Guinevere

Sometimes I write because I need to process something. Unlike a normal person who just thinks about it for a bit or talks to their friend, I reach for a pen. I did it tons when I was a teenager, and I started doing it again more recently. Sometimes the process lends itself to poetry. It's not always good.

I do not covet the
vastness of fields
or the strength of
fortresses that come with titles.

I do not desire the swords,
oaths, bodies, and words
granted to him
by lineage and destiny.

I have no wish for glory
showered upon a savior
taken by a conqueror
defaulted by birth.

Her touch, delicate on an arm
in plain view,
unknowing venom cast at eyes
that should shy away.

When eyes meet and linger,
A mind runs wild with imagination.
Terribly alone,
a heart seizes.

All I know is battle.
The clanging of steel
Smashing of wood,
I understand, predict and counter.

At court, I am still.
Honeyed words and
hidden plots do not
become the silent warrior.

Do her eyes pierce through my intentions?

I'm just a guy in a bar
lost in fantasy.
Furtively eying a girl
With a mythical name.

His arm crawls over her,
draping her longingly.
Hand sneaking every closer,
faint smile on his lips.

My whiskey ran dry,
the glass taken away.
Idled hands fret and
troubled eyes risk only a glance.

Questions rise when gazes meet,
Am I just the Lancelot to his Arthur?
Burning silently, righteously
in his court?

My honor is my reputation.
Am I destined for betrayal?
Should I avoid the raging fire
return to ashes long forgotten?

I'm just a guy in a bar
creating fantasies,
locking eyes furtively
with a girl so mythically named.

Does her gaze pierce through me?

I will retreat before discovery.

Arthur will bed his Guinevere.
 

|Wood|

Brian never minded the plywood around the backyard. It had been there for as long as he could remember, binding the dirt and shrubbery that made up his world. He didn’t really mind when his parents made him stop going to school. He didn’t have many friends there; he’d moved too many times. It’d been two birthdays since he started learning math and history from the computer screen in the living room. The man on the screen was nice, even with his funny accent. He also got to spend more time outside; the man only talked to him for a couple of hours, then his mom let him do whatever he wanted. It’d been awhile since he left the house. Dad still went to work everyday, but he got mad at mom when she told him he should stay too. It usually happened when he was in bed.

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Two Weeks (48 Hour Stories, #1)

It had been two weeks since the last letter; two weeks since I heard anything from her. Mom, dad, my siblings, my friends, I got stuff from all of them. Care packages, pictures from back home, even just their words. It was enough to know that they care, no matter how far away. Hell, mom even sent me a new razor, though I’m not sure how she even found out my old one was on the fritz. But Sarah? The woman I want to marry, who made me reconsider my opinion on children or hell, the whole course of my life? Nothing. I knew she wasn’t hurt or sick, my family reassured me there was nothing wrong. What was I supposed to think? “She’s probably just forgotten, she does have a lot going on you know.” That’s what I got from mom when I called. She was doing her best. Had Sarah really forgotten? What does that say about...everything?

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Countdown

Something vibrates in his pocket, taking him out of his drunken stupor for a moment. He withdraws the cellphone from his jacket and clicks the button. Her name flashes across the screen. I miss you. She wrote him. Tonight of all nights. He’s back at the counter where his friends are waiting. A man guards them.

“What can I get you?”

His eyes dart to a bottle much larger than the others.

“Just whiskey.”

“What do you want it mixed with?”

“Just the whiskey.”

The guard seems hesitant. He grabs the bottle and pours it himself.

“You want some ice with that?"

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Force on Force

Everyone's heard of this classic paradox. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. But what happens when an unstoppable force meets an unstoppable force? Who moves? Does one of them give? By how much? Does it spring back? I don't know enough about physics to really use this analogy. A physicist might say they'll slip off each other, take the path of least resistance and push everything that comes along right out of the way. It makes sense. Let's imagine, though, that it's not possible for these two forces, they can only impact and grind up against one another.

That's what they're doing. She believes in things he used to think didn't make sense, she values things he's discarded. His lack of belief is something she'd once only heard with anger and contempt, he values things once alien to her. Yet the two forces meet. They grind against each other more and more as time rushes by. One gives more than the other, springing back violently. The grinding rips away at them, sandpaper shredding the first layer of skin. An ecstasy comes with it, unstoppable, forcing them to a place without conclusions.

She doesn't deserve better than him.

She deserves better from him.

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She Fights

Sometimes the scribbles are going to honestly be more like scraps. I've got so many unfinished script ideas kicking around.

INT. OFFICE - DAY
CASSIE sits at her desk, headset on. She has a fresh bruise under her left eye. DONNA, her boss, walks up behind her and taps her on the shoulder.

DONNA
Could you put yourself offline for a second?

CASSIE reaches for the phone at her desk and clicks a button. A red light turns on and she removes her headset.

CASSIE
How can I help?

Donna taps a finger to her eyes.

DONNA
Care to explain this?

CASSIE smiles.

CASSIE
Ducked when I should have blocked, caught an uppercut in the noggin'.

DONNA
I don't want to know how it happened. Why is it showing?

CASSIE
What do you mean?

DONNA
There's a client visit today.

CASSIE sighs.

DONNA (CONT'D)
And you need to look presentable.

CASSIE
I'm sorry Donna, I forgot.

DONNA gives a haughty purse of the lips.

DONNA
You should go touch up.

CASSIE grabs her purse and stands.

CASSIE
Right.

DONNA starts walking off and calls over her shoulder.

DONNA
And maybe you should reevaluate your after-work activities.

INT. BATHROOM - DAY
CUT TO CASSIE staring herself down in the mirror. There's tension in her shoulders, and she's gripping the sink so hard it might crack. Her bruise is covered up. She extracts makeup remover from her purse and starts using it. As she does, her shoulders start to relax; her posture improves. As she finishes, she gives herself a quick smile before exiting the bathroom.

((This next scene would come much later in the script, because I've never really written things chronologically.))

INT. DINER - NIGHT
RYAN sits, silent. He pokes at untouched hash browns. CASSIE is voraciously devouring her plate. Fresh stitches are on her eyebrow. She notices how quiet RYAN is being.

CASSIE
Hey, you ok baby?

RYAN nods, a million miles away. CASSIE puts down her fork and takes RYAN's hand. His hand stays limp.

CASSIE
You're a shit liar. Don't shut me out.

RYAN
And spoil your big win?

CASSIE
It wasn't that big a fight.

CASSIE draws back a bit.

CASSIE (CONT'D)
What's eating you up?

RYAN looks at CASSIE, drilling with his stare. The bruises around his eye have started to heal, but are still very visible. CASSIE'S face tightens.

CASSIE
Really?

RYAN
I didn't say anything.

CASSIE brings her hand back to herself, leaving RYAN's behind.

CASSIE
You didn't have to. Should i have let them finish?

RYAN
Of course not.

CASSIE
Then what should I have done?

RYAN
I don't know!

The outburst surprises both of them. RYAN forces himself to relax. It's not very effective.

RYAN
I've never been anything. I've always lived in a shadow,
no matter how hard I try to step out. I've never had anything
going for me; I always managed to just cruise along.

RYAN comes closer and takes CASSIE's hand. She doesn't resist.

RYAN
And now the person I care the most about is a big shot fighter.
I've still got nothing.

CASSIE tenses like she's about to dodge a counterpunch.

CASSIE
Is that all I am to you?

RYAN
No!

RYAN sighs heavily; nothing's coming out right.

RYAN (CONT'D)
I started that fight. They called me out, but I started it.
I wanted to feel tough, like you, for once in my life. I
started that fight but I couldn't finish it. You did.
There's no way I'll feel what you feel, that strength,
the resilience around you.

CASSIE
Would you rather I was meek? That I wouldn't have
been able to defend you?

RYAN
That's not what I said!

CASSIE takes her hand back and stands.

CASSIE
Maybe, but you've said enough.

She drops a 20 on the table.

CASSIE (CONT'D)
Figure it out. Because I'm not going to stop.

She leaves RYAN at the diner.

It Came from Reddit

Doing something a bit different this week. I've been getting tagged in writing prompts on Reddit for a few weeks now, and finally decided to have a go at one of them. The prompt: "Hell is meeting a better version of yourself".

He wasn’t wearing a suit. There were no sunglasses lazily resting on his shirt collar. He didn’t have a neatly trimmed beard or a well kept haircut and his teeth were a bit yellow. He had a bit of a paunch, wore a polo shirt and cargo shorts. He wore sandals. SANDALS. 

I barely suppressed a laugh.

This guy was a loser. 

“Is this really it?”

He just gave a bit of a shrug.

“Are you sure this isn’t your hell? I’ve got a multi million movie deal, I wrote my first feature at 21 and I was Crowd’s Hottest Guy On Earth two years running. I make 6 figures on a slow year, I wear $10 000 suits and drive the fastest bikes I can get my hands on.”

My hand reached in my pocket. I forgot my phone wouldn’t be there.  

“This is ridiculous." 

He just stood there, absorbing it all quietly. Not even a twitch in his features. His hands sat comfortably in his pockets.

“Why am I even here?”

“Well you’re dead.”

“I know that.”

He pursed his lips thoughtfully. 

“What I want to know is why I have to stand here and look at you?” 

“Does the sight of me offend you?” 

“You look like me, but worse. You’re like if I’d never picked up a barbell or gone to the barber. You look like me if I’d never had the drive or dedication to reach for my dreams and crush through the obstacles in my path.” 

I paused.

“No offense.” It was a reflex.

“None taken.”

We stood quietly for a moment, me still looking him up and down, him just standing there, existing. Though he probably didn’t exist beyond this fabrication they put in front of me. 

“You’re asking yourself how I’m so different.”

“Like I said, you’re me if I’d never reached for my dreams.” 

“No, you want to know the exact moment that would have made you into me. You’re thinking in the vein of the multiverse theory right? How a single event creates an alternate universe where things can be slightly or radically different?”

I didn’t answer. Didn’t give him the satisfaction. He smiled sadly and gave a small sigh. 

“I got her pregnant.”

I don’t know if something in my face twitched, but he looked to have picked up on it.

“You know exactly who I’m talking about.” He looked down and to the left, recollecting. “Where you were thrilled at getting a negative, I panicked at getting a positive. I got angry, at me, at her, the situation itself. It was when we’d started dreaming, when we shook loose from the office job and took that big leap, remember? I didn’t talk to her for a few days. I was coming to terms with the fact that I’d either have to run away or let my life be ruined. She talked to me first, said she wanted to meet. We did, had coffee, talked it over. She said there was no way she was going to do anything but keep it. I knew she was against abortion, and she said she wasn’t going to put another kid in the system, not when she saw what it could do. 

“She had fire in her, that’s for sure. She had this attitude that my opinion didn’t matter, she would do what she thought was right and that was not up for a discussion. It’s what brought us to her in the first place, made you stay as long as you did. It triggered something in me. I told her I’d stay, that we’d work through this together and figure something out. She was a bit suspicious at first, thought it was just a nice sentiment and that I’d go running like everybody else. It would take a couple of months before she actually believed I’d be there to stay.

“We got married about halfway through her pregnancy. Not because we felt that we had to, but because we wanted to. We’d grown so much closer in those few months. We eloped. I blew the last bit of my savings to go to Bora Bora and we got married on the beach.”

“You got married?”

He holds up his left hand. A dull golden band adorns his ring finger. 

“Yup. We had a proper reception for people after our first daughter was born, so they wouldn’t feel left out.” 

“Wait. First daughter?” 

He chuckles. 

“Yep. As much of a handful as she was, she got a sister only a couple years after she was born. They both got a brother too, and that’s when we decided I should get snipped. But I don’t think I have to describe that procedure to you eh? I’m surprised they even let you at 25.”

“Yeah well it’s not their place to judge my choices they -”

“Should just shut up and do it?” 

I exhaled strongly, glaring at him. 

“I didn’t want anybody to trap me.”

“You always did have a problem trusting people.” 

“Yeah well if somebody decided to do it to me, there’s absolutely -" 

“No legal recourse, I know. I actually said that to her at one point. She didn’t appreciate the joke.”

He smirked. 

“Anyway I didn’t want kids, and I still don’t.”

“Are you still so sure?” 

“If I’d wanted kids I could have just adopted. But I don’t. I made the right choice." 

“So what have you left behind?”

I scoffed.

“A legacy? I’ve got Oscar nominations, a Pulitzer and fans who are going to miss the shit out of me.”

“You mean the fans who’ll post memes about your death tomorrow morning, then move on with their lives?”

“My family’s going to miss me.”

“You alienated your siblings when you moved to LA. You missed the baptisms of your nieces and nephews, your mother’s birthday and your grandmother’s funeral. I think you were filming in Thailand for that last one?”

“At least I have my legacy!”

“An empty one at that." 

I lunged at him, throwing a picture perfect cross. He slipped it. I hadn’t realized he probably had just as much boxing training as I did. I stumbled past him.

“The only people who are going to remember you will find the memory has soured." 

“Shut up!”

I threw a kick this time, which he caught and turned into a takedown, restraining me. He was stronger than he looked.

“I know how you feel. I died today too. Car accident, not even my fault.”

He sneered.

“But I leave a family behind. Three kids and a wife that I would give anything to get back.” 

He slipped an arm under my chin, putting me in a chokehold.

“I may not have millions in the bank, but I’m still a writer, I still lived my dream. I don’t have any bestsellers, and only a few thousand readers, but they love what I do. And that’s enough.”

Darkness started creeping at the edges of my vision.

“You don’t even have anything worth fighting for.”

I wake up later...I’m not sure how much later. There’s no sight of him.

I’m alone. 

I fumble for my pocket, only to remember my phone won’t be there.

 

 

Behaviours

This is the first thing I wrote in the notebook I bought over the summer. It's supposed to fit somewhere in something a bit longer, probably a book, that I've never written. Pretty sure I wrote this during a road trip.

You ever drive by a place you used to own after moving out? You ever feel the dissonance of staring at something that used to be your home while feeling like a trespasser?

I was parked outside her place, across the street, watching lights and silhouettes dance across rooms I once felt under my feet. I didn't want to think about who might be there now. There was more than one car in the driveway. My engine was idling. I should have been at the bar: friends expected me there. But my gaze couldn't leave, and neither could I. I'd passed by the street for weeks, always managing to keep going. Tonight was different. Was it the timing? Some strange celebration of the two month mark? Was I getting weaker when I should have been getting stronger? I clenched a fist on the steering wheel as I suddenly felt rage. At me, at her, at this, I couldn't tell.

I'd had enough. The silhouettes were driving me mad. I left.

I ended up at the bar, later than usual, some friends having left, others with emptying pitchers. The place was quiet, as it tends to be on summer Thursdays. Conversations based on missed jokes were dying down, eyes were drifting and shifting towards the exit. My glass empty, I stood and moved to the bar.

"Whiskey. Double. Neat."

Glass clinked, cash hit the bar. I stayed seated. One after the other, friends drifted by with goodbyes, exchanged and returned half-heartedly. Then only strangers remained. Well, not exactly.

"So you're fucking stalking her now?"

Hadn't heard the voice in...two months. I'd hoped not to hear it again. I sipped on my drink. It was emptying faster than I'd like. A hand was on my shoulder.

"I'm talking to you, fucking creep!"

He turned me to face him, spilling the little drink I had left. I sighed heavily.

"Look, I have a siser too. I get it. Can we not do this now? It's not a good day."

Even I was surprised at how reasonable I sounded.

"I don't give a shit!"

He was jabbing his finger into my shoulder now.

"I better never see you out there again!"

I stood. Maybe it was a good day after all. That's what the whiskey said, anyway.

"Or fucking what?"

He was a good head taller, literally and figuratively looking down on me.

"Don't start that shit with me!"

He was grimacing now, nose raised up at me.

So I clocked him. The technique was off, and I hit with the wrong knuckles, but he still stumbled back. There was a certain power to a sucker punch, no matter how fucked the technique or how weak the puncher. If you found that perfect window when the guy's jaw hasn't tensed yet, his teeth aren't clenched and his balance is still off, you usually just need one hit. I followed him down anyway. I don't remember laying into him after that.

I don't remember being pulled off of him.

-----

She wasn't mad. She was livid. My phone blew up as soon as I found my way home and crashed into bed. Of couse she found out. And I'd never find out who spilled either, that was the curse in this fucking town. All I'd know is that she knew.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

I hadn't been listening. Some sick part of me just enjoyed hearing her voice, even when she was furious. The passion that dripped from every word like forbidden nectar. It had drawn me to her. It still did.

"He provoked me."

I could never muster anywhere close to the anger she could, and the words fell flat. It wasn't very fair.

"He said you were sitting outside my place, stalking me!"

Had she even been there?

"I missed you..."

Weak words. Wrong words.

"Don't start."

I could hear her fury harden to exasperation.

"I know how it looks, but I'm not stalking you. I have to drive past your street every day, and tonight I fucked up."

"You can't just say that hoping it makes everything ok."

"I know."

"He's overbearing, but he didn't deserve what you did to him."

I couldn't agree with that.

"Will?"

"I can't agree with that."

She was starting up again.

"You went way overboard! They told me that had to rip you two apart!"

I didn't really have anything to say at that point. There wasn't a defense. She was silent for a while, until she realiezd it too.

"Don't come to my place again."

*click*

Stellar.