By The Urban Spaceman Two weeks into summer break and bored out of their minds, Tommy and D.J. rode their bikes two miles to the abandoned church in the countryside. They spent three days chiselling the image of a giant penis into an outer wall, and the rest of the summer giggling over their artistic […]
For the longest time I could not put my finger on what about classics made me love them so much. As far back as I can remember I’ve been a fan of the classics, starting with stories like Anne of Green Gables and The Wind in the Willows. Eventually I graduated to works such as Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and made my way through high school readings like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and various Shakespeare plays. Of course like every other 13-year-old of my generation (probably. I’m just making that up), I became obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
While I take pride in having a fondness for the classics, I know I’m not a literary snob. Classics are obviously not the only worthwhile books to consume, and I’m certainly a fan of cheesy fantasy/scifi novels as well as comic books and mystery-thrillers. I read across genres frequently, but I always come back to the classics.
I think part of my love for them is the language. Since becoming a kindred spirit with my dearest Anne Shirley, it was the first time I ever read a character that sounded like me. She was a young girl like me and she spoke in earnest and with what the adults and others around us like to call “big words.” I always felt so strange being the kid with a sophisticated vocabulary, but trying to speak the way I was expected at my age felt wrong. It wasn’t until Anne came along that I found a repertoire of characters and people that spoke like me. The flow of the language, its poetry and drama, all spoke to me on an unidentifiable level.
It wasn’t until recently after I started watching Jane the Virgin (great take on the telenovela btw) that I realized why classics called to me. Remember that part I said about the drama? Well, growing up in a house with parents that watched telenovelas, and having been a huge fan of Aguamarina myself, I know a thing or two about drama. The classics spoke to me because even though they were written in English by Europeans (most of the ones I’ve read, anyway), they reminded me of home and my culture’s way of storytelling.
Everything is life or death. Love or hate. Joy or sorrow. Nothing is in between. Apathy does not exist in classics the same way it goes by the wayside in novelas. Catherine’s and Heathcliff’s toxic romance is something straight out of a show on Telemundo. And when Edna Pontellier makes her stand against the men who think they own her, I see glistening eyes, perfectly arched eyebrows, set crimson lips and an icy glare so piercing it makes the room go quiet.
It’s easy now to see the connection between what are considered the classics and my experience with passionate, dramatic storytelling. The language is big and over the top and emotions run high, because whether it’s Aguamarina or Pride & Prejudice, rich people got first world problems that suck everyone into their drama. And I am up front and center with popcorn in hand.
Wrote this a few years ago for an assignment in my first creative writing class at UCF.
It was their fiftieth anniversary, the golden one. Fifty years ago on this day Theodore and Ethel were married in her father’s blooming garden. It had been filled with red and pink roses, white and purple carnations, purest white gardenias, and orange and yellow chrysanthemums, their sweet aroma dancing in the air around the young and hopeful newly weds.
She had worn her mother’s wedding gown and he had used his mother’s wedding ring. The sun floated in the sky, a brilliant, golden orb. There were only three witnesses to this matrimony, and they were Theodore, Ethel, and Father James. Both Ethel’s and Theodore’s parents were dead. They did not need to invite friends or distant family. They had each other.
After the brief ceremony, Ethel and Theodore remained together in the garden, reminiscing on times past and looking forward to the future. They danced to far away whispered music, hearing the strings of the acoustic guitar being plucked delicately from somewhere within them. Fifty years later, Ethel and Theodore still danced in the garden, appreciating the flowers’ sweet scents and feeling the golden setting sun warm them from the inside out.
“Theodore darling, can you believe it’s already been fifty years?” Ethel asked in a hushed voice and with a smile on her face.
“The best fifty years of my life,” Theodore responded tenderly, stroking her hair with a gentle hand.
“Do you remember the wedding?”
“Like it was yesterday,” he answered softly, a distant look in his eyes.
“You looked so handsome in your uniform.”
“And you were stunning in that dress,” Theodore replied lovingly.
“It was just the two of us.”
“That’s all we needed,” he said.
“We danced all night.”
“I held you just like this,” he whispered.
“We planned our future completely.”
“And all those dreams came true.”
A serene sigh escaped Ethel’s lips. The sun had almost completely set by now, leaving a perfect line of gold on the horizon. She and her husband swayed to the long forgotten melody of fifty years ago. The garden’s blooms were beginning to wilt away, but their fresh fragrance still lingered in the cool, evening air.
“Happy anniversary, honey,” Theodore said dreamily to his beloved wife of fifty years.
“Happy anniversary, Theodore darling,” Ethel replied, exhaling happily.
Hand in hand, they walked out of the garden as they had fifty years ago, and thought upon that golden sun and what it would bring them next.
This is an updated version of a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a prompt. The original is published on my old writer’s blog here.
A drop of sweat rolled down Riley’s forehead. Her eyes darted back and forth. She stared at the hand in her grasp. She swallowed hard and licked her lips as she called the last bet, throwing more of her precious few chips into the pot.
With shoulders tensed and fingers clasping her cards tight, she felt a ripple of relaxation spread around the room, ending with the Cowboy tisking and whispering, “Brave little toaster.” She said nothing.
True, it was only a two pair of sixes and sevens, and the Cowboy might’ve had her beat with a full house or four of a kind…if he was waiting on the river like her.
The river was everyone’s friend and enemy at the same time. Schrödinger’s play. All she needed was the kicker though, and she’d leave with the biggest pot she’d ever seen, on one of the crappier hands she’d ever played.
Small coughs and cleared throats echoed as the players waited for the dealer to flip the last card. In slow motion, he took it from the top of the deck. With a communal intake of breath, he revealed the glossy print against the fuzzy green table top: ace of spades.
Riley peeked over her cards at her peers and watched fingers tap and brows furrow. The last round started and two dropped out, leaving her against the Cowboy.
He raised the bet. Riley called, “All in.”
I’ve read Pride & Prejudice and was smitten. All Cassandra Clare books? Fell like a sucker. I watch The Vampire Diaries and am a hardcore Delena shipper. I openly admit that watching A Walk to Remember still makes me ugly sob. So what is it about the romance genre label that keeps me at bay?
I’m obviously a sucker for a good love story. Hello, grew up on Disney movies, of course I love love. I live for the warm and fluffy feelings of seeing couples come together and live happily ever after. I gushed over Olicity on Arrow (and was heartbroken when they didn’t last) and I still firmly believe Destiel is end game on Supernatural.
It’s not all about the romance in romance novels though. As is bound to come with hand holding and kisses is the sex. I’m certainly no prude. I watched True Blood (with my mother, no less), so I’m clearly comfortable with awkward, sexual situations in my fiction.
Perhaps there’s still a part of my mind that resists due to prior stigmas of romance novels being trashy literature. But I know now the negative perception of the genre and how it correlates with viewing all things feminine with disdain, and knowing is half the battle.
Still, I can’t let myself pick up books with titles like Rough and Ready or Take A Ride. I read Twin of Fire and Twin of Ice by Jude Deveraux and thought those were okay. I barely remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover, only that the sex scenes made me roll my eyes and snort. I can’t possibly take these books seriously.
But why do I need to take them seriously? For crying out loud, one of my favorite shows features an archer that let’s loose arrows that turn into parachutes! Maybe when I’m reading the situations these romance novels unravel, they seem too unlikely to ever happen for real. Then again, I was forced to accept analyzing key strokes as a legitimate method of finding out corporate espionage, so perhaps realistic standards are not the problem.
I’m thinking what it all comes down to in the end, is I simply haven’t found the right romance read for me yet. I probably spent so many years adamantly resisting the notion of liking girly things, that even now, with all the wisdom and education I’ve gained, I’m still a little obstinate in my views of “trashy” books. I hope that changes someday, but for now, I’ll continue to consume my passion for passion through TV, movies, classics and YA reads.
This is for last week’s prompt for the 52 week writing challenge, “a creation myth.” It got a little poetic, but I like it. Enjoy!
She set her fingers to work, diligent and earnest in her desire to make companions for her blue blanket above the heads of mortals. Oh sweet, sensitive sky, don’t be sad. You’ll be lonely no more.
With a touch of stardust from the heavens mixed with drops of salt water from the ocean below, she concocted the substance that would be the foundation of her new creations. The elixir would not be enough though, as with any sweeping gust or downpour of rain it would disintegrate through the sky’s open hands. No, she needed something to weave the potion into a tangible mass that wouldn’t fly away so easily, but float and hover until the end of time.
She glided over to the trees and asked the birds, May I borrow some feathers, my friends? I need to make companions for the sky, and they shall be your comrades, too.
The birds chirped and shook, dropping scattered feathers for her to gather in all shades of white, grey and black. She nodded her gratitude and brought the feathers back with her up into the blue, moving her fingers nimbly up and over, stretching and twisting the feathers with the stardust and rain mixture until a light and fluffy ball emerged, resting in place and wandering here and there, but never too far.
She smiled and marveled at the little wonder, then repeated the process. Over and over, each time producing a new sky beast. Some were fluffier, and some stretched out longer, but they all emitted a smoky skin and bobbed back and forth, in tune with their brother sky.
As the final puff took its place in the sky, she reached her arms out in goodbye and blew them each a kiss. Keep each other company, and no matter how far you may roam, I always know you’ll come back home.
This is for last week’s prompt to the 52 week writing challenge, “a story about justice being done.” I’d struggled with this at first because I felt like justice was such a loaded and complicated term, but I think I captured that feeling pretty well here. Warning: there is profanity and violence in this story. Proceed with caution!
Kieran sat on the hard bench, stifled by the collar of his button up shirt and stiff blazer. Neither of those things compared to the cuffs around his wrists though. The cold metal chafed his vulnerable skin, and the raw red welts made him see the blood on his hands from that night.
He hadn’t meant for things to get out of hand. He just wanted an explanation for why the man he’d considered his best friend for so long would betray him that way. It’d been five years since the night Kieran caught him with the woman he loved, but it still grated him to see their pictures online, happy together, smiling, taunting him.
He should have let it go. It was done and over. Nothing left to do or say from any of them. But he didn’t let go. He held onto the pain and anger and let it fester away at his soul, fueling that rage with endless bottles of Jack and Jim. Holding grudges was always Kieran’s specialty, and that night it overwhelmed him.
With breath reeking of alcohol, and a staggering step, he arrived at his former best friend’s house, banging a fist so hard against the door he splintered the area around the knocker. Kieran heard grumbling from the other side as a light went on in the dark house. They’d already been asleep. People do that at two in the morning.
The door opened and for the first time in five years, Kieran stood face to face with the man who’d stolen his girlfriend from him. “Kieran, what the hell are you doing?”
“You never told me why, Lucius. Why’d you do it?” Kieran slurred his words.
Lucius sighed. “Kieran, you’re drunk. Let me get you a cab home.”
Kieran reached out. “No, you’re gonna answer my question.” His voice rose in volume. “Why did you take her from me?”
“Kieran, please. It’s late and you’re gonna wake the neighbors.”
“Then fucking answer me,” Kieran bellowed.
Lucius put a hand out, pleading for him to quiet down. “Okay, okay, let’s talk. Come around this way.” He led Kieran to the shed on the side of the house.
“You were my best friend.” Kieran got quiet now. “And I loved her.”
“Kieran, I’m sorry. It just happened.”
“Bullshit.” Yelling again.
Lucius put a hand up again. “Look, Kieran, the truth is, you have a problem. And Mary, she couldn’t take it anymore. We tried to get you help, but look at you now. You refuse to face your problems head on.”
Kieran’s nostrils flared. “I had it under control. Until you went and took her from me.”
Lucius shook his head. “She came to me, looking for a friend to help. And I tried. But we couldn’t help you. And in the process…” He looked down, guilty.
“Yeah, in the process of wanting to help me, you abandoned me. Ran off into the sunset together.” Kieran was wobbling now, getting in close to Lucius.
Lucius reached a hand out to Kieran’s shoulder, but Kieran knocked it away. “I don’t want your pity. I don’t want anything from you.” Spit flew from his mouth now.
“Kieran, please. Calm down.” Lucius’s voice shook. “You’re gonna cause a scene and I don’t want someone to call the police on you.” He reached a hand out again, but this time Kieran grabbed it and knocked Lucius back.
Lucius stumbled against the table, but still tried to settle his comrade’s rage. “Please, Kieran. Look at yourself. You’re a mess right now. Don’t do this.”
Kieran stepped forward and grabbed his former friend’s shirt front. “You took everything from me.” His other hand came forward in a fist, full force. Bone cracked against bone, but Kieran felt nothing.
Lucius tried to cry out, but Kieran kept going, not letting the man who’d taken his life take a single breath. By the time he realized what he’d done, Lucius lay still in his arms. Kieran shook him but received no response. “Lucius? Lucius?” Nothing.
Kieran’s eyes teared up and his breath hitched. “Oh god, no. What did I do? Fuck. Shit. Fuck.”
“Lucius what’s going—?” The sleepy voice behind him stopped short. Mary stepped forward into the light. “Kieran? Where’s—?” That’s when she saw him and her hands shot up to her face. “Oh my god, Kieran. What happened? What did you do?”
Kieran let go of Lucius’s limp body, watching in horror as his former friend fell to the floor, unmoving. “Mary, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. It just happened.”
She knelt down, hands shaking as she reached for her husband’s neck to check his pulse. She pulled them back instantly like she’d been bitten by a snake. Kieran ran out, not looking back at the damage he’d done.
Now, he waited for his name to be called. Waited for judgment. Waited to be forced to look Mary in the eye one last time before he was found guilty of first degree murder.
“Kieran Nieto.” This was it. He took a deep breath and got up on his feet. It felt strange to stumble forward without alcohol in his system.
As he walked down the aisle to the front of the court room, he managed to catch Mary’s eye and found her gazing back, stone-faced with eyes cold and hard as ice. She had every right to hate him. He’d gone too far. Past the point of no return.
The judge’s gavel came down and Kieran swallowed down the lump in his throat. This would be quick and easy. He already knew what he wanted to do. When the moment of confession came, for the first time in his life, he did the right thing. “In the case of…” He hardly heard the rest. He was ready with his answer. “Guilty.” The word fell from his lips like a broken promise.
The next hour or so went in a flurry as he was propelled from the room to his next destination. Handled from one officer to another, he finally made his way to a secure vehicle, only to find himself alone at the end.
Kieran looked around, confused at this breach in protocol. A sinking feeling hit the pit of his stomach, and then just as suddenly, a sharp, cold pain shot into his spine.
“There’s no saving you, Kieran. You’ve been dead a long time.” He’d never heard Mary’s voice that way before. Soulless. Frozen. Venomous.
“Mary.” He gurgled as his knees buckled beneath him. “Please.”
She came around to face him. “This is your justice, Kieran.”
No, he thought as it all faded away. It’s your ghost.