Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#WEPFF #WEP #IWSG Red Wheelbarrow

Super Red Wheelbarrow 
By Jamie

"You're telling me you two are superheroes?" The chief of surgery raised her eyebrow and swirled her coffee cup. There wasn't much left to slosh around. Until I finish this, that was how long she'd agreed to listen.

"No, ma'am. Just super. We haven't done anything heroic yet. But we heard this morning about the case of the undocumented child in need of a transplant. We can save that child."

The chief pressed the cup to her lips. She let the warm liquid roll toward her mouth as she debated. Call psych? Call security? Or listen to more? She had prayed for a miracle. None of the other superheroes had a way to help the child. A few offered to fly the patient elsewhere or fly donor organs to the hospital. But there were no organs to match.

"How would you help?"

"We are Red Wheelbarrow, a partnership of powers. I have perfect mimicry of any activity I observe. Meaning if you let me observe a transplant surgery, I will be able to perform it. Video will work, though first-hand is best. I also have outstanding luck."

"Luck?" The chief sighed as she set her cup down. "That isn't a recognized power."

"It falls under the classification of sixth-sense for immediate danger. Knowing when I'm about to be unlucky is part of it. Give me a true-false test, and I'll get a perfect score by knowing which answers are unlucky. The odds are stacked in my favor all the time. That's how I met my power counterpart."

The one dressed in red, relaxing as a curled up ball on the floor, waved.

"Another one with luck power?" The chief turned her chair, intent on throwing the coffee cup into the trash bin behind her. It was full. The janitorial staff had never failed to empty it before. She mentally swore.

"No, ma'am. SC can regenerate. Also has the power to change blood type."

The chief held up her hands. "No. That's definitely not a recognized power. I have work to do and lives to save. You've taken up enough of my time."

"Your cup isn't empty. We have until you've finished. SC, hand." With blinding speed, a finger was removed and thrown across the room. There was a tiny splash as it landed in the nearly empty cup.

"What have you done!" The chief ran over. She took SC's hand, examining the wound. Another finger grew before her eyes. The chief glared.

"Thank goodness you really do have that power." She returned to her desk.

"The amputated digit is in your cup. You can test it for a blood type. And test SC, who will have a different type in a few minutes from now. The one the child needs."

"If that's true, why would I need you? I have trained surgeons."

"You aren't legally allowed to perform the surgery because of the child's immigration status. But it's unethical to release the patient. Lucky for you, I'm here."

"I can't just let unqualified people perform surgery. Even superheroes."

"Ever try to stop one?"


The chief walked into the scrub room. "Everything is ready. This is all off the books. Officially, this OR is closed for repairs."

"And my red scrub cap?"

"Here. One last question. Why do you call your partnership of powers Red Wheelbarrow?'

"We really like the color red. It's good luck."

"Yes. And?"

"Wheelbarrow races. You can't do those alone. It's a two person effort that requires knowing and accepting each other. Move in sync or fail. Now, if you'll excuse me, we have a life to save."

This flash fiction is a take on Grey's Anatomy Season 15's Gus storyline set in an alternative universe where superheroes are known to exist.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Caged Bird #WEPFF Flash Fiction My Terms

My story is controversial and may contain subject matter not suitable for all readers. So I'm sharing this Aerosmith song which also has a lyric about a caged bird, for those who would prefer that.

🎡 "I think that you should let your caged bird fly." 🎡

Story content / trigger warning: dystopian future, pro-choice, mass-shooting, suicide, genocide. 962 words NCCO

My Terms 
by Jamie

I was there when the shots rang out in the Capitol Building. Screams accompanied a stampede. More shots echoed as agents yelled for people to move or to get down. Three women left in handcuffs within minutes. I arrested one of them.

"We are the last of the Female Assasins. Killing those who destroy society is encouraged, rewarded even. It is not a crime," the oldest looking one tells me. Her short, gray hair blows back and forth as the interrogation room fan hits her. She doesn't seem to mind, unlike me, who can already feel my neck stiffening.

"We are time travelers. We have no peers in this time. Therefore, you cannot put us on trial. Not that we've committed a crime, as you insinuated."

There isn't enough coffee in the world for me to do this job. What is it about Mondays that brings out the crazy?

"In fifty years, there is only the Unwanted left. They are infertile, by choice or birth. We are the last three Female Assassins. No males remain with which to breed. We came here to kill the ones who made choices that end humanity."

I rub my temples. "Fifty years from now seven billion people are dead?"

"Some were cooked. But most were starved by the Unwanted. They are not peaceful or reasonable. We three Assassins survived because we killed to live. The Unwanted control all the remaining food and knowledge. We kidnapped one to learn time travel. They do not use this technology. And why should they? The world exists for them."

"Why are they called the Unwanted if the world exists for them?"

"You once called them foster children. But the system was overrun, about ten years from today. Millions of them. They rule a revolution. Within eight years they sterilized themselves. Then there's the drug in the water, which causes any new ones to be born unable to breed."

I chew on my pen cap as I try to keep a straight face. "You expect me to believe this?"

She scratches the back of her wrinkled hand. "We didn't come here to be believed. We came here to prevent a problem."

I nod. "See, the thing is that you created a new problem. Murdering some high valued targets in plain view, being seen doing it, means I have to deal with you. Not the best assassins, are you?"

"This was a one-way trip. We accept death. Or you can send me back to prison. At least this time, it will be for a choice."

I lean back in my metal chair. "So, you're in the system?"

"Not yet. Next year the version of me from your time will be. She's going to miscarry. And as she lies screaming on the hospital bed, blood still wet on her legs, someone like you will arrest her. Three point five million prisoners by next year."

"There's just over two million right now. Lady, we can't house that many."

She laughs. "You'll convert old shopping malls, abandoned apartments, even some schools. In five years, female prisoners become the fifth-largest export. You can't kill them here. So they're sent off to be tortured to death elsewhere. That's when the second wave of the rebellion commences."

I look at my empty coffee mug. Bourbon would be better. "Second wave, hmm? What's the first?"

"A few days from now, the My Terms riots will commence, that becomes the first wave. A string of three-way suicides sets it off."

"Three-way suicides?" She's obviously planning to plead insanity.

"A pregnant 19-year-old rape victim is first. A fist full of pills, arteries sliced open, face down in a bucket of water. The words My Terms scrolled in blood on her college dorm wall."

Guess that's how you make sure you die.

"The second is a 13-year-old, pregnant by her step-father according to the autopsy. Hung herself after downing pills and shooting enough drugs to destroy her heart. Same words, though she wrote them with lipstick."

I'm grateful I haven't eaten recently. Need to remember I'm talking to a crazy old woman who just shot up Congress.

"A mother of three is next. She left a note. Couldn't get treatment while pregnant. She didn't want her children to watch her suffer, nor would she land herself in jail when her cervical cancer inevitably resulted in a miscarriage. Signed the note with the phrase My Terms. Drank drain cleaner, then shot herself while leaping from a tall building."

"You're telling me a bunch of pregnant women are going to kill themselves, and that's why you opened fire in Congress?"

She scratches the back of her hand, breaking the skin this time. "I am telling you that's how it starts. They die, and then people riot. Hundreds more die. Thousands are arrested. More women go to jail. More people riot or protest, also landing in the big house."

"Do you want a tissue or a bandage for that?"

"There are those who will not become caged birds. My Terms means dying your own way, taking triple precautions to ensure it. Like a time-release poison capsule, having an organ sliced so you're bleeding internally, and having a cardio-wire that can be tricked into stopping your heart."

I look at her hand. She touches a wire sticking out where she was scratching. A moment later, she's face down on the table. I curse, my chair falling as I bolt up and rip the door open. "Help!"

Two other interrogation rooms are open. I hear someone yell, "Clear!" A stretcher is beside my desk. My boss runs toward me with the defibrillator from the breakroom. The television behind him shows a reporter outside a college campus, the caption under her reporting the suicide of a pregnant 19-year-old.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Budgeting - May 2019

Just collecting data to see how my budgeting is going.

May 2019

41.94%  -- Rent                                    (can't be cut)
31.56%  -- Food                                    (could try to cut down)
  8.39%  -- Mobile Phone                    (already cut down from before)
  7.96% -- Electric                                 (already cut down from before)
  6.72% -- Car Insurance                     (already cut down from before)
  4.73% -- Internet                                (already cut down from before)
  4.57% -- Transportation                    (can't be cut)
  2.42% -- Subscriptions/ Services    (could try to cut down)
  2.15% -- Fuel                                       (can't be cut by me)
  2.15% -- Prescriptions                       (will likely go up)
  2.04% -- OnStar                                 (shouldn't be cut)
  0.86% -- XM                                       (could try to cut)
  0.54% -- Bill/ Debt                            (should be far higher)

116.02% Spent

Friday, May 17, 2019

Questions About Mandatory School Prayer

I recently came across a post on Facebook where someone suggested that school prayer needs to be required again.


Will all religions be included? What about atheists? And would that mean the school day is longer, it replaces the pledge, or that a school subject gets less time?

I'm not going pro or con without that information. A few extra minutes a day for "silent meditation or prayer" would be fine. I'm not sure Americans are ready for the five times a day prayer required by some religions. I don't think that could work in capitalism. Then again, some places allow smoke breaks, and prayer might be the same amount of time.

I would suggest a non- denominational room for prayer so students could ask to go use it. But some teachers already only allow two bathroom breaks per school year per student. So I don't imagine prayer room use would get better treatment. And what about during the most special standardized test days, when no one is allowed to leave the room at all? Is prayer canceled then? Less time for the precious test? Longer school days required during standardized test days?

Plus, there's a lot of issues where adults attack other adults while worshipping. There's already violence in schools. Adding religious tensions? Oh sure, it sounds like some religions could be able to teach love, acceptance, and understanding of everyone... but the history department is over there with a boatload of wars that never seem to really end which kind of prove otherwise. How can that be dealt with? Who could be in charge of making sure the message of any religious group isn't one of hate, one that alienates some people for who they are?

But really, the biggest question I have-- okay, what if Congress brings it back, but it isn't your religion? What if they toss them all in a hat and pull one out. "JAINISM!" ...and now that's the type of prayer said over the intercom daily?

What if the 4200 religions of the world take turns? Twice a day school prayer, a different one each time. 180 school days. 12 years. (180 school days*2 times a day= 360  360*12 years=4320)

Yeah, every student would hear a prayer from every religion. Would Americans be okay with their children being exposed to two different religions every school day? (We're talking about people who brought back diseases because they didn't vaccinate.)

I think this is the side of the debate that gets ignored. But I think it's the most interesting part of it.

Extend the school days by 20 minutes. 10 extra minutes in the morning and 10 in the afternoon to hear a prayer and short summary of a religion. That's an interesting concept. Not sure how it'd get voted in though. But sure, that's an interesting idea.

Perhaps every religion that wishes to be included has to raise money to fund their 10 minutes. To pay for the staff that has to stay, the cost of keeping the building open a little longer, and a fee to cover any violence, graffiti, or lawsuits as a result of this experiment. There would need to be a guarantee that the trial lasts long enough for all of the relgions who sign up to be heard. (Between 11 and 12 years.) This also means no one can argue, "I ain't paying school taxes for them to teach some other faith to the damn kids!" No, in fact, you wouldn't be. Each faith has to pay the same amount. They'll have to raise that money from their followers.

(Religion is about money, right? You can't worship if you're poor, right? Pretty sure that's a thing. Your religion has to self-fund in order to be recognized. And it doesn't get taxed on that money. Yeah, pretty sure we've already set up that system of recognition.)

Percent of world religions.
Is this the argument? Whichever one has the most should get to be the one taught? Seems like it means that's the one that most people would already know, and therefore it's all the others that should be taught, as that's where the lack of knowledge is.

Equality, even and especially in education. What if we give it a whirl?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Faith or Hate

Imagine being hated on sight without having done something.

You probably don't have to imagine, because I'm pretty sure that's everyone now.

If someone asks me if I'm a Christian, my immediate gut response is, "Yes." But now I pause to think about it. Am I?

The Nazis, the Klan, the Crusades... sounds like Christians are terrorists. Am I a terrorist? No. I don't want to be part of a hate group!

I do want to keep my belief in Jesus, God, Heaven, and Hell. But I don't want to be associated with a hate group. Which matters more to me: my faith, or not being associated with a hate group?

Hang on. Why is that a choice?

When did religion become something that makes you part of a hate group?

To make matters worse, religion is also cited as the rationale behind the war on women and non-cis people. I am a woman. (A human being who identifies as female, was born with a vagina, and still have a vagina. That is me, in my case. But more importantly, I am NOT a "host body," not some laboratory equipment filled with embryonic fluid.) Several of my friends are LGBTQIA+. A handful of my friends are Jewish. I have one friend who follows Norse paganism. And another who is an atheist. I would have Muslim friends, but I don't know that I've ever met any. (Had a penpal who was, and know some from online groups, but that's more acquaintances.) I don't want to have to hate myself or my friends, or be associated with those who do.

I've seen some horrible memes lately. "Stop terrorism by hanging bacon on your doorknob and rubbing it on money." I don't want to be associated with any groups that find that funny.

Mocking people who have faith. Declaring that anyone who doesn't want to touch a pork product is a terrorist. I haven't seen them, but I'm sure there are memes of the same nature aimed at Christians.

Though, if one pays attention, the Christians from the Middle East are just as hated as the non-Christians. Not sure piggy is the problem. 🐷πŸ₯“ Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem near Jerusalem in Isreal? Wait, isn't that in the Middle East?

Bethlehem in the Middle East

Wroot-wroo, Shaggy! Looks like Google Maps just dropped a hard truth.

I want to keep my faith but not be part of the hate my faith spreads. And, frankly, if the Christian Heaven requires hate to get in, not sure I'd want to go. I mean, when I read the Bible, it sounded a lot like "Love Thy Neighbor" and "Love one another" and "judge not lest ye be judged" and I swear it mentioned something about "Thou Shall Not Kill."

But, apparently, other people read it and it says, "treat women like a sub-class of living things, something with less worth than an animal; but treat fertilized eggs like Heaven's Royalty up to the second they are born." (Because the second the cord is cut, they're a drain and should be ashamed for living. Already breathing our air, creating a carbon footprint, using resources. The nerve of that one-second-old! Should know better. How dare it not come out of the womb carrying 25-carat diamond to pay its way!)

Never mind what people think it says about others who are living as they were made. They're supposed to be lying about who they are? Covering for what Christians are deeming as God's mistakes? Or are we still pretending that someone else creates some people and makes them different so as to offend Christians? Or is this something about God being too weak to defend against his creations, so some Christians are doing it because they think the Almighty isn't mighty enough but are trying to phrase it so it doesn't sound like that? (Gotta tell you, that seems pretty offensive. Pretty sure God can handle business. But I read the part about Noah. I missed the part where it said to kill off anyone who doesn't agree with certain interpretations of some sections.)

See? I'm not good at this faith. I'm not. I don't believe in hating people for being who they are. As long as it isn't violating the consent of another being (who is able to give that consent because they are of sound mind and body, and at the age of adulthood), I don't much care what people do.

Does that mean I have to be an atheist? Or have to switch religions? I've been asking that for years. I still don't know.

I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way. Wondering if abandoning religion is a way to not be hated, or associated with hate groups. Is that even enough? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Headline #Fail #Improved #Fixed MadLibs

Headline #Fail #Improved #Fixed image

I saw the original headline. "There's a place that offers only one medical procedure? That doesn't seem profitable." So I looked it up. The place offers several services. Including the services that are the opposite of the one being protested. Which, to me, makes this clickbait. It's degrading for a news site to use misinformation in headlines in order to gain views. There's no integrity in it.

Today, I'll share my comments, and the replies, on this blog. Perhaps readers here will understand that my issue is the phrasing. To assist, I've made it into MadLibs. Names of people have been replaced with emojis. This one πŸ’ is me. (Most Relevant is selected, so some replies may have been filtered out.)


πŸ’ "__(a routine medical procedure)__ and __(a beauty procedure)__."
A two-second search of the site indicates that they perform other services.
It isn't like a __(specialised business)__ where you can ONLY get your __(what that specialised business does)__. It's like a __(similar but broader business)__, where you can get your __(thing the specialized business did)__, __(what the broader business does)__, shop for another __(another thing the broader business has to offer)__, etc.
Do you call a __(broader business)__ a __(specialised business)__ if it has one?
There are people who protest __(specialised business)__, say it's a __(reason to protest)__.
That is clickbait meant to incite anger and violence toward __(any group of people)__, INCLUDING ONES TRYING TO GET __(medical procedure)__ TO 🌟KEEP⭐ THEIR __(positive reason people see a doctor)__.
But nooooo, don't shed any light on those __(same group of people)__ or that aspect. Why?
What about the protesters against __(the beauty procedure)__? What, they don't get a voice? Pretend that service isn't there too? Literally NO REASON not to title this article, "__(beauty procedure place)__ asks that violent persons be treated as a danger to clients."
Clickbait. For shame.

πŸ‘€ go call and ask if anything other than __(medical procedure)__  are performed. I know what the answer is, you don't.

πŸ’ƒ I'm a former patient of __(medical place name)__ and I can guarantee you they perform other services there because I had those other services performed on me. They have __(medical procedure)__,__(medical procedure)__, __(medical procedure)__, __(medical procedure)__, etc. __(medical procedure)__ are just one thing they provide there and it's one day a week. The doctor there is a good man performing safe lawful procedures, he helped me a lot. I didn't even have an __(medical procedure)__.

πŸ‘­ We have been patients of __(medical place name)__, they do perform other services there, because we were there for other services.The doctors and staff are professional, compassionate, helpful people. They treat their patients with respect as well.

πŸ‘· I'm an employee and can also vouch that we provide other services.

πŸ’‡ The South Mall has more than one store, we don't call it "__(store in a mall)__." We don't call __(restaurant)__ "the place that has __(one ingredient)__." And we don't call __(news channel)__ "a place that owns __(ordinary thing a news station owns)__."
Identifying a place by one service or one offering is foolish. May as well have just called it, "a place on Earth." It is, after all, a place that is on this planet.
The whole point of this headline is to prevent people from thinking. To prevent people from asking if __(any group of people)__, especially ones who maybe can only afford __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__ at one place, are also being harassed. Because if people stopped to ask the questions about how many victims AREN'T even there for that reason, the protesters would look like bullies. The headline takes the side of people who are dissuading __(any group of people)__ from seeking __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__.
I bet a LOT more __(any group of people)__ aren't getting __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__ because they fear __(another medical procedure)__ protesters.
I'm not saying you can't have that opinion. I'm saying it's wrong to keep people from __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__. And yes, I've been attacked by a protester when I took my friend for her __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__ at a similar location in another city. She wasn't __(a medical condition)__. She wasn't there for a __(another medical procedure)__. She was trying to keep her __(body part)__ healthy so she'd have the option of __(desirable goal)__ one day. But don't care about that!! It was the only place she could afford. Where's the anger for that? Where's the protest that __(any group of people)__ have to be ashamed to get a __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__ if they don't have good health insurance??? Huh? Huh? Yeahhhh.

😑 The solution is very simple. Remove the __(another medical procedure)__ facilities from __(name of medical office)__ and leave the health services. Nobody will protest a health clinic. It's a win-win. You can work on your obvious bitterness, protesters will be gone and access to __(any group of people)__ health will be available. But that's not going to happen, is it? Because, it's all about __(another medical procedure)__ and profit..Yeahhhh!

πŸ’‡ Yes, I am bitter. I'm bitter that everyone was denied the opportunity to think, ask questions, and then form an opinion. When clickbait is used, people often decide what to feel based on the wording of the headline. They don't ask, "Why is there a protest? Who is being harmed? What numbers best represent the frequency of what is being protested versus people being threatened for just being at a place? When did this start? Where else is this going on? How should I contact an official to make my opinion heard?"
And if you're not asking that, the news is wasted.
By the way:
Anyone can contact their elected officials at any time to ask that America ends its policy of separation of Church and State in favor of (whichever of the 4,200 religions you prefer), just like (name of another country with law and order dictated by a religion, where applicable). Or write elected officials and ask that medical decisions be made by medical professionals and patients, not by churches and governments.
Unlike Facebook posts, it'll make a difference for that.
I, however, am objecting to the wording of a headline, and thus am HERE. Freedom of the Press would hinder my representatives from assisting much in this situation of poor language choice.

😑 It's elected and appointed officials that decided to legalize __(another medical procedure)__  in the first place, which I believe are part of this government you say should have no say. No religion at all is still a religion. So in one way you are using religion while denying it to others. I much prefer a religion where human life is sacred and we fight to save it. But, while you're worried about appearances and public perceptions, __(desirable goal)__ are still being __(an undesirable outcome)__ inside the __(type of medical office)__. Priorities, priorities.

πŸ’‡ Interestingly, I never stated my views on __(a political issue)__. I stated my views on word choices which insight emotions rather than thought.
I haven't researched it, but one might wonder if the medical profession came up with the __(another medical procedure)__ procedure, instead of a government or a religion? If that were true, then protesters would likely be gathered at medical colleges across the world, protesting education of a procedure. (A far more sensible plan than terrifying the __(any group of people in the midst of accomplishing a goal)__  who AREN'T there for an __(another medical procedure)__ , but might __(an undesirable outcome)__ from the stress, meaning the protesters might be causing a kind of __(another medical procedure)__... not to mention the __(any group of people)__ who avoid __(a lifesaving medical procedure)__ and then the __(desirable goal)__ __(an undesirable outcome)__ because the __(body part)__ wasn't cared for, ...and a bonus in this case, the __(any group of people)__ there for __(a beauty procedure)__ to entice a __(something needed to meet a desirable goal)__, probably, so they might have a __(desirable goal)__. BUT NO, JUST IGNORE THAT. Kill em all, let God sort it out, right?)
Again, I am taking a stand against clickbait from a news source. I gave examples of other buildings that could be mislabeled. I explained misleading labels. I even explained why proper wording matters.
This is my priority. Proper wording from a news source.
You have yours, I have mine.

😑 Well proper wording and __(any group of people)__  who can't get a __(something needed to meet a desirable goal)__ because of __(a funny version of what the beauty procedure changes)__. Sorry, but I can't stop laughing at that absurdly worded rant. If it wasn't intended to be funny then I apologize. But, seriously if you ever wanted to do stand up comedy, I think you'd be great. __(a beauty procedure)__so they can have a __(desirable goal)__ hahahaha where do they get this stuff.....

πŸ’‡ Dude, I don't understand the __(a beauty procedure)__. I'm sure there's some reason. I took at guess at one possible one.
At least you laughed.

To "ruin" the fun, here's the original post: Facebook post

For other headline fixing humor from Pinterest:

Or perhaps this meme for thought:

Monday, May 6, 2019

#AtoZChallenge Reflection 2019

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

  1. I loved that I shared a story this year. In the past for A to Z, I've had themes of:
    • animals
    • American wedding planning
    • April Holidays
    • Coffee
  2. If I could change something, I'd want people to appreciate the hosts more. They work SO HARD! (I'm biased because I know two of them.)
  3. The best moment for me this year was posting the letter Z. "OMG, I'M DONE!" πŸ˜†πŸ˜Œ
  4. Some of the Best Comments I got this year:
    • Powdered Toast Man (I love your name! Ren+Stimpy4everπŸ’—) - Sorry the baking game wasn't real, but glad you wanted it!
    • Cathy Kennedy - Liv doesn't eat a lot of steak. But probably medium well.
    • Operation Awesome - Your response to the bad kiss made me laugh.
  5. I will do the challenge again!
  6. It was very well done. Our hosts are AWESOME and worthy of praise and candies.
  7. I grew because I shared a story this time. I usually just share a topic I hope will be useful. I did visit a few blogs. Not as many as I hoped to, I admit. It was a rough month for me.
  8. I am on the Master List! And daily lists can suck it. I'm glad the hosts saved themselves from that nightmare and complaint train.
  9. Keep A to Z alive! Best blog hop on Earth! 🌎🌏🌍
  10. The co-hosts are awesome! Yes, again, I'm biased because one is my cousin-in-law, and the other is one of my best friends. But they are AMAZING people. I've seen them give their time. I've seen the dedication. So much love and caring goes into making the challenge happen. So I can tell you that you should be giving tons of love to the co-hosts. πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’— 
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Reflection Jamie of uniquelymaladjustedbutfun
Photo of me in my shirt taken by co-host Jayden!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge #AtoZChallenge 2019 badge #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Zentastic #AtoZchallenge #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #HealthInsurance

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter Z

“Never say never. I’ve seen Zentastic do amazing things. I wouldn’t sell it otherwise,” the sales clerk spouts.
Zentastic #AtoZchallenge #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #HealthInsurance ~ fictional vitamin image

I shake my head. “Then you’ve never been desperate for a paycheck. My mom would have sold pills filled with horse manure if it meant keeping a roof over our heads. And plenty of people were mean to her when she took jobs like yours. That’s why I’m trying to be polite as I decline your offer. I’m going to roll away now.”

“You can get a free raffle ticket just for giving your phone number. I don’t even have to verify it!”

This is why I have to work on meditation. “610-555-1212. I’m Miss Bath. Anita.”

“Anita Bath at the number for information?” The sales clerk laughs.

Wren Noel and I head off.

“You’ve dealt with that type before, eh? Someone is probably going to call from an autodialer to follow up,” Wren Noel points out.

“Maybe. And the computer will say that it needs a bath. Which will be hilarious in that computer voice.”

I look over at the empty space where the bookstore once was. “There are worse money making ideas. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and wondered what kind of perfect health that guy and his family were blessed with to be calm when they hit rock bottom. No power to keep the life-sustaining machines running, no money for prescriptions and doctors. I wonder if there could be a book like that for people with chronic illness in America. Is it even possible to avoid going broke, to not need public assistance at some point? My mom wouldn’t have taken half the jobs she did if it weren’t for my bills.”
Health insurance America humor

Wren Noel stops, turns, and kneels beside me. “Hey. Don’t do that.”

My eyebrow shoots up. “What?”

“Feel guilty about the cost of being. Or blame yourself that your mom had to do things to keep you going. There are places in this world where the larger community would have helped. Where “it takes a village” has become “it takes a country” and they are able to provide healthcare to all citizens because it isn’t about survival of the fittest. You live in America, not in those places. That isn’t your fault. One day, maybe all life will be valued equally, and the fight for survival won’t include a fight to prevent poverty. It isn’t here yet. So, instead of letting the guilt eat at you, go fight for that. Okay? It isn’t your fault.”

I feel my chin quivering. “Keeping saying stuff like that, people are gonna think you’re proposing to me or breaking up with me.”

“Here,” Wren Noel pulls a napkin out.

“I don’t know if I can let you be my roommate.” The tears slow as I regain my composure.

“Why’s that?”

“Kinda think I’d rather date you.” I laugh lightly. It isn’t really a joke, but I need a buffer in case rejection is coming. Wren Noel hugs me.

*** 498 words

(Language note: Anita sounds like "I need a", which is the joke. I need a bath.)

Thank you so much for reading this month-long story. If you'd like to be notified when the book comes out, please leave contact information with myself or Jayden.

Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge bloghop.
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Monday, April 29, 2019

Yes, but if it weren’t for that camel... #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter Y

“Yeah, it hurt. Then there was a camel walking past. And, I mean, come on. There’s no desert in Pennsylvania. And it was snowing. But there’s a camel just wondering down the highway. Well, not so much wondering, since his reign was being held inside the truck. But still, he was strolling along the shoulder of the road calm as can be, like it was normal.”

“And meanwhile, you’re getting your heart broken.” Wren Noel’s story has a tear in my eye and a smile on my lips.
Einstein the Snow Camel Lehigh Valley, PA ~Yes, but if it weren’t for that camel... #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

“Yes. So, not only had people stopped because of the snow and sleet, but now because there’s a camel. Really, outside of a zoo, how many people in this state have ever seen a camel up close? And my boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend at that point, is sitting there bawling his eyes out. But I looked at that camel. That desert creature in the snow. And I knew I was going to be okay.”

“Einstein healed you?”

“I guess so. That’s not to say that he missed his show at the Kimmel Center because of me. I don’t think fate values my heart over the plans of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. But there he was, having a stroll in the snow. And there I was, being broken up with while stuck in traffic. Normally, I would have had a total meltdown. Instead, I just stayed calm for the next three hours, dropped the ex off at his house, grabbed my things, and then made it safely back home.”

“That doesn’t sound like the worst break up ever.”

Wren Noel shrugs. “Yes, but if it weren’t for that camel, it certainly would have been. Three hours in snow traffic with the person who just broke up with me?”

“Ah, yes, that would have been brutal. Fair enough.”

We head past the storefront where the bookstore used to be. Across from it, there’s a cart selling a new vitamin supplement. I see the dollar signs in the eye of the sales clerk.

“Oh no.”

“What?” Wren Noel asks.

“Hi! Have you heard of Zentastic?”

“Yeah. I’m good. Thanks though,” I say as I try to roll away. I should bring a monster with me everywhere I go to protect me from people like this.

“Hang on. We have a special today. Buy a bottle of Zentastic, get two more bottles for free. Plus, you get this stress ball, a sleep mask, a tote bag, and ten raffle tickets for a brand new—”

“I’m gonna stop you there.” My hand shoots up. “Look, I’m not interested. I have to get roommates because I’m so broke. I appreciate that you have a job to do. And I’m guessing this location was selected because it’s popular with the mall walkers. Or maybe it’s because of the Cave, someone figures that this will be easier to sell after people have a few beers in them.”

The sales clerk's mouth opens, but I’m faster.

“Nope. No, no. See, I was clear and polite. We both know it’s going to take more effort for me to turn and roll away than for a more able-bodied person to just turn and run. And I know you see this chair and think I have to always be in the market for hope. Which means you’re just a few breaths away from asking me about my condition. Then you will tell me how you’re selling something to help. But it won’t.”

*** 580 words

Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge bloghop.
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

This Is Legal Before Age 18 in the USA

A list of what is illegal to do before age 18 in the USA:

A list of what is legal to do before age 18 in the USA:

Is marriage important enough that it should only be entered into by people who are legally considered old enough to make the other decisions listed above? You can't pick a member of Congress, but you can select a spouse? To be clear, marriages are supposed to last longer than a Congress term.

So we have people getting married and having babies, being responsible for raising someone, but they don't have the fully developed brain needed to make decisions. And we KNOW they shouldn't be making decisions that will impact their spouse or child, but it's okay because it's legal.

I want to live in a world where people stop fighting for children to have children. There is no shortage of adoptable children. If we run out, okay, then let's discuss how to deal with that. Saying it's illegal for a minor to NOT have a baby if one is forced upon them is foolish. Even if the person consented to making a baby, science has proven they didn't have the brain development necessary to make that choice. Maybe the prefrontal cortexes of those passing these laws needs to be checked.

What I'm saying is that, with very rare exception, no minor should be legally allowed to get married or have any part in the pregnancy process. Sterilizing drugs should be required (except for health reasons) for all minors. And yes, maybe the minimum age of adulthood needs to be raised, and college or some other life training could be required from age 18 to 25.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X is an Ex for a reason #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter X

After we’re around the corner, Wren Noel stops and laughs. “Sorry, didn’t mean to speak for you.”

“No no, perfectly fine. I don’t think he was my type.” I laugh too.

“I hate public breakups. What’s the worst ending you’ve ever had?”

“Oh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say the guy I was dating my senior year in high school.”

Wren Noel laughs. “Quite the flashback there. Okay, what happened?”

“After school, we went to his house. He stopped to get the mail. I wasn’t prying or anything, but there was a big envelope. Which, you know, senior year of high school.”

“College acceptance letter?”
Bath and Body Works bag and sanitizer ~ X is an Ex for a reason #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

“See! That’s what I thought!” I pour a free sample of hand sanitizer on and give it a sniff. “Mind if we pop into Bath and Body Works? There’s a sale.”

Wren Noel points out that they usually have a sale on something, but follows me in none the less. I head toward the items I’m out of, and thus should stock up on while they’re discounted.

“So we’re heading into his house, and I’m all giddy, asking him where he got in and whatnot. But I also really had to pee. He waits until I’m in the bathroom. Then leans against the door and gives this big speech about not being sure how to tell me this, but the place he got in to is the American University of Beirut.”

“In Lebanon? Like, in the Middle East?” Wren Noel almost drops a bottle of lotion.

“Yeah. That’s the one. And while I’m still in the bathroom on the toilet, he proceeds to tell me that we should break up now because he doesn’t want me to, and I quote, get any silly ideas about following him to Asia.”



“He said that?”

“While I was on his toilet. Couldn’t even break up face to face. Had to put the bathroom door between us.”

“That’s awful. Hilarious and awful. Better than in public hoping you won’t make a scene, I suppose.”

I take my handful of items to the register. Didn’t I just come in for a bottle of hand sanitizer? This store gets me every time. Eh well, I am saving almost as much as I’m spending. That’s something, right? And it isn’t like I don’t need to buy soap. That’s not something that’s going to go bad or that I’m going to stop using.

“How about you? What’s your worst?” I ask as we leave with my haul in neat blue and white bags.

“Do you recall when Einstein the camel was let out of his transport truck on Route 309 during the snowstorm in November?”
Einstein the camel

“Yeah. That was only a few months ago.”

“I was there. One minute I’m cursing the people who can’t drive in a little bit of snow. I mean, it had been two hours and traffic barely moved a mile. And my boyfriend at the time starts crying. I tell him it’ll be okay, that we have gas and there’s a granola bar in the glovebox. That’s when he tells me it’s over. Says I changed too much. That he could handle when I was fluid and just had some days where I was more feminine. But since I got on the trans path, I was no longer gay enough or male enough. I don’t know.”

“Wow. That’s horrible.” I want to hug Wren Noel. Another time the wheelchair feels like more hinder than help.

*** 580 words

Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge bloghop.
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Friday, April 26, 2019

Your Sister isn’t a Whore #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #UrbanFantasy

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter W

“Never thought of it that way, but yes, you’re right. I wouldn’t want to steal an idea.” I munch on my fries. “Like I had a dream last night. But I don’t know that I can put it in an online dream journal or anything.”

“Oh? Why?”

“It was sort of an episode of The Walking Dead. With the zombies they don’t call zombies. Except the main characters were pinned down. Daryl, Michonne, Rick, Carl, and a few of the others. They were hold up in one of the abandoned houses. Walkers all over outside. And then there were space aliens.”

Pepsi nearly shoots out of Wren Noel’s nose. “Sorry, what?”

“Yeah. That’s how I know it was a dream, not a memory of an episode. Space aliens showing up. Abducting people and walkers alike. The aliens weren’t taking sides, they were just trying to figure out what happened.”

Wren Noel nods. “Like scientists dissecting mice to figure out what’s killing them? Did the aliens perhaps cause the breakout? I haven’t watched enough of the show to know for sure what the cause was. I remember an episode where someone said that everyone was already infected.”
South Mall Allentown PA ~ Your Sister isn’t a Whore #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #UrbanFantasy

“Really? I would have thought you’d be a fan of the show. Hey, do you wanna get out of here? Go grab a coffee down the street, bum around the South Mall for a bit?”

I know I shouldn’t be spending so much money today. But this is the most fun I’ve had in a really long time and I’m not ready for it to end. I love the creatures I’ve given refuge to in my home. Sometimes it’s nice to be with a human though.

Wren Noel nods. “Haven’t been there in ages. I figured they’d rip it down and make another Promenade by now.”

After paying, we take the short drive down the street, drive-thru the Starbucks, and then take our lattes to the mall.

A woman slams the entrance door open, nearly hitting Wren Noel. “Screw you, Todd!”

“Screw me? Me! No. Screw you!” A man inside, in front of Dino’s Pizzateria, shouts.
South Mall Allentown PA ~ Your Sister isn’t a Whore #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #UrbanFantasy

The woman rips off a necklace and chucks it into the vestibule. “There’s your damn necklace back. You can give it to that whore!”

Wren Noel and I exchange glances as we stay away from the argument.

“Your sister isn’t a whore. It was one time. Not even one time. Nothing barely happened!”

“Nothing barely happened? You think using a double negative is going to help? Ugh! I can’t believe I ever liked you. Goodbye.” The woman storms off to the parking lot.

The man steps into the vestibule, picks up the necklace, and mutters, “Well, at least it won’t cost much to fix this clasp.”

He looks at me and smiles. “Hi there. I’m Todd.”

Wow,” Wren Noel elongates the word as he wheels me past. “No. She’s taken. So am I. Bye now.”

*** 485 words

Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge bloghop.
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Video and Creative Ventures #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #Baking #Game

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter V

Our cheesesteaks arrive just then. Little cut up bits of meat and onion, coated in cheese. Mine has mushrooms and sweet peppers. But Wren Noel ordered Phil’s original, which has pickles and hot peppers added, and it’s all smothered in tomato sauce. Normally that wouldn’t bother me. But, seeing Wren Noel lift the sub to those blackened lips, taking a bite that causes the sauce to run from mouth to chin, I’m done in for a moment.

The sauce looks like blood on Wren Noel's face. Splatterpunk isn’t something this person is just into, it’s a way of life. I wonder how dark it gets? It might be a bit unnerving. How far down the rabbit hole has Wren Noel tumbled?

On one hand, given the creatures in my home, this could work out well. Don’t think this potential roommate would run screaming. On the other hand, I might be the one to run screaming. Not that I scare very easily. Or can actually run for more than a minute or two, even on my best day.

“So what did you buy at the shop?” Wren asks between bites.

“It’s an interesting looking game I heard of once. Supposedly, it’s based on The Great British Baking Show. Have you seen that?”

“Yes. I adore Paul Hollywood. And I love to bake, so that’s a win-win. Plus, unlike most American food competition shows, there’s less drama. Players are nicer to each other. It feels uplifting to watch, and you get more of a connection to the contestants. Do you know what I mean?”

I nod and smile. “Yeah. I feel the same way. Anyhow, so the game is sort of based on that. It doesn’t say it, of course, because I guess the creator doesn’t have the rights.”

“Have you played it before?” Wren Noel asks before digging into some fries.

“No. I saw it on a YouTube video a girl I knew from Penn State posted. In the first round, the Signature Challenge, it’s called the Start with a Twist. The judge player picks a card. It’s a well-known savory bakery item. The baking players have to make it with a twist of their own.”

“Just given whatever is around the house?”

“I don’t know. I think the game takes place over a day or two. Like the judge draws the cards on a Thursday, and people come over with ingredients on a Friday. Except I think the judge has to buy the items for the second round.”

Wren Noel nods while cleaning the sauce off lips and chin.

“So that’d be the Technical Challenge, which the game calls Loki in the Kitchen. It’s a difficult item to bake to perfection, made more difficult by some random mischief. Each player is hindered by a different mischief. A missing ingredient, a broken preparation tool, five minutes less on the clock, whatever.”

“That sounds like Cutthroat Kitchen,” Wren Noel says.

“You know what, it does. Except for only one bit of mischief instead of nothing but mayhem.”

“I do adore Alton Brown. Hands down, my favorite celebrity.”

“Yes. He’s really something.” I take a swig of my drink.

“Is there a Show Stopper round?” Wren Noel asks.

“Yes. For the Show Stopper, which is called the Jaw Dropper, players have to bake a mind-blowing dessert. Everyone does the same type. The judge picks that in advance, too. Cake, pie, cookies, whatever. I think there are ideas in the game box. Anyway, bakers have to reuse the twist from round one. So if they decided their signature, or twist, was using the color red, they now have to incorporate that color into the dessert.”

“How fun!”

“Yeah. I think I could play without the game. But, since I saw it on clearance, I figured I’d pick it up. There might be a rule or something I missed in the video.”

“And it’s good to give money for someone’s creative ventures,” Wren Noel says. “You wouldn’t want to steal an idea without crediting the source in some way. Got to nurture people who put their souls out there for sale.”

*** 680 words
(Author's note: The game does not exist. I made it up for this story because the letter V was freaking hard to write.)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Uncle #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter U

I’m glad that Wren Noel has a van. Saves time, as I was going to wait for the bus. Of course, this is exactly the sort of van that every parent has warned their child to never climb into. The base color is dark orange, but there are huge murals painted everywhere.

“Please don’t let my redone shaggin’ wagon put you off. It was left to me by my uncle, and I haven’t the heart to get rid of it.”

I climb inside. My wheelchair fits easily in the back, since the seats have been taken out. I imagine there was once a mattress in here. What else would one put in the back of a van that has floor to ceiling shag carpet? Braided, velvet ropes, hanging from the ceiling, sway as we head down the road. Used for what I don’t care to guess.

The reality crashes on me that if Wren Noel does turn out to be a criminal, I’ll be the one who gets blamed. Someone will say I deserved what I got for traveling with a stranger. They’ll say I should have known better.

I wish they’d say things like she shouldn’t have lived in a world where so many predators are all around us. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel bad when one of the creatures I live with takes a life. Because this society, if they accepted the creatures exist, would say that their prey should have known better. If the people they take were willing to believe they existed, they could take precautions. But if you’re going to close your eyes to the realities all around you, then you get what you deserve. That’s what they’ll say about me if Wren Noel attacks me. Is it bitter of me to turn that around on them?

“Were you two close? You and your uncle.”

“Oh, he was a trip. Looked after me whenever I stayed with my mum. My dad’s a Brit, you see. So I went to boarding school over there. All proper education and whatnot. But my mum, no idea how she and my dad ever paired up. She was a spirit of the Earth. Not a Christian, not any religion really, but she loved Christmas. That’s how I got my name. Wren Noel.”

“Ah. My first name, Liv, is Norwegian. People don’t think it, they generally think it’s short for Olivia or something.”

“Yeah, I get that. People ask me what my real name is. And some of my newer friends ask if it’s my true name or my dead name.”

“Dead name?” I look over the goth exterior of my driver.

“In the trans community, it’s the name you stop using as you transition. But I like my name.”

“Oh! Epic fail on my part. So sorry. I do have other trans friends. I just thought you meant something else.”

“No worries. I’m trans male to female, but I’m also gender fluid. So, some days I’m Frankenstein's monster, and some days I’m the monster bride.”

“You’re not a monster.” The words come out almost like a reflex. Not because I feel a need to offer comfort, kindness, assurance, or security. But because I know creatures who people call monsters. They really don’t deserve the title.
Brass Rail Lehigh Street Allentown PA ~ Uncle #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #LGBTQIA+ #UrbanFantasy

Wren Noel pulls into the parking lot of the Brass Rail on Lehigh Street. After getting me back into my chair, we head inside and procure a table. Once we’ve ordered, the conversation picks back up.

“Have you heard of Splatterpunk?” Wren Noel asks.

“No. Can’t say I have.”

“It’s based on a sort of horror fiction, especially from the 80’s. Not thrillers or leaving the audience to fill in the blanks. It’s dark gore, very violent, with gruesome scenes full of monsters and mayhem. Villians often take center stage and have little to no redeeming qualities. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Monster could be sympathized with for being misunderstood and neglected by his maker. But, in Splatterpunk, the Frankenstein monster usually has neck bolts and no real vocabulary. He’s the wicked one that people fear enough to use for Halloween.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that.”

“Yes. That’s just my favorite version, of course. Edward Lee’s The Bighead, that’s the sort of vile and disgusting graphic novel that Splatterpunk puts on a pedestal.”

*** 717 words

Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge bloghop.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Time for a Change #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #Feminism #UrbanFantasy

This month-long story, “Ad for Roommates,” told in twenty-six parts, is an urban fantasy intended for readers over age fifteen. Liv, the main character, is an adult in her thirties. This is a prequel to a forthcoming book and my theme for the #AtoZchallenge. To meet another character from from this story world, visit the (adult) blog of co-host Jayden R Vincente.

#atozchallenge Ad for Roommates #ShortStory #Fiction #paranormal #UrbanFantasy #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter T

Someone bashes into the back of my wheelchair. “Whoops. Hi. Sorry. You okay?”

“Fine. Hi.” I expect to see the anime girl. Instead, there’s someone towering over me. At least six-feet tall, maybe more. With neck bolts and flattened hair.

“Lost my footing. Sorry, is that rude to say to you?” I watch as the tall one scratches at the neck bolts.

“No, it’s fine. I can walk, just not for long. And if I over-exert myself, my legs go out from under me. So it’s perfectly understandable. I’m Liv, by the way.”

We shake hands. Such large mitts, my tiny paw seems lost in the greeting gesture.

“You have very soft hands. And I love this manicure,” I say as I admire the large hand. Is this how basketball players are able to hold the ball upside down one-handed? They have a grasp on more surface area? By comparison, I suppose I could hold a baseball the same way. Maybe a softball.

“Thanks. Not the same Liv on the roommate flyer, are you?”

“Yes, actually. Are you looking?”

“I am. Been living with two former frat brothers for a few years now. But the more true to myself I become, the less caterpillar and more butterfly, the harder it is to be with them. They’re good mates, of course. But it doesn’t feel appropriate to live together now. Time for a change.”

Nodding and smiling, I say that I understand. I’m not sure that I do, exactly, but I can somewhat imagine.

“I’m having a bit of low blood sugar. Part of the reason for the clumsiness. Don’t suppose you’d be willing to have lunch?”

Brass Rail bar and restaurant ~ Time for a Change #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #Feminism #UrbanFantasy

“Lunch would be good. I was thinking of stopping at the Brass Rail, unless you have another suggestion,” I say as I tuck a stray stand behind my ear.

“Oh no, that sounds divine. As long as you don’t mind that I’m not a vegetarian. Their cheesesteaks are amazing.”

“I’m not vegetarian either. Let me just check out and then we can go.”

At the register, I hand over a game I found on clearance.

“Oh yes. This was ordered by mistake,” Isi says. “It couldn’t be returned, so it just got marked down. I hear it’s fun though.”

I nod as I fork over the payment. “Looks like a good party game. I was torn between this and Philadelphia-oploy. This was cheaper.”
Philadelphia-oploy ~ Time for a Change #AtoZchallenge #ShortStory #AdForRoomatesStory #Feminism #UrbanFantasy

“Perhaps you’ll invite me over when you play? I didn’t see the point in getting it, don’t know enough people into this sort of thing. But I’d like to take a crack at it. Or even take pictures and write up a blog post.” Isi slips a business card into the bag with the game and my receipt.

“Sure. Might be awhile. I’ll check out your blog though. Assuming I’m not going to lunch with a serial killer.” I wink and tilt my head to indicate I mean the tall person waiting for me by the door.

“Wren Noel? Probably not a killer. A bit dark though, as far as tastes go. Rough life, I’d imagine. Then again, who around here had an easy go, eh?” Isi waves goodbye.

I feel better about this trip since someone I know also knows the stranger. And she knows I’ll be with the person.

Of course, there’s the question my mom would ask. How many of Ted Bundy’s victims thought the same way. I should never leave home without one of my creatures. But I hate feeling like I’m not safe just because of my gender. I didn’t decide to be born with a vagina. And I shouldn’t have to consider sexual reassignment surgery as a means of protection. That isn’t what it’s for, and it’s unfair to the community when people suggest that it should be. I abhor the idea that violence toward women exists because women exist. That’s victim blaming for you though.

*** 651 words

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