#MarquessaChallenge – At First Sight

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It only happened to Rachel once. Maybe because, after that one time, she never let it happen again. If it had happened again, she hadn’t recognized it. She had walked into his office that one day, the day she’ll never forget. His desk faced the right wall. The door was open. He was at his desk, looking down, reading something. She reached in to knock at the open door which swung open to the right. As she knocked, he turned toward her.

She had to keep herself from gasping when his eyes met hers. They were laughing eyes. Dark, dark brown in color. Mesmerizing. They grabbed her eyes and held them.

He said, “Can I help you?”

Rachel couldn’t speak. She had forgotten why she had come to his office.

She mumbled, “Sorry, wrong office.” Then she fled down the hall. Back to her own office. She was breathless when she sat down at her desk. She knew his name. She quickly remembered why she had gone to see him. She couldn’t go back, but she had to. He was going to be her professor in a class this semester.

Rachel was a research assistant at the University of South Florida. She was pursuing her Ph.D in Computer Science and Technology. Peter Fitzgerald was an Associate Professor in the Department and her professor in an upcoming class. Rachel felt like she’s just been hit by a train. Could you really fall in love at first sight? Rachel was far too sensible to think that. It was just a moment. Everyone had moments now and then. It would pass and the next time she saw him, he would be just another man on the street.

What Rachel didn’t know is that Peter had felt the lightning bolt as well. He wondered who that girl was. Was she an undergraduate student? A graduate student? He had to find her. See her again. He walked around through the halls of the Technology Building, but he didn’t see her anywhere.

Early that afternoon, Rachel had Peter’s class. She dreaded it. How would she face him after fleeing his office. She slipped in from the back as he was calling roll. After class, he walked up to her.

“You didn’t get here in time for roll call,” he said.

“I’m sorry, Professor Fitzgerald.”

“Please follow me to my office to fill out some information for me.”

Suddenly, Rachel realized she was daydreaming. That day had been so long ago. Rachel couldn’t imagine why it had popped into her mind while she was driving down the road in South Florida. She hadn’t thought of Peter in many months, although he did pop into her head from time to time. She was successful in shoving him out of her head these days. She was happy with her life. When she did think of Peter, she usually thought of the end of their relationship. Today, instead, she had thought of that very first day.

The Glory Days. They had certainly had them. For years. The last time she saw him, those brown eyes didn’t sparkle any more. He said he was happy, but his demeanor and his eyes said something different. He had settled. Settled for what made him content at the moment. That was all right with Rachel. He wasn’t hers to save or care for.

Only one thing made Rachel sad now. She wished she could have emotionally let him go sooner. She would have lived a happier life. Instead, she had waited and hoped that one day, they would be together. But, it was not to be. She’d had relationships. Lots of them. She’d even been married. No one had ever touched her heart and soul like Peter. Now she wondered if it was because she never gave anyone else the chance. It was probably too late now.

Rachel remembered the day when Peter looked at her, after they made love, and said, “In your eyes, I’ve found the missing pieces.”

She felt bound to him then. That was right before he left her forever.

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#fictionfriday is brought to us by Simply Marquessa

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The Lucky One

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She sensed something was wrong that last night in the Midwestern city. He was drinking too much. They almost argued and everything felt filled with anxiety. He was distant.The intensity of their passion was more than it had ever been. She was almost afraid he was going to hurt her. He came close but bailed out at the last moment.

The next morning, she knew something was wrong. He handed her his prize baseball cap, commenting it had his DNA in it. He looked at her like he was trying to remember and forget, all at the same time. When they got to the airport, she turned around and he had vanished.

In the few days that were left, he sent messages to her that talked about trust. Over and over, he spoke of trust and long-term commitment. She believed him still. She had known him so long, but they had never connected on such a deep level before. She could relax about their relationship. He said it was for the long haul.

Then she got the note. The note using their special love words, supposedly from her, the other one. Telling her that he had come home, that it was over. He sent her one note, telling her the same thing. She believed that for weeks. He tried to be cruel. He sent her a message, ostensibly from the other one, telling her he forgave her. For what? Then she received several emails. They were supposed to be from the other one, but they weren’t. He gave himself away by using the first personal pronoun and two initials he always used to refer to himself.

It all fell into place. He had broken off the relationship himself and blamed the other one. He had been as cruel as possible while preaching words of love and commitment and trust.

She looked in the water. He wasn’t worth anything. Not her tears, not her heartache. She was the lucky one. Now if she could only make herself believe it.

Imaginary

If you are a writer of fiction, you have to have a good imagination. You have to be able to create imaginary characters, stories, settings. Fiction is a work of good imagination.

Children have the most wonderful imaginations. They let their imaginations run wild and free and create whole worlds in which to play. As adults, we have become accustomed to reining in our imaginations. We have to be an adult, act like an adult, and use our imaginations only in controlled circumstances, like writing fiction. We can’t live in fantasy worlds lest we hurt other people.

When a writer embarks on a work of fiction, it is a difficult transition to make. They are suddenly allowed to let their imagination, at least as it relates to the story they are writing, run wild and free like a child’s imagination. It has to be a bit more controlled in order to tell their story.

Desolation

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Photo credit to courtney065 flikr

Callie knew she shouldn’t have come here. She was glad her cousin, Daniel, was with her. She had been gone from Kentucky, the state where she had grown up and lived most of her adult life, for five years now. It had been at least ten years since she had been to the old homeplace deep in the heart of the eastern part of the state. Deep in the heart of Appalachia. If her uncle’s old house on the farm looked like this, she wasn’t sure she wanted to see the main house, her grandparent’s old home. The home she had spent so much time at as a child and teenager.

Eastern Kentucky was decimated. It had been sliding downhill for years. When coal mining started to decline way back in the 1980s, the whole region started to decline. The farming that was secondary to mining also declined when the subsidies on growing tobacco were stopped. There used to be tobacco bases everywhere you looked around here. Her grandparents lived on tobacco and oil money. There wasn’t a tobacco base to be found now. All the tobacco was grown overseas.

As Callie and Daniel drove around Eastern Kentucky, where their mothers grew up, she thought of what could be done for these poor people who loved their culture and their way of life but had very little means to support themselves. Coal mining would never come back in any big way. There was a bit more mining going on under President Trump because he had done away with most of the mining regulations. All that did was make an unsafe working environment for the miners and pollute the environment. It would only last until the first big mine disaster.

The obvious solution to the job problem in this area is to let the people grow marijuana. At the very least medicinal marijuana and, in Callie’s opinion, recreational marijuana. This was the marijuana capital of the United States anyway. Why not let them grow it legally? It was used medicinally for so many good things. Regulate it if they want. President Trump was trying to do away with laws in the states that allowed legal marijuana purchases, even for medicinal marijuana. Callie and Daniel both thought that was criminal. It was a pain reliever for cancer patients. It could be used as a pain reliever for so many things, even the crippling rheumatoid arthritis like her mother had.

Letting these people in Eastern Kentucky grow marijuana legally would be such a good thing for this area. It would bring it back from the desolate state it was in. Eastern Kentucky was known, now, for its high drug use. Mostly prescription drugs but heroin had crept into the picture. Drug use was high because the unemployment rate in many areas approached 40 percent. The people felt hopeless and helpless. Give them a cash crop to grow in the valleys between these mountains and make them feel a useful member of society. The drug problem, in Callie’s opinion, would drop.

Hemp was another cash crop that these people could grow. It had been grown on an experimental basis on the University of Kentucky farm. It could be used to make clothes and other products. Trump had promised to bring back manufacturing to the United States. If he kept that promise, hemp could be used in manufacturing. Just like the Eastern Kentucky area was a prime area for growing marijuana, it was also a prime area for growing hemp.

Before Trump became President, there was progress being made on the legalization of marijuana and hemp production that would have helped Appalachia so much. Any progress made had been rolled back under his administration. He seemed to want to take us back to the days of his youth. The people she knew were in one camp or another. Either they were still Trump supporters or they were scared to death he was leading the country straight into Fascism. She was in the latter camp as was Daniel.

People seemed to be trying to go on with their lives. That’s why she and Daniel were taking this tour of the land where their mother’s grew up. The only relatives they had here now were very distant cousins who they didn’t even know. So they were visiting the places familiar to them, taking stock of the changes, probably for the last time. Callie had come to Kentucky for a visit and she and Daniel had decided to do this on a whim.

There was her grandfather’s house! Just as rundown as the shack her uncle used to live in. She could see the oil wells behind it in the same place they were when she was a child. They were pumping. She had noticed that her oil royalties had gotten a little better recently, but she was sure it was a short-term thing. She and Daniel and the rest of the cousins feared the wells were just about dry.

Oil, health care, and education were just about the only jobs left in this area. A few oil workers were needed as were primary and secondary teachers. A lot of health care workers were needed but they were hard to attract to the area unless they had family here. There was a lot of illness. President Trump’s immigration policy had swept all the foreign physicians out of Eastern Kentucky and they had been the backbone of the health care system.

As Callie and Daniel started home, depression hovered over them like a cloud. It used to be so beautiful here. If the federal government would provide the right kind of help, it could be again. As long as Donald Trump, or anyone like him was President, they knew it would never happen. Callie knew she would go back to her home in Florida now and would never look back. She had worried about this area and looked back too long. Time to move on.

My Face

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“My face looks sort of cracked,” the little boy said as he looked at his reflection in the water puddle. When he looked up, if anyone had been looking at him, they would have known why. His face was screwed up because he had been crying.

The little boy looked back in the puddle of water. He said to his reflection, “Where is my mom? She said she would be here a long time ago to pick me up.” His reflection didn’t answer him.

He looked up, but he was afraid to go toward the street. He looked back down at the water puddle at his reflection.

“My school is closed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t call her.” He saw his face screw up again. He started sobbing.

Suddenly, he heard his mother’s voice as she comes running toward him. Her car had trouble.

Falling

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She had always wanted to visit Iceland. As a photographer, she knew that some of the most amazing pictures could be taken there and she made her living selling her photos. She had been in Iceland for several days and had taken incredible pictures. She had a day trip planned to Gullfoss Falls today, an amazing waterfall.

The tour group arrived at The Falls. As they walked toward The Falls, she was mesmerized because you can’t see the edge. It looks like the Hvita River just vanishes into the earth. She just started snapping pictures. All she could think about was that she could sell these pictures in the U.S. She and some other members of the group got closer. They called to her not to get too close. She had to get this last shot. But she slipped and tumbled over the rocks into the canyon.

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Post in response to Challenge whatpegmansaw using Google Maps

Killing Her Softly

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He had made the decision. The decision to break off the relationship with her. He was going to have this last little fling and then it was going to be over. He could swing it. He knew how to manage it and no one had to be the wiser. He had convinced her that his wife wore the pants in his family. That she controlled him and everything he did. It had taken an elaborate story but she had bought it. He knew her well enough to tell. She was a gentle soul and she loved him. She’d believe anything he told her. He’d convinced her that he loved her. Anyway, he knew he would not be able to have sex with her much longer. He was flirting with impotence. He wasn’t mature enough to realize she didn’t care about that. He did.

He didn’t want to take the chance of losing his marriage. Not because he loved his wife. But because his wife came from a wealthy family. They had the money to travel and play at whatever they wanted. He didn’t want to screw that up just for a meaningless affair. He just got involved in this affair for a thrill anyway. The thrill was going away so he had to get out of it. He laughed to himself. He got bored easily. He had to put her in her place so she wouldn’t tell anyone, like his wife. She wasn’t stupid, even though she was trusting. He had to make his story complicated so she wouldn’t figure it out.

What he didn’t know is that the girl already knew something was wrong between them. He was a heavy drinker and he had let some things slip when he got drunk. He was also bipolar. Sometimes, he thought he was thinking to himself, only he was thinking out loud and the girl heard him talking to himself. She was already suspicious before she left him at the airport that last time. He was in a manic period and was drinking more than usual so he could sleep. The mania was worse than the girl had ever seen. The mental illness had gotten worse since she had last seen him. She never could have guessed the lengths he would go to in order to get rid of her. She never would have guessed he would try to get rid of her at all. They had seen each other for 35 years, even if it had been off and on.

The man thought he had convinced the girl his wife was a mean bitch. A dictatorial, manipulative woman who controlled him completely. He’d told her that the wife was a computer hacker, that she would ruin her life if she found out about them. He’d forgotten that the girl had known him when he’d been with other women and that he’d never be with anyone like that. If anyone was controlling, it would be him. She knew he’d be sneaky about it.

The girl already knew he was a liar. Even during their current short relationship, he contradicted himself dozens of times. The mental illness kept him from realizing it as did the liquor. The girl remembered every single instance. He first said that he had paid one of his ex-wives off with $250,000. The next day, it became $500,000. Apparently, he didn’t think she had a memory either. She remembered it all. Her brain had not been pickled in liquor and ruined by uncontrolled bipolar disease.

That did not mean that the girl was prepared for what happened next. She had never known him to be cruel. Troubled, yes. A pathological liar, yes. Cruel, no. The years had indeed changed him.

It happened three days after they parted the last time. He was particularly sweet that day, professing his undying love. Over and over and over. Then, suddenly, the girl got a message supposedly from his wife saying that he had been found out and threatening her. It took her a little while to think the whole thing through. To realize that the message from his wife was really a message from him. His cowardly way out of the relationship. At first, she was shattered. It took weeks for her to think straight. She had trusted him in spite of herself. Psychopaths can be quite convincing because they believe their own lies.

He cut off her access to him all the while blaming his wife. At first, all she wanted was an explanation but she couldn’t get that. Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall together for her. He thought he was very smart but he had made some fundamental mistakes. Gradually, she figured out each mistake he had made. She started to realize that his wife probably did not even know he had an affair. He had ended it before she found out but in the most horrible way, the cruelest way, possible. In his very sick bipolar mind, he had to play out an elaborate scenario and hurt the girl badly.

Looking back, the girl shook her head. All he had to do was tell her that the affair was not working for him. He knew that she would never want someone who didn’t want her. She would have just left and he would never have heard from her again. It would have been so much simpler. He even needed the thrill of hurting her. In the process, he probably caused her to never be able to trust again. Cruel and psychopathic people do not care about those things. They care only about themselves.*

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*This is an excerpt from a larger body of work.