#AtoZ2016 : P Is For Patience

There is one thing in this life
I will never have enough of.
One thing I will run out of
Every day.
One thing I won’t have
When I need it most.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You wish you had more.
So much more.

I need it when I’m listening
To someone who hasn’t got a clue
Try to explain their point of view.
Limited as it is.
Blind as it is.
To me.

I need it when I’m teaching
Someone something new.
Something they don’t know.
They may not understand.
That may scare them.
That’s simple to me.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You could use more,
So much more,
Than you have.

I need it when I’m driving,
To anywhere.
Dealing with the traffic on the roads.
With people being people.
Driving too slow.
Driving too fast.
Running stoplights.
Stopping to turn right.
And, in general,
Driving me nuts.

I need it when there’s something,
Anything, really,
I want to do.
Because sometimes,
I can’t do what I want,
When I want to.
Because I have to work.
Or take care of my home.
Or spend time with her.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You’ll never have enough.
You’ll always need more.

I need it when I read something
Someone wrote.
Something I don’t agree with,
That angers me,
Frustrates me,
Makes me ask,
“How can they be that way?”

Because I know this truth.
And you know it too.
All it takes
Is a little time.
A little perspective.
A little patience.

And everything changes.
The anger fades,
The frustration washes away.
And everything becomes

I know this thing I need.
This thing I won’t ever have
In sufficient quantity.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You won’t ever have enough.


Do I need more.

It’s April 20th, and I’m a still one day behind on the A to Z Challenge for 2016. I expect to catch up on Sunday. Only 10 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.


The Violence – One

The alarm goes off each morning,
Five times every week.
It tells me it’s time once more,
To do what I have to.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired,
Have a cold,
Or the flu.
It tells me I have work to do.
And it’s time to do it.
It says to me,
“Fuck you.”

Everything is on the clock.
Every minute planned.
Five minutes max in the bathroom,
To gear up for the workout.
Five minutes and no more,
Or else I’ll be behind schedule.
And have to cut time somewhere else,
To get back on track.

The 30 minute workout
Is always the same.
Five different workouts planned.
One for each of the five days.
Monday push the arms and shoulders,
Tuesday push the legs,
Wednesday climb a million stairs,
Thursday push the arms again.
The legs again on Friday.
And spend 10 minutes every day
Working on my abs.

When the workout time is done,
That 30 minutes up,
There’s 10 minutes for a shower,
Just 10 minutes to clean up.
Another 5 is set aside
To shave the whiskers from my face.
So I can look professional
Throughout the day I’ve yet to face.

5 more minutes to get dressed,
And then it’s time to eat.
But there’s never time to cook.
A bowl of cold cereal and milk,
And a daily vitamin,
Washed down by coffee
Always have to do.

I pray, as I always do,
Nothing happens on the drive
As I race to work.
I pray no one does something stupid,
Has a flat,
Or a break down,
That causes a back up,
And makes me late.

The bosses don’t like it
When you’re late to work.
They don’t like it at all.

I don’t ask any questions
About the life I lead,
The schedule I live by each day,
I don’t have to,
I get paid,
And I have bills to pay.

It doesn’t matter how I feel.
Or what I want to do.
It doesn’t matter if I’m sick,
If I have the flu.
The schedule’s set
And I have a job to do.

So to myself,
That tired, weak, being
I know I am inside.
There’s just one thing
I have to say to you
When I hear you whine
Or cry,
When I know you’re tired.

Fuck you.
I have a job to do.

#MidweekMusings 1×13 : Freedom

I sat in my recliner, watching the TV. Some stupid show about how aliens had visited Earth in the past, and shared science and technology with us, and that’s how we started advancing as humans. I’m sure it all made sense to some people, but to me, it was flat silly.

As I watched, I thought about everything. My job. My art. My life. I was old enough, the kids had grown up, and left the house. I wasn’t sure if I was proud of them standing on their own, as a sign I’d been a successful parent. Or if I was sad at the struggles they faced daily, a sign of my failures as a parent. It was one of those questions you ask yourself, but can never find an answer too. Always, you wonder how you did, and what that means about you, what that says about you.

I doodled. I did. I drew things on paper. Stupid things. Fairies with butterfly wings, bugs with big eyes and stupid grins. I even had this idea for a bug civilization, where big bugs were busses, with advertisements on the sides, and windows, filled with little bugs looking out. And bug traffic everywhere, with bug street races, and bug old people. I know. Silly, right? It wasn’t a serious thing, just something I did, something fun.

I must have had three dozen notebooks of doodles, sketches, drawings. It was a hobby for me. I’d never taken it seriously, never thought of selling any of my sketches. Hell, I’d never thought of finishing any of them, cleaning them up, making them worth looking at.

I doodled. That’s what it was. Something fun, something to pass the time, something to help me relax. It wasn’t real, after all, I wasn’t doing that for a living.

What I did for a living was work. Full time, like a grown up’s supposed to. Work a full-time job, be responsible, be grown up, be professional. All that stuff you learn in school. That’s what school was for, wasn’t it? You went to school to learn how to get a job, and earn a living. A decent living. Where you could buy a house, get married, have a family, send the kids to college. So they could do the same thing.

I suppose my work defined me. Or, you know, maybe I let my work define me. I let what I did at work define me. That old question, “And what do you do for a living?”

I worked. I worked for a good company. They paid me well, gave me medical insurance, two weeks of vacation every year, five days of sick leave if I needed them. It was good money, a good deal. We’d done well with my work, we had cars (three of them), a roomy house, and all the trappings. TVs everywhere, computers, smartphones. All that crap.

My reflection in the TV screen spoke volumes when I noticed it. And I tried not to notice it. The tubby, balding white guy sitting on his lazy ass, drinking a zillion calorie soda, eating peanut butter fudge cookies, watching some stupid TV show in the middle of the night. The old white guy at the end of his life.

I didn’t want to see that, didn’t like my reflection in the TV screen. I grabbed the remote, and started surfing the channels, mindlessly clicking through them, until I stopped at the music video channels. I figured I’d watch some of the women sing. You know, one of two of the girl bands, where they dress in skin-tight outfits, with barely present skirts, and push up tops that make their boobs look bigger than they are. And they shimmy their hips, and shake their boobs lots while they sing and dance around. That was always fun to watch, right?

But that night, it wasn’t. I kept thinking how I was probably older than their parents were, or at least as old as their parents. About how my daughter might be older than the girls in the group. How those girls dressed up, and shook it, for money. How they took advantage of the truth of men spending money to watch them, and have fantasies about them.

Hell, I hadn’t had any sex with anyone in ages. I couldn’t remember the last time I had, and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t really interested in that anymore. I was too tired, too old. I’d outgrown it, I supposed. But, it was everywhere on that music channel. The ads between the videos were for women’s sexy underwear, bras and panties, always lacy. And the models had big tits, and big asses. The kind of woman a twenty something guy wants to get naked with.

All those reminded me of was my daughter being older than the models.

I changed channels, and stopped at one where a guy in jeans was singing. Lots of scene changes, of course, it was a music video. But he was singing something about freedom. And that got me thinking.

Yeah, my reflection was still there, in the TV screen. My fat, lazy ass was still there, collecting dust. Hell, if I was a car, I’d have been a Junker in the back field somewhere, with weeds growing out of my front end, where my hood was gone, and the engine too.

That’s when I kept hearing that damn song echo in my head. That word, freedom.

I started drawing that night. And for once I finished a picture. Maybe that was where I’d find the freedom the guy in the song kept singing about. And that got me thinking. And thinking would change everything.

950 words

For week 1×13 of #MidweekMusings, a flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.


“Life doesn’t fucking care, does it,” Tyrone thought to himself, as he carried another load of dirty laundry down the stairs to the utility room. He tried to ignore the stabbing pain which lanced through his left heel, into his ankle, each time he put his left foot down. “The laundry has to get done, so fucking suck it up, cupcake.”

His stomach growled, as he poured detergent in the washing machine. “Yeah, I know. Hungry.” For all he cared right then, he could starve. He remembered what happened when he ate breakfast that morning, the sudden, desperate rush to the toilet. How his guts came out his ass. “If I’m gonna fucking die every time I fucking eat,” he looked at his stomach, “You can fucking starve.”

He carefully placed the whites in the machine, balancing the load equally in a circle around the agitator. “You know you have to do this right, or the damn machine will go crazy when it gets to the spin cycle. Ka-whacka! Ka-whacka! Ka-whacka! And it’ll move all over the fucking room.” He checked to balance on the load, making certain he had it evenly balanced. “No mistakes, stupid. No mistakes.”

Once the washer was running, he limped up the stairs and made a stop in the bathroom. He sat on the toilet again, “Just to be safe.”

While the load was washing, Tyrone found his MP3 music player, stuffed its earplugs in his ears, and used its menu system to select his housework playlist, which started with “Violence Fetish” by Disturbed. “It’s time to bring the violence to the fucking dishes!”

It was his day off. Sunday. He didn’t work Sundays. At least, not officially. Sundays, he had to take care of all the things he couldn’t get done during the week. Dishes. Laundry. Housework. Mowing the lawn. All that shit.

He dropped the glass he was rinsing. It fell into the stainless steel sink causing a hell of a racket. Luckily, nothing broke. “Butterfingers!” he silently screamed at himself. “Be careful, idiot!” He picked the glass up, making certain he had a firm grip on it, and finished rinsing it, then put it in the rack in the dishwasher. He felt the familiar sharp twinge in his right wrist from his damaged ligaments and bones. He grimaced, and wrapped his left hand around his wrist. In a couple of seconds the pain faded. “Enough.” He resumed washing the dishes.

He finished clearing the sinks, and filling the dishwasher. He turned the washer on, found a glass, poured some root beer out of a 2 liter bottle, and took a chug. “Back to the laundry.”

“Move this load to the drier, then start the pants.” He opened the drier, then the washer, and started moving the wet whites into the drier. Leaning to the side to throw stuff into the drier caused his head to hurt. By the time he’d finished the transfer, he knew he had a headache forming, “I don’t have time for that.” He tossed a dryer sheet in, slammed the door, and turned the dryer on.

He forced himself to keep moving, getting the load of pants in the washer, and getting that started. Then, he took his glass of root beer to the medicine cabinet, where he pulled out the bottle of naproxen tablet. He took 2. “No time for a headache today.”

He pushed himself to the Family Room, where he cleared the floor. Then he ran the vacuüm across the carpet. To make certain he’d vacuumed up everything, he emptied the vacuüm, then did the carpet a second time. “Fucking cat hair!” He looked at the half filled canister on the vacuüm. “I can’t win.”

The Living Room, Dining Room, and hallway all fell to the vacuüm. “There. That’s that.” At which point, the dryer’s buzzer called to him. “Time to fold the whites!”

It was his day off. His Sunday. Like all his Sundays. When he didn’t work. When he spent the day doing laundry, and dishes, and housework. “Life sucks, but no one said it wouldn’t. Suck it up, buttercup. You’ve got work to do.”

Tyrone didn’t stop until he’d folded the last load of laundry. That night, he sat on the sofa, in front of the TV, watching whatever was on. He didn’t really care what was on, he had a TV, and by God, he was going to watch something. Anything.

He knew the next hurdle. Bed. “I don’t want to turn out the lights.”

He wondered if there was anything inside him. Or if he was a machine, going through the motions day after day. “Bring the violence,” he whispered. “Bring the violence.” Soon, it would be time for him to go to bed, and get ready for work the next day.

“That’s what it takes to survive.” He knew the truth of his life. Of everyone’s life. “Without the violence, nothing happens.”

Before he went to bed, he played his favorite Disturbed song once again.

“So tell me what am I supposed to be
Another god damn drone
Tell me what am I supposed to be
Should I leave it on the inside
Should I get ready to play”

He turned out the light, and started his nightly battle for sleep.

It’s April 26th, the 22th day of the A to Z Challenge 2015. This is the 22nd of 26 pieces I’m writing in April for the challenge. This one’s for the letter V. Tomorrow brings the letter W. I wonder what I’ll write for that.

#ThursThreads Week 161 : Let Them Work Or Starve

“What caused the fall?” I shook my head. “What caused the grand old party to implode? To become irrelevant?”

Everyone in the classroom nodded. “No, Mr. Limbaugh,” Mitt belted out, “Why did we become irrelevant?”

Sometimes, I wondered why I chose to teach our party’s history. It was such a sad tale, with such a violent end.

I took a deep breath, “You read the assignment, didn’t you?”

Sarah belted out, “Of course not! Reading’s dangerous! Fills your head with all sorts of nasty ideas!”

Ted joined in, “I asked Reverend Ronald what he thought.”

Of course none of them had read anything, so, I turned to the board, and drew another cartoon strip. They liked cartoons.

I started with the mass firings caused by automation. Then, I showed our ancestors and their big houses, cars, swimming pools, and all the other things we once had. Next, I showed the peasants outside our fenced off, protected world. Then, I showed the starvation burial grounds. It’s what happened when people couldn’t work. They starved.

I showed Sir Mitch, standing before the board of directors, “If they’re starving, let them find work. It’s not our job to take care of them.” The next frame was of the poster, “Let them work or starve”. The final frame, the rebellion, where the party fell.

Sarah couldn’t help herself, and belted out, “Because people stole all our stuff, and took all the food we’d earned!”

It was good when someone understood.

246 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 151. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Leaving People In The Dust At 5 Miles Per Hour

Here’s one that really ticks me off. A conversation I’ve heard countless times. A conversation that grates against every nerve, and every brain cell I have. A conversation that happens at work all the time. Every day.

“Mark, you do this all day, every day. How can you do this at home?”

“I don’t understand.”

“You push yourself to get better at your job all day. And then you take it home with you. You spend all day working on computers, and then you go home, and work on computers.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I can’t do that.”


“Because I get tired of computers.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you ever rest? I get off of work, I walk through the door, and I forget all about this place until I walk through the door the next morning.”

“Ah. Good. Stand still. Makes you easier to run over.”

Let me get this straight. You’re actually telling me you love your job, and won’t give it up, but you hate it so much you pretend it doesn’t exist when you’re not at work. Is that what you’re saying, ‘cause that’s what I’m hearing. And if that’s what you’re saying, don’t you realize how irrational that is. How illogical. Come on. You either love your job, or you hate it.

My doctor tries to explain this conflicting set of ideas to me. “People like their work. They do. But they need rest. Just like you. They need rest, so they limit their work to the work environment, and that leaves them time to rest.”

And inside I’m laughing, thinking about how many of them think I’m a frickin’ genius, or brilliant. They don’t have a clue. It’s a simple math thing.

Have a golf cart that runs endlessly at 5 miles an hour. Have a car that runs wide open at 125 miles an hour. Put a cup of gas in each. Which one wins the endurance race? The golf cart. Obviously.

All I have to do is cruise along, taking it easy, playing around each day, and I end up running over everyone else. I keep chipping away at things. Learning a little here, a little there. And it adds up. And I watch people drown themselves in oceans of stuff to meet a deadline, and then collapse into useless rubble until the next deadline.

“You never stop!”

Hell, I stop all the time! You just never notice it, because I also keep going every day! You run wind sprints until you fall over. I walk. That’s the difference. I didn’t learn all the things I know overnight. I learned them gradually. One day at a time. I learned a bunch some days. Other days I wondered if I’d ever figure anything out. But I didn’t stop. I never said, “My brain hurts, I’m done trying.”

I’ll use exercise as an example again, because people seem to understand that. Even couch potatoes seem to understand that. The “I really should get in shape” crowd knows how to get in shape. They just don’t.

You want your abs to look like the people in the magazines? You know what you have to do to look like that. It takes time. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.

With work, it’s the same damn thing. It takes a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.

OK. I get it. You endured 12 years of school, and 4 years of college. It seems like all you did for 16 years was learn and study. Now, you’re done with that. You’re free! Now, you can spend the next 60 to 80 years watching episodes of NCIS on TV, and mowing the lawn, because that’s what life’s about, and wondering how people survived the round of layoffs at work when you got pink slipped.

Idiots. Stupid people. And you don’t even know you’re stupid. That’s the part that makes me angry. You actually embrace your stupidity as a sign of your success! “I worked flippin’ hard to get here! Now, I’m going to enjoy the rewards of my work!”

You think I don’t enjoy the rewards of my work? Really? Because I keep working? Because I keep learning? Because I keep trying? Fine. You sit at home, watching NCIS episodes. I’ll take a walk at the Botanical Garden, and enjoy the flowers and trees. You have a couple of beers to drink. I’ll stand beside the ocean, and watch the waves, and feel the suns heat untying the knots in my sore muscles. You mow the lawn to keep the neighbors happy. I’ll walk a trail at a National Wildlife Preserve, and marvel at how an egret stalks and catches fish.

You think I don’t relax? You think I don’t play? Just because I keep learning stuff every day? Like I said before. Go ahead and stand still. It makes you easier to run over. And me and my golf cart will putter along, and leave you years behind us.

It’s your choice to make. Make it or don’t.

I made my choice decades ago.

I’m Angry

A few lyrics from an old song, by Styx.

“You see the world through your cynical eyes
You’re a troubled young man I can tell
You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
How can you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man”

Yes, I have cynical eyes. They’re earned. Everywhere I look I see people that have stopped. People that are the walking dead. Zombies. And I’m angry about that. Fire-breathing angry. It’s taken four years of therapy for this to come out enough I can even write a simple note like this about it. And all I can really do right now is provide hints as to why I’m so angry.

I told my doctor today, “Math is hard, you know.”

Yeah. He said he knew.

“But it’s not impossible.”

He nodded.

“So why the fuck do people whine about it? Because it’s hard? Because they actually have to learn something? To push their brain cells?”

He mentioned  how panic paralyzes some of them at even the thought of doing math problems.

There are times I want to scream. Times I want to bitch slap people upside the head, and scream at them, “It’s NOT easy! Neither is life!”

Yeah. I’m angry.

Math’s just part of it. Just a scratch on the surface. I see posters on Facebook and they sometimes drive me nuts. I have to take a long walk, or go wander around a wildlife preserve, or through the botanical garden until I can regain control. Until the urge to scream fades.

I have to ask questions now. Blunt and brutal questions.

What do you do for a living? Is that natural? Were you born able to do that? Or did you have to learn stuff to do that? What’s wrong with learning stuff anyway? Does it mean you have to think? Does it make your little head hurt? Does it cause your eyes to burn? What?

Aren’t you the person that can hop on an exercise bike, and keep going and going and going for a couple of hours? And that’s tough, ain’t it? It’s hard to do that. When you started, you fuckin’ died after 10 minutes. Remember? After 10 minutes you were like, “Oh, God. I’m never gonna make that one mile mark! Ever!”

It took work, time and effort! You had to build up to it. You had to earn the ability. And you teach that to other newbies around you. “Don’t hurt yourself. Go slow at first. Ten to twenty minutes. Slow down if you have to. Don’t worry, with time you’ll get better.”

‘Cept that don’t fucking apply to Math. Or history. Or science. Or learning how to use your damn iPhone or Galaxy phone. Read the fuckin’ manual? Are you fuckin’ serious? I have to fucking read all God damn day long at work! I’m not reading shit for nobody! Just make the damn thing work like I want!

Yeah. I’m angry.

Here’s a little choice I made, all on my own, independently from everyone, when I was in 7th grade, in Annapolis, Maryland. I made the choice in my 7th grade history class, after tanking on the first test of the grading period. Yeah. I tanked on a history test. And upon seeing that grade, I got angry. I got mad. I got determined. I was NOT letting that happen again. Ever.

I got near perfect scores on everything in that history class after that. And it wasn’t easy. It took work. It took time and a lot of work. No one gave me the grades I got in that class. I didn’t earn them by being a genius, or by being smart. I earned them by working. By putting in the time and the effort required to learn what I had to learn to get the grades I wanted.

That’s what I did in school from that day forward.

That’s what I do now, at work.

That’s what I do now, in my writing. I work on it. I push myself. I don’t accept, “good enough.” I know I can get better. And I find no reason, and no excuse, to do otherwise.

When I see someone say, “I don’t know how to back up the contact list on my phone,” I want to grab their phone, and bash it over their stupid head. Because that’s what they are. Stupid. Too stupid to read the instructions, and find out how. “But I paid for it, and you guys better take care of my problem for me, so I’ll become the perfection idiot!”

Yeah. I’m angry. And I’m barely in control of that anger. It will be in the 90s, and maybe near 100 degrees tomorrow morning at 0830 hours. But I’ll be going on a 5.4 mile walk. I may lose 4 pounds of body fluid on that walk. But I’ll take that walk anyway.

So I can put up with the stupidity the world around me has embraced. And not want to scream. And not want to throw things. And not want to bitch slap people who so desperately deserve it.

I’m not even sad about it any more. It used to make me sad that people were the walking dead, and didn’t know it, and didn’t believe it. Now, I’m not sad. I’m disgusted. I’m angry. Want to be dead by 30, then stop learning. Stop reading. Stop asking questions. Start saying, “I can’t figure out how to use the friggin’ thing!” Start saying, “They changed Windows! Why! Why! Why! I’m gonna shoot someone!” Start saying, “The pastor said Harry Potter is evil, and we shouldn’t read it.”

“Harry Potter is evil, and we shouldn’t read it.”
“The pastor said so, this past Sunday morning at church.”
“Why did the pastor say that?”
“He said [insert name] said it was evil.”
“How does [same name] know it’s evil?”

And so it goes, until you realize no one in the entire chain of names has ever read a single word of any of the books. And you realize you’re talking to a person that says, “I don’t want to think! Tell me how to behave! Tell me how to live! Tell me what to do! Take all my responsibilities from me!”

There are so many stories I will be sharing about this. So many things I’ll write about why I’m angry.

But I’m angry enough I can’t write anymore tonight.


I don’t know why I bother. You obviously don’t want to wake up. You obviously don’t care. And nothing I can ever say, or do, will ever matter.

And you’ll be dead inside at 30.

And I’m going to laugh at you when you are.

#FSF : Celebration

Every Wednesday night, during the prayer service, the pastor asked the same question, “Do we have any praises to God this week?”

That’s when Bobby stood up, “Yep! I do!”

Bobby’d just been laid off after working for 30 years with the same company. It was heartbreaking, how it happened, with him being sent home on medical leave to recover from major depressive disorder and panic attacks.

That night, in front of the whole church, Bobby belted out, “After 30 years of slavery, I’m free, and that’s worth celebrating!”unique, and lives by the rules of her heart.

Another one for Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Celebration.

Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

#FSF : Thunder

I knew from the dark, black clouds, the taste of water in the air, the darkness in the middle of the day, the storm was about to start. I stood in my garage, facing my training bag, and waited. The past few weeks had been hell, one endless string of nightmares at work. I’d had enough. With the first flash of lightning, the first echo of thunder, I made a storm of my own.

Here’s my weekly attempt at Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Thunder.

Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

Yep, That Was The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Yep, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. But I’d do it again, in a heartbeat. Because it was the right thing to do. Let me explain.

Five years ago, Becky sat in the cube next to mine at work. Her laugh always made me smile, and I wanted so much to just stare into her blue eyes. I’d asked her to lunch once, but she’d refused. “My boyfriend wouldn’t like it.”

I settled for the usual, safe office small talk. “How was your weekend?” and “How did you celebrate the holiday?” Meaningless, safe stuff. Stuff everyone knows they can talk about. Like asking, “How was your vacation?” when she came back after a trip, or “Hope you’re feeling better now,” when she’d been out sick. Small talk. Nothing nosey.

But I noticed those mornings she came in with a little extra makeup on. Those days she winced when she reached for the phone. Those days she wore long sleeves in the spring or summer.

I noticed those days she called in sick, and came in a day or two later, walking a little carefully and slowly. I noticed how she always wore mascara on those days, and long sleeves.

I knew the story the details covered up.

On Becky’s birthday, the office bunch went took her to lunch. Her boyfriend showed up. Becky was really quiet, and didn’t talk like she normally did. I knew why. She was scared of him, the loud, arrogant person that made sure everyone knew Becky was his. Like she was a possession of some kind.

Lunch was eventful as everyone tiptoed around the topic of Becky’s long sleeves, and extra makeup. “Nice to meet you,” and “So you’re the guy she’s told us about,” and “You’re a lucky guy, having a girl like her.”

Everything was small talk, until he was ready to leave. That’s when things went bad. Really bad. Becky didn’t want to go with him. “I have to go back to work,” she’d said.

The guy yanked her to her feet, “No one will mind if you spend the afternoon with me.”

That’s when Becky looked at me, with her eyes screaming, “Help me!”, and she whispered to me, “Please.”

So, I stood up, and stepped in front of him. “She doesn’t want to go. And I’m not letting you hurt her any more.”

I got the beating of my life that day. A broken jaw, cracked ribs, bruises everywhere. But I stood up to the bad guy. And the restaurant staff called the cops, and an ambulance. Becky rode to the hospital with me. The cops arrested her boyfriend. And that’s when the domestic violence and assault charges got filed.

It took weeks for me to breath without wincing. My ribs hurt for months. I had 27 stitches in my lips and chin. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, standing up to that guy. But, I’d do it again. See.

I got Becky too.

498 Words

I wrote this for Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge. I found them all worth reading.