Category Archives: Creativity

Dr. Kavanaugh

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Dr. Kavanaugh
Aug. 20, 2018 ~ Coldwater Public School, Coldwater, N.M.

Morgan watched quietly from the bleachers as Dr. Scherer got up to welcome everybody to Coldwater Public Schools. The annual districtwide assembly and back-to-school pep rally was a longstanding tradition. Morgan had never been fond of it — as often as not, she’d have a headache that day, and all the stomping and clapping and cheering made it worse — but she didn’t normally dread it the way she had this year’s. Even if Dr. Scherer was nice enough not to mention Morgan by name, he was sure to mention her father, and everybody would turn to stare at her. People always stared at her when someone mentioned Daddy’s name, and she never knew how to respond. It made her uncomfortable. Today would be worse, because they’d probably be watching to see how she was going to react to Daddy’s replacement.

She could have come up to the school this summer to meet her father’s successor, but as a fourth-grader, she didn’t expect to have much trek with the woman, and she couldn’t think of a good reason to pay her a visit. If Morgan had just gotten a new job because somebody died, she didn’t think she’d like it very much if that person’s daughter showed up at her office for no apparent reason. It would feel too much like being judged. Morgan had decided to spare herself and the new principal that awkwardness. Today, she wondered whether that had been a mistake. Meeting ahead of time might have made today a little less weird. Continue reading Dr. Kavanaugh

Back to School

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Back to School
Aug. 20, 2018 ~ Tumbleweed Motel, Coldwater, N.M.

Morgan’s head throbbed dully as she rolled over and shut off the alarm on her phone. Her sinuses ached, and her throat burned. So much for starting the new school year on a good note.

As if there are any good notes left, she thought, wincing as she sat up. All the good notes died with Daddy.

She shoved her feet into a pair of dollar-store clogs she’d bought at the beginning of summer. They didn’t exactly fit, but they were less uncomfortable than anything else she owned at the moment. Grabbing the clothes she’d laid out the night before — underwear, jeans, and one of Daddy’s old T-shirts — she schlepped into the bathroom to get ready for school. Continue reading Back to School

Apis Mellifera

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Apis Mellifera
July 5, 2018 ~ Sangre Mesa

Morgan sat with her arms wrapped around her knees and her back against the side of the beehive, her hair tucked up under her ballcap to prevent any accidents. Before she’d learned to protect the bees — and herself — they’d had a few misunderstandings, with overly curious workers getting caught in her curls. The trapped bees would panic and sting, disemboweling themselves and leaving Morgan’s face swollen and tender for days afterward. After the third time it happened, she’d remembered to cover her hair when she came to visit.

These visits were therapeutic. The bees didn’t care what she was. They didn’t judge her. They didn’t fear her. They just went about their business, and she told them things, and they kept her secrets.
Today, she wasn’t sharing secrets so much as she was venting. Continue reading Apis Mellifera

Telling the Bees

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Telling the Bees
March 16, 2018 ~ Sangre Mesa

Morgan wasn’t technically the bees’ new keeper — she’d helped Daddy with them enough times to be comfortable handling the smoker, prying off the inner hive cover, pulling frames out, and brushing the bees away so she could inspect the comb — but he was the one who’d set up the hive before she was old enough to understand what was going on, and it seemed only decent to adhere to tradition and let them know what had happened. They were a link to her father, and she wasn’t about to risk losing them by shirking her sad duty.

Brushing away a tear, she set down her bag and extracted a large sheet of black fabric. Working quickly in the predawn shadows, she draped it over the hive and set a paving stone on top to keep the wind from blowing it away. Sinking to her knees, she pressed her forehead against the outside of the wooden broodchamber and spoke softly; a stranger could have been forgiven for thinking she was praying to the colony. Continue reading Telling the Bees

Dear Holly

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Dear Holly
March 16, 2018 ~ Tulsa, Oklahoma

One day, Holly thought, rereading the note she’d found on the counter, one day I will stop falling for screwed-up straight women who are just experimenting while they rebound from bad breakups.

She rummaged through the cabinet under the sink, frowning as she noticed several bottles of cleaning supplies were missing. Really? Leaving me for an abusive ex-boyfriend isn’t enough? What kind of petty bitch steals Windex on the way out? She tossed aside a box of trash-can liners – At least she left those, she thought – and half a pack of off-brand scouring pads to get to the ashtray she’d stuck under the sink when Melissa moved in, bringing her self-righteous distaste for cigarette smoke with her. Holly pulled a menthol 100 from the pack in her purse and lit it, taking a long, satisfying drag as she set the dusty ashtray on the counter. Continue reading Dear Holly

Fresh Kill

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

Fresh Kill
March 15, 2018 ~ Sangre Mesa

The security cameras at Teague’s Truck Stop stood sentinel as a tall, stocky man in a baseball cap gunned down a dark-haired, bespectacled patron and ran out the back door, around the side of the building, and across the rear parking lot. They watched the man toss something from his right hand into a ditch near the edge of the property. They witnessed the moment he vanished between two big rigs idling in the free overnight parking area at the back of the lot.

The cameras did not see the man’s limbs and torso begin to narrow and shorten the instant he reached the trucks’ blind spots, nor did they record the sudden acceleration as he dropped to all fours, shed the vestiges of his clumsy human form, and took the form of a jackrabbit tearing through the sagebrush between the truck stop and the mesa half a mile away. Continue reading Fresh Kill

End of an Era

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here.

End of an Era
Nov. 22, 1963 ~ Tumbleweed Motel, Coldwater, N.M.

The last time Shirley had worn her old trenchcoat, it had fit smartly, accentuating her curves and making her feel graceful and sexy, like an actress in a movie from the ’40s. Now, it was at least three sizes too big, draping awkwardly around her and threatening to fall off her shoulders. The last two years had cost her more than she realized, and she wondered idly whether all of her clothes were going to be too big now. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d worn more than a nightgown and a bathrobe.

“Where are you going?” John asked, looking up from the television to give her a wary glance as she headed for the door.

“Out to show some damn respect.” She could feel John’s eyes on her back as she walked out to the flagpole in the front yard and began unwinding the halyard from the cleat. She didn’t blame him for distrusting her. She’d been a raving lunatic for two solid years, and she wasn’t entirely sure why she’d stopped today. Maybe it just wasn’t her turn anymore; she’d spent long enough mad with grief, and now that the rest of the country had decided to follow her lead, somebody had to pull it together and provide some adult supervision. Continue reading End of an Era