An Attempt at Irony

Todays prompt is going to be a hard one. That’s for fucking sure. Mainly it’s because I have no energy today. I am just absolutely 100% out of it. But, such is the weekend.

A Year of Writing Prompts by Brian A. Klems & Zachary Petit
January 3
A Cold Where you (Fill in the Blank) Instead of Sneeze
“You’ve developed a cold, only to discover that instead of sneezing, you (fill in the blank) every time you feel like you have to sneeze. This side effect proves to create a fairly entertaining scene at the office during your weekly budget meeting.”

Terry clutched the phone in his hands, listening to the ring on the other line. With any luck no one would answer and he could leave a message on the office answering machine. That was his best bet to avoid today altogether. No one at work would understand.

Although, the line clicked and Sheila answered the phone.

“Morgan, Pollock, and Masters, Magician Bounty Hunter.”

Terry pinched his nose.

“Sheila, It’s me, I’m not going to be able to come in today. I feel terrible.”

“Oh no, that’s not good! Well we will miss you at the financers meeting. The head from the state is coming in to talk to us about funding. I’m sure Lowell won’t mind. You get better.”

“Thank you,” Terry said from halfway down his throat.

The line clicked and went dead.

Relief flowed through his body and that’s when he could feel it surge. Terry craned back his head, his mouth gaping, and he let out the loudest sneeze, but with it came a puff of smoke and a young child appeared from within.

The young lad stepped from the thinning cloud and looked around Terry’s unkempt apartment. Panic was beginning to blossom in his face, as his lower lip trembled. There would only be a few moments before the boy exploded into tears. A crying child was the last thing his neighbors needed to hear. They knew he lived alone.

“Hey, buddy,” he said in a sickening sweet voice, “It’ll be okay.”

The young boy wrapped his arms around his stomach.

“Where am I?” He said stepping away from terry.

“It’s okay,” he said, “This is all a dream.”

The boy’s eyes grew wide.

“Really?” he said, “I don’t remember taking a nap. I was shopping with mommy.”

“Yeah, you fell asleep under some coats. She’ll find you in a second.”

The boy looked perplexed.

“How do you know that?”

“Cause this is a special dream.”

Preceded by a large gasp, terry sneezed again and the boy vanished from the room.

“Thank the gods,” he said.

The last few sneezes had become even more infrequent and produced the most horrible of momentary guests. At least the kid disappeared before he could cry. The one woman shrieked so much the nosey neighbor next door came poking around to make sure everything was “okay.” Terry wasn’t sure that he had bought that it was tv program he had been watching.

Now without the worry of work looming before him, terry rushed to the kitchen and began to concoct a potion to end this magical mishap. It wasn’t entirely obvious where he had gotten the calling cold but he had it never-the-less. He must have gotten it when he had been on assignment in Southron and they raided that sorcerer’s drug den. It had been absolutely unsanitary.

He was certain that had been where.

The ingredients came quick to his mind. This wasn’t the first time he’d have to brew one. He had gotten the same thing back in school. Luckily, his parents could excuse him and no one would ever learned he was a blossoming magician.

Pulling the sage from the cupboard he could feel another sneeze building. He tensed his face muscles and refused to let it out. Though try as he might it had a will of it’s own and he blew. This time he conjured a flock of parakeets that fluttered furiously around his apartment.

“I can deal with this,” he said.

He bustled around the kitchen pouring each item into his battered black cauldron. He stirred it the appropriate amount of times until it turned a beautiful lavender and he knew it was ready. He couldn’t ladle it fast enough into a copper mug.

Just as the rim touched his lips the phone began to ring. He looked over at the caller ID and it was the offce number. His blood went cold and he sneezed again, dispelling the birds back to wherever they had come from.

He set the steaming cup down and answered the phone, pinching his nose as he did it.

“Hello,” he moaned.

“Tare, look I know you’re sick but Sgt. Errol is coming and I know he will be absolutely pissed if you’re not here. He is insistent that he meets you. He wants to meet the man who took down the Black Ranfort warlock.”

Terry moaned again.

“Boss, I would love to but I can’t-“

“Terry, if you do you know we’ll get more money than we could ever need to take down these filthy magicians. Don’t you want to be the guy named the man who eradicated all things magical?”

Not really, he thought.

“I would, yes. But I can’t even get off the couch, Rick.”

“Look, if you come in I’ll give you the raise you’ve been hounding me for.”

Terry gulped. That raise had been his mission the past two years. It would give him enough money to move out of the tiny apartment he lived in, that he now noticed was covered in bird shirt and feathers.

“See you in a few.”

Before Terry could argue his boss ended the call.

For a brief moment panick gripped his chest, but then the saw the cup gleam out of the corner of his eye. He chugged it and waited, but within only a few moments he sneezed again, producing a pair of old men playing chess, table and all. But he didn’t have time to explain, he hurried around his apartment trying to get ready. Although he didn’t want to look too good. He put on a white shirt, top button undone, a striped tie as slap-dash as he could get it, and a brown coat. He put on his glasses and messed up his hair and then tried to wrestle it into something decent.

By the time he was dressed and ready to go he sneezed again and the men disappeared.

He hurried as quick as he could and got to the office without a single sneeze. That would mean the potion was working. He just needed to trust his skill.

He climbed the steps to the fourth floor office just o wear himself out and appear more sickly. This wasn’t his first rodeo. By the time he entered the office he was sweaty, red faced, and breathing heavily.

“Terry! You look awful.”

He could barely speak so instead waved and nodded.

“Go right on in.”

He wound his way around the cubicles to the conference room and entered. Everyone stood, especially Sgt. Errol.”

“Son,” he said, shaking his hand, “I really admire your moxy. If I was as sick as you I’d have told my boss to go fuck himself and not come in.”

Everyone laughed nervously.

“This is why I wanted to meet you. You are the best. I’ve been keeping an eye on you. I knew you were something special. It’s guys like you that will take down this magical menace and-“

The sneeze built in his chest, which prompted him to swallow air.

“You alright?”

Terry nodded as he cosed his eyes an concentrated.

“Course you are!” Sgt. Errol said, slapping him on the back.

Terry sneezed and in a puff of smoke appeared a man, bathing in a shower on top of the table.  The water slowly trickled away out of the shower head, as the man looked out of the clear curtain.

A Year Long Challenge. Maybe.

Back in July Writer’s Digest (my hooker of choice) offered a special on a couple e-books. One of which was a book that offered a different writing prompt for every day of a full calendar year.  I wanted to start immediately, but seeing as how the book began on January 1st I thought I’d wait until that time to begin.  Especially since the prompts grew more difficult with each passing day.

Like most things I say “I’ll remember this for later.” I very nearly forgot. It wasn’t until Writer’s Digest sent me another dirty tease about that book which reminded me of it’s existence on my computer.  So, if all of my other resolutions fail I wish for this one to at least go.  I think I can write everyday and post it on here.  (Can’t I?)

The first prompt of Year of Writing Prompts (by Brian A Klems and Zachary Petit) is very fitting for the first of January.

“January 1. Your Resolutions. What are your New Year’s resoltuions? Take one and create a fictional story surrounding it.”

Like countless thousands, I have made at least one resolution.  Though being the lazy overachiever I am I have made a list of 6 different things I would like to accomplish in the new year. Whether I actually achieve them is an entirely different story.  One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Forest Gump which perfectly sums up my feelings about resolutions and a new year.  The scene is of Forest,Captain Dan, and the two hookery girls in a bar watching the ball drop in time square.  One of them with big doughy eyes watches and says in a whisper “I love new years. Everybody gets a second chance.” And if I am given a second chance I’m going to at least mildly attempt it with gusto.

My Resolutions:

1 – Finish my book.
2 – Get in shape.  I’m 58 lbs overweight.
3 – Read at least 12 books.
4 – Get spiritually settled.
5 – Start a family.
6 – Pay off my credit cards.

Derek and Moira stood nervously in the exam room.  Despite having told her numerous times to sit Moira had refused.  So instead he wrapped his wife in his embrace.  He pressed his cheek to hers and hum a tune of his own creation.  It was one of the things she loved most about him.  The gentle melody soothed her nerves and she could focus on more important things like fertility and being pregnant.

This was round number six in their battle with her failing uterus.  In one of there attempts she thought she had a knock out but it came in with a sucker punch and knocked all the wind from her gut.  The two had been devastated and spent nearly a year recuperating.

“Do you think he’s taking so long because it’s good news?” she asked.  She kept her eyes shut and focused on Derek and herself, blocking the rest of the world out.  In her mind she and he stood in the vast expanse of the galaxy among stars and moons.

Derek stopped humming and hugged her tighter.

“It will be what it will be.” he said.

Luckily her eyes were shut and him not looking cause he would have been offended at her eye roll.  It was the best he coud offer at such a time.  He was just as clueless as her and she knew that.

They had prepared in the car before they dare enter the office.  And prior to that they had spent all night talking it through.  The final conclusion then was if this didn’t work they would have to adopt.  Derek had made such a beautiful altruistic case.

“There are so many other kids in this world desperate for a family.  Why would we deny them a loving home?”

She had hated him for his sense of logic. Even a tiny bit jealous.  She had always assumed he felt the same as her when it came to the question “biological or not?” How could they be close to a child that wasn’t made up of the two of them? It was an absolutely selfish thought.  She knew that.  But with all her knowledge she couldn’t change the pressing fear and guilt weighing in her chest.

Please, God, she prayed for the billionth time.

With a click of the door the doctor swooped into the exam room.  He instinctively looked at the table before peering around the door, momentarily perplexed.

“Good afternoon,” he said.

The two stepped from the other’s embrace and stood, only inches apart, with their hands clasped together. Derek like the gentleman that he was offered his hand to the doctor. The white coat clad physician took it and gave it a firm shake.  Already his confidence and cool demeanor had Moira hopeful.  Of the times before, she had known the answer before they had spoken a word.

“So we got back the test and I have some bad news and some good news.”

Moira’s heart froze in her chest.   Derek tightened his grip around her hand.  They could do this, it said.

“The good news is that you are definitely pregnant,” he said then looked down.

“You know what, Dr. Stewart, You can stop there.  Unless the bad news is that it would somehow harm my wife I don’t think we should know. At this point, no matter how the baby is, we will love it all the more.  Because it’s ours.”

MOira looked at her husband, studying his square features and stubbled complexion.

“Okay.” The doctor said.

Derek met his wife’s gaze and smiled.

“Because it’s ours,” she said.

The Striptease of Writer’s Digest, “Don’t touch the dancers.”

As much as I love Writer’s Digest they are in fact the devil.  Yes.  The dark lord from the pits of hell.  They are very persistent with their e-mails and I find myself opening almost everyone lured by the subject line or the hope of getting published.  Here is the thing, my novel isn’t anywhere near ready, and the ones that are the most enticing are “Get an agent to read your first 10 pages” or “2nd draft critique” or “Query Letter critique.”  Two of them also bill the chance of the agent doing the workshop “might ask for more!” I doubt it ever happens, but could.  It’s mainly a way of selling more of the workshops.

My husband pointed out that they have an amazing business model and they really do.  They are playing on peoples hopes and dreams.  It’s equivalent to “talent” agencies that charge a fee to represent you in the hope to “make it big!”  It’s horrible.  Now I don’t think that Writer’s Digest is at all malicious.  I think they’re truly offering “opportunities” but whether or not it goes anywhere is unlikely.  And that has nothing to do with Writer’s Digest, that’s just the nature of the beast.

I have to keep repeating, everyday, every morning, every minute, to be a writer one needs to WRITE, not sit back and dream of seeing one’s book on a shelf.  That’s not how it works.  It takes time, dedication, and persistence.  Even when confronted with adversity external or (most likely) internal, one pushes past keeping in mind their ultimate goal.  And once that manuscript is gleaming and has so much promise will these offers from Writer’s Digest be worthwhile.  Until that time they are like a stripper to me.  They are pretty and flashy, dancing seductively from a platform with no potential to touch.  Once I put in for a lap dance, maybe the dancer will like me and things will be different.