Our prompt today at WAW:
You come across a pack of matches that sets off a series of uncanny events. Start your story with “My mother always told me not to play with fire.” End it with “And that’s how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked.”
(Didn’t get to the naked part and there is more to come. But it’s a start and I like it.)

Flame by Lexanne Leonard

My mother always told me not to play with fire. I seldom listened.

It started when I was five. I loved to watch the flames in the fireplace dance around, sending their ashes and smoke up the chimney and into the air.  I imagined myself a whirling partner waltzing with the red and gold flames but staying away from the blue ones that seemed like they should be cold instead of hot. I saw myself in a ball gown adorned with sparks instead of diamonds and my long hair flickering with every move.  The fireplace blaze kindled in me an urge to fly up the flue and travel on the smoke to far away lands where ash and smoke come to rest.

So it was when I came across my father and his pack of matches that my destiny was sealed. He had a horrible habit of smoking, not in the house as demanded by my mother, but next to the garage at the edge of the weeping willow his mother planted when he was just born. It was there he would sit for exactly a half hour between work and dinner and smoke his Camels and stare into the sky. Most evenings I would sit next to him looking in what I thought was the same direction wondering what he saw. We wouldn’t say a word to one another. We just enjoyed being in each others company. It was the day I came home late from Tara’s house that I finally realized what he was actually looking at.

I stood silently just inside the kitchen screen door looking into the backyard and surprised by what I was watching and not wanting to interrupt. I was transfixed on his ritual of lighting the match. Gently and with grace, if that is at all possible, the fingers of his left hand nimbly opened the cover, removed the small phospored paper stick, closed the cover, and with a flick the match burst into a flame so large it seemed to devour his head as he moved it carefully to his mouth. As quick as the flame appeared, it dissolved and the red tip of the Camel glowed as I watched his eyes follow the smoke into the atmosphere to the far away lands where ash and smoke come to rest.

It was then I knew my calling to the flame was more than just a passing interest. It bore itself deep within me when my mother and father shared their love.  It was something I would carry with me and share with my own and, hopefully, their own for eternity.

Catching Up – Two Pieces

I haven’t posted anything lately. So I decided to post the writing I did today and last week at Wednesday Afternoon Writers. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011. 
Tonight’s prompt gave us five words describing a character. Each of us had different words. We needed to choose a name. Then the sentence starter “Of all the people in (each of us had a different place)…”
My five character words were: nervous, protective, lonely, overbite and phlegmy
My sentence starter:  Of all the people in the town…
We were instructed NOT to use the words but show them in the action of the character. In other words: show, don’t tell. The mantra of the writing teacher! We could write from our character’s voice or someone else. We wrote for 30 minutes.


Of all the people in the town Caroline was the one who knew everything and everyone.   Unfortunately, no one really knew her.  It was something that didn’t usually bother her.  She understood the townspeople’s reasons for shying away from her. She was content to live away from them.

Her house was at the top of Morgan Hill just outside of Peirston.  It was a little stone house built by her great-grandfather.  He chose the spot because, at the time, it was far from civilization.  He longed to live far away from people and the frenzy of the city.

One had to travel on the train to the Scottston stop with the hope of someone being there to give you a ride to where you were going. Otherwise you would have to walk and it was miles to anywhere, especially to Caroline’s great-grandfather’s house.

This was how Caroline’s great-grandfather met her great-grandmother.  She was riding by the train station on her way home from the village where she purchased some new fabric for a dress she was designing for herself.  She was driving by in her family wagon pulled by an ancient silver dappled horse, just as her great-grandfather stepped off the train.  Knowing that he would need a ride, she offered one.

He declined.

She insisted.

He declined.

And this went on for quite sometime with Caroline’s great-grandmother following behind her great-grandfather shouting that he really should ride with her and that it was no trouble and that night was coming and you never know what kind of animal might be about and that he surely must be tired from his long ride and how long a ride was to where ever he was headed and where was he from anyway and wasn’t it a beautiful day and surely he must be hungry and it would be no problem to bring some dinner back to him and where was he going to stay?

By the time she had tired of carrying on the conversation with only small grunts or nods of the head from him, he decided that in order to enjoy the peacefulness of the land, he would oblige her.

She took him to the hill that he immediately named after his mother, Morgan, and then had to explain in detail to her why he did that.

As she rode away with the sun falling behind Morgan Hill, he knew that his destiny had been forever sealed on that grassy mound and that she would soon be joining him.

Caroline would have enjoyed sharing this story of her courting relatives and her long history with the town. But when she tried to tell her story, a fit of coughing and hacking never let her words form. It was as if her words were refusing to let their secrets out for the world to hear.

When the coughing subsided, she would try again, only to find that her mouth seemed to take on a mind of it’s own. Her body would start to shake and her top teeth pushed in front of the bottom, and stares from her companions would keep her from attempting to utter another word.

It was different, though, when Caroline told her stories to the wind on top of Morgan Hill. As she began to speak, the wind rested and animals surrounded her in the garden.  She could spin tales that would mesmerize the creatures and they would stay for hours just lying on the ground curled up near the lavender bushes or sage plants. She swore they were smiling.

So this is how Caroline spent her days, telling her stories to the animals who kept her company, caring for Bertie the cow who gave her milk, gardening the land that fed her, tending the bees who sweetened her tea, and stringing Job’s Tears into rosaries that she sold to the convent nuns who, in turn, sold them to the locals.

Only when she was desperate for supplies would she travel to Pierston. She would hitch her proud blood bay, the silver dapple being long gone but well remembered in her stories, to the very wagon in which her great-grandmother wooed her great-grandfather.  Caroline always thought this was a good luck wagon and had hoped that one day maybe she would find her beau in the same way.  But for this day, she needed more string for her rosaries.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011. My prompt at Wednesday Afternoon Writers yesterday was to write about something that happened to me recently. I was to change my sex and tell the story from the viewpoint of that person. We wrote for 30 minutes. 

Nine Mile Station

I watched her get out of the car.  She looked a bit tired, more than usual. She wasn’t pulling the rolling bag behind her today like she had most of the other days. She was a creature of habit. It makes it easier that way.

I know where she parks so I can watch without her noticing. Then I follow her onto the train. I don’t get off when she does. She gets off at the Auraria stop and I go on to my next engagement.

At first, she didn’t see what was happening at the light rail station.  I could hardly wait to see her reaction.

I watched her walk towards the elevator. She doesn’t take the stairs even though it is only one level down. The rolling bag is too hard for her to maneuver down the steep steps. But the other day, last Friday it was, she didn’t have the bag and she still took the elevator.

I wondered when she would notice the police. I wondered if seeing them would have been enough to change her mind about taking the elevator instead of the stairs.

Because of the commotion, I followed behind her with a spritely gait, not wanting to stand out from the other commuters.  She still didn’t see anything different in the morning routine as she stepped into the elevator.  I scurried down the stairs so I could look up at her through the glass as she descended.

I’m good at finding spots where no one pays attention to me.  And the elevator is so slow, “like molasses” as my mom would say. I got to the special spot before she was carried to the ground level.

Looking up at her in the glass box, I saw what I was waiting for.  She finally noticed. I could see others getting into the elevator with her. She quickly scanned the four police cars parked on the sidewalk. I have very good eyesight so I could see her counting the number of uniforms…9, 10, 11.  Then she selfishly disappeared behind the concrete wall at the bottom of her ride.

I’m sure she saw the empty Dewar’s bottle in the elevator. It was a good night of partying the night before. I left it there for her to notice, to unsettle her.  Did she notice? Did it unsettle her? Was she trying to connect the empty bottle to what was happening around her?

The others hurried towards their train.  I knew she wouldn’t rush because she always arrives just as the 7:55 train is pulling away so she can get her favorite window seat on the next train.
I could see the worry in her, even though I was walking behind her. She slowed her pace and looked around hoping to gather the information she needed to make her decision. Would she go back to her car and drive herself to her destination instead of taking the train?  Certainly, they wouldn’t let people on the train if there was a problem.

I could tell by her speed that she was struggling with her decision, but when she arrived at the second elevator, she climbed aboard.

I took to the stairs two at a time since it was longer flights up to reach the high platform to the trains.  I sat on the bench and lit a cigarette as the elevator emptied. She cued up at one of her two favorite spots. Today she headed the line at the first car so, I suspect, she could be closer to the operator in case of emergency. I assume she felt safer being closer to the idiot. Little does she know, that’s exactly what he is.

The train rolled up opening its doors welcoming the passengers into the belly of the beast. I sat facing her, two rows ahead of her.

Then the payoff came just as I had hoped.  As she began to relax reading something on her iPod, she noticed some movement on the sidewalk below her window.

It was priceless. Two uniform cops paused slightly at each window looking directly at every passenger. I could see her irises narrow into pinpricks. She was afraid. I smiled.

As the men in blue came nearer to me, I calmly open my paper to read the funnies. It would only take a second or two for them to pass by me and then I could get back to my daily amusement.

With a tiny jerk the car began it smooth, almost effortless move towards our destinations.  I watched as she finally relaxed her muscles after the second stop.  She gave into the fact that she was safe – or they wouldn’t let people on the train, right?

In a few minutes, unbeknownst to her, we would part.

And I would meet up with the lady who wears the red baseball cap….