Quickie #25 Writer’s gonna Write

Prompt: Does writing Change you? How does writing make you a better person? 

I’ve been writing since I was in grade school and I’ve always found it to be beneficial.

At first it was just fun. School assignments or characters I would make up. Poems and plays for my friends. Super hero girl power stories and doomed romance stories with secret crushes. The summer going into my sixth grade year was also when I started to hand write my very first novel. It got up to 900 pages of lined college ruled paper before I moved on. (I spent a lot of time in my room avoiding my step dad.)

Then it was therapy in middle school. I would write about the turmoil of boyfriends and catty jealous girls. I would write about my abusive step dad and my vagrant sister. Problems with my friends, school dances, summer vacations, shocking revelations (Like when I could finally reach the top shelf of the cupboards and my first kiss). All this sprinkled with various stories snippets and pieces of dialogue. Middle school was when I first started to write my Silver Sun novel and I wrote a couple of poems that got published.

High School was when I first started to realize that my dream really was to become an author. Glimmers of it would waft through my mind while teachers and college reps touted science and math majors at me. (As if!) I was still too shy to share my ugly baby stories with the world but I would lose myself in writing. I got my first (used) computer in high school and I still remember the huge clunky keyboard and the loud clacking keys. Floppy Disks! The huge boxy monitor barely fit on my small fold out table but I loved it. I would spend hours on it, hunched over, totally absorbed in writing.

Taking English and literary classes in college was what really sold me on the idea of writing and publishing. I’ve been writing steadily ever since and the journey has culminated in this blog.

Writing got me through the trials of having two young girls at home alone with me. It got me through rough patches in my marriage. It got me through my isolation and anger and loneliness.

I would say, without a doubt, that writing is the thing that saved me from myself. I would not be Jessica Jordan without my love of books and writing. I don’t even want to know that person. It’s too terrifying to contemplate o_o


The little Writer that Could

So I’ve been going at this whole blog thing for a good year now. YAY ME! Wait, has it been over a year? Has it really almost been two years? Nahhh. Maybe? I’ll have to check on that later. I took a break in the middle to ruminate on my depressing life and schtuff hit the fan but I came back, like a beaten but loyal dog. I guess that really says something about me since I never stick to ANYTHING.

But I did start this blog because I want to be a published author and that is still my end goal, even if life throws wrecking balls in my way. What’s life without a few random steel balls blowing through your path, am I right? (You’re welcome for the ear worm.)

Wow. That’s actually a good analogy for what I wanted to write about today. Wrecking balls in writing. I’m taking the next step!

Lemme ‘splain…

See, I’ve gotten over the initial fear of failure that had hindered me when I first started this journey. I was afraid of people not liking my stories or not caring what I have to say. I was afraid of not sticking with it, of giving up on it, of being WRONG about what I wanted. Not so much anymore. I’ve gotten used to writing on the blogosphere and putting my vulnerable self out there.

I’m starting to settle into a writing voice that sounds somewhat like me. My entries have mostly been consistent in that department though someone else would have to tell me yay or nay. I can’t really judge that for myself yet.

I’ve even gotten a little writing routine down for myself (a friggin’ miracle if you knew me at all). Get up, get kids breakfast, sit down and start an entry, get first daughter on the bus, come back for another twenty minutes and write, then walk second daughter to school, then come back and finish. I try to write until at least 10 am. Even more amazing is that I start to get anxious when I can’t write any given day or a miss a blog entry. It feels like back sliding and that cannot be permitted!!

I had never written a short story before and now I’ve written a dozen or more. I’ve even written ongoing stories, divided into parts. Bonus too is that I write stories I actually ENJOY re-reading. (That almost never used to happen.)

There are all mini goals I had set for myself early on and I’ve met them. I’ve gotten used to them and they no longer intimidate me.

Now it’s time to ramp it up.

What brought this on? Fame and money did of course. “Published” is the name of the game remember? NO, I’m kidding! Actually, I read an article on pinterest about writing (what else?) and I realized that I needed to break past the comfortable once again. The article talked about putting conflict in stories and using character development to solve their problems. Conflict sells readers. I am NOT a confrontational person by nature so this is a goal I know I’m going to struggle with.

I mean, I don’t enjoy reading stories with no conflict, obviously. Boring! So why would I write them? It’s one of those things I think takes time to develop in a writer brain. How much is too much? What conflicts are relevant to plot continuation? How does one narrow down the infinite possibilities to make a great read? My brain aches just thinking about all the details. But I’ll do it, dad gummit!

Another thing I really ought to start doing is outlining. I thought to be a complete panster writer before, just punching keys willy-nilly and letting the characters tell the story. But that doesn’t work because of the aforementioned problem of being a pacifist. And the fact that I get so lost in the details I completely forget why I’m even writing the story. I lose the forest through the trees. So having an outline, even a basic one, will help me keep track and remind me of the big picture.

To help with this situation I’ve decided to ramp up my iPod Shuffle Short Story or “iPod S.S.S.” entries. These are blog entries you might’ve seen sporadically on my page where I put my iPod on shuffle and write down the first 5 songs that pop up. I’ll analyze them, write down thoughts and feelings and then come up with a story for them, using the Plot Structure diagram to write the story. It stretches creative muscles in the way that I don’t like using clichés so trying to make a story that’s outside the box is a double challenge.

The next goal I want to set for myself is to be on my Facebook bakalove page more often to get a wider reader base. I mean, I literally only have to cut and paste what I write on WordPress over onto Facebook but I find that task exhausting some days. Probably cuz Facebook is exhausting with all the drama. And it sucks me in for HOURS catching up on all that I missed and IMing friends. Bleh.

It’s gratifying to know that I was right about the most important thing: The Journey. It’s rare that a person can write a best seller right out of the gate but it happens. The rest of us have to toil and do the hard work and sharpen ourselves against the stones of adversity before we can even THINK about publishing. We’re so vastly rewarded by this though! We’re building a solid foundation of creativity and logic so that we may succeed in any writing endeavor we choose.

We’re the Little Writers that Could!! CHOO CHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m more glad than I am frustrated by my progress I think so it’s with a happy heart I end this blog. To be able to reflect on my progress, meet my goals, and make new ones is very humbling and encouraging.

I hope your goals are within reach as well! Keep chugging little Writers! ;*

Don’t be Dull Jack! Be a Game Changer!

Change is never, ever, ever, EVER easy.

In my limited experience I’d say it’s the hardest thing a human has to do, whether it’s willingly or not. We are creatures of habit; sheep, in a way. We like being comfortable and having things at the tips of our fingers. We work and strive for these things all our lives, ruining our bodies and grinding down our spirits to make sure we, and future generations, have ample enough to be happy.

Go to school to get a job.

Go to the job to get the moneys.

Go to the store to spend the moneys.

Save moneys if you can.


Okay good. So I’ve discovered the purpose of life. To be sheep! Beeeeeh!! Beh!

Weeeeelllllll what if you don’t want to be sheep? Yes being able to provide for yourself and your family is an amazing thing and you should feel proud you stuck with it. A lot of people don’t, choosing selfishness over responsibility. BUT. Where are you in all this? I asked myself that a lot over the last decade. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to really pursue it though. I finally had enough of being a sheep. So this is a rough draft of the process I used to help plan my course of action.

The first step is recognizing you don’t ONLY want to be a sheep.

The second and immediate step to take after that is to STOP the guilt from getting the better of you.

You deserve to be a person in the midst of your survival. You may not be able to be the multi-million dollar karate master movie star of your dreams but you can certainly say, collect memorabilia or take lessons at a dojo. Simple, small pleasures that make you feel different from the monkey pressing the same red button everyday for eight hours. And remember, DON’T let yourself feel guilty! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You earned this!

Step three is, after you start to feel a bit better about yourself, to identify the thing you want to change the most. Write down only ONE THING, usually the first thing that comes to mind. Do you want to lose weight and be healthier? Do you want to stop being such a judgmental person? Do you want to get a better job that requires more schooling?

Step four is to make a list of things you can do to possibly help change that goal. Break it down. Buy less fast food. Pay people more compliments. Start looking at online schooling. Start eating whole grain bread. Give money to a homeless person. Ask a banker about school loans.

Now I want you to take that list and find the simplest, easiest possible thing you wrote down. Circle it in your favorite color marker. That’s your starting point. Go out and buy your bread. Tell your cashier at the check out line how pretty her make up is that day. Look up classes at your local college. Also, make yourself a list of little rewards alongside your circle that you can pick from when you succeed. Don’t want to be a dull Jack right? We’re working to step AWAY from this mentality!

Some goals may need to be sustained through a monthly cycle. Psychologists say it takes at least six weeks to break a habit so if you’re going for something like a healthier life style or a personality change, you’ll need to make a small goal you can reach for that as well. Mine was “weekly but for two whole months” that way the amount of time was sectioned into smaller bite-sized chunks. Now if I happened to fall off the wagon, it was only one day of one week. Easy to get back on!

(Also, give yourself some slack if shit happens, like the flu or you lose your job or you’re having marital trouble. A person can only take on so much. Just don’t make it an excuse not to try to get back to it. Be your own self-moderator!)

Step five: make a simple chart or calendar to keep track of your daily successes/slip ups. It can be different colored dots on a every day calendar or brightly colored stickers on a special monthly calendar you bought especially for this change. Give yourself a pat on the back and a small reward for reaching your goal.

Step six: after you’ve completed your new mini goal, add another small thing from your list on top of it. Buy whole grain bread AND 2% milk. Pay compliments AND show one act of kindness every week. Register for enrollment at the local college AND make an appointment to see a school counselor.

Change, in order for it to become natural and permanent, needs to be SLOW. It’s frustrating as hell, I know. It will never go fast enough for us because humans like having comfort and ease at their fingertips. We’re the Instant Gratification Species. You need to not lose sight of Why you’re doing the change in the first place though. There was something fundamentally off about you (so you think) that you didn’t like so you’re trying to change it. Long term sustainability is the goal here, which is why most diets and fads don’t work.

For sheep, it’s hard to sprint for long distances. That’s exhausting on many levels! However–

–that’s Step seven. DON’T lose sight of your WHY.

“The greatest injustice a human can do to himself is to walk down a path he chose, forget why he is walking it but continue to walk it anyway.” ~

(I think that’s a Paulo Coelho quote. I read it somewhere recently and I’m sure I got the wording wrong but I can’t find the exact quote anywhere. Paulo has a LOOOOOOOOT of quotes X_X)

So there it is. My game changing plan. I wrote this because I was going to relate it back to writing somehow but I realized I didn’t need to. It already had.

This method of action for me is the reason why I’ve been writing so much. It’s one of my mini goals, to write a blog entry a day; a result that I’m proud to say is from the seven step program I figured out–ON MY OWN!! No self-help book needed! And if you knew my scatter-brain with any sort of intimacy, you’d be applauding right now. Seriously, it’s like a hummingbird in spring flitting from flower to flower. Frenetic and brightly colored Chaos.

Share what you think/feel. Comment box is wiiiiiiide open for your use 🙂 Thank y’all!

*cough hack wheeze* Repeat.


I think I have the flu. I don’t know officially if I do because I haven’t been to the doctor yet. I’ve been too sick to move very far from the bed until yesterday. I’ve been telling the universe it can’t kill me yet so I don’t think I have the Death Cold that’s going around. I’m still mobile, obviously. I went to work last night. That’s something.

But I still FEEL like it’s a Death cold. The pain in my lower back from all the coughing and the vice that’s squeezing my head and making my ears rings is annoying. The rawness on my nose and upper lip from all the blowing chafes me, literally. Not being able to taste or smell is REALLY obnoxious. Gawd I love food. But you know what the worst thing to me about all this is?

I haven’t been able to write.

Yep. I was on such a good roll!! I had a whole month where I had a post every day and I was really getting into the rhythm.

-Get up at 6 am, start a blog entry while getting the kids ready for school.

-Put older daughter on the bus and continue writing. Get tea.

-Walk younger daughter to school at 7:40 and come home. Write until 12. Eat lunch.

-Continue writing if the mood suits me or do chores/binge watch #Girlboss on Netflix or take a nap.

Then BAM!! Sickness abounds. I lost almost a whole week. So I’ve been trying to think of the lesson in this. The first thing that comes to me is I’m a bad mom for making my kids go to school with this crap, cuz they’re the ones that gave it to me. It’s MISERABLE. My bathroom looks like a pharmacy and I keep getting random remedies people swear works for them.

-Vicks on the bottom of your feet (proven true)

-Cayenne in your socks to fight fever (Um…no?)

-Garlic/ onions on the bottom of your feet (not brave enough to try)

-Onions quarters in every corner of your room (Haven’t tried)

-Sleep (proven true)

-Medicine Bombs from Starbucks (YES YES YES! DO IT!!)

So far It’s been Dayquil, Vicks, and three aspirin every 6 hours that does it for me. I’m surprised I haven’t OD’d on sick meds to be honest. ANYTHING to get rid of this crap. But maybe the lesson is….everyone needs a break?

Hell, I dunno. I tried my Norco at one point in desperation and had some funky/cool dreams that could be short stories eventually. Yay silver linings!

At one point I was just laying down for bed and I get a panicked call from my sister who is hysterically crying so I was instantly out of bed and in my shoes, flying out the door with my keys to the rescue. Just took my Nyquil and my Norco. Probably shouldn’t mix those. And probably shouldn’t say out loud that I drove her home at midnight. But! There was no one on the road and I went 20 miles and hour. Ha. And we got to hang out, which was cool.

So maybe the lesson is I can do anything when I’m sick? Because…I’m cool that way? Or maybe the lesson isn’t for me. Maybe me being sick is a lesson for someone else, like my kids. Maybe they’ll appreciate me being around more. Or my husband, who realizes how hard a life or work+house stuff is without me.

I dunno. Mainly I was writing to break the cycle of silence, to update y’all on my absence and put something out there.

There’s a lesson in everything. Just this once though, can someone tell me what it is, having this Death Cold, so I can go back to sleep with a clear conscience?

Kay, thanks, bye. ^_^

Fire Flight

It was strange to be burning hot and shaking with mind-numbing cold.

The fire raged above her, eating up her home like a ravenous beast. It was beautiful against the starlit sky but she hated it. Fire destroyed everything with callous disregard. Forests. Cities. Books. Homes. HER home. The deep snow engulfed her all around, spilling from the sides of her human shaped hole onto her front, soaking her flannel pajamas and making the burns on her skin sting. She remembered admiring the fat white flakes falling earlier that day from the attic window and she was grateful now that it hadn’t stopped. Her flight from the second story window could have been much worse than just bruises without the thick blanket of white coating the yard. The Professor might even be dead since he struck the ground face down. He still wasn’t moving from the spot where he’d fallen but he was breathing.

That was all that mattered. She could only deal with that much right now.
She stared up at the pockets of flame shooting from the windows of the first and second story windows. The orange and yellow interrupted the deep heavy blue of the night sky, creating smoke that obscured the stars. An oppressive hate blossomed in her chest that the night remained perfectly normal, clear and beautiful while her entire world burned to ash. She hissed when a chunk of snow hit her scorched face and melted. She let the tears come then. Tears of pain and hate and guilt mingled with the snow still falling gently. She’d been brave enough to save herself and the Professor but what about the maid? The cook? The taciturn butler? Did she condemn them to a death full of pain and agony? Could she have gotten to them if she hadn’t been so panicked and selfish, thrusting herself out of the window after the Professor?
The thought made her instantly sick and she was barely able to toss her head to the side so she didn’t vomit on her shirt. She gagged on the acid bile coating her mouth and gasped for air, trying to clear the obstruction in her throat. She shoved herself away from the orange mess and collapsed on a cushion of fresh snow. More of it cascaded down on her face and she opened her mouth, drank it in.
What now? she thought. The pain was worsening where the flames had licked her skin. She wondered if she’d be hideously scarred now, like Frankenstein’s monster. It would be one more reason to hide her away in the attic. Not just a freak now but a monster too.
There was a moan above her head. Her toes were starting to go numb. A vague part of her brain knew that was a bad sign. So tried to wiggle them but couldn’t tell if she was successful. Could she walk? Would her body let her? A crunch of snow made her crane her head around, eyes blurry with melted water and ash and tears.
“Professor?” she called, struggling to raise up onto her elbow so he could see her.

She swallowed to try and soothe her smoke ravaged throat, coughing with the effort. Her burnt skin resisted the movement and she gasped in pain, quickly lying flat again. She wiggled and dislodged more snow, cascading it onto her arms, swallowing the squeal of pain. Vaguely she remembered the best thing for burns was to keep them cool and the the Professor disliked when she showed weakness of any kind.
What an odd thing to recall when the world was coming down around her ears.
“Professor I’m here!” she croaked. “Are you alright?”
A dark figure stepped beside her and hot tears of relief leaked out of her eyes. He was okay. Thank God. Her relief was so great that the subtle wrongness of the silhouette against the flames was lost on her. The man was tall and thin where the Professor was short and portly.
“You poor child,” the voice murmured, sympathy curling through it like a caress.
A pair of arms slid underneath her, jostling her burns and scraping her frozen skin harshly. She cried out but did little to resist. She was half-frozen and crippled with too many emotions warring for dominance inside her small body. She wanted to be selfish and seek comfort in the Professor. She wanted to soak up his stingy affection like a half-starved child and let him take care of her. After all, he was the closest thing to a father figure she could remember having.

She was gently lifted into the air and cradled against a chest. The arms didn’t shake at all under her slight weight as they started to traverse through the thickly mounded snow. She was small, even for her age. A strong man like Professor wouldn’t have a problem with it. She closed her eyes against the orange inferno, saying good bye to her only home. Her heart ached but there was nothing they could do. She didn’t think about where they would go. She just silently cried into the warm chest as they moved away.
A call came out of the night made her head lift briefly.
“Nona? Girl! C’mon girl where are you? Girl!”
She didn’t call out but a little knot inside her released. At least one more was okay. She would keep praying for the other ones to emerge unscathed. Maybe the Professor would find them after. He probably had it all worked out. he knew what to do and where they were going. The Professor never moved without a plan. She didn’t need to do anything but lay in the supportive arms, fighting the heat and cold simultaneously.
“What now Professor?” she whispered, her thin voice harsh from the smoke and bile.
“We go home, child.”
She gave a tiny smile. HOME. Of course. The house with all it’s books and treasures was just a building. Home. It was a feeling, a person, a memory. She’d been taken in at her worst and the Professor patiently waited for her to become her best over the last months. They would rebuild if they had each other. The others would come too. They had to.

Nona slipped into nothingness, her feet swaying over the arms of a man who had done this hundreds of times before.

Hey! It actually works!–writing advice

How many times have you been scrolling through pinterest or other blogs and seen this:

“The best advice ever given is to write every day without failure.” ~EVERYONE

Do you roll your eyes every time? I give a little impatient sigh like “Whatever. Give me the fast track secret to being published and successful.” But that’s it. That’s the not-so-secret key to success. Hard work and practice.

So boring.

I started this blog as a way to conquer my fear of failure and rejection. I knew I had to do SOMETHING to kick-start my dream of being a traditionally published author. Even if a miracle happened and someone gave me a book deal out of nowhere, what would I write? Drivel, basically. Because I wasn’t seasoned. I hadn’t found my writer’s voice yet or my genre or style. I hadn’t won NaNoWriMo in a few years. I stopped writing in my journal. The only thing I’d been writing is grocery lists and checks for bills. I had a few months where life got me down and I didn’t write. Lemme tell ya, those were the months I was hardest on myself.

But I didn’t give up. My blog was always in the back of my mind and the guilt of NOT writing weighed me down. I figured this was a healthy weight, annoying as it was, because if I didn’t feel guilt, then I wouldn’t care I wasn’t writing. I did care. I couldn’t give up on my dream, even when I was only clinging to it by a fingernail. So on the heels on “WRITE EVERYDAY” was another piece of advice that kind of goes hand in hand and it’s this:

“Write and finish, even if you think it’s crap. You can edit crap. You can’t edit nothing.” ~PEOPLE WHO KNOW

Maybe I was paraphrasing a bit but it’s the same thing, basically. This advice is a little harder for me to wrap my head around because I was always a “one hit wonder” in school. As in, I could have a paper due and would write it the night before and get an ‘A’ on it. It made me develop a bad habit of not editing my work. I’m working to get over that; another reason I started this blog.

Editing is just as important as writing. I’m not going to say more or less because they’re symbiotic. One cannot exist without the other. Knowing what to look for the first, second and third read-throughs, how to fix what’s wrong, and, most importantly, knowing when to STOP. I read a book written by a friend that had been edited within an inch of it’s life and I to this day haven’t been able to finish it. It was so dry and static it felt like sand paper for my imagination.

So yes, write your crap and then polish it into a handsome turd. Then pass it on to someone you feel comfortable reading it. Or maybe you DON’T feel comfortable. This is the third piece of advice I’ve found repeatedly:

“Find beta readers.”~THE BRAVE ONES

I’m especially cringing at this one. Having strangers read my blog and my stories is one thing. I could get a nice comment and I’d be thrilled! I could get a criticism and say “Thank you may I have another?” But family? Friends? Just shoot me.

I rarely let anyone close to me read my stuff. I started something on my blog called “The Mother Project” where I intended to send my mom a letter every other week with a picture and a short story I’d written with a note, just to keep her connected.  Shameful secret? I haven’t sent a single letter. That might change now that her life is a little more stable and there aren’t fires raging everywhere here. Ha.

That being said, I do have a couple reliable beta readers. My bestie Owen is a willing guinea pig and he’s got a sharp eye for editing. Mainly I just let him read though. I don’t know what to ask from him as an official editor. I’m mostly worried about content; making sure the story doesn’t drag or there isn’t a part that takes you out of the story. Making sure it’s a solid read-through. My other beta is my female bestie, Lizzy who follows my Facebook blog (that I’ve been sadly neglecting of late).

See, I have several people who WOULD read my stories but they’re not helpful in the slightest when it comes to giving me advice on how to improve my writing. They don’t want to give me an honest opinion for fear of hurting me or they can’t put into words what it is they need to say. (I myself have been on this side of the beta reading dilemma). So when I’m desperate, or really need an honest, critical opinion, I drag myself over to the King of Honesty.

My husband.

Everyone needs a Timothy. He’s not into main stream fiction at all, which is a good portion of what I write, so the content is lost on him. “Predictable”, “shallow”, “simple”, and “unrealistic” are some words I’ve been given in regards to content. Ouch. Ouch and ouchie.

Told ya. Honest.

But this acts as a two-fold blessing and I’m going to tell you why. He was given a task and he did it. “Read this and tell me what you think.” He’ll tell me how other people might see it too if it smacks too political or sensitive. He reminds me that even though my intentions might be pure, others absolutely will not see it that way. They’ll read deeper into it than I intended maybe and might tattoo me with prejudices I don’t personally bear.

That is the other part of the blessing/curse of having a brutally honest beta. You get toughened up. He makes me think deeper about what I put out there and he gets me ready to defend myself if such things as bigotry or racism crop up because of a piece I write. As a writer, you WILL be at the mercy of the trolls out in the world. They’ll try to rip apart your ugly baby stories and make you cry just for fun, like those bullies that smack your ice cream from your hand.

Be ready. Get yourself conditioned to rejection, to criticism, as early as possible. Learn to find a way to deal with it that’s healthy.

The last piece of advice is subjective because we’re all different kinds of writers. Some pants better. Some outline a story within an inch of its life. My journey thus far has been about experimentation and finding the right way for me. When I started the blog, I’d hardly ever written a short story. I tried to write one a couple of times and it turned into a full length novel. Then I tried to write several full length novels and so far haven’t been entirely successful at it.

“Learn to outline, even just a little bit. It will help you stay focused.~ THE WISEST OF THE WISE

So often I get lost in the details of a story. I worry so much about pacing and arcs and subplots that I forget the basic frame of the story. What is the purpose of writing this story? What do my characters want? What is the end goal? Having a basic outline of the story helps bring me back. It’s an anchor. Not to say it can’t be changed and rearranged but I think there should be three or four things that ABSOLUTELY CANNOT CHANGE or the basis of your story will be completely different.

So there it is. Four pieces of redundant advice that actually WORK. At least for me they have. Combined with the affirmations that YES I CAN DO THIS and I’M ALREADY A PUBLISHED WRITER, I’d say I’m in a pretty good place.

Give it a try.

Write. Edit. Read. Outline. Repeat as needed.





The Green Knight (Part #2)

(Part #1 HERE)

The interior of the lounge was thick with cigarette and cigar smoke when a tall skinny man walked in. Fresh air from the door opening moved the clouds around in a frenzy before they settled again. He ignored the sexy women sitting and standing around trying to catch his eye and the suspicious gaze of the men watching him make a path to the back. When he approached a gold painted door at the back, two large bouncers with guns blocked his bath with crossed arms and severe scowls.

“What you crawling back here for, street rat?” the blond one in the tank top asked.

“He didn’t learn his lesson last time,” the other snickered, flexing his dark skinned muscles against his white t-shirt.

The shorter man didn’t say a word but held up his phone to their faces and waited, a smug expression in place. The ‘roided out bouncers squinted at the phone and then snatched it out of his hand. There was a silent communication between the two; the fear and hope that the one who came forward would bring good news. The blonde one knocked on the door (seeming to win/lose the bet) and a foreign reply was shouted through. He was gone for a minute and then another face appeared, much older, more wrinkled and infinitely more deadly.

Her eyes were as keen and cold as a snake’s.

“Such a clever and resourceful rat. Come. You have been graced with an audience.”


Rhys was waiting for Flora as she strolled up to her salon a few days later She was wearing a pair of paint splattered overalls, a sky blue midriff and a bright yellow bandanna in her hair, tied up like a head band. She had on large aviator sunglasses and she jangled, her multitudes of bracelets in place. Her earrings were laser cut sugar skulls and she carried a bulging spiked leather bag across her body.

“Hey stranger,” she greeted with a red-lipped smile as she neared. “You’re here early. You really are a glutton for punishment huh?”

He felt a bit of tension go out of him as he surveyed her easy smile and laid back greeting. Because of her curt exit the last time they’d parted he was concerned that he’d done something to upset her and it made him anxious for their next meeting. But all seemed to be well.

“I was checking up on your poor doomed plant. Figured I’d stop by.”

His eyes traveled down her ensemble, the neon hurting his eyes in the morning light and he focused instead on the pops of color on exposed skin where she proudly showed her tattoos. What he had originally thought was stained glass or abstract paintings were actually flowers. He recognized belladonna, peonies, lilies, roses, tulips, oleander, freesia and Dianthus among the bouquet and found it was hard to take his eyes away when she stopped in front of him. He wanted to examine them more closely and see if they were true to form.

“Your tattoos–” he started.

“Yeah I know,” she interrupted with a deep sigh. “Kind of obvious right? With my name  meaning flowers and all. But beautiful flowers are always noticed.” She elbowed him playfully. “And I like being noticed.”

He closed his mouth, the question dying on his lips. As if the pink hair and neon wardrobe wouldn’t do that already.

“So what ARE you doing here so early? I didn’t expect you for another week at least.” she asked, taking a wad of keys out of her bag and selecting one for the door. “And probably more toward the afternoon. It’s an ungodly hour to be awake.”

“Better with no customers around,” he said simply, shrugging when she looked at him with eye brows raised.

“That’s true. And you get to avoid my She-Wolf Pack. Smart man. Come on in.”

She held the door open for him and he walked past her, breathing in some of her floral perfume. Sweet and warm. She locked the door behind him and set her bag down on one of the couches up front, unzipping it and taking out some containers. He watched her and contemplated. What was that scent that tickled his nose? Jasmine? Rose. Definitely something rosy in it, but musky too. Sandalwood? He normally didn’t like perfume because it always smelled so fake and gawdy and it made him sneeze. This was subtle and natural. Was it oils then? He wanted to ask but she was already talking again.

“Sorry I ran out on you the other day. I had a trippy memory come back to me from my childhood. PTSD kicked in. It wasn’t anything you did.”

He was relieved that it wasn’t him that made her upset and that she’d cleared the air between them. It made his task that much more pleasant without the dark cloud of doubt hanging over him.

“It’s fine,” he said simply and shoved his hands into his pockets. His shoulders relaxed a smidge. “Thanks.”

She took off her sunglasses and threw them in her bag.

“Good. Have you eaten yet?”


She laid out several tupperware containers and gestured for him to sit. When he didn’t she looked up at him pointedly with blue shadow streaked eyes. He sat on the edge of the couch to her left and watched her pop off lids with her newly painted rainbow nails.

“Here. Blueberry lemon bread, whole wheat banana chocolate chip bread, yogurt and granola parfait with fresh fruit, mushroom and bell pepper omelet and a selection of teas. We have hot water in the back.”

“You made all this today?”

Everything was still steaming as if it were fresh out of the oven.

She smiled at him and gave him a piece of banana bread on a napkin.

“I’m a morning person,” she said and reached for the omelet. She divided it with a fork and ate her half straight out of the container. He took a tentative bite out of his bread and chewed.

“I thought you said mornings were ungodly.”

“To most other people it is. Good right?” she asked.

He nodded and took a bigger bite. Satisfied, she rose and got hot water from the back in two chipped mugs.

“Do you always make this much food for breakfast?”

“I had some nervous energy to get out. I bake when that happens. Besides, I knew I had to be prepared for when you came back. Breakfast is easier to start people off on when they try new things. It’s light and non-committal, unlike lunch or –GASP–dinner.”

She winked at him when he gave a small smile and continue to eat. He enjoyed the solitude and the meal. The tea she gave was a green variation and he sipped it slowly to savor it. While they ate, Rhys looked around the shop and his eyes picked out potential roosts for the plants he had in the bed of his jeep. He’d brought a wide selection of varying sun/shade plants and flowers based on the lay out of the Salon he’d remembered. But he felt dismayed now seeing that there was little shelving or surface area to put them on.

“Are you allowed to put shelves up?” he asked, a tiny frown appearing between his brows.

Flora nodded and finished her bite.

“We have some. We just didn’t have anybody to hang them. Or the time.

“The owner won’t get mad if we put holes in the wall?”

She answered as she walked back for more hot water and dropped another bag ito his steaming cup.

“She’ll be fine with it.”

“Could you call and ask anyway? Just to be sure?”

She cocked an eyebrow at him.

“So demanding. I rather like this quality. Say something else, Mr. Demandy-pants.”

“It wasn’t a demand–”

She shushed him and dug out her phone, dialing a number. Rhys twitched when the Salon phone rang and Flora rose to answer it.

“Hey boss we got a guy here that’s worried about putting holes in the wall for shelves. Is it cool?”

She looked ridiculous with two phones against her ears and Rhys gave her a sarcastic look. Flora changed her voice slightly and crunched up her face to look like a sour-faced old lady.

“I don’t care. But if he scratches the paint he’s my eternal slave. It’s a discontinued color.”

“Cool! Thanks boss.”

She gave him a cheeky smile and put the receiver down again and clicked off her cell.

“Boss says it’s okay.”

Rhys tried to keep his face neutral but her thoughts had already guessed at his.

“Yes, the pink-haired hippie is a business owner, but only a third of it is mine. I was just the money backer to get it off the ground. The concept was entirely Eta’s idea. The other owner is a distinguished gentleman who took pity on us and got the business side of it all worked out. He travels a lot but we give him free hair cuts when he comes in and a tarot reading.”


“Yeah, like, divining your future with cards? Answering life’s mysteries, yada yada.”

Flora sat back down and took a piece of lemon bread. He had to admit it was nice to be around a woman who could eat and not pick crumbs off a low-fat croissant then complain she’s full. Flora had a healthy appetite for food and life.

“Is that where the ‘Psychic’ come into your Psychic Salon?”

“Yep. Every new client that comes in gets a free reading. Our regulars pay a little extra to get a service of their choice. We got tarot, palmistry, aura reading, chakra healing–”

“I’m sorry but you’re speaking in tongues. I don’t understand any of that.”

“It’s okay. Stick around long enough and you’ll know a lot of things you never thought you would. Are you finished?”

He picked up another piece of banana bread and Flora packed everything away again.

“Alright my gentle knight, lets see what we can do today.”


Working along side Flora in the quiet of the morning wasn’t a bad way to pass the time. It wasn’t pruning and watering in his green house, but it was a nice change. She talked a lot and he listened, helping her wade through the back storage room to locate the shelves he needed and then dragging furniture out-of-the-way to hang them. She was handy with power tools. He liked that. He also liked that when he held the latter for her, he got a closer look at her tattoos. The shading and detail were intricate and vivid, just like any real flower. He wondered how long it had taken for all of them to be done.

“There,” she said, drilling in the last screw and handing the tool down to him. “Good enough?”

All together they’d hung six shelves and a couple random pictures to change out the decor a little bit. “To complement the new greenery.”

“I’ll get my plants.”

“Ohhh can I come see what you brought me?”

He set the drill on the counter and fumbled for words.

“Well, they’re not for you. I mean, yes they are but–”

She smirked at him and patted his pink cheek affectionately.

“You are a gentle knight after all. I should go easy on you. Lets go before the morning early birds come in.”

Flora unlocked the door and let him out and he led her to his jeep. A small forest greeted her when he opened the back and she made an excited “oh!”

“Is this Old Fashioned Swedish Ivy? It’s so mature and full! I’d love to hang that outside but in this neighborhood, it’d probably get stolen. Wait. Is that–”

Flora reached for a purple striped plant and held it up to the sun.

“Oh my gawd a Rhoeo! My aunties had a huge one in the window of the living room. I loved watching it grow as a child. Purple was my favorite color so they got it just for me.”

He reached past her to pull out a tray of potted plants. “Herbs are pretty hardy. Lavender, lemon balm, mint–”

She bent down and buried her nose in the fragrant purple buds.

“I hope you have more of that. Eta loovveeeessssss lavender. She has me make her hypoallergenic lavender lotion every month.”

Rhys smiled a little and made a mental note.

“I’ve also got spiral grass for texture and Hot pokers for some color. A ficus that’s been growing for a few years now. I transplanted it recently so I’ll have to keep an eye on it but it can go in the corner between the two chairs by the window for optimal sun and minimal damage. Most of the rest are succulents that do really well without regular watering. I brought a variety of colors and textures…”

Flora grinned up at him as he rambled on and on about his precious green babies. She didn’t mean to tune him out but she liked the way his lips moved and the warmth in his voice when he talked about a subject he liked. He also looked stunning in black and she was trying hard not to let her switched be flipped all the way on.

He came back. That’s what mattered right now.

She helped him carry pots and trays inside the salon and started to clean up their mess and prep stations while he got to work. Every now and then he whipped out a small notebook and penned a few words and muttered to himself. She kept the Rhoeo at her station, making room for it among the brushes and irons. She made him take a break right before opening and offered him a “get out of jail free” card by reluctantly saying he’d done enough and she appreciated it.

“I can’t leave yet.”

Flora’s heart skittered around her rib cage and she took a sip of her now cold tea to mask her surprise.

“Not that I’m eager to shoo you away or anything but why?”

“I have to take pictures of the light inside every hour.”

She gave him a blank look.

“Some plants might burn or wilt if they don’t get proper amounts of sun. I have a few questionable placings and some alternatives if they don’t do well but I have to make an accurate analysis.”

A whole day looking at eye candy? Her female clientele would be ecstatic, she chief among them. She just hoped no one came in needing anything too complicated because she would be a little distracted. Very easy to mix up the purple and blue hair dyes when tall, dark and hunky was sitting on a chez.

“Alllriigghhttttttt,” she sang and stepped down from the front desk to open the door for the few waiting customers outside. “But you’re buying lunch.”

He nodded.

“For everyone.”

He blanched. She squeezed his cool fingers and smiled brightly at him.


She unlocked the door and then looked back at him, her face warm and open.

“Thank you for coming back Rhys.”