Easy to love

She was light and hope, from a distance; all brilliance and beauty, charisma and kindness, a soul without measure and a kindred to all. She was the passion of a hundred soccer games, the home run in the final inning, the gold medal of every Olympics. She was triumph, and glory.

She was easy to love.

But her heart was empty, and her mind was bitter; ever she searched for one who would fly close enough to her flame, and risk burning to ash in her eyes. Ever she longed for one who would love her when she failed, when she could not be kind, when she hurt.

For love given to a mask, and not to the true soul within, is not love at all.

A hundred words

She was my first love; he was my second. Both alike and different, I loved them; hot and cold, I loved them; through anger and fear, I loved them.

Seeing them together was a knife in my heart, in my head, in my hand. Seeing them together drew me to the apartment, with the spare key I had kept; up the stairs and into the bedroom. Seeing them together, I saw nothing else.

The blood was my release. The blood was healing, nourishing, seeping into my skin. All their blood, to ease my pain.

And I would never love again.

On the boardwalk

She stood at the boardwalk railing, and watched the lights reflected in the water. “Nice night, isn’t it?” she said.

“Yeah. It almost makes you believe the city isn’t a cesspool,” he replied. “Almost.”

“Are you always this cynical?”

He shrugged. “No, but I’ve had better days.”

He leaned on the railing beside her, and stared into the water below. She touched his shoulder, and smiled at him.

“Why did you call me?” he asked suddenly.

She pulled her coat around her, and didn’t meet his gaze. “After everything that’s happened… I just wanted to be sure that you’re okay.”

“Oh really? So what happened to ‘I never want to see you again, you bastard’?” He gave her a lazy look, as if he didn’t care, and went back to watching the lights.

“Really? You’re going with that now?” she said.

“Yeah, I–”

She thumped his arm, and he protested and backed away. “Shut up. I am not doing this… this romantic movie bullshit with you,” she snarled. “It’s not fair and you know it. You acted like an asshole and I was completely justified calling you that at the time. Then you turned out to be more like a good person, someone I could like and talk to and fall in love with and all that good stuff, so I called you, okay? I called you. You don’t get to hold it against me.”

She shoved him again, with her teeth clenched and her eyes angry. He let himself be shoved.

“You know I don’t do subtle,” she said. “And – and I hate the stupid speeches in those movies, and fake characters who can’t say what they’re actually thinking because they’re embarrassed or whatever–”

“I’m going to tell you what I’m thinking,” he said softly. He held out his hand to her. She stared at it for a long moment, then reached out. Her fingers slid into his.

“I’m really, really bad at this,” he said. “I’m glad you called me, because I thought, maybe she doesn’t hate me. Maybe I’ve still got a chance.”

She stared at their hands, clasped together. “A chance for what?” she whispered.

“All that romantic movie bullshit,” he said, with a half-chuckle that quickly left his face. He looked afraid, and hopeful.

She closed her eyes, squeezed them tight, and then gazed out at the city lights shimmering in the night sky. “What if I said no?”

He sighed, and let his hand fall. She didn’t let go. He looked at her hand, and then into her eyes.

“I didn’t say no,” she said. “I’m just asking what if.”

“Then I’d leave and you’d probably never see me again. We’ve got no reason to talk to each other now.” He paused. “Do you want me to stay?”

She suddenly pulled him into a tight hug, and buried her face in his shoulder. He touched her back hesitantly for a moment, then wrapped his arms around her and pressed his nose into her hair. “Yes, I want you to stay,” she whispered.

They stood, unmoving, in the warm glow of the boardwalk lamps. When she lifted her head, he kissed her as if they were the only two people in the world.

“It doesn’t have to be a lot of… romantic movie bullshit,” he said. “Just a little. It’ll be fun.”

She laughed at him, while their faces touched and his grin grew wider. “Just a little,” she said, running her fingers down his cheek. He caught her hand and kissed it. “Just the good bits.”


On hooks and stories

I missed another daily post! Dammit all to hell. This one will be longer to make up for it.

I’ve been reflecting on what I consider to be good among my own writing. The problem is, the stuff that I think of as being real quality is fan fiction, and not really something I can spread around too far. It exists, though, and I’m glad I wrote it – even if much of it is basically porn without plot.

The secret, you see, is that writing well isn’t actually that hard. Producing quality prose is largely a matter of practice, and getting to grips with the mechanics of storytelling as a craft. What’s really difficult is coming up with a compelling story, and sparking enough imagination in a reader’s mind that they desperately want to continue because they must know what happens next.

It’s hard because there isn’t really any kind of skill you can apply to it. You can either write narrative that sinks into the mind and grips the audience, or you can’t. I know this because I know of several writer friends, those that I highly respect, who can produce excellent prose… but their stories lack some indefinable quality that hooks the reader. I don’t believe that study of story structure or the Hero’s Journey can really help, either. There is a flow and a rhythm to narrative that seems indefinable sometimes, like music.

That hook is almost more important than actual quality work. Readers will forgive many sins if the premise is sufficiently promising.

That said, a good premise is easily ruined by truly terrible writing. Bad prose is an effective barrier to the reader truly engaging with a story. But it’s a truth that should be acknowledged more often that merely serviceable prose is good enough for a story premise that really wows the reader, whereas excellent prose can’t save a premise that’s passé and boring.

For the record, I’m pretty sure my ability to write a good premise is only average at best.


Love is not enough

“I’m thinking of leaving,” she said. I didn’t know what to say to her. I only watched, as she came close to crying, and tried to be sympathetic.

“He betrayed me. I can’t forgive, and I can’t forget. But I can’t leave yet. I don’t have any money, and I don’t even know if I want to throw away our relationship.”

My heart broke for what she had lost, and what she might still lose. “Have you talked to him?” I asked.

“We’re working on our communication. He’s trying,” she replied. “He knows what he did. I just don’t know if I’ll ever trust him again. I don’t know what will happen to us.”

She gulped, her voice suddenly lost. I knew I had to ask the question, and hope that the answer would be a good one. “Do you still love him?”

“We still love each other. We’re still committed to each other… I just don’t know how to fix this.” Her eyes wander, as if she’s fighting the words, looking for a distraction.

“Love isn’t enough,” I said. “Love is just the start. It’s the thing that’ll keep you wanting to get through the bad times together. If you can’t face that…” I shrugged. “Maybe it’s just time to let it go.”

“I still don’t have any money. I can’t leave with nothing.”

“I know.” I hugged her, awkwardly but with all the sincerity I could muster. “But you’ll get some. You’re tough. Maybe things will change between now and then.

Whatever happens, I’ll always be your friend.”

Because I like cliches

It was a dark and stormy night.

Except it wasn’t. It was actually quite sunny, with a hint of clouds and the smell of fresh coffee in the air. I sat in front of a pleasant Parisien cafe, wearing my favorite summer dress and earrings, and desperately wished for it to be dark and stormy. That would have been easier to deal with, instead of the whole world being happy just to spite me.

The waiter was sympathetic, when he saw my red eyes. He left the coffee and croissant on my table with a few extra napkins. I just kept staring at the screen of my phone, reading the words over and over again. ‘I want a divorce.’

Why did he want a divorce? This was supposed to be a second honeymoon. We’d had some arguments. It was nothing serious. Even this was supposed to be a date, of sorts. But I was here, and he was late, and all I had was one stupid fucking text message.

Maybe things hadn’t been as good as I thought they were. Continue reading

What if I

Teenagers are cruel and strange; too young for adult wisdom, too old for childish innocence.

“So what if I did like you?” she says. It’s a trick question. A cop out. The words of someone who hasn’t yet learned how to communicate their own desire. Maybe it hides fear, and tension. For me, it hides deep nervousness that any true commitment will lead to mockery and embarrassment, as if that were worse than mere rejection.

And it’s more than that, of course. There are complications, because we’re both girls, even when one is more mature for her age than the other. We’re both afraid – and I’m not afraid to admit it – because there may be other words, harsh words, from the people around us, that can damage us in ways that a simple ‘No’ never will.

Too young to really understand it, but too old to just ignore it.

She’s so beautiful to me. Like the air after a rainfall; it smells like life, like clean, pure, life, gifted straight from the heart of the world itself. Soft and gentle and new. I think this is what love feels like. I pray that it is. I don’t want to take this chance on something that isn’t real.

“Well, if you did, then I’d be okay with that,” I say. Another cop out, sort of. I’m a coward.

“Well,” she says, and I can see a hint of a smile on her face. She reaches out and touches my hand.

Suddenly it doesn’t matter. All the words don’t matter. She smiles, and I’m suddenly a hundred feet tall and invincible; things like embarrassment, or what my parents will say, lose all meaning. Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe I’m right, and maybe it’s better to hold out your heart, take a running jump, and pray that you land somewhere safe. All I can think is what if I never do this, what if I’m always afraid.

I take her hand, and lift it up. It’s corny and pretty silly, but I guess I have to start somewhere. I kiss her fingers.

Her smile gets wider, and maybe I’m learning something after all, because I know – I know – the joy that’s dancing in her eyes.