You thought my fear of bridges as ridiculous as my fear of tunnels. How else could we cross relatively small bodies of water, you asked me. So as we drove the ugly trough of white concrete that bulged above the Choctawhatchee Bay, I stared straight ahead to the shore and focused on singing along with Sheryl Crow.

I never remember much about driving to Florida, but I remember that bay, that bridge, and the Tom Thumb at the crossroads.

You said you loved my voice, loved to hear me sing, and that I missed my calling as a country music singer/songwriter. I reminded you of my opinion of most country music and told you that you were full of shit. You laughed, but I was still afraid that any moment the bridge would give way and your car would drop forty feet into the swamp. I lit a cigarette the moment the wheels touched asphalt again and smoked in celebration of surviving another trip over water.

Cheap cheap smokes, back then when I was young. I had my purple Bic, the last of a quickly vanishing breed of non-childproof lighters. Adjustable flame and see-through plastic. When it finally ran out of fluid, I tried to open it to refill it. The plastic cracked and fell apart in my hands.

You said it wouldn’t be much longer before we were in San Destin and inside a house of strangers to me. With only you for a liaison. I was as afraid of that house as I was of the bridge.

It rained every day but even so, I went out on the beach, fully dressed because it was still too cold for swimming. In the drizzle, I danced and sang in my head.

You made me feel things I’d never felt. Cute in a skirt. Protected, sheltered, and yet afraid at the same time. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t intentional. Once the fear connects itself to the pain, it’s hard to ignore. It’s hard to shut it down and move on. I had to shut it down and move on every time you touched me and looked at me that way.

I was young, and I didn’t know any better, and I should have. It isn’t all your fault. Like with so many other things, I didn’t know when to stop, to say “Enough,” until it was well beyond the point. The fear of being without you matched the fear of being with you. The fear ate up everything until there was nothing left. Then, one day, the fear was gone, too.

I’m okay with bridges now, as long as I can see the other shore. I can see a way out. I still can’t abide tunnels.

The thing is, he never has been okay.

See here:

Like too many ice-coated mozzarella sticks dunked into the fryer,

Everything outside flashes to steam,

Bubbling up, catching fire, and burning anyone nearby,

Triggering angry red whelps and blisters and curses,

All of which will leave permanent marks,

And the instantly-molten inside bursts free,

Contaminating the oil and leaving nothing

But a golden brown husk.

New Inkshares Project

I’ve queried and pitched and pitched and queried. So, I’m trying something new.

I actually love this novel I’ve written, and I think you will too. Check out the summary and partial first chapter. If you like what you read, and you’d like to read more (and preferably the whole thing), please follow and pre-order. It can happen if I get enough support from those of you who like me and/or what I write. And, if it’s not your bag, baby, that’s cool too.

Here’s the link: SOUL SEARCHING

Thanks,

Beth

Dream 3/9/2016

I’m about 18 and dating a guy who is throwing a party. I’m supposed to sleep over, and my things are in one of the many rooms in his parents’ house. There is something locked in a chamber under the hardwood floor in the dining room. Everyone who walks through there gets bumped from underneath, but they all keep drinking and pretending they don’t feel it. I am on the roof watching the wind blow naked tree branches and wondering if I’ll be kissed at all. My boyfriend doesn’t kiss, but I wish he did, even though he wears his collar popped. What year is it even? I don’t know. My hair is long though.

Around sunrise, I come off the roof. I’m tired and want my bed. Someone is helping my boyfriend put new hardwood down in the dining room. Whatever came up was reburied. He doesn’t kiss me. The guy helping him grabs my ass when I walk by. There are two guys passed out in my bed. They won’t wake up, so I can’t get them out. One is snuggling my nightshirt. All the beds are taken. There is nowhere to sleep.

I wander into the small laundry room and find a door that I think leads to the crawl space under the house. It leads to a large closet filled with canned goods – the homemade kind, in a mixture of Ball and Mason jars. There is a cot there, and it’s very dark, so I think I’ll be able to sleep. I need pitch darkness to sleep during the daytime. I think I’ll be safe, but I check to make sure the tiny door doesn’t lock. The light switch is on an exposed stud by the dryer. I don’t want to sleep in there when the light switch is outside the room, but I am so tired. So tired. Then, the kid under the dining room floor (now I know it’s some kind of really fucked up kid) is thumping again. I’m not going to sleep or be kissed.

AU Beauty and The Beast

when Belle shows up to try to swap herself so her dad can go free, the beast  discovers that her dad is a quirky inventor and is like, “You’re really pretty, but I think I’m gonna fund your dad’s inventing shit. Since the town is going to take your house, you can hang around if you want.” So the Beast lets Pops out of jail and funds his inventing projects, including an unstoppable siege weapon. Beast, Pops, and Belle overrun the whole town, being sure to crush Gaston and all the townsfolk who have been trying to commit Pops to the loony bin and steal his house. To this day, the town is still inhabited by animated household items.

Chris

I haven’t talked to her in eight years. What do you say to someone after they tell you they don’t even know you anymore? I think it’s good-bye. We never said good-bye, but we let go.

I see her occasionally. Images only. Her sister and I are Facebook friends, so she shows up in family celebration photos. Untagged. I was looking at one the other day and caught the side of a face, a swatch of her dark hair, a hand holding a camera. I studied the hand. No, not her.

Her fingers would be chewed – the nails, the cuticles. She gnawed them until they bled. I never understood how she could stand to do that to the skin, the very delicate skin on top of the finger, right below the nail. At any given time, at least three of her fingers would be wrapped in bandages. She tried quitting. Tried smoking instead. Didn’t work. Always went back to the fingers.

I’m always excited to catch glimpses of her, to see what she looks like now, what sort of woman she became on the surface. But, I know this photo isn’t of her because I know her, always have.

I wonder if she wonders who I am now. I wonder if she wonders if I still claw my skin. I wonder if she ever noticed that I did.

Not Much To Say

I haven’t written here in a while now. I don’t have any books updates to speak of, as my publishing company was sold and the new owner is trying to sort out a bunch of backlogged books. They deserve their chance at getting published before mine. Besides, I’m still mulling over whether I want to update my contracts.

On the writing front, I’m kind of stuck. I need to create a disaster, but I don’t know what kind. The characters are powerful, so anything that doesn’t outright kill them is going to piss them off royally. This means I need to do some rewriting, but I can do that only after I decide whether to kill some characters.

So, while I try to make up my mind about where the Camellia series will go and how it will end AND try to make up my mind about new contracts, I am playing Sims 4. I’m getting back into DDO a little. I’m still working on perfecting my monk in Diablo 3. And of course, I’m still teaching.

I’ll figure it out some time soon. Hopefully. I especially need to because I have a novel I want to write that I think has great potential. Actually, I have three. Probably more. Okay, time to go scramble some eggs.