Writing Exercise #5.

Theme music.

Prompt-1.284 A parent uncovers a dark secret on their child’s computer, smartphone, music player or gaming device. A secret which involves the parent’s significant other. What is it? Prompt from Instigation Creative Prompts on the Dark Size by Michael A. Arnzen (affiliate link) written in the last couple of hours between work calls.

– 

I always told myself I wouldn’t be this father. Mine was like this and after I left home, the last time was the last straw, and I never went back. My daughter asked me to do some work on her laptop, all ican think of is her beautiful brown face, her sweet gravelly voice, “thanks Daddy. I’ll be back after work. Love you.” She kissed my cheek and bounced away, the beads on the ends of her braids clacking away, her braids swinging, “hey baby goat bring some paper towels home. Love you baby.” 

My baby goat, my beautiful, rambunctious, leaping, agent of pure chaos and here I am with her laptop open in front of me, knowing full well what I’m going to do. I have paid close attention, kept our relationship open, I talked to my Mama, I thought I was ready and then two weeks ago I heard her and now I have to know. 

I go through the usuals; spot check some emails and look at a few items here and there. I have no heart for this. I open her tiktok and smile, she works so hard on it. Her little dance videos are so cute, she looks just like her Mama did at that age. 20 years old, a stank attitude and the uncanny ability to express herself so freely and joyously, I miss my wife so much but I can’t think about that now. My wife and I had learned early on about the warning signs, I thought my baby would get away but, as I opened a folder marked drafts I saw. 

As soon as the folder loads, I understand. I was right. Fuck.  

When my wife and I met, we knew right away. The scent of the gene active for lycanthropy is a scent we all know. If the gene is active, we know. Unless of course it is your own child as we found out. When two people with the active gene mate and produce offspring, both parents are nose blind to the lycanthropy of their own child. Evolution is ridiculous but, that’s where we are at. 

Before my wife passed, we had a talk with her, and I thought it was handled. I was so proud of myself after my wife was gone. I handled her period like a man, I let her wear my sweatpants and eat every scrap of food in the house and wasn’t even mad when she snarled. Her behavior through childhood was normal for us. She was always a little more bitey, a little more observant than other children but I thought we were past the danger zone. 

When the pandemic hit and she moved back home, we had a good solid agreement about our boundaries. The house is big enough and we have each had our own space, I went for weeks at one point without seeing her. There have been clues here and there, a few bites taken out of chickens in the fridge, what might have been howling. I start updating her computer and text her that I’ll pick her up from work. 

My wife told me before she passed to teach her our ways. I got some things together and puttered around the house for hours until it was time to go. When I pull up at the bar she waves, hugs the bouncer and fairly prances to the car. “Daddy guess what? One of my regulars came in with like a whole big ass group of people and they tipped me two hundred frickin dollars.” she shows me the cash and wiggles in pure glee. “That’s great honey good job. Was it those bank guys?” She shakes her head and gets settled. 

She chatters as I pull onto the freeway until she stops mid-sentence and looks at me. “What’s wrong? Do you have to poop?” I laugh, she’s such a country soul. “No, I just um, listen. Have you been changing honey?” When I look at her, her shoulders are up around her ears, and she squirms. “I am not mad at you honey, I just want to make sure you are safe and feeling okay.” 

“Daddy, I um- I have been doing something that might make you mad. But please hear me out before you get upset?” I steel myself; I keep imagining her out there alone, running scared, maybe getting stuck by the freeway or worse. I nod, we had an agreement that when she asked, I would not immediately get angry. “Okay so like, I read all of Mom’s journals and everything, so I was pretty ready. I was a real late bloomer. I didn’t change the first time until right after my eighteenth birthday. It was pretty rough and I woke up cuddling a half-eaten rabbit.”  

I let her go on. “So then after I got laid off, I kept thinking about it so basically, I founded a um, spicy website with Irina and some other girls. We change and then, it depends.” I glance at her, “spicy like um, I-” she smiles at me. “Don’t think about it too hard. It isn’t super dirty, but the market is wide open. Basically, we’re just naked and furry and doing kinda normal things unless it is a mukbang then we like eat stuff the customers buy us. There are a lot of us now and well, I was gonna wait until your birthday to tell you something else-” 

My mind is blank. “Go ahead sweetie.” She puts her hand on my arm, “well we did well enough in the first half of the year I um, I saved enough to pay off the house and on your birthday they are gonna deliver a side of beef and some donkey bones and I invited Irina’s family, some of the other girls and um, I got you a date. She works with us and you’re gonna love her.” 

I know that folks would expect me to be upset. My daughter, my lil goat naked on the internet but, I’m fine. Not totally fine but, when I look at how proud of herself she is I can’t be angry. I pull off the highway onto a little forgotten road and turn to face her. She looks on the verge of tears, “Daddy please don’t be mad at me.” I take her hands and kiss them, then I lean over and kiss the tears off of her cheeks. 

“I’m not mad. I’m a little freaked out. I’m happy you’ve adjusted. Um, I don’t really know what to say. Is there, anything you need advice about?” The way she lights up and almost leaps into my arms tells me we’re going to be okay. “You wanna go chase javelinas? And if you catch one I’ll let you eat it in the backyard.” She squeals and claps her hands, “no cheating Dad you go park the car, I get a head start.” She covers my face in drooly kisses, puts her purse under the seat and jumps out of the car. I watch her streak into the night and turn the car to head home, relieved and terrified.   

Writing Exercise #4

Inspired by beloved friend Chiwan’s new ghost podcast.

Wake up. 

I don’t have to say no, I’m already awake. I never want to do this with them.  

Wake up. 

My eyes are open and wide. I can tell it is between 3 and 3:30 AM, the neighbor is out warming up his car and I can hear what? Two sneezes, big trucks pulling into the rest stop to the East. The lady two houses down has chickens starting to stir. 

Look.  

I don’t have to say no. I’m already looking. I never want to do it. 

Wake up. 

Now they plead. They hate it when I act like I can’t see and can’t hear.  

Wake up.  

Look. 

I close my eyes. I can sleep for a few more hours. I can dream them away for a precious bit of peace. And when I wake up to see the sun flooding my room and the shadows suddenly stilled, I will look. I will be, awake. 

Writing Exercise #3

Based on this photo over at yeah write.

I thought my last sunset would be different. I don’t know why I was under that impression; I’ve never been romantic or overly fond of sandy vistas and the freezing cold water. If I’m real about it, I’ve never been overly fond of anything. I hate the rigors of keeping myself alive. Food, water, sleep, shit, dodge unwanted male attention, be nice, be fly, secure the bag, look good but not too good, grow my hair but not too much, look good but don’t have the audacity to look good to myself, fuck all this. Fuck it I’m done. 

I’m not suicidal, I’m not outstandingly mentally ill I’m just done. Once I decided to find another way, there were always rumors about them. I found the right kinds of bars, the odd places where the people were all a bit, timeless and spent too much time sloshing their drinks around. Most of them left me alone until I found him. I found him and watched for weeks. Unlike most of them he had no pretty companions, no groupies.  

When I was ready, I sat outside of his favorite bar and waited. I saw him look out at me, he frowned I smiled. I waited. Most blood sluts behaved like groupies at a concert, flash skin, nick themselves, they do all kind of extra shit to get attention. I did none of that. I just waited. 

– 

“Excuse me, why have you been following me?” He stood there frowning at me, I wanted to lick his dark brown bald head. I stood up and squared my shoulders, “I was waiting to meet you.” We stared at each other, he was trying to intimidate me into saying more, saying too much and I waited him out. “Okay we have met. Congratulations, you know a vampire.” I laughed and took his arm. “Oh, I know a few. But you’re special. You’re going to either kill me and I’ll be done, or you’ll kill me, and I’ll be reborn. My place?” 

He let me take his arm and just looked confused. “What? What are you talking about um miss?” I gave his arm a squeeze, “Mx. Please. I am talking about the fact that I am sick and mother fucking tired of being human but I’m not suicidal. I investigated other options but most of them seem very unpleasant and wouldn’t solve my problem. You do. So, if I live on as your undead, um what do you folks say now? Paramour? Pet? Cattle? Lil blood bitch?” 

The last made him laugh and he stopped walking and held me by my shoulders, he looked me up and down, then stared into my eyes for a while and shrugged. “Okay Mx. Your name?” I smiled at him as we started to walk again. “I dunno, I’m picking a new name if I wind up undead. We’ll figure it out. My place is right up here.” 

Inside we sat and I explained to him how I felt, what I wanted and what I was willing to risk. He listened and asked smart questions. We talked for hours, he tried to frighten me. He told me vile stories about torn throats, wars, loneliness. “I get all that. Look, I can just say I’m built different. Turn me and I will go away forever if you want. I just don’t want to do this anymore.”  

– 

The actual turning was anti-climactic. It hurt, then just before I went into shock, he put his cut wrist to my throat. It was a little clinical, I chose well. When he left me to see my last sunset, he shook his head at me. “You’ll know when it is done. I’ll be at the club. Wear something nice.” 

And so, I sit here, not weeping at the lowering of the sun. I can feel my insides cooling, slowing, and making ready for a final evacuation before I never have to deal with this human shit again. No sickness, no degeneration, no shitting, puking or other disgusting things. As night settles around me, I strip and walk into the water for my first bath as a newborn.  

Writing Exercise # 2

Inspired by this video-

The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know so let’s not talk about it. Of course, she’d say that. I wanted to roll my eyes. “Go ahead, roll your eyes. You never did appreciate poetry.” I like poetry, not the poetry she liked. I stand up and walk to the window, I hate Winter.  

The steam from the tea makes a little foggy spot, the glass squeaks as a heart is drawn in it. I smile, her signature heart with the lopsided top. “Hearts for my heart.” I finish my tea and stop procrastinating. The brush of her is cold against my cheek and I wave her away, no time for cuddles. I sit down at my computer and after a few minutes my first student logs on, she is grinning and signing a mile a minute. 

My student is eager for the assignment, I’ve asked her to watch a concert with an ASL interpreter and to transcribe what she can and then we’ll discuss it. While we watch, she’s so exited she forgets her notes, she signs along, tosses her braids and her brown face is an image of pure joy. I sat back to watch and joined in after two songs. By the last set we were both up out of our chairs, dancing, twerking and laughing.  

“That was so fun. Do they have that at concerts for real?” My student tilted her head and leaned to her left. She looked like she was trying to look around me, I signed. “What’s wrong?” Her gaze was fixed on something over my shoulder, I was afraid to turn around. Over my shoulder is the window in my office, her gaze had weight and I shivered. “Hey?” I waved until she shuddered and turned her attention back to me.  

I don’t make a habit of getting personal with my students. I teach them to sign, I teach them more effective ways to read lips and communicate with the hearing, I tell them nothing about my personal life. I claim I do it for safety but, to be so perceived by anyone scares me. My student shifts and lifts her hands, then puts them back in her lap and blinks at me. “Yes? Are you okay hon?” 

She rolls her lips together and nods, shakes her head then nods again. “Can I tell you something? Please don’t judge me.” I nod, I’m hoping she doesn’t suddenly hate me or want to cancel her classes. She doesn’t look at me as she tells me, “I um, so I can see a lady in your apartment. Your girlfriend and she said, you only hate winter cause she’s not here. And she loves you.” I watch her look at me from the corner of her eye, I wait until she looks at me fully. 

“Thank you. I miss her. Do you want to continue?” My student goggles at me, starts to sign, puts her hands down, hands up, down, then she just stares at me. “I understand. Some people have gifts, I’m not afraid of you.” The relief moves through her so fast, I watch her relax, her fingers uncurl and the smile on her face is so big her eyes squint closed. 

“Thank you, thank you. Thank you for seeing me.” As we continue, I decide that this student will know me, and I her. Maybe, it is my time to give up living with ghosts and be perceived, to move beyond winter. The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know. I know. 

Writing Exercises #1

Prompt- Memory

It is 1984 I am six years old. I am in the car with my parents in their little white jelly bean hatchback, we’re driving up towards Paradise at Mt. Rainer and I was tucked safe in my booster seat, singing and good. I remember thinking this was the most romantic song, I was deeply infatuated with these two tender men and the way they crooned.

Today I am listening to one of my lengthy playlists, it is full of the country and blues and r&b I remember hearing at home and in the car. The music we listened to for weekend cleaning, for cooking, to just dance and sing around the house. Much of my time lately has been taken up with examining memory and playing with writing memoir. I listen to this music and I want to paint it over my childhood, a gentle wash to blur the hard edges and jagged memories.

A large part of me wants to hold nothing but the music, the images of my Mom’s hips swaying, the pauses in stirring or wiping down a counter to belt out the good parts. I used to be able to do that, I could drown out things she said at other times, I could gloss over and reframe the things I thought were just wrong about me because obviously, I was such a hard child to have. I cling to those good moments, to that feeling of being held emotionally and safe.

I cling and now I let go. I know that to heal is to both remember and forget. To expose myself as a raw nerve and to protect my heart. I don’t want to do any of it. I want to be 7 years old in my room, wearing thrifted dress up clothes, singing ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Elvira’, I want to be that kid putting on full drag shows as taught by my beloved queens, I don’t want to think. I don’t want to remember.

I want to close my eyes, sit back and caterwaul until I feel safe.

#

Ten minutes, timed.

Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner