How To Find What You Came Here For

Welcome to the worlds that populate my brain!
The short stories you find here are the product
of a vastly overactive imagination
powered by coffee and M&Ms.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Power Surge

“Water will always find a path,” Mrs. Wheaton lectured, flashing a picture of the Grand Canyon on the screen at the front of the classroom.

Charlene studied the twisting outlines carved by the flow of the Colorado River.  She’d seen the canyon once, but her memory hadn’t recorded its stunning size.

A sharp pain just below her shoulder blade made her jump, but she refused to turn around.  Being a target of every bully in school had taught her some hard lessons, and chief among these was: never give them the satisfaction of acknowledging that they hurt you.

Still, she could feel a wave of power surge through her, propelled by pain and frustration.   Suppressing it had become second nature; the first lesson she’d learned when her power had become evident was that using it to hurt someone would not be tolerated.  It brought too much attention to their hidden community.

She shifted forward in her seat, hoping to move out of easy range of the pencil jabbing into her back, and inadvertently caught the attention of the teacher.

“Yes Charlene?  Did you have a question?”

Her mind went blank, and then latched onto the first question that raised its hand.

“What happens if the water gets blocked?  Like if there’s a landslide or something?”

Mrs. Wheaton sent Charlene the smile she reserved for students who managed to ask the perfect question to lead into the next part of the lecture.

“The water will work to weaken whatever is blocking it.  Sooner or later, the pressure will become too much, and the water will flow again.”

Charlene nodded, and fought to keep her face blank as the pencil jabbed into her back again.

Before she could shift farther away, the tip of the pencil dug into her back once more, releasing a thin trickle of blood down her back.

A cresting wave of power propelled her to her feet and she turned to face the boy, a tempest roaring in her head.  She clenched her hands into fists in one last attempt at control, but she knew it was too late. 

Power, like water, will find a path.

Her eyes lowered, narrowing slightly in concentration, and then traveled back up to watch his expression shift from a sneer to horrified shock.

“If you needed to pee that badly, I’m sure Mrs. Wheaton would have let you go.”

Charlene watched the boy leap from his seat, his book clutched low in a futile attempt to hide the inexplicable wetness as he raced from the classroom. Smiling, she sat back down as laughter followed him through the door.

Power will find a path, she thought, but it will be the one I choose.

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge - our assignment was to write about the forbidden or taboo.  In this case, I wrote about Charlene's need to hide a power her classmates (and most of the world), wouldn't understand.

Thank you for stopping by, and please let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


“Good morning.”

The elderly woman at the counter didn’t glance up from her romance novel.  She never did, but Sam greeted her every morning anyway.  Shrugging, she keyed in her membership code and turned up the long hallway to the locker room.

The YMCA had made some effort to brighten up the gray little area, so the lockers were now painted a variety of primary colors.  Nothing could be done about the cinder block walls, though.  Or the damp, chemical smell that united all locker rooms and made them familiar.

Sam trudged to the last row of lockers, closest to both the swimming pool entrance and the showers. 

“Good morning!”

Sam’s head jerked up in surprise at the chirped greeting.  A woman smiled at her from halfway down the row of lockers.

“Good morning,” Sam responded, out of habit.  She shuffled down to an empty locker and set her bag down on the bench, keeping an eye on the interloper a few lockers down.

To her relief, the woman turned back to her open locker and began to strip off her clothes with a casual confidence Sam couldn’t help but admire.  They were the same age, but the skin-tight swim suit the other woman was pulling on slid over a body that didn’t look like it had ever seen 110 pounds, never mind the 250 Sam admitted to.

Knowing it was stupid, she waited until the room was empty to undress and struggle into her suit.  Sam pushed through the door to the pool, her towel carefully wrapped around her bulk.

“Hi Sam!”  The cheerful voice of the lifeguard greeted her.  “You’ve got company today!”

Sam winced and looked toward the water, where the woman had already lowered her slender body into the cool water.  As she and the lifeguard watched, the stranger pushed off and began swimming toward the other end, awkwardly slapping the water and lifting her head out of the water with every stroke.

“Hope I don’t have to pull her out,” the lifeguard commented, grinning at Sam.  “Don’t have to worry about that with you!”

Sam grinned back, and dropped the towel to slide into the welcoming arms of the water.  Freed from the gravity that made her bulk a graceless prison, she cut through the water cleanly, propelling herself past the other woman with ease as she settled into the smooth rhythm of her workout.

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge - we were to write about freedom, in a way that makes sense to us, and keeping it to 400 words.  For me, being in the water is more natural than walking on land.  On land I'm clumsy, self-conscious, and hopelessly uncoordinated.  In the water, I am free.  I swam competitively for most of my childhood and teen years (although I switched to water polo in high school), and in the water is the one place where my body actually does what it's told.

Thank you for stopping by, and please leave a comment so I know you were here! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Distraction

            The heat in the little church was oppressive, and Nora was already regretting the prideful impulse that compelled her to squeeze into her Spanx.  Her backside was itching already, and Pastor Lang wasn’t even done with his first story yet.

            Pride went before a fall. 

That was in Proverbs, wasn’t it?  Nora forced herself to sit a little straighter, and made another attempt to focus on the sermon.  The pastor was still telling one of his stories; they were supposed to illustrate the message of the sermon, but sometimes it seemed like they were just stories, and Nora was hard-pressed to make the connection.  She shifted slightly, wishing she could scratch where it itched.

            Home is where you can scratch where it itches.

            She’d seen that on a shirt at Wal-Mart a while back.  It seemed a little crude at the time, but right now she could relate.

            Her husband shot her a look out of the corner of his eye.

            How did he always know when her mind was wandering?

            Oh.  Her hand had snuck down to a spot just behind her hip and was scratching quietly.  She blushed a little and smiled sheepishly at him, sliding her wayward hand back to the Bible on her lap.

            And she’d missed the pastor’s transition into his actual sermon.  Nora re-crossed her legs and focused on the pastor’s voice.  He was getting worked up about something.  Apparently he was worried that people weren’t taking their salvation seriously, and that sort of thing leads to the hot place.

            The road to hell was paved with good intentions.

            Like that time the youth group decided to go to the store and help elderly people load their groceries in their cars.  Turns out the elderly are pretty paranoid about getting mugged these days.  It took one of the town’s police officers, a sheriff’s deputy, and the pastor to smooth things over.

            ‘Course, it occurred to her that some of the youth, her own son included, did look more like muggers than missionaries most of the time.  Nora caught herself before she snorted, and hauled her wandering mind back to the sermon.

            Another story.  Possibly about hunting, but she couldn’t be sure.  The Lord knew their pastor sure did like to hunt.

            Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.

            Nora wondered how God felt about hunting.  They taught the kids in Sunday school not to be mean to little animals because they were part of God’s creation too.  Seemed like stalking a deer in the forest and then killing it when the poor thing least expected it wasn’t a very Christian thing to do.

            Then again, some people did it so they’d have food to feed their family.  That was probably OK.  But then again, you could say that it was OK to steal food to feed your family, if you were going to make excuses.  It sure seemed like people were awfully ready to make excuses about what they did that they shouldn’t have.

            Nora jumped when her husband’s hand came down on her shoulder.  The rest of the congregation was standing and singing.  She’d missed the entire sermon.


            Probably shouldn’t have worn those stupid Spanx…