I am that Amazon would do this and how doing so perpetuates the myth that women enjoy being raped and that we consider it erotic. (To find out more about this issue see the article here: https://goo.gl/leM9JK)
If you read the excerpt below and are as outraged as I am, please help me by spreading the word. Share the petition (https://goo.gl/movnW) and this excerpt to help me show people exactly what is happening. I know a great many of you have already done this and you should know I appreciate it tremendously. Thank you. But please help me as I continue to fight, we cannot stop until they change their policies completely.
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Rape Scene Excerpt from “The Price”
“The memory of the blood soaked paper towels torment me in my quieter hours. I can still see the tears sliding down her cheek and onto the rough white surface as she folded it into a tight rectangle and slipped it between her thighs to keep the blood from leaking onto her cheerfully bright panties.
In the midst of her pain she had summoned me. I could feel her need pulling at me with such raw force that I was jerked away from the house and found myself in the room with her. For a moment I could feel the house trying to yank me back, but I held onto my connection with Shana, and focused everything I had on that moment, on that room. I watched as he brutalized her, trapped in my ghost state, unable to do anything but flail at his back with my invisible hands. I tried to pry him off of her, but my fingers simply fell through his flesh.
Although I could not bear to leave her, I knew I had to if I were going to try to get help.”

Why I am Raising a Feminist

Why I am Raising a Feminist

For a long time I didn’t think of myself as a feminist. I didn’t really think of myself as having labels. I knew I was stronger than most men I had been around. I was bigger. I was more assertive and outspoken than most women. Even though I never changed my name when I got married it never occurred to me that I was a feminist. I just knew what I wanted and I wasn’t afraid to speak up for it. I didn’t know that doing these things made me different or exceptional.

I had strong female role models. My mom always worked and her job was just as important in the family as my father’s. They were both professionals and I never heard my father talk down about my mom working or try to convince her that her place was at home. She was his equal. I had my aunts: crazy, funny, insanely protective and fierce women who taught me that you could be both sexual and strong. One was not mutually exclusive of the other.

So at a young age I knew I could be just as smart and just as important as any man and that I could be strong and sure of my body and in command of my sex life. These revelations didn’t just magically come to me, but they were ingrained deep enough that by the end of my teenage years I was a mold that had been firmly set.

That truth has not always been passed on to women. Even as direct and assertive as I am I cannot say that I’ve never been touched inappropriately or that no man has ever groped me. It would be a lie.

That is why even now I’ve had to talk to my daughter about permissions, about body control, about good and bad touches. I’ve had to explain to her that she keeps no secrets from mommy and that no one is allowed to touch her in a bad way. She has to know that if she tells me something important that I will listen and I will believe her. I will not tell her that boys will be boys or that is just how things are. I will not ask her if she is sure that it was a bad touch. She knows the difference by now and it is my job as her mother to listen and respect her.

I’ve had to constantly tell her that she is strong and smart and that she can do anything she wants. I hold my tongue when I want to caution her because I know that she will learn the most through trial and error and she is not fragile simply because she is a girl. I encourage her love of dinosaurs and outer space just as much as I have tea parties and watch her care for her furry babies. I know that both of these diverse interests will help her live a full life.

As the news about sexual assault and groping broke there were a torrent of women who started to share their stories of being assaulted by men in their lives. I know that my main goal as her mother is to make sure that she knows when she decides to have sex it is something that needs to be up to her. It is my hope that she will not feel pressured because the other person is stronger or richer or more popular or because she thinks she owes them something. If anyone touches her without permission she has to fight back. Like a wild, caged, vicious animal she should fight.

She should know that her mother worked to dismantle the system, that I spent my days encouraging her to think for herself and to question authority and to fight for what she knew in her heart to be right because those were skills she would need her entire life. I want her to never be afraid to be assertive because she might be seen as a bitch. I want her to love herself no matter what because having self-esteem and self worth is the best way to make sure that you don’t ever do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

Most importantly, I’m raising a feminist because I know no other way to be. The truth I denied for many years is that I have always been a feminist. I have always fought for equality and I have never thought or considered myself to be less than a man or defined my value on the kind of man I could attract.

My hope is that she spreads this truth among her friends like fire, that they see her strength and compassion and hope and love and know that feminism isn’t a bad word. It isn’t the scary villain out to smash your worldview.

No, feminism is my grandmother going back to college after she had raised her family because it was something she always wanted to do. It is my mother working in the sciences in a time when there were hardly any women in the field. It is my father telling me I am just as capable as any boy. It is my aunt point blank stating that I don’t have to laugh at shitty jokes just because a man tells them. It is my husband cooking every night because I am crap in the kitchen. It is every woman who ever felt like there was more to life than the role she’d been assigned and tried to do more. It is every man who respects women’s rights to body autonomy and equality. It is what we should strive for every single day.