Writing Challenge A to Z: Book

Thank you to all my fellow writers and friends who’ve commented/or liked my last post about the challenge.  I’d love to do this with other people.  If you’re interested in joining me, let me know.  I’d be happy to hook up our various blogs so we can all give each other feedback and encouragement.  Feel free to share my initial post – here – if you think others might want in on the action.  I have a pretty small following, so I’d appreciate any help getting the word out.

My goal is to complete this challenge by the end of April.  Today I did an image search for BOOK, and this is what I grabbed.   Enjoy!

book1

Coming Home

Mariella wandered past her parent’s room, unable to face the items that needed sorting.  Instead, she wandered further down the creaky hallway and stopped in front of her old bedroom door.  It was open just a crack, and she could see her bed, still made up with the pink and purple patchwork quilt that her grandmother had made for her all those years ago.  Pressing the door open, she revealed a time capsule of her young life, preserved over time and her parent’s belief that you could always come home.  

She hadn’t been back to the house in years, finding her work took her to the far ends of the earth.  Instead of coming back to the middle of Nebraska, instead choosing to use her mileage points to fly her mom to wherever Mariella wanted to go.   Sinking onto her twin bed, consumed with grief, she realized she’d never asked her mom where she’d like to go, instead always dictating their relationship.  It was always on her terms and now that her mother was gone, she’d never have the chance to ask.

Brushing away her tears, she spotted her favorite stuffed bear, Mortimer sitting on top of a book she’d never seen before.   The bear coughed up a plume of dust when she’d picked it up to read the title of the intricately designed cover.

It wasn’t until she flipped the book open to reveal it was a book at all, but a photo album meticulously put together.   Fingering the edges with reverence, Mariella saw her life from the perspective of a mother who wasn’t the best at expressing her love with words but used the lens of a camera to capture it instead.  She sat in awe long after reviewing the album’s contents, stuck on the last photo with a note written in her mom’s delicate script. 

The photo was of Mariella as a child, probably no more than six, pretending to teach Mortimer how to read.   The note simply stated:

This is how I’ll always see you, my dear sweet child.  The lover of learning, the caretaker of the disenfranchised with a heart as big as her mind.  I’m so proud of you and the work you do with Care International.  I hope these memories keep you grounded in what is good no matter what hurdles the world sends your way.

I love you now and always,

Mom

Writing Challenge A to Z: Alone

alone

ALONE

She sat high above the city, contemplating her next steps. The breeze wafting over the rooftop brought with it the stale scent of New York in spring. Not quite as pungent as the summer’s putrid stench, but it stung Lacey’s nose all the same. It had been two years of trying to break onto Broadway, and after twenty-five rejections and three different bartending jobs, it was time to decide her fate.

Do failed dreams ever really fade away, or did they linger like a nagging itch in the middle of your back, just out of reach? She hated to give up, but with an ailing parent back in Ohio, should I stay or should I go became more than a rock anthem. Lacey wished decisions like these were as black and white as who she was planning on voting for in the next election, but alas this was so grey it was an ever-present looming shadow.

Climbing off the ledge, she knew what she had to do. Lacey’s heart was filled with regret as she made her way down the fire escape to let her roommates know she wouldn’t be here next month. She pressed her hand to her heart as if willing away the ache that had already settled in.

Writing Challenge – A to Z Photo Prompt Challenge

AtoZColorLogo

I have been glancing around the interwebs searching for the old #Flashfiction sites I used to contribute regularly to a couple of years ago — you know, before kids and jobs getting me down.  I now find myself trying to find time to write and be inspired on a daily basis (whenever possible) – because I still have that family, and job, but would also like to carve off a little time for little ol’ me.

So I’m going to challenge myself to write almost daily using a photo prompt based on the letters of the alphabet.  I’m going to do a google image search for a word starting with the letter of the day and go from there.  The stories I hope to keep them around 200-500 words.   Thanks for following me on my journey.  Please share, comment or just enjoy.

Best,
Michela

The Next Journey – Writing Prompt

I was taking an online creative writing class and this was my submission for the prompt:

David sat crying in the middle of the road.

Enjoy!

 

The Next Journey

bike

Sweat poured down David’s back as he shifted gears trying to maintain his lead in the Tour of California.  The day had dawned stifling hot and hadn’t subsided even with the rise in altitude as the peloton ascended Gibraltar Road.  It was Stage Six; David only needed to get up through this mountainous stage in one piece. If he could complete this safely, tomorrow’s ride along the Pacific Coast Highway should be a cake walk in comparison. His team was surrounding him like he was a precious little caterpillar nestled in a cocoon of safety, but he knew it could all change in an instant.

David’s mind drifted to the moment two months ago when he’d gone to the team doctor, complaining of being light headed and shaky before he’d even gone out for his training ride that morning. The very next day his world crashed down around him, leaving him with only one logical conclusion.  Retirement.  He hadn’t officially announced it to the press, requesting the team to keep it close to their vests until after the race.  David didn’t want this to become a distraction, but he couldn’t help smile at being an added inspiration factor for his team.

This race was going to be his denouement, and David was hoping to literally ride off into the sunset with one last yellow jersey to hang on to. The doctor had told him it was the early symptoms of Parkinson’s, and while medication could slow the progression of the disease, it was still going to rob him of his body control prior to killing him outright, all the motivation he needed for one last ride.

His wife, Jenn didn’t understand his compelling drive to win ‘just one more’ when there were so many other things to be doing, like spending time with his two kids, Jake, and Ella.  His racing had taken a toll on his family but after the diagnosis, Jenn had vowed to stick by him and fight this disease to the bitter end.  He’d been a racer all his adult life and while his body might be breaking down, it’s hard to tell your mind to just stop doing something that it’s been so keenly focused on for so long.  It was like asking him to stop breathing. How does one go about doing that?  They’d compromised; he’d retire after this race and focus on his health, his family– her.   It was the least he could do after all the sacrifices they’d made for their marriage to make this dream of his real. It was his turn to give some things up, especially before he would be taking all over again.

Through race radio, he could hear there was a small breakaway attempt being thwarted at the front of the peloton.  David knew he needed to move up front to chase down anyone who attempted to catch his current, race leading time.  “Johan, let’s move up and set the pace.  I’m not going down today,” David demanded through his earpiece.   It took just one moment for the team to begin maneuvering up to the front, jostling other teams to make way for the current leader.

David stayed close to the back wheel of Antonio, his climbing domestique as he wove them through the crowd.  While Antonio was new to the Velo team he brought an enthusiasm and drive that was unparalleled to any other young rider on the circuit.  David wondered who the team would recruit to become their next GC rider in the coming months.  Not that it should concern him any, but still, this little squad of riders had become his family, his home away from home since he turned pro at twenty-four and he cared how things would turn out for these young riders.

“Let’s hold steady here,” Johan ordered, telling the team to hold pace now that they were in the front and leading the pack.  “David, stay alert, I think Alberto is going to attack around the next bend.  Stick to his wheel, you only have twelve seconds to spare and the toughest climb is still eight K to go.”

David let out an unsteady breath. “Gotcha,” he replied and refocused on sticking to the front.  Just as Johan had predicted, Alberto began to charge ahead at the turn.  David responded, pounding on his pedals and latched on to Alberto’s wheel.  The breakaway didn’t stick, and the peloton caught up thanks to Team Velo increasing the pace, leaving no room for question as to who was leading the charge.

Muscles screaming, on the brink of exhaustion, David could see the crest of the hill and knew he’d get a short breather before having to attack the last climb of the stage.  Staying focused on Alberto, he rode under the King of the Hill banner to begin his descent.  Wind whizzing by, he was flying around the switchbacks, trying to maintain as much speed as possible while staying in control of his bike.  He could see Alberto just to his left, and focused on not letting his rival get any further ahead.

The pair sped down the mountain, curve for curve, neck and neck.  David’s muscles were beginning to chill from the cool wind, but he knew the next climb was only a half a kilometer away and he’d be unable to keep the sweat out of his eyes soon enough.  The last turn in the descent was upon him, but his tire must have hit a small rock because the next thing he knew, his bike was no longer beneath him and he was tumbling across the pavement, feeling like he was entirely made up of road rash.

“Agh!” he whelped, pain surging through his entire body.  He thought his collarbone was likely broken, not to mention the odd angle his wrist was sitting at.  The race car zoomed up behind him as he sat in the middle of the road and cried.  He wept, watching all the other racers speed by him, knowing he’d never wear yellow again and that while this fight was over, he had a whole other one that was just beginning.

 

A WORK IN PROGRESS

under-construction-clipart-Under-construction

It’s been a few years since I overhauled my blog.  It started out as a place for me to post my writings but has since ended up also being a site for my book reviews.  I’ve decided to split these two very different endeavors into separate sites.

I hope to get my Nose in a Book Reviews site up very soon and migrate most of my book reviews over there – since, well that’s what it’s for.  I’ll be transforming this site back to my original intention as a place to post my writings and musings.

Hopefully, you’ll follow me along with both of these blogs.

Thanks for your support over the years and I appreciate you hanging in there with me as do a little overhaul.

Michela

Bucket List – #DailyPicsperation Story

Bucket List

Anna’s terror felt like a thick lump in her throat, keeping her from swallowing the excess saliva building up in her mouth. She handed the ticket to the carney and slid into the back of the pirate ship, knowing this was one of the easier items to cross of her list.

She could smell the wafting odor of fried dough and hot dogs as she inhaled through her nose in an attempt at calming her nerves and hopefully not vomiting before the ride even started. A girl at least a quarter of her age slid in beside her with some friends, grinning wildly while waiting for the boat to begin moving.

“Here we go!” the girl screamed as the ride began rocking.

Her eyes were wide open, but not without a focused effort to try and capture every moment as Anna faced her fear. Clutching the safety restraint, she let out a mighty scream as the boat went vertical, and her stomach dropped along with everyone’s change they’d accidentally left in their pockets.

Her eyes wanted to clamp shut, but she resisted. With every lunge of the boat, her fear eased. Anna’s stomach was revolting a bit, but the thrill of accomplishing something she never dreamed she’d achieve helped her to minimally enjoy the point of the ride.

With wobbly knees, she stepped off the ride, thanking the carney who was holding the exit gate open.

Anna leaned up against a tree for support to wait for her legs to stop shaking. She pulled her list out of her purse and crossed off Ride Scary Carnival Ride from it. Only thirty more things to do in two weeks, she thought, chuckling to herself. She knew after her next round of chemo, it would take months to get her strength back to attempt many of these things, and that was if it helped at all. As a stage four survivor Anna knew the chances were slim, but wasn’t about to give up her life without fighting tooth and nail to survive.

Wandering towards the western bar in the amusement park, she steeled herself to ride the mechanical bull before leaving and heading back home.

Thanks for reading.  I’m honored to be among a fantastic group of writers who contribute to the Daily Picsperation blog.  We are celebrating our first year anniversary.  If you’ve never checked out the site, I highly recommend it.  There are some amazing stories. Some short, some sweet and some recurring tales.  Give it a shot, you won’t be sorry.

Until next time,

Michela

Fairytale Ending #dailypicsperation

I really love this story I put together for my Daily Picsperation post yesterday.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Fairytale Ending

Giselle’s voice was hoarse from screaming into the night, yet it was all in vain. No one was coming to rescue her. When she went to the ball that evening, she never expected to end up in a ramshackle room. Her only instruction from the wild-eyed prince was to spin the room full of straw and leaves into gold if she wanted to see her family again. The prince slammed the door in her face without letting her explain her fear of a case of mistaken identity. She wasn’t the same maiden who had done such a feat in the village over, she was merely the only daughter of of a widowed blacksmith. She barely knew how to spin wool into yarn and was still baffled as to how she’d ended up in this predicament. Giselle hadn’t even really wanted to go to the silly ball, her father’s stern lecture about never finding a proper husband finally spurred her to go. And look at where it had gotten her? Left for dead in a blustery cold shed with absolutely no hope of becoming the alchemist the crazy, youngest son of the king had wanted her to be.

After banging on the door for what felt like hours, her resolve finally dwindled like the candle that had long burnt out on the table beside to door. She sat heavily on the chair and stared at the spinning wheel hoping inspiration might strike as to what she should do now. But it didn’t. Instead the exhaustion overwhelmed her and she leaned her head down on the table and slept, dreaming of elves and trolls, gnomes and pixies and a room filled with gold.

The creak of the door startled her awake. There standing before her, being framed in the early dawn light was a stranger, hooded and foreboding. Her chair tipped over, falling to the ground in a clatter while she struggled to find her feet. The man’s wicked grin was all she could see of his face from beneath the cloak he was wearing. It appeared sinister and caused her to shiver with fright.

He must have sensed her terror, as he raised his hands in front of his body, whispering he wasn’t going to harm her. Slowly inching into the small room, his towering build soon made the space feel even smaller. Her back was flat against the wall and she had nowhere to run. Even with his attempt at soothing her panicked nerves, she shook with fear, her eyes darting to find a way out of the cramped space.

Flicking the hood down, she was immediately relieved. She recognized his face in an instant, even though she’d never spoken to him. He was her father’s apprentice, and the man she’d been swooning over for years. Alistair’s strong build always reminded her of one of the King’s noble steeds, sleek and compact muscles hidden behind his beautiful facade. His dark hair fell to his shoulders in unruly waves, framing a strong jaw and crooked nose. She’d always fancied his deep blue eyes that seemed to be alight with wonder. Based on her observations from afar, he was as kind as he was handsome. Yet he seemed extremely shy and always kept to himself, never really taking any notice of her. So his appearance in her hour of need was surprising.

“Your father grew worried last night when the carriage never returned after the ball.” His voice was deep, but the tone was gentle, as if he still thought she was fearful of his presence.

Giselle gazed up into his sparkling blue eyes and replied in awe, “How did you find me? I was screaming all night, but I thought no one would ever come.”

He picked up the fallen chair, urging her to sit, suggesting she might be prone to swoon. “I’m surprisingly good at listening when people think there’s no one around. There were people who heard you, but since this is the Prince’s land, none were willing to rescue you for fear of losing their heads.”

Her mind whirred, and a question soon blurted from between her lips, “Yet you have no concern for your own?”

“Your father’s wrath if I returned without you would be a worse punishment than anything the Prince could think up.”

For the first time since she was captured, her face broke out into a grin. “Tis true. He does have a wicked temper.”

“Aye, he does, but I don’t wish to be here when the Prince returns either. Are you okay to walk for a bit? We’ll need to scale the wall to get to my horse.”

Nodding her head, she stood and shuffled along behind him out into the crisp morning air. They walked for a bit in silence before her curiosity got the best of her. “Did my father promise anything to you as a reward for finding me?” She dared not wish for what her heart hoped, and stood looking at his back waiting for his reply.

Glancing over his shoulder he saw her abrupt halt and walked back to where she stood. “If I told you he offered me your hand in marriage would you flee into the woods and back to your captor or be pleased?” His bashfulness endeared him in her eyes, and she could only return a timid smile and a single nod.

His face beamed at the simple gesture, but he spun around quickly urging her forward as they needed to get back home quickly before the Prince discovered her missing.

Just as he finished helping her clear the wall, they heard the frantic thundering of hoofbeats. In the distance she could see them racing towards them from her perch on top of the wall.

“Come on, we need to go.” He hopped off the wall, and turned to catch her as she jumped down. His fingers softly drifted over her bare arms, sending shivers of attraction through her body. She couldn’t help but wonder if Alistair felt the same about her? Had he longed to court her? Or was her Father’s reward something he begrudgingly accepted to get in his good graces?

Her musings were interrupted when he offered his hand to help her onto his horse. They quickly mounted his steed and galloped off towards the village, not knowing what fate might await them when they arrived.

“You realize I’ll have to flee to another kingdom, don’t you? I don’t believe I’ll want to wander the streets alone evermore.”

His grip tightened against her waist as they continued on, his silence at her observation was cause for concern. She’d been watching him from afar for so long, she knew his face was likely a mask of concentration and seriousness. When he finally spoke, it was barely above a whisper. “Aye, your father mentioned something similar. The Prince’s footmen had requested your attendance at the ball, which made him wonder what they wanted from a simple family, as yours. When you’d gone missing last night, he began making plans.”

She tilted her head back to try and glimpse his face, but the jolt of the horse made it nearly impossible to sit anyway other than forward. “And what suggestion did father have?”

Slowing the horse down to a canter, he replied, “he offered to send us to live with his sister and husband until things have been sorted out here. He was even willing to help me set up a blacksmith shop of my own if we like living there.”

“We’ll be going together?” She suddenly realized how serious Alistair had taken her father’s reward. Feeling a bit cheeky, she continued, “And was I to have any say in this matter?” Even though the pair were still in grave danger, the thrill of being so close to her heart’s affection had her pulse racing.

“If your life is in danger, I should hope you would agree to anything we need to do to ensure your safety. But yes, if you would rather stay here in hopes of the Prince’s attempt at recapture, then fates be it, but I will be there with my sword in hand to spoil his plans.”

The grin that bloomed across her face could probably be seen all the way up at the castle. She could only dare hope her affection was returned by her heroic rescuer. “Then we shall go. Won’t you miss your family? Your friends?” Her stomach was now resting comfortably in her throat waiting to hear what he replied, because while she would miss her father desperately, there was little else holding her hostage in the tiny hamlet.

Alistair stopped the horse abruptly and spun her around to face him. Taking her face in his colossal hands, Alistair gently kissed her cheek and whispered that the only thing that would keep him from going with her was death. “Yet I must confess…”

She waited patiently for him to finish his thought. “Aye, what is it?” A boldness she’d never had before allowed her to cup his cheek and kiss him softly on his weathered lips, hoping he’d see how she cared for him.

Alistair accepted her kiss, but didn’t allow it to linger. He opened his eyes and admitted, “Your father was so desperate for your return, I fear I may have manipulated him into offering me your hand in marriage.” His breath came out in shallow pants as he continued his explanation. “I have loved you from afar, knowing a lowly apprentice with no family would never be accepted by your father. So when he was bereft with worry, I told him if I rescued you, he would need to accept our match in return.” His eyes flitted away for a moment as he whispered, “If you would have me, that is.”

“How could I refuse you? You’re my very own knight in shining armor.” Teasing him with another brisk kiss, Giselle spun back around in her seat and told Alistair they needed to get going. “It’s going to be hard to find the good Pastor this early in the morning.”

So what’d you think?  The hero was almost killed off and Giselle recaptured, but the writing fates were feeling generous.  🙂

Big thank you to Kimberly Gould for always helping to correct my grammatical errors.  She’s the best and if you haven’t checked out her stories, you really should.

Thanks for reading & until next time,

Michela