“Jesus, could you move any slower?” He yelled back at her, the familiar anger thick in his voice. They’d wandered for hours in an unnamed cave, the maze of dark throats showing no signs of ending. She thought giant burrowing worms must have created them years ago: He knew they were just tunnels. “If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t even be here,” he said. “Why are you so stupid? So completely and utterly stupid.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, eyes cast to the ground. They found themselves in a cavern; a small reflective pool a table around which three gaping mouths waited. He took the opportunity to wheel on her, forcing her against a wall.

“I wish I had never met you. Nothing has gone right since then. You’re incompetent and ugly. Completely useless.” He wasn’t yelling anymore. He didn’t have to. He turned and walked down the far right mouth, darkness swallowing him mercilessly. She listened as his footsteps faded, leaving nothing but silence. Despite herself, she cried. Just as she knew she would. Just as she always did. She curled into a tiny ball of despair and cried.

“Hey,” a voice called. “Hey, are you ok?”

She looked up, but saw no one. “Hello?”

“Over here.” The voice said.

“Please. Just leave me alone.” She turned quite away.

“That’s kinda hard to do, considering you’re inside me.”

“What?” She looked around with more interest. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“The only joke around here was your companion. He seems like a real jerk.”

She remained silent for a moment. “No; he means well, sometimes. He only acts like that when he’s angry. When he’s nice–”

“How often is nice?” The voice interrupted.

“Sometimes.” She said, furrowing her eyebrows. “Who are you anyway? Where are you hiding?”

“I told you,” the voice said. “I’m all around you. I’m the cave you’re in. Are you sure you like that guy?”

“Yes.” She stood up, not believing what she was hearing.

“I don’t see why. You should leave him. Except he sort of already left you…”

“He’ll come back.” She said. “He always does.”

“He always does, or you always do?” Again, she remained silent. “Tell ya what, take a walk with me. I’ll help you out of this cave and by the time you see the sky you’ll be over that dude like birds over land.”

“Really?” She asked.

“For sure,” the voice said, full of confidence. “I can feel it in my bones. Take the tunnel on your left and let us be on our way.”

*Note: Somehow or another this was originally inspired by Xia’s latest single, “Flower”. It’s changed a lot over time, but I’m happy with the way it’s turned out. If you haven’t heard the song I highly recommend it, but be warned: the music video for the single can be shocking to the uninitiated.

Pharmacy Times (based on a true story)

My coworkers filled up every available seat around the break-room table, chatting about this and that concerning their lives over lunch. Tuning into each conversation at random I caught the tail-end of something promising. “What was that?”

“Destiny?” Joanie asked. “She was crazy!”

“Go on,”

“Oh, she used to work here before you,” Joanie took a bite of her sandwich. “I was just remembering how she got fired.”

“What happened?” I pressed, knowing a good story when it dangled in front of me. My insistence caught the attention of the others and soon the room fell quiet, waiting.

Joanie sighed, pretending to be reluctant; but she set aside a fork and knife in favor of voice, clearly not too reluctant to be the center of attention for a moment or two.

“Destiny was a young girl of about twenty seven. She was nice but didn’t know how to keep her mouth shut. Genuinely a nice girl, but she could run her mouth faster than a jet plane. She was dating this guy, well, more like fooling around really. He had an actual girlfriend on the side you see, but Destiny could care less. When the girlfriend found out about the cheating, as she was bound to eventually, she called Destiny during work and they proceeded to bitch each other out over the phone for a half hour. Later we found out that night Destiny snuck over to this girl’s house and poured sugar in her gas tank. The next day Destiny calls her up and tells her she was the one who did it! Oh yes, the lack of brain cells starts to really come into play here. The arguing, more like screaming really, match between the two over this boy carried on for a whole ‘nother week. Finally Destiny told this girl she would fight her anytime, anywhere. She told her where she worked and said to meet her in the parking lot the dumb ass! Our manager at the time of course knew what was going on and warned her not to bring personal issues onto work property or she would be fired. After some talking Destiny agreed to handle her business elsewhere. The next day another girl who used to work here was walking out to her car and saw Destiny getting her ass kicked in the parking lot by a girl twice her size. Running to her car past the fight she called the manager, who was still in the building. Destiny was fired the next day.”

“Wow,” I said.

“Like I said,” Joanne took another bite of her sandwich. “Nice girl, she just couldn’t watch her mouth.”

“Moral of the story?” I asked.

“If you’re going to fight over a man, which is a useless thing to fight over really, do so down a long deserted gravel road in the dead of night with no witnesses.”

“That doesn’t seem like a great alternative.”

“Least you won’t get fired.”

Only Words

“I met a man.”

“Really? Tell me everything.”

“Well… It was Saturday night,”

“Oh my God! You were at a club, weren’t you?”


“Oh, I can see it now. The lights are dim, the strobes are high, and there he is. Shirt unbuttoned, sweat dripping, skin glistening. He slowly makes his way across the dance floor, bedroom eyes in full effect, hips─”

“We weren’t at a club.”

“So a coffee shop, right? I can see it now. You’re sitting by the window, the night life outside dewy with rain. Did it rain Saturday night? He walks in, white shirt soaked so every muscular detail shines through. He looks at you, you look at him. He approached your table, hips swaying─”

“Why are you going on about hips so much?”

“It’s been awhile…”

“No hips. None whatsoever.”

“Is there at least a puppy involved? He was walking his new puppy and it got off the leash and ran to you sort of thing?”

“Actually we met through work.”

“Oh, so some secret broom-closet action huh?”


“Not at all?”

“It was a business dinner. He’s from the next department over. We sat next to each other and really hit it off. Nothing more happened, but we’re meeting next week for lunch.”

“Can you do me a favor and pay attention to his hips this time, please?”

“I’ll make sure to request he wears a white shirt too.”  

You Can’t Pick Your Family (Based On A True Story)

“Listen Alley,” Wendy tried to sound stern as she straightened her sister’s shirt collar. “Mom had to work really hard to get us into our new school, so don’t screw this up. I’m not changing schools again because you can’t control your attitude.”

“That teacher was asking for it.” Alley pouted.

“And what about the school before that? Do all teachers deserve black eyes?” Alley raised her eyebrows, wondering if an answer was really asked for.

Wendy struggled with life ─ which is to say she struggled with the people in her life. Namely her younger sister, who had a knack for finding trouble where none existed. Thirty detentions, five suspensions, two expulsions, and one assault charge (later dropped) tickled just the tip of the iceberg. “When you get in trouble I get in trouble.” Wendy said. “This is a private school, which means they have even stricter rules than public ones. Just try to behave, ok?”

“What for?”

“For sanity’s sake.” Wendy snapped. “If you last a week without fighting anyone I’ll give you my ice cream money.”

“Deal.” Alley nodded soundly. Shaking hands they departed their room for the kitchen in search of their mother for their ride to school. Unfortunately due to their mom’s infatuation with the “bonafied” garbage man, who always seemed to visit every week for an extended period of time, the sisters arrived late.

Rushing into the building their mom hustled them to the principal’s office. Formalities where quickly swept aside and Wendy waved down the hall as Alley was led in a different direction to a different class. She hoped and prayed for an uneventful first day.

By lunch Wendy had a favorite everything picked out. Her favorite teacher, her favorite subject, her favorite kid she sat next to. She looked around the lunch room and allowed her usual a-little-too-manic-mature self a sigh of relief. Maybe she’d finally found a place she could settle and grow some roots.

A ruckus over her shoulder drew her attention. There it was. The principal she’d only met that morning and who she judged to be a relative stand-up guy clutched her sister’s shirt as she struggled to run away and pummel anyone within arm’s reach at the same time.

He yelled, she yelled back. Wendy sat too dejected to move as the students around her rushed to the scene. She was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her sister swinging around and socking the principle right between the eyes, knocking his glasses clean off his nose, before heads blocked her view. Calmly, fighting tears of frustration, Wendy stood and threw her lunch away before heading to the office. Goodbye favorite everything.

By the time their mother was on speaker phone Alley had calmed down and the principal had on a spare pair of glasses. “Miss, I’m sorry, but we cannot have someone with your daughter’s behavior at our school. With her record it was a miracle we even let her in,” he trailed off, glaring across the desk at the young girl. Alley stuck her tongue out. The conversation went on a bit longer but the outcome was unavoidable.         

Their mom made them walk home as punishment. “I am never giving you money for ice cream. Ever.” Wendy cursed her luck for having a sister such as Alley.

“Could be worse,” she argued. “Mom could always marry that garbage man she’s in love with.”

Wendy had to agree. Thank god that would never happen. (The official dating between Mother and the garbage man began about a month later. Marriage followed shortly after.)


She was a much older woman, and maybe I liked that. As she walked towards me, seductively stripping off one article of clothing at a time, her eyes in full bed-room mode, I had to admit my heart quickened. But enough was enough.

“Suzee,” I back away rapidly from the advancing woman. “This has to stop. I don’t like you like that.”

“Oh baby,” pouncing forward she grabbed hold of my shirt collar. “Don’t say that. You know you want it just as bad as I do. And I could show you such a good time,” she licked her lips in an exaggerated manner, making me cringe.

“Doesn’t matter,” I tried to gently detangle myself from her grasp. “I’m not interested in older woman.” Honestly that wasn’t the full truth, but it didn’t take me long after meeting the cougar currently pawing at my chest to realize experience comes at a price, usually sanity.

Suzee refused to let go and instead pushed me up against a wall, kissing me long and hard. I struggled to break away and finally caught a breath of air around thick lipstick. Suzee busily unbuttoned my shirt until I tightly gripped her hands in my own. “Listen to me.” I said seriously, looking her in the eyes. “I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding, but I’m not interested in you. Please put your clothes back on and leave my house.”

“Aww baby,” she cooed. “What’s wrong? I don’t bite.” She leaned forward and snapped playfully at my collarbones. I pushed her away roughly, not longer so concerned with treating her like a lady.

“I can’t be with someone as old as you.” I blurted out.

“As old as me?” She scoffed. “I’m barely over… I’m not old.” She snapped in my direction. “You’re hardly one to talk!”

“I’m only – ”

“You’re legal; that’s all that mattered.” Suzee turned away and I sighed with relief until a finger stab my chest. “You know what your problem is? You’re not man enough for me. You’ll see, older women are better. You’ll learn once you grow up.” Turning on her heels she stormed off, picking up each article of clothing she’ d tossed aside on her way to the door. Slamming it shut behind her she cut off her perfume trail, leaving me slightly scratched by her foreplay nails but otherwise no worse for wear.

Sighing fully in relief I sank to the floor, grateful I’d managed to avoid the mauling. I decided from then on to never see a woman old enough to be my mom ever again. It was just too weird. It was like dating the Crypt Keeper or something.

Bazooka 8

I sat on quite possibly the ugliest couch I’d ever had the unfortunate experience of sitting on, next to a beaming bearded man I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with.

“Hello!” A voice sung. The waitress from the diner twirled out of the kitchen of the quaint house at the end of a block the bearded man brought me to, holding a tray of cookies. Setting the plate before us I leaned in and took a whiff. Yup, freshly baked all right.

“I’m sorry,” I began.

“Don’t be!” The old man slapped me on the back. “It’s not your fault you have such lousy taste in women. You can never tell the difference between the normal ones and the ones carrying an AK-47 in their back pocket, if you know what I mean.” He elbowed me roughly.

“Actually,” I said. “I was going to say I’m sorry I don’t know your names.”

The two looked at each other in surprise. “That’s true,” the waitress said. “We don’t know your name either.”

“Santa is the brand,” the old man reached over and gripped my hand, giving it a good manly squeeze.

“I’m Jezebel, but you can call me Bonnie.” The waitress smiled.

“Mike.” I stated lamely. Taking a bite of a cookie I found it to be delicious. I suddenly became painfully aware I’d missed breakfast and grabbed another. “I didn’t expect to see you two still together.” I said between bites.

“Why wouldn’t we be together?” The waitress asked, sitting in a chair across from us.

“Why are you still together?” I looked between the two with that odd feeling growing in my stomach.

They looked at one another with smiles. They went back and forth in hushed tones. No, you tell him sort of lines. Finally a voice, I can’t remember who it came from, spit it out. “We got married!”

“… What?” The waitress held up her left and, sure enough, a small silver ring glinted on her finger. “It’s been a day,” I managed to get out. “It’s literally been a day.”

“Young love,” Santa smiled. “You know how it goes bub,”

“You’re, like, a hundred years old…”

“We thought it was about time.” The waitress nodded.

“It’s been a day!” I exclaimed.

“A lot has happened,” Santa reasoned.

“You got married!”

“We did,” they cooed in unison, sending each other googly-eyes. I gagged. Santa courteously patted me on the back. “We wanted to thank you for introducing us.” Bonnie continued.

“But enough about us,” he said. “What have you done with yourself all this time?” I raise an eyebrow and ate another cookie, not sure what to say. “Come on,” Santa prodded me.

Sighing, I told the whole story from beginning to end. The chase after the diner blowup, wandering around the city, Shorty catching me, the other Mike wanted for bank robbery, the bounty, and Annette. Silence hung in the air.

“Wow,” Bonnie rested her head in her hands. “That’s so… unfortunate.”

“That reminds me of a story,” Santa chimed in.

“Not now dear, can’t you see Mike needs help?” Santa drew back sullen. Bonnie thought hard. “Why don’t you just catching this man yourself? You don’t have a job;  you could become a bounty hunter!” She sat back, awful proud of herself. I thought and thought and thought about it, staring at the floor in concentration. Santa and Bonnie slowly leaned forward in anticipation. I blinked and looked up.

The front window to Santa and Bonnie’s house exploded in a shower of glass. Through the hail a figure leapt through the opening. A flash of floral yellow gave way to caramel skin. The woman, Annett, hung midair, suspended in time as I gazed up at her. She drew her arm back and slugged me with brass knuckles, knocking me out cold.

Love Letter

I was feeling inspired and wrote an extremely over the top, slightly old-school, love note. Enjoy the cheesiness!     


                I think of you again tonight. I could not sleep, for thoughts of you fill my head and drive sleep away with a cruel whip. Darling, how I miss you so. Your laughter, your eyes, the warmth of your hand holding mine. To say you are my sunshine is to say you have my heart, and every day I rise without you seems dark and cold. Seeing your smile fills my heart with pure happiness and devotion. How sad I would be to see a frown! A single tear I could not bear, plunging me into devastation. How are you? How strange it is to be without you by my side. Do you often think of me? You are so different than any man I have known before. You always did look the most handsome in suits. Ah, there is so much to do in your absence, but you have never been far from my mind. If I were to look at a map and measure the distance between us I fear it would seem rather minuscule. I feel so very close to you even when you are not here. To say you care for me more than I you would be a bold lie indeed. This must be love, no other emotion could torture me so with thoughts of us together again. When you return I shall cook a wonderful meal we shall eat together talking the afternoon away just as we did last summer. Hurry back soon so I may see the world around me in the light of day once more.

                Love eternally,

Bad Date

I sat at a table, impressively set with flowers and a candle, uncomfortably pulling at my tight dress. My feet hurt from the high heels I wore; I knew they would give me blisters but wore them anyway. I wanted to make a good first impression after all.

The friend who set up the blind date could not stop gushing over the majesty of who she set me up with. I was told the man I would meet was good, worthwhile, kind, and understanding. Everything I said I wanted. I would be presented with a man, a real man. Finally. Lord only knew what I would give it if were true.

“Your table sir,” a deep voice said over my shoulder, and the next moment a god entered my vision. Or at least a cousin of a god. Dressed like a romance novel character I ogled as his jaw line, thinking there was no possibility he was intended for me that evening.

But there he was, sitting down across from me. The waiter hovered and he ordered a drink politely. He then turned to me with a perfect smile and introduced himself. “Hello, my name is Mark,”

“Ellan,” I held out my hand, a bit breathless.

“Ah,” he eyed it, his whole countenance changing suddenly. “I don’t like that.”

“I’m sorry?” My hand went limp.

“Holding your hand across the table like that. It’s not very polite.”

“I—uh,” slowly I withdrew my hand under the table. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know offering your hand to someone was rude…”

“Depends on how you do it.” He smiled again. “So, Miss Ellan, tell me about yourself. Where do you work?”

I dismissed the odd beginning, answering, “I work for a marketing company in the city. I actually just started so I’m still getting the hang of things.”

He made a face. “I like women who are intelligent. Do you think you’ve made an impression?”

“Well not yet, it’s only been a few weeks,”

“What are your views on Scandinavian furniture?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What are your views on Scandinavian furniture? Do you think the style fits with the contemporary city or does it more suit the modern country?”

“I don’t—”

“How do you decorate your home?”

“Regularly?” I faltered. “I suppose I don’t really have a specific taste at the moment.”

“I see.” Mark looked across the table long and hard. Just as his drink arrived he asked for the check. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see this going anywhere.” He smiled again, just as charming as before.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I feel we don’t have the same interests.”

“Are you serious?” I scoffed. “That’s it? I get five minutes of your time and then you decide this isn’t going anywhere? Do you realize that I bought a whole new outfit for this date?”

“That’s new?” He looked me up and down.

“I dieted for a week in preparation of this night. I even got a pedicure!”

“Miss Ellan, please lower your voice. Don’t be so upset. I realize your friend probably raised your hopes up. Don’t worry, I’m sure you will meet a perfectly suitable man for you some day.”

My mouth dropped open while he finished his drink and stood. “I had to take a taxi across town to get here…” I mumbled under my breath.

“I’m certain you will be able to find another to take you home.” Mark handed a bill to the waiter and, with one final smile, made his dash.

“Miss?” The waiter questioned, hesitantly looking down at me.

I unfolded my napkin and laid it across my lap. “I would like to see your wine and dessert menus please.”  

The Five Trials of Peru: Trail 5 Part 1

Looking at the house down the street the prince bolstered himself. From a young boy he now stood as a grown man, humble and courteous in all ways; he would be brave in the face of all he ever wanted. Knocking at the door, his men at his back, such and such transpired until Peru sat in the parlor, an impressive room dressed with the finest furniture. Clothed in extravagant silks and jewels the mistress walked into the room with an air of superiority. Looking the prince over she found him satisfying to the eye in all ways.

Pleased with her visitor she ordered slaves to bring meats and dried fruits. “Welcome to my home,” she sat opposite Peru in an overly plush chair. “Eat and drink as much as you like, but please do tell me about yourself all the while.” All too happily Peru recounted his story much to the amusement, horror, and sympathy of the mistress. “You have come a long way to see my daughter; I am honored she would inspire a man so,” she commented.

“Is it too much to hope your daughter is still unwed?” The prince asked, on the edge of his seat with nerves.   

“You are in luck; men from all over the world have come seeking her hand, but all I have turned away in sore disappointment. But you I like for her.”

“How soon can we meet?” Peru looked eagerly around knowing Florette was somewhere in the house he now sat in.

“All in due time,” the mistress put off. “First let us make arrangements for the ceremony.”

The prince’s heart swelled at the notion of a wedding. While the two continued chatting a slave girl entered the room carrying a flask of wine. Leaning down to first pour for Peru he heard the ring of bells, small but catching. Observing her he felt himself struck with the same feelings of adoration he felt all those years ago. Before him stood the image brought to life. It was her, Florette, but more stunning in life than he could have hoped. With tears pouring from his eyes Peru threw himself at her feet, kissing the hem of her dress in ecstasy at finally hearing the bells he dreamt of all those years.

Hastily the mistress jumped to her feet and bade Peru stand from his unattractive position on the ground. “My dear Peru, what has come over you? Are you so seasick you fall at the feet of slaves mistaking them for royalty?” Pushing him back into his seat she shooed the startled slave out of the room.

“That is Florette.” Peru said. “Why has she left?”

“Never mistake a lowly slave for my daughter.” The mistresses snapped. “That girl is vermin scraped from the gutters of the city. My daughter is the only one you seek.”   

“Let me see her then,” Peru persisted.

“This cannot be. It is custom in our country for the groom to see the bride’s face only after they are wed.” Turning from the prince she reasoned, “You are tired after your journey and need rest. Your case of mistaken identity is understandable in such a state. Your men have already retired for the night to rooms I have generously provided. Follow their suit and we shall begin preparations tomorrow. You will be married to my daughter within the week.”

That night Peru lay awake deep in thought, reasoning in his mind why the servant girl he had seen could not have been Florette. It had been many years since the portrait of the noble’s daughter was distorted by the sea, and the finer details of the image were forgotten. But he remembered Florette dressed in fine gowns and head pieces in her drawing; why now would she dress in the simple clothing of a servant and pour wine? Surely the custom of wearing bells in the ears was customary for women of the foreign country. Reminding himself of all the Jinn king told him Peru took ease knowing reality was unfolding just as he said it would. Thinking nothing more of the girl he fell asleep, content after so long a wait he would soon meet the woman he loved. Florette was a lady, a woman of high birth. How could a slave ever compare?

The Five Trials of Peru: Trial 4 Part 1


Two months passed – two men died. Pushing their bodies overboard Peru felt his journey weigh more and more heavily on his heart; he found swearing promises to widowed wives and fatherless sons seemed meaningless when he held nothing to show for all the sacrifice of others. The remaining men were losing moral and forgetting why they were so eager to leave land, as was Peru, no matter how many times he looked at the fading picture. On the second month and fifth day the raft washed ashore an island carrying a strange air. Exhausted from thirst and hunger the group crawled onto land and collapsed.

Waking to the sun high overhead Peru struggled to move his body, stiff with dried sand and salt. Looking up he saw a man standing before him, tall and frightening, flanked by five others equal in presence. Sitting up Peru felt for his sword and found it gone.

“Stay calm Prince Peru, we mean you no harm,” the man said. “I am the Jinn king, and this is the jinn island. Tell me who you are, where you hail from and where you head towards.” 

“You know my name,” the prince said cautiously. “So you must already know who I am and all other things.”

“Oh-ho, this is true. But it is so rare we have visitors,” gathering his robes the man sat cross-legged on the ground and motioned to the men on either side of him to do the same. “I would like to hear it from you directly. Tell me all that has happened.”

Peru did, laying bare his journey from the moment he first set sight on the image of Florette through the shipwreck, his time as a slave to the cyclops, the sirens, and the last voyage landing he and his men on the island. The Jinn king sat quietly, listening all the while as the landscape turned purple in the setting sun.   

“You have been through much,” he commented. “Rouse your men.” Standing he made his way towards a ticket of tall grass a few paces away. Jumping to his feet Peru hastened to wake Lothar and the others, bidding them follow.