For Want of a Nail

This was a multi-challenge response to both girlontheedge’s six-sentence word of the week BOOKMARK, and the invisible ink challenge based on the picture below. I am happy with what I came up with, a rather strange little piece about a person with too many bookmarks and none when it counts, which many of us bookish types may see themselves in.


My most innate talent was the ability to lose things in large numbers, which is why when I went to the library to work on my paper I could not find a bookmark to save my life, even though I knew I had to have at least 50.


It wasn’t a joke, an exaggeration, if anything it was an understatement with the truly ridiculous number of bookmarks I had been gifted over the years, on top of those I purchased myself when the mood took me.


I never threw a single one out from the Shhhhh! bookmark from the scholastic book fair I got in the first grade, to the rather obscenely shaped one I got from my best friend as a thank you gift for the wild bachelorette I threw her.


That said, when the need arose, I could search my entire house a find nary a sign that they existed which is why I used everything from my lunch money, to the napkin that came with it, to the receipt to mark my place.


Today I sat at the library, similarly bereft, taking using a pen, a paper-clip I found in my pencil case, and the cloth strip attached to the hard cover to allow for me flip between my three sections with ease while I scribbled down my notes.


All good things come to an end though, the pen pressed into service after an ill-timed ink shortage, the paper-clip needed to clip the papers, and so I surrendered my left hand, two fingers holding the places where anything else would have sufficed, and I mourned the absence of a good bookmark.

Gone Forever

This one is a little piece about someone throwing something away. There is a lot left to the imagination, what is it, is it important, is it nothing? Sometimes you just gotta go for it and throw something away when you know there is no chance of getting it back, alternatively hoarding might be the lifestyle for you…


Manda rushed the garbage to the dumpster, seeing the truck coming down the lane to take it away. Throwing it out might come back to bite he later, but it was the right thing to do. It wouldn’t matter anyways, because no amount of backlash would bring it back.

No amount of garbage can recovery, or dumpster diving would find something heading for the landfill. It was gone, forever, and she felt a small amount of anxiety with her relief. She had long since learned the lesson “It was better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

All-American

No idea where this one came from, just another unhappy child moving away to become who they are. I honestly believe you can’t quite make that transition into the person you are meant to be until you leave your childhood home. This is the story of Sam, who left home and became their own person.


She looked down at the pictures of the child dressed up as as the all American little boy, in blue jeans and a red flannel shirt, and it made her squirm. There was a smile on the child’s face, and it wasn’t from happiness, it was from relief that they were allowed to go home.

An entire summer trapped on Uncle Jeb’s farm, and there wasn’t a single moment of it that the kid didn’t hate. It was all about the act of “toughening” the boy up, as though at ten years old, the threshold for masculinity was not being met. That there was some thickness of skin that hadn’t been achieved, and the act of crying at the injustice of it all was taken as the proof that the entire exercise was required. That picture was the day that a countdown was made, and while college was always a long shot, it was a freedom that couldn’t be passed by.

Teachers marveled at the new found studious nature, never before had a student made such a change in a single summer, not without some sort of accident of tragedy occurring, but they knew of no such event. A single summer on a farm should not have been such a thing, but in this case it was everything, it was the last straw in a pile of sticks, and it was too much to bear.

High school came and went, and in the end, the grades were enough. There were better schools, closer schools, if education had been the aim, but it wasn’t. The goal was the city, the goal was somewhere big enough to disappear, the goal was being far enough away that this place would be a memory buried deep enough that no one would ever know that it was a place of origin in the story being told.

There were a lot of cities to chose from, and the one the now teenager chose was so liberal that someone like Uncle Jeb would shudder to step foot in it, and it was perfect. It was a place where dreams came true, and no one was forced to toughen up, or be a man. That was where Samuel started to be known as Sam, and graduated as Samantha.

Her parents never called her, followed up, even though she kept the old beat-up flip phone for 12 years, paying a phone bill long after she replaced it, just in case. She didn’t call them either, but it was the principle of the thing. Four years in sociology had taught her a lot about people, and she knew that unless she reached out with a wife and a son, or fulfilled the promise to take over the family farm, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with her. That was just the way some people were, and there was nothing she could do that would change that.

She became a social worker, and eventually, she did get that wife, and even the son, but she wouldn’t be taking on the farm. Even if she did show up with her new family, they wouldn’t understand this, her, as she was, it just wasn’t their way. She had made a good life for herself, and when the flip phone broke, she had the line rerouted to her phone, just in case.

Her son was 11 when she got the call. Her family of three spent five hours on a plane, and three hours in a rented SUV to get to the house her parents had called home. It should have been a few years further out, but car crashes happen, especially with drunk drivers and missed red lights.

So here she sat, still in her back suit, looking at the picture of a child, who looked so much like her own, and yet was so much sadder. She walked out the door, her wife and son following, and they got in the car, not stopping till they hit the airport. No one broke the silence until the return tickets were paid for, and it was her wife who asked.

“What about the house?”

“Sell it” She whispered, voice hoarse.

“But the things, the memori-” Her wife tried again.

“Sell it all. There isn’t one thing in that house, that I want to remember” She half yelled, and then wanted to cry. Her wife didn’t look angry, just sad. Helena pulled out her phone, and called a friend, who would get a hold of someone local and take care of it.

Samantha was going home, for good this time.

In Dreams

Today’s work is a challenge response to many challenges, and I think it turned out better than I expected overall. This is the story of a person who wants to get away from it all, and dreams about their ideal home. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you have read any of my other work, like usual, there is more than meets the eyes here.


In my dreams I own a log cabin in the woods, secluded and peaceful, where there are no nosy neighbors with prying eyes, and eavesdropping ears.
It wouldn’t be that big, a single room with an old fashioned wood stove, and kerosene lamps, no ever present buzz of electricity to ruin the moment.
I wouldn’t need a bedroom here, no closets, nothing to hide, just me, the land, and whomever I might bring here when the mood strikes.
No more pretending to want to spend nights in overpriced restaurants or overcrowded theaters, with girls that have more air in their heads than brains.
In my perfect little cabin in the middle of nowhere, I could paint my own soliloquy in red, and no one would ever have to know that this is who I am beneath it all, because here I would be free to be me.
I breathe in the rich scent of coffee wafting from my cup, pulled from my reverie by the muffled screams coming from my closet, and I sigh, knowing that for now this is as close as I am going to get to that kind of serenity.


If you want to make it creepier, read it again while listening to “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison which has creeped my out since I watched blue velvet in a college class.