In the very act of writing I felt pleased with what I did. There was the pleasure of having words come to me, and the pleasure of ordering them, re-ordering them, weighing one against another. Pleasure also in the imagination of the story, the feeling that it could mean something. Mostly I was glad to find out that I could write at all. In writing you work toward a result you won’t see for years, and can’t be sure you’ll ever see. It takes stamina and self-mastery and faith. It demands those things of you, then gives them back with a little extra, a surprise to keep you coming. It toughens you and clears your head. I could feel it happening. I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it.

Tobias Wolff (via amandaonwriting)

In the very act of writing I felt pleased with what I did. There was the pleasure of having words come to me, and the pleasure of ordering them, re-ordering them, weighing one against another. Pleasure also in the imagination of the story, the feeling that it could mean something. Mostly I was glad to find out that I could write at all. In writing you work toward a result you won’t see for years, and can’t be sure you’ll ever see. It takes stamina and self-mastery and faith. It demands those things of you, then gives them back with a little extra, a surprise to keep you coming. It toughens you and clears your head. I could feel it happening. I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it.

Tobias Wolff (via amandaonwriting)

Momma’s Eyes — January 2014’s Short Story

Well, it took me almost the entire month of January to figure out what to write for my monthly short story, but once I finally did, it only took me about an hour to put to paper. I didn’t intend this to be as autobiographical as it turned out to be, but that’s how these things work sometimes, I guess. Aside from the name changes, this is pretty much straight from my own life, so I figured I might as well share it (even though it’s only a first draft). Because isn’t that what this blog is for? I probably won’t share all of my monthly short stories here, but this one I just felt I needed to.

————————————————————————————————————————-
Momma’s Eyes
by Roxie Prince

“Abigail, Bo, can you come in here for a minute?” Daddy called from his bedroom doorway. His voice sounded tight, almost like my brother and I were in trouble, but something else was hidden in there too, something that scared me more than punishment ever could.

I took my three-year-old brother, Bo, by his wet, chubby hand and walked with him towards our parents’ bedroom. Daddy tried to keep it clean, like it had been before Momma got sick, but Momma’s illness clung to the air, perpetually, no matter how much disinfectant he sprayed or how often he laundered the sheets. Bo looked up at me with his crystal blue eyes, ones exactly like Momma’s, and smiled a gap-toothed grin. He was too sweet, too innocent, to understand, and I was thankful for that.

But I was seven years old going on seventeen, maybe even twenty-seven for that matter, and I understood well enough what was happening — what had been happening for a long time to our family. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach this time, like someone had poured a bucketful of playground gravel down my throat. I just knew that Daddy wasn’t calling us in there to tell us good news.

“What’s wrong, Daddy?” I asked, feeling that sinking feeling turn into a creeping panic as I saw him sitting at the foot of the perfectly made bed. It was strange not to see Momma lying there, on the left side, near the portable toilet they’d set up for her. She’d been gone from there for a few weeks now, but after watching her lie there for months on end, I found it hard to get used to the bare spot in the bed. It looked too clean, too well-made, too normal, because I knew that it was where my mother lay dying not too long ago.

She’d been in the hospital again for the last few weeks though. She’d went in and out of the hospital for two years now, changing her bed at home for one there every so often, coming home when the doctors either decided there was nothing else they could do for her there, or when she got so fed up with being there that she begged to leave. This time, when she had to go back, she fought it, I remembered. I was in the room.

“Celeste, your fever has spiked again. We’re going to have to take you back to the hospital,” Daddy said to her, gently, leaning over her frail body. Her skin looked thin, like paper, and was covered in a thin layer of sweat.

“No, Eugene, I don’t want to go back!” she exclaimed before collapsing, unconscious, onto the stack of pillows propping her up. That’s when Daddy rushed me out of the room, and the next thing I knew, I was across the street at the neighbor’s house watching ambulances and even a firetruck pull up in front of my house to try and save my Momma.

She died in that room though, the same room where I stood holding Bo’s sweaty little hand and looking at my defeated father’s face, waiting to hear news that I knew would shake the foundations of my already rocky life. She’d died in that room, but they’d somehow brought her back to life and taken her to the hospital where she’d been in a coma for several weeks, up until this moment when I waited with bated breath.

Daddy’s normally rusty complexion was drained of color, and his eyes were cast on the floor. He didn’t raise them when he asked us to come to him.

We did.

He pulled both of us onto his lap — me on one knee and Bo on the other — and pulled us close to him. He smelled good, like he always did. Like Old Spice and leather. He took a deep breath, and I heard it tremble in his throat.

“Your Momma’s died,” he said. Just like that, and I guess there really was no other way to say it. I mean, there’s no way to sugar coat a fact like that for your little children, is there? I guess he could have made up some sort of story about her going to live in the sky with angels or something like that, but I think he knew I was too smart of a kid to believe that. And even if I did, all I really needed to know was that she was dead.

Suddenly, it felt like I was stuck in a movie that someone had put on pause, but I could still move around. Everything else was frozen, still, locked in a static position, except for me and my thoughts. Those were going in Fast Forward, or maybe it was Rewind. I guess maybe that’s just what it feels like when everything changes.

“No, she’s can’t be dead. They’ll bring her back, like before,” I insisted, for reasons I didn’t understand, because I knew it was true. I knew she was gone, and that it had been coming for a long, long time. But I still didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that she’d come back again.

I wanted to believe that I’d see her, lying in that bed tomorrow, and she’d call me to her and wrap her arms around me like she’d done every day of my life. Or that she’d be all better, and we’d take showers together, like I’d done when I was really little. She’d help me wash my hair, and we’d laugh and sing songs. Or she’d take us sledding when it snowed, and she’d pull Bo around on my old wooden sled. The one with the big red A on it for Abigail, and Bo would laugh his fat little baby laugh, and Momma’s cheeks would flush red with the cold and with joy.

But that wasn’t the truth, no matter how much I wanted it to be, and with that realization, someone pushed Play on the movie again, and things sped right back up.

“No, honey. Not this time. Not this time,” Daddy said, and I saw tears on his cheeks, and that made it really real because Daddy never cried. And of course, that’s when I cried too, burying my face in my Daddy’s neck.

Bo just sat, watching us, with Momma’s eyes. I hoped he wouldn’t remember this day as vividly as I would, twenty-plus years later. But I hoped he’d remember her when he looked in the mirror and saw Momma’s eyes looking back at him.

Momma’s Eyes — January 2014’s Short Story

Well, it took me almost the entire month of January to figure out what to write for my monthly short story, but once I finally did, it only took me about an hour to put to paper. I didn’t intend this to be as autobiographical as it turned out to be, but that’s how these things work sometimes, I guess. Aside from the name changes, this is pretty much straight from my own life, so I figured I might as well share it (even though it’s only a first draft). Because isn’t that what this blog is for? I probably won’t share all of my monthly short stories here, but this one I just felt I needed to.

————————————————————————————————————————-
Momma’s Eyes
by Roxie Prince

“Abigail, Bo, can you come in here for a minute?” Daddy called from his bedroom doorway. His voice sounded tight, almost like my brother and I were in trouble, but something else was hidden in there too, something that scared me more than punishment ever could.

I took my three-year-old brother, Bo, by his wet, chubby hand and walked with him towards our parents’ bedroom. Daddy tried to keep it clean, like it had been before Momma got sick, but Momma’s illness clung to the air, perpetually, no matter how much disinfectant he sprayed or how often he laundered the sheets. Bo looked up at me with his crystal blue eyes, ones exactly like Momma’s, and smiled a gap-toothed grin. He was too sweet, too innocent, to understand, and I was thankful for that.

But I was seven years old going on seventeen, maybe even twenty-seven for that matter, and I understood well enough what was happening — what had been happening for a long time to our family. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach this time, like someone had poured a bucketful of playground gravel down my throat. I just knew that Daddy wasn’t calling us in there to tell us good news.

“What’s wrong, Daddy?” I asked, feeling that sinking feeling turn into a creeping panic as I saw him sitting at the foot of the perfectly made bed. It was strange not to see Momma lying there, on the left side, near the portable toilet they’d set up for her. She’d been gone from there for a few weeks now, but after watching her lie there for months on end, I found it hard to get used to the bare spot in the bed. It looked too clean, too well-made, too normal, because I knew that it was where my mother lay dying not too long ago.

She’d been in the hospital again for the last few weeks though. She’d went in and out of the hospital for two years now, changing her bed at home for one there every so often, coming home when the doctors either decided there was nothing else they could do for her there, or when she got so fed up with being there that she begged to leave. This time, when she had to go back, she fought it, I remembered. I was in the room.

“Celeste, your fever has spiked again. We’re going to have to take you back to the hospital,” Daddy said to her, gently, leaning over her frail body. Her skin looked thin, like paper, and was covered in a thin layer of sweat.

“No, Eugene, I don’t want to go back!” she exclaimed before collapsing, unconscious, onto the stack of pillows propping her up. That’s when Daddy rushed me out of the room, and the next thing I knew, I was across the street at the neighbor’s house watching ambulances and even a firetruck pull up in front of my house to try and save my Momma.

She died in that room though, the same room where I stood holding Bo’s sweaty little hand and looking at my defeated father’s face, waiting to hear news that I knew would shake the foundations of my already rocky life. She’d died in that room, but they’d somehow brought her back to life and taken her to the hospital where she’d been in a coma for several weeks, up until this moment when I waited with bated breath.

Daddy’s normally rusty complexion was drained of color, and his eyes were cast on the floor. He didn’t raise them when he asked us to come to him.

We did.

He pulled both of us onto his lap — me on one knee and Bo on the other — and pulled us close to him. He smelled good, like he always did. Like Old Spice and leather. He took a deep breath, and I heard it tremble in his throat.

“Your Momma’s died,” he said. Just like that, and I guess there really was no other way to say it. I mean, there’s no way to sugar coat a fact like that for your little children, is there? I guess he could have made up some sort of story about her going to live in the sky with angels or something like that, but I think he knew I was too smart of a kid to believe that. And even if I did, all I really needed to know was that she was dead.

Suddenly, it felt like I was stuck in a movie that someone had put on pause, but I could still move around. Everything else was frozen, still, locked in a static position, except for me and my thoughts. Those were going in Fast Forward, or maybe it was Rewind. I guess maybe that’s just what it feels like when everything changes.

“No, she’s can’t be dead. They’ll bring her back, like before,” I insisted, for reasons I didn’t understand, because I knew it was true. I knew she was gone, and that it had been coming for a long, long time. But I still didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that she’d come back again.

I wanted to believe that I’d see her, lying in that bed tomorrow, and she’d call me to her and wrap her arms around me like she’d done every day of my life. Or that she’d be all better, and we’d take showers together, like I’d done when I was really little. She’d help me wash my hair, and we’d laugh and sing songs. Or she’d take us sledding when it snowed, and she’d pull Bo around on my old wooden sled. The one with the big red A on it for Abigail, and Bo would laugh his fat little baby laugh, and Momma’s cheeks would flush red with the cold and with joy.

But that wasn’t the truth, no matter how much I wanted it to be, and with that realization, someone pushed Play on the movie again, and things sped right back up.

“No, honey. Not this time. Not this time,” Daddy said, and I saw tears on his cheeks, and that made it really real because Daddy never cried. And of course, that’s when I cried too, burying my face in my Daddy’s neck.

Bo just sat, watching us, with Momma’s eyes. I hoped he wouldn’t remember this day as vividly as I would, twenty-plus years later. But I hoped he’d remember her when he looked in the mirror and saw Momma’s eyes looking back at him.

There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words—the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.

There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words—the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.

“You should date a girl who reads.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

“You should date a girl who reads.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”