A Work in Progress?

This was so depressing I went back and added the last paragraph when editing. It kind of follows a similar vein to Katherine the Great, in so for as people seem to spend a lot of time trying to do things to make themselves successful to be happy, when sometimes you just gotta take a minute to stop and smell the roses.


Caroline felt that at her core she was a work in progress. She was a person, but not complete. At 40, she still looked around when a child looked for an adult, not yet feeling that she was up to wearing that mantle of responsibility.

She wasn’t where she should be in her career. She didn’t own a car, or house, and she wasn’t close to having the money to do either. She didn’t travel or have luxury goods to explain her lack of the other.

She had no husband, children, or even a prospect of either., not that she wanted them them, and that was the hardest part to explain to other people. Caroline felt as if she was a variant, some small defect had left her just shy of fitting in any of the molds, and so went through life unformed, unfinished, and unfulfilled.

That wasn’t entirely true though, not really, because Caroline was happy. She was happy in her apartment, her dead end job, her hobbies, and her dog. Maybe, what she needed to do was not focus on reaching her finished state, but to redefine what it was she was aiming for. After all, success is what you make of it.

Myosotis Sylvatica

If you haven’t listened to The Amazing Devil, I highly recommend them, their song “Elsa’s Song” was the inspiration for this one, along with Girlontheedge’s six-sentence-prompt BOOK. This is what I would say is a Dystopian piece about something doing something against the rules, for all the right reasons.


Elsa could hear nothing over rushing sound of her own blood pounding in her ears, as she walked along the mostly empty street, her head down, not making eye contact with those she saw, knowing any one of them could be secret police.

She needn’t be worried, not really, there was no reason to suspect her, buying a new jacket wasn’t a crime, and she was assured that the shape of the garment would conceal the secret it carried, the one that she was risking her life for.

The walk took only minutes, but it felt like hours, every glance towards her an accusation, every nearby step made by the Krali, come to arrest her for what she had done, was doing, was planning yet to do.

Finally, she had made it, she was home, and better yet, she still had it, here, safe.  She carefully removed the stiches from the jacket lining, and pulled the thin, worn, book from between the layers, gently, as it was, by far, the most previous thing she had ever owned.

Her eyes filled with tears, as she opened it to the first page, and saw not only the handwriting of her lover, whom she had not seen in so many months, but the small blue flowers dried between the pages, forget-me-nots.


Part 2

A Work of Fiction

After much consideration, I am going to continue posting my six sentence stories weekly, but my short stories and micro fiction are going to move to a biweekly schedule or the rest of the year so I can accommodate other projects. I finished my first novel last year, and would like to focus on getting it ready to publish.

This started off as a background piece for a character in my novel. There are a few different version of the story, this one is a “grew up in the city” narrative that I tossed out. It was also inspired a little by the “lie that got out of hand” idea, and I had just watched Sweet Home Alabama, and wondered what would have happened if the main character hadn’t been married and needed a divorce. Would she have lived the lie?


When people saw me, they made assumptions about my childhood. That I was the type of child who grew up in a penthouse, summered at the cape, and spent Christmas at the family chalet. I could never let people know the truth. I was from the city all right, but not the good part.

We were in the poor neighborhood, and even then we shared the three bedroom apartment with another family. There were 9 of us living there in that apartment, and there was no problem with the tiny kitchen that had no virtually no cupboards, because neither family had to money to buy so much that they would have to store it.

That was the thing about being poor. Not TV poor, where people live in lofts and wear designer clothes, and complain about having no money while eating take out. We were real poor, which meant it didn’t matter that it was half the price per gram to buy the jumbo package of rice, we only had enough to buy the small one, and there wasn’t any way to save up to buy clothes that would last long enough to be considered a good investment.

I honestly think the only new clothing I got my entire childhood was the few years that I managed to get a winter coat from the coat drive. It was strange, and I had to admit, though I loved the vibrant colors, the rough fabric irritated my skin, which had never felt something that hadn’t been worn down by two to three previous owners and countless washes.

I had ambition though, and I learned to sew, to fit the clothes I did have, which meant that while it was often threadbare, I didn’t have the wearing a tent look that my older brother had. To people who didn’t know my siblings, one would almost assume these were actually girls clothes, not just re-purposed cast offs.

My parents thought it was dumb, the idea of going to college. Why would you spend so much money to get a job anyways. If you worked that time, you would be making just as that new graduate, sometimes even more.

I didn’t argue with them, it was true, but only because they couldn’t see the big picture. It was almost impossible to get promoted past a certain level without a degree. The didn’t recognize that the other person had worked 5 years to get to a level the graduate got on day one, and after that the promotions were usually faster. Ya, sure, if you loved your job, and it didn’t need a degree, than getting one was stupid. But growing up the way I did, I wanted out, and I wanted big, and I was never going to meet the people I needed to meet to make that happen if I never left the two city blocks that was out neighborhood.

So I worked my ass off. I applied to a program for the underprivileged that would give me a subway pass, and I used that to get me to every free design, or sewing, or business class that I could get to, cause none of that stuff existed in my part of town. When it was time to apply to college, I applied to as many as I could for free, and then I begged, borrowed, and pleaded until my guidance counselor helped me get funding to apply for more. Then I applied for every scholarship, contest or grant I could. I don’t think I slept more than three hours a night the first six months of my senior year, and my grades were good that year, but not spectacular. I wrote more essays about growing up poor than I wanted to admit, and I hoped to hell some soft hearted admissions person read one and took pity on me because I was a lot of things, but I couldn’t be above charity, not if I wanted out.

And then I got in, more than one place, but the one I took offered me a full ride to a school of design, plus living expenses. My portfolio was impressive, they said, and I walked out the door of that apartment and never looked back.

My first semester was pure culture shock, but I quickly learned what to say, and what not to say, to fit in with the others. We were allowed to keep our projects, and so I toned down my physical submissions, and created myself a wardrobe. I tried calling my parents a few times, but they didn’t have much interest in me, more focused on my brother’s who still lived in the neighborhood. I gave up, and decided to make a clean break, and change my last name to something a little more, in. By the time I graduated, most the people I started with had washed out, and I had made connections with people who had no idea I wasn’t of the “those” Allertons.

When it was time to write up my bio for my first fashion show, it was a work of fiction, and the second I pressed send I wished I could take it back, knowing someone would find me out, but they didn’t. Apparently no one really cared that much about your childhood when you were designing fashion. I wasn’t an A-lister, so looking into my past just was not lucrative enough, and I rode that.

I met a woman, I got married, we adopted, and I raised three wonderful children without any of them ever knowing about my family. I wish I could say it was great, but it haunted me, loomed over me like a sword of Damocles, waiting to come down and destroy my life. How do you tell someone you are a lie?

It wasn’t first date material, or third, and at some point it seems like telling them after so long would be a betrayal, and I couldn’t lose my girlfriend, then my wife, then my kids, by admitting the lie. I knew I was going to die someday, under a name of my own making, and my parents, more likely just my brothers wouldn’t even know I had passed.

What had I done?

My Family Vacation

Ok, so this one I will admit is utterly ridiculous. It started as a response the the prompt “a lie getting out of control” and mixed with a little lingering spite I had for a company I once worked at that preferentially gave people vacation based on their family status instead of their seniority. You can imagine where this is going as the main character just wanted his vacations approved.


I just wanted a vacation, to see my parents for the holidays, and I didn’t feel like that was too big of an ask, all things considered. It wasn’t like I was new, in fact I was one of the most senior people on the team, and I was due for a vacation.

I however, had the misfortune of being single, and as a result, the last three attempts to book vacation had been bumped in favor of “letting someone with a family” make an important date.

The last vacation I had managed to get authorized was a week in the dead of February, and even that was at risk when Herbert considered taking his girlfriend on a surprise vacation to propose to her. In the end, I only got my week because Hebert’s girlfriend broke up with him when he brought up the idea of the vacation. Apparently she knew what he was planning, and wanted out before it got anymore serious than it already was.

When Claire mentioned that she wanted to take the holiday for her and her husband to go see their Brother’s new baby, I saw my vacation vanishing, and I spoke before I thought.

“I was hoping to take Linda to meet my parents.” There was no Linda. From there it only grew, as I explained that my relationship with Linda, the woman who I had been seeing casually, had recently become a bit more serious and I wanted to take her back east to meet my parents.

I got my vacation, and intended to “break-up” with Linda following the trip. I forgot entirely about Linda until about three months later, after all, she wasn’t real.

I had never been one to share my personal life at work, I just wasn’t that guy. So I guess no one though anything of it when I never brought her up again. This time I was booking an easter holiday, or trying to, after all, I don’t have kids. I wanted to book around the long weekend so that I could down to Florida for a five day all inclusive.

I waited to be rebuffed, and then someone helpfully asked. “Oh, are Linda’s parents snowbirds?” I stared blankly, and listened to a longer explanation of the term snowbirds than anyone should ever have to endure. The good news was, that half way through thisI figured out who Linda was, and realized I had forgotten to break up, and so I did what anyone in my situation would do. I replied. “Yup, they have a little place down there. Linda and I will be renting a hotel, but If I don’t go down there to meet them, I won’t see them until they come back in June.”

I saw the eager looks on everyone else’s faces, and I didn’t clue in what the big deal was until the beginning of May, when everyone kept asking if I had booked my time yet.

Apparently there was a flower show in May, that everyone assumed I must be taking Linda to, and had I booked the Friday off yet. I took the long weekend, cause I was never able to take a long weekend, and it was glorious, until Monday that is.

Everyone ran over, saw the smile on my face and cheered. Jamie yelled, “Looks like she said yes!” and it all clicked. I nodded, because what could I do, and then I excused myself to my early morning meeting. During which I Googled the flower show and saw it was on a list of “top ten events to get engaged at”. Suddenly it all clicked, I had said I couldn’t wait till June to meet Linda’s parents, and they had thought I had to ask her Father for permission before the May flower show. That’s when things started to snowball.

Linda and I were married a year later, in July, and took a two week honeymoon cruise. I was actually on a single’s cruise, but I came back tan and wearing a wedding band I bought for 50$ at one of the ports, and it was known that I was married.

A year later the hints started, about Linda and I getting up there, were we planning to have kids. I was pissed, it was none of their business about whether or not me and my fictional wife were having kids. When Ernie went too far, joking I couldn’t get it up, I lost it.
“How dare you. This is less than none of your business, what my wife and I do in our home, is our choice. Jesus Ernie, not everyone wants kids, and not everyone who wants them can just have them. When I want to discuss my private life I will, but until then, back the hell off. I am going for lunch.” I stormed out ten minutes early, and then spent twenty minutes in my car, laughing till I cried. I can’t believe I got that angry over Ernie, I mean, he should know better, but Linda wasn’t real.

When I finally calmed down, I realized I left my lunch in on my desk, I faced the embarrassing task of walking back in to claim it. I was stopped by an HR Rep on the way to in, and I thought this was it, my fake Wife had gotten me fired…..

Except she hadn’t. Apparently I was getting the rest of the day off, paid, because of Ernie’s insensitivity. They thought Linda and I were having trouble conceiving, and I was given the day with their sympathies. I couldn’t tell them the truth, so I went home.

After a few months I got so sick of the said looks, and pitying comments, that when I walked in happy, and someone asked, I finally said, “We’re pregnant.” I really don’t know what I was thinking, but I spent a Saturday looking through the appointments I would need and made sure to book the afternoons off, to take Linda to her appointments.

The baby was a boy, we only found out tin the delivery room, wanting to be surprised on that one. He was a week late, and arrived 7lbs 30z, on Saturday morning after nine hours of laobur. His name, David Joseph Jr. , after my Father, and I, dutiful employee that I was, was back at my cubicle on Monday.

After that, vacation was a breeze with doctor’s appointments, vacations, and event things like hockey away games. I could take vacation the same as my colleagues, as long as they never found out the truth about the family.

I spent another twenty years waiting for it to implode on me, and then I was retiring, with David in his third year of University, and his little brother Malcolm about to graduate high school. Linda and I would be moving to Florida for our retirement, and I would never see any of these people again.

The one upside of all this, was that I would have one heck of a story to tell the snowbirds. After all, it isn’t everyday you end up faking an entire family to get Christmas off.