Word Nerds Unite: Words I Love

“One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.”

~Hart Crane

Over the next week, compile a list of ten-twenty of your favorite words. You can love them because of their sound, their resonance, their meaning, their specificity—or for any other reason whatsoever. Then write a story that includes all of them. If you post online, share your initial list of words—and then follow it with your story.


  1. Fran Stekoll says

    mindful , empathy, listening, caring, sharing, sensitivity, faithful, non-judgmental, loving. intention, attention, attitude, gratitude, presence, acceptance, kindness, trust, open, curious, courage.

    The art of listening, caring, sharing, has always been who I am. I try to be mindful and empathetic. It’s hard to not be judgmental. My mind wanders when I try to meditate, I lose my attention even though I had every intention of following through. Having an attitude of gratitude and staying in the presence takes a lot of courage, trust and acceptance of one’s self. I try caring for my body, staying faithful to my diet, being kind to those in my world, even though I don’t trust being open to everyone about everything.
    Life in today’s world takes a lot of courage, and leaves many doors open
    for curious challenges . My favorite most challenging word is mindfulness.
    If I try to focus on that in everything I strive to do each day, then maybe there’s hope in this crazy world to make some sense out of it.

    • Eve says

      Wow, Fran, that was awesome. This looks fun. I am going to start thinking of some words right now. Thanks for getting me interested in this prompt. I will try to focus on the words. I will give my emotions a rest this week (hopefully). I could use a break from them, for sure. I made a stupid little white lie this morning. I had barely been awake for 5 minutes, and some of the first words were a lie. I am sad & disappointed in myself right now. I am not going use those words at all. I will use this exercise to totally distract myself from these emotions.

    • Hazel says

      Fran, I think you did a masterful job of getting all your words into your story. “Being kind to those in my world,” is my favorite phrase in your story probably because that is what I strive to do to. Sometimes it is very difficult when your world has shrunk down to the two of you and you tend to get “cabin fever” every now and again. ?;)

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Good one, Fran. I like the ping pong effect of “intention, attention, attitude, gratitude.” For me, ‘mindfulness’ is also compelling, issuing both a personal challenge and state of being I strive for. Thanks and have a great week!

  2. Hazel says


    Daddy – everyone should be so lucky as to have a Daddy like mine. We always called him “Daddy.” He was a woodworker, a real crafter . . . when he made cabinets he would match the grain of the wood so it would be in the most pleasing patterns. He was an artist, not only in his woodwork like cabinets and lathe work, but in oils, which he learned after he was 72. He was uneducated in the way of the world but he was extremely intelligent. He was a keen observer of all things and taught me to be also. He taught me how to find four leafed clovers by looking for the square one in a bunch of triangles. Although he never knew the term, he taught me love the onomatopoeic sound of phthalo-yellow-green, a paint color he used for willow trees. He would chuckle as he said it. He loved the ferme smell of the earth as he worked the flowerbeds for my mother to plant pansies and sweetpeas. Later when the flowers were up and blooming he would sit in his lawn chair in the shade and watch the swallowtail butterflies and the dragonflies as they paused by the flowers and flew over the ponds. He was intrigued by the vociferous crows that liked to spend time in the huge oak trees in the backyard behind the ponds. On Saturdays he would take us “ramblin’” over the back roads looking for things we had not seen before. I remember him pointing out very old fallen trees with mosses growing on them as they deliquesced into the ground. I know to that he would have smiled and enjoyed my favorite little doggie munchkin, Fritzlemeir, if he were alive now to see him. I will always remember him and his gentleness, patience to teach me, and his love for all of nature. I miss my Daddy.

    (I did not realize as I compiled this list that it would end up in a story about my “Daddy”. I really did just write the words down first and then started writing.)

    • Terry Gibson says

      Hazel, I just love your word list and story! Your Daddy sounds fascinating. I also must say that, while I value education, I am especially enamoured by those ‘only’ versed in the language of life experience. Have a good week.

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- I’m so sorry. I’ve tried several times to read this piece but given my relationship with my own family, it was too triggering. I just wanted you to know that I really would have liked to read your piece as I’m sure it’s very beautiful. I’ll try again soon. IM

      • Hazel says

        I know that several people on this site are healing from very abusive relationships with their fathers, but that was not my experience. I am so sorry for those who did not have a good experience. Mine was a very healthy relationship of child and parent, teacher and student.

        • Ilana says

          I am sorry and hope I did not offend. I wanted you to know that I want to read your piece. I did understand that it is a positive relationship. My jealousy got the better of me. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for me not to have commented at all. I apologize if that was the route I should have taken. IM

          • Hazel says

            No problem, I did not take offense at your comment. I do understand. There is a person in my life whom I will not forgive after some 60 years. And, sometimes it is very upsetting so I do understand.

  3. Claire Stanard says

    Obsequious Formidable
    Ubiquitous Paragon
    Largesse Elegant
    Extraneous Consternation
    Marzipan Eloquent
    Exquisite Rhetoric
    Esoteric Incredulous

    Caroline’s ubiquitous presence at Dallas social gatherings began to appear calculated. Already well known as a formidable leader in the community, attending another party seemed extraneous to the life of this elderly woman. Here she was the paragon of a great lady, yet was strictly adhering to the city’s social calendar by attending every scheduled soiree. Much to everyone’s consternation, she would arrive elegantly dressed yet barely able to recognize anyone as she unsteadily shuffled her way through the sea of guests. Her once exquisite, blue eyes were now coated with cataracts. Hostesses became incredulous over her subjecting their festive homes to a potential slip and fall. Renowned for her largesse, charities would obsequiously extend invitations to Caroline for every fundraising ball. And, Caroline never declined.

    The question was why? What was she deriving from party after party at her age? Most of the cocktail rhetoric was much too esoteric for her to follow. On top of that, her hearing had so degenerated that even the possibility of enjoying some eloquent offerings was out of her range. Caroline always ate her meal early at home prior to departing for any event. She owned the five star hotel where she lived, so fine dining was always just a ring away. Obviously, the food wasn’t the appeal, for she even brought bits of marzipan in her evening bag as her personal snack during the evening. Most of her contemporaries had already passed away, so her socializing consisted of succulent gossip with people she barely knew. There had to be some reward that this ninety year old doyenne received from this frenetic socializing. Caroline was the matriarch of a huge family in the city, so loneliness was never an issue.

    A better question was “didn’t Caroline get tired of doing the same thing night after night?” The only night she stayed home was Sunday. Finally, Freddie, a well known social ‘walker’ in town decided to pose the question everyone wanted to ask. After dutifully fulfilling her request for a glass of Pellegrino, Freddie returned to Caroline’s side and brashly inquired as to why she went out every night to a social event at her age. Not offended in the least, Caroline answered with equal boldness, “Because I still can.”

    • says

      Claire, Welcome to the Roadmap blog! Wow, did you have that list of words just sitting around? What an exquisite collection. And I love what you did with them. I hope you come back again–and that you visit often.

    • Terry Gibson says

      This was a rare treat, Claire. I loved it. The words and how they sounded rolling off my tongue as you sashayed and pranced them about, carving out a party and story for which I’m now thirsty. “Because I can.” I love her. More on Caroline? Please. Welcome to this great community!

    • Cathy Krizik says

      “Bits of marzipan in her evening bag” — Love that. Caroline sounds like a hoot. I love brassy old ladies — I hope to be one some day. Thank you!

    • Hazel says

      Wonderful story, well written. Isn’t it lovely to see that we can still use words that might be a stretch? Love that you used the word “doyenne” that is also one of my favorites although it didn’t make my list this time.

      Thank you for sharing.

  4. Sangeeta S. says

    me, you, us, together, nothing, everything, who, knew, yesterday, today, tomorrow, everyday, why, not

    Today I’m going to paint. Tomorrow I might not. Yesterday was a grand day; today is not.

    I need to run away; not for me or for you, but for us. I need to run away so that eventually we might be together again. Yesterday I held a labor of love by going to the courthouse and giving them he**. Tomorrow I’m going to go back, not so that I can give them he**, but so that I can fix it.

    I guess the moral of the story is this: wake ’til you die; sleep ’til you wake; but never ever forget that tomorrow is here. Everyday, everything, who knew, why not?

    • Ilana says

      Wow Sangeeta- I love how open and free this feels. I really enjoyed the flow and the attitude that it seemed to exude. My favorite part, though, was the moral. “wake ’til you die; sleep ’til you wake; but never ever forget that tomorrow is here. Everyday, everything, who knew, why not?” Awesome read! IM

  5. Judy E. Brady says

    Here goes: Thankful; eager; solid; memorable; sideways; wobble; heartfelt; luscious; splendid; effortlessly, wafted; aroma.

    She felt him wobble as they stepped onto the dance floor; thankful her first step toward him was solid and surefooted. She was surprised, because she always felt she was the one with two left feet; but, a nimble sideways glance revealed a splendid opening through which they eagerly glided to a luscious Strauss waltz. Instantly, they were wafted back to their memorable youth.

    With renewed and heartfelt confidence–he with a new hip and she with a new knee—they recaptured dance contests won long ago–complete with the lingering aroma of fresh roses in her arms as they took their bows to the crowd’s delight.

    • says

      Judy, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog–and what a fantastic job you did working those words into your two paragraphs. I’d have never known you were trying to get them in; it read as if it was effortless. I look forward to reading many more of your posts here in the weeks to come!

      • Judy E. Brady says

        Very kind works. Thank you so much. As Dorothy Parker said…I hate writing….I love having written. Look forward to being part of this lovely site.

        • says

          What I really love, Judy is that I’m writing to you from San Miguel–I’ve just arrived in Mexico for the San Miguel Writer’s Conference. And that with this interconnected world, I can be greeting you in cyberspace from my sunny room looking out on terracotta tiles and bursts of purple and pink bougainvillea. And what’s even odder is that I’m going upstairs to help my hostess make dinner for a party to watch Obama’s Inaugural! It is a small world indeed!

          • Judy E. Brady says

            What fun. Eager to hear about the writer’s conference–will you post photos as well? Yes, cyberspace has, indeed, changed our world. Have great fun fixing dinner and watching the President’s address. We’ll be watching as well. Ahh, can smell those bougainvillea now–bottle ’em, okay?

    • Hazel says

      You got me with the first line, and I loved your description of the Strauss waltz as “luscious”. I am married to a Viennese man and we have always loved waltzes and luscious really does fit them.

      • Judy E. Brady says

        Hazel, thank you so much. Those characters just popped into being over coffee at Julius Meinl–and waltz music.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Judy- Great piece! I love how you let me, the reader, assume (and wrongly in my case) who I was looking at. Then in the last few sentences you told us how old the people were. I thought they were teenagers and the surprise made the piece that much more delicious. The best part though was your descriptions at the end. Talk about delicious “they recaptured dance contests won long ago–complete with the lingering aroma of fresh roses in her arms as they took their bows to the crowd’s delight.” So beautiful! IM

  6. Cathy Krizik says

    White • Surrender • Morsel • Imbued • Gift • Four hundred and eighty-six • Fuck • Woo woo • Grieving • Trouble • Willing • Mother • Life • Illuminated • Shit • Faith • Prairie • Ostensibly • Maroon • Thimble • Viscosity

    The hard to admit truth is — I am fucked. (I know. That word is so jarring and provocative and a cheap way to grab attention but nothing says “trouble” better than “Fuck.” )

    Yesterday morning I was sitting cross-legged on the couch in my home office. It was early enough that the only light in the room came from two candles—one a present from my Canadian Prairie friend, the other was a parting gift for the grieving after the annual Hospice of Santa Cruz holiday memorial. The two flames illuminated the room with a soft, white light that added just the right touch of woo woo. Above the candles hung a Chinese scroll, a gift from my mother, emblazoned with ink black characters that, ostensibly, spelled my name. Next to it sat another gift from my mother—a ceramic tile that read, “Ask not what your mother can do for you, but what you can do for your mother”. So her. On the small table was a sounding bowl, burning sandalwood incense and a wooden box I made myself in which I kept four hundred eight-six of my most treasured items—a stone brought home from Yosemite, a shell from Hanalei Bay, a crystal given to me for my 50th birthday, a beaded gourd from a Candomble priestess, affirmations cards, letters and cards all imbued with wisdom and morsels of love given to me over the years.

    Sounds lovely and serene, right? It was. So, what’s the trouble?

    You see, I’m from the East Coast. I was brought up worshipping public television and The New York Times. I don’t do woo woo or touchie feelie. I don’t light candles and surrender to anything. I don’t burn incense or sit cross-legged in front of any altar. I don’t do God or doing anything as foolish as, Lord knows, pray.

    Except that I do.

    Worst of all, I like it.

    There. The secrets out.


    The hard to swallow truth about God and prayer is, the damn things works. Prayer makes hard things easier and easy things deeper. When living life feels like slogging through mud—viscous and unyielding—I surrender to the illogical, invisible energy force people call God and my way forward is eased. And as it turns out, even a thimble full of faith is enough to make miracles. I am proof of that.

    This God thing makes no sense. It’s illogical. Finding proof is impossible. But I know, that my life is better when I sit in front of my altar and light my candles and give my mind permission to believe. Shame be damned.

    • Ilana says

      This is great! First, your discussion of obscenities. My father-in-law says, “use them too often and they lose their power.” A woman in my writing group for survivors of incest uses them often but has placed them so artfully in her work that they never lose their power. Here you point out the value of the obscenity even as you call it cheap. And you’re right. There is no better way to communicate trouble than “I’m fucked.”

      Second, I love the 180. You draw this whole picture then say it’s not what you do, but then switch around with “Except that I do.” Then you put the two together. “There, the secret’s out. Shit” Nice job. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Kathy, this is so you. I’m not that familiar with your voice but I can hear your inflections as I imagine you reading it aloud. In that cool accent! The images are so vivid and I smile at the quote on the ceramic tile, “Ask not what your mother can do for you, but what you can do for your mother.” I enjoyed reading this and so relate to much of it.

    • Judy E. Brady says

      A serious piece of beautiful writing. It resonated on many levels–having ‘boxed with god/goddess’ much of my 70 years, I’ve learned that ‘even atheists pray.’ This work gives pause and reflection. Thank you Cathy.

    • says

      Cathy, I think you just wrote another section of your book–right here on the blog! I loved so much of this piece, it’s hard to highlight one line, but I’ll choose this one: “The hard to swallow truth about God and prayer is, the damn things works. Prayer makes hard things easier and easy things deeper.” You go, girl!

    • Hazel says

      “The hard to swallow truth about God and prayer is, the damn things works. ” Yes, it hard to swallow. I love this piece as I have been there so many times with the questions and almost answers. “This God thing makes no sense. It’s illogical. Finding proof is impossible. But I know, that my life is better when I sit in front of my altar and light my candles and give my mind permission to believe.” I’m with you.

  7. Diana says

    I liked how you took me from description to your experience of prayer. I appreciate your inclusion of curse words. As you so eloquently explained, sometimes nothing else will do.

  8. Diana says

    Your description of San Miguel sounded heavenly. It must be amazing to be in such lovely surroundings with writers and focused on writing.

  9. Adrienne Drake says

    Sibilant, Swish, Precarious, Sonorous, Alacrity, Insinuate, Obsequious,
    Lugubrious, Onerous, Suffuse

    The Final Exhalation

    It was after midnight in the ICU and all one could hear in the early morning hush were the sibilant sounds of respirators gently suffusing pre-mixed air into resting lungs, and the soft swishing sounds as these same breaths were passively exhaled. This miracle of suspended life was never more real to me than in these quiet moments, between admissions to the unit, where lives hung precariously in the balance. These early AM hours were the pauses between my own breaths, as I went from bedside to bedside, doing my night call rounds, much as a mother checks on her own sleeping children whose sonorous breathing signals to her that all is well.

    Suddenly the spell was broken as an alarm sounded. The Widower in bed 3, the one whose wishes we ignored, was crashing. With alacrity nurses sprang from their own private vigils, watching squiggles on a screen, measuring fluids, emptying chest tubes, or untangling IV lines that had become hopelessly insinuated among side rails and bedclothes.

    Earlier that day, the Widower’s daughters had made it clear that no more was to be done. Their father had been intubated because one dissenting child, the obsequious one, had yelled “lawsuit” if we had not saved him. Now, the crash cart was rushed to his bedside, filled with everything in medicine’s magical power to resuscitate a dying man. The defibrillating paddles were charged up in my hands, poised to deliver the first shock.

    Seconds slid by. Lugubrious, I watched this scene unfold as though through a veil, even as I had watched my own father perilously languish in limbo before his own slow death. In his case, the doctors had done too much. What would I be guilty of? I wondered. The onerous decision was mine alone to make.

    In medical school we are taught, “First, do no harm.”

    “Call off the code,” I said, replacing the paddles in their waiting cradles. All eyes turned to the cardiac monitor. The Widower’s squiggly lines signaled his fatal fibrillation, then slowly dissipated into an occasional, desperate blip on the screen. Then, nothing.

    Our first breath and our last breath and all the ones in between mark the rhythm of our lives. Difficult decisions are the doctor’s routine. But as the Widower’s ventilator was removed, and his chest expelled its final borrowed volume, I heard my own sighing exhalation. I had done the right thing.

    • says

      Adrienne, not only did you magically smooth every one of your very delicious words into this piece, you also addressed an issue so critical to all of us–we will all die–and the question of whether we are kept alive past all quality of life–is such a huge issue for everyone of us. Thanks for shedding light on one particular moment of making that momentous choice.

      • Eve says

        This piece really hit home with me. Being an ICU nurse for the past 18 years, I have experienced many of these challenging moments. Not always does it seem like we make the right call. Especially when words like “lawsuit” are thrown into the mix.

        • Adrienne Drake says

          Eve, thanks for the validation that I have correctly and fairly gotten across some of the pressures that all of us in the medical field face. I hope to write more medically related stories.

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Laura, thank you so much for your comments, and especially for providing all of us with a safe place to share the creative process. This was a very fun week!

        • says


          You’re very very welcome. It’s pleasure! I’m really enjoying the way the community of writers is growing–and the more diversity in responses, the better!

    • Ilana says

      Adrienne- Thank you for this peak into the experience of the medical staff. It is a difficult issue from all sides and it’s hard for someone who has seen only one side to understand what others go through. This is beautifully written and I came out of it feeling like I’d really learned something. Well done! IM

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing this piece.

      My daughter and I have had many conversations about this very thing. I have made her the person who is to make any final medical decisions for me because I know my sentimental, loving husband would, in a desperate attempt to keep me with him, make a prolonging decision which I do not want. I think about this often and wonder how it will all turn out.

      • Diana says

        Hi Adrienne,
        I am an ICU nurse and you hit ever note perfectly from the mechanical side with the waveforms, alarms, etc. to the human side of struggling to do the right thing for the right person at the right time. I look forward to seeing more of your medically related stories.

  10. Diana says

    rebel, faith, ocean, overcome, nightmare, Southern, prayer, forgiveness, sanctuary, bulletproof, acrid, union, confederacy, blue bonnet, wretched, sardonic, cacophony,

    Alfred pressed his back against the wide oak tree. He drew his shoulders and knees in tight to make himself small. He propped his forehead against the cool metal of the rifle barrel. His chin, showing no signs of the thick whiskers he would have as an elder, rested on his chest. The cacophonous sound of the Rebel yell ricocheted inside his skull. The dense smell of sulphur burned his nostrils and left an acrid taste in the back of his throat. He swallowed hard against the taste and the fear. He wanted to be bullet proof. Stealing a glace over his shoulder to the open battlefield, blue and gray fused into an ocean of blue bonnets. He shut his eyes against the illusion and awakened to his nightmare.
    He wondered about his cousin Maxey. They had been separated as they crossed Baker’s Creek. He wished for Maxey’s sardonic wit in this wretched moment. The Confederacy had taken him from the sanctuary of home with the hilly pine forest and his Aunt’s cotton farm. “All able bodied Southern men should unit for The Cause” beckoned the army recruiter. The nature of “The Cause” Alfred did not know exactly. He put his faith in his older brother and cousins and joined the 12th Louisiana Infantry Company E, the union of family being stronger than any cause.
    Any moment, General Loring would give the order to rush the battlefield. Company E would join the melee of rifles and bayonets. Struggling to overcome his trepidation, he whispers a prayer for forgiveness.

      • Diana says

        I love this prompt as the story just followed the words. This one comes from my own family history. I am thinking it may be the beginning fo a short story.

    • Ilana says

      Diana- You definitely pulled me in. I love how detailed your picture is. I can see it. I love how you told me that Alfred is going to survive. “His chin, showing no signs of the thick whiskers he would have as an elder, rested on his chest.” even as you left me wondering about his immediate future. Awesome job. IM

  11. Ilana says

    My first time posting a fictional story; Wish me luck!

    generous, chocolate, sweet, tragic, fable, gentle, childlike, innocent, betrayal, unbidden, ageless, determination, grateful, fragile, lost, torrents

    John ran out into the driving rain, barely feeling the torrents that instantly soaked him. He didn’t notice the puddles he splashed through or the damage to his brand new loafers either. None of it mattered now. At this minute nothing mattered but her. He had to find that girl. As he searched the streets for her, images flashed through his mind. Why hadn’t he figured it out sooner? It was written in her warm chocolate brown eyes. But he’d never seen it. She was his boss. It hadn’t been his place to see her pain or to respond to it.

    He looked at her sweet face in his memory. It had held such concern for him when he was sick. He remembered how she’d reorganized her schedule so she could not only take him home but finish his work as well as her own before the big client meeting. She hadn’t just been there for him but for his wife, too. Lily had been so homesick when they’d moved here so he could take this job. He remembered how she had cried on the girl’s shoulder about the difficult transition from preschool teacher to office receptionist. Always listening, always trying to help. That kindness and generosity was all he’d seen but it wasn’t all that was there. Why hadn’t he looked deeper? Selfishness, he cursed himself. He’d only cared about himself and his family. Those eyes had been crying out for help from the moment she’d met him and he’d never seen it. All she’d done for both of them and they’d been blind to her wordless pleas.

    ‘Why didn’t you just say something?’ He demanded silently, gritting his teeth. But he knew exactly why she hadn’t said anything. Sure, now that he was paying attention, now that it was too late, he knew everything. When had he figured it out? He wondered. The clues had all been there; the childlike way she held herself, the timid, tentative way she spoke, even the way she negotiated the crowded halls, like she wasn’t worthy of breathing the same air as the others. Why hadn’t he seen it? He asked himself for the hundredth time. Now his blindness to it seemed a vile act of betrayal. She’d needed him and where she had lacked the ability to ask for his help he should have figured it out.

    ‘Focus.’ He told himself. It might not be too late. Rainwater ran into his eyes and blurred his vision. He dashed it away with the saturated sleeve of his suit jacket. His shoes were full of water making his feet heavy and slowing his steps. He pressed on. He had to find her. When she’d run from the room without any explanation he knew something was horribly wrong. She’d looked so distraught there was no telling where she would end up. She wasn’t thinking clearly. Unbidden, scenarios ran through his mind. She could have run right into traffic and in this rain a car wouldn’t have been able to stop. She could be dead. Mercifully, his phone range and the picture vanished. “Lil’? Did you find her?” He asked desperately.

    “No.” His wife’s voice was just as worried. “She’s not here. Her car is, though, so she’s definitely on foot.”

    He turned down a smaller street to a residential area. There was no special reason why he should have turned this way. There were a half a dozen streets she could have gone down but for some reason this one pulled him in. He obeyed the pull and ran down the street.

    “Oh my God!” There was a tiny figure huddled on the curb with her feet in the gutter. “I’ve got her, Lil’. I found her!”

    “Is she okay?”

    “I don’t know.” Hope and anxiety gave him a fresh burst of energy and he doubled his speed. The space between them seemed endless and it felt as if she might fade away before he reached her. “I’ll call you back.” He snapped the phone shut without waiting for a reply. When he reached her, though, he stopped short. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and she’d buried her face in her arms. She was completely unaware of his approach. Something in the way she sat there made him freeze. The next few seconds seemed to last an eternity as he stood there, paralyzed and staring.

    The long brown hair poured down her back and arms. Her blue shirt had darkened several shades because of the drenching rainwater. The rain beat down on her, assaulting the unresponsive form. She was a tragic figure, curled up on the curb like that, so innocent; so lost and helpless. A deafening crack of thunder broke the spell and he was suddenly able to move again. He went to her, knelt down and gathered her up in his arms. Startled, she struggled briefly but her tiny fragile body was no match for his strength and determination.

    “I’m sorry.” She whispered, giving up. He did not respond but carried her to the first house he found and rang the doorbell. No one answered. He moved on to the next one determined to find someone who could help. She was shivering violently.

    Finally someone responded to the bell and the door opened. “Please…” He shook the water from his eyes and tried again. “help…” but that’s all he had the strength to say. The anxiety, the running, the self flagellation and now relief had worn him out completely. The woman nodded her head and ushered him into a comfortable sitting room.

    “Wait right here. I’ll get some towels.” She wasn’t gone very long but in that time he began to shiver himself. The woman returned with an armload of towels and spread a couple on the couch. “Put her down.” He obeyed and she handed him a towel. “Go to the bathroom, second door on the right. I left some of my husband’s clothes in there for you in there. Dry off and change.” Her voice was gentle but left no room for argument. This woman was clearly used to giving orders. Without really understanding what was going on he, again, followed directions. The bathroom was bright and cheery. He stripped down and dried himself off. Then he put on the sweatpants and sweatshirt she’d left for him. It felt so good to be warm and dry but he was worried about the girl. After running his fingers through his wet hair he hurried back to the sitting room. The woman looked up from where she was tucking a blanket around the girl.

    “Is she okay?” He asked, staring helplessly.

    “I think so. She’s sleeping now.” They both looked at the girl for a few minutes. It was funny how she seemed to be ageless; a child and a grown woman at the same time. “How about I make you a cup of coffee?”

    “Thank you.” He searched her face hoping she understood how grateful he truly was.

    “You’re welcome.” While she brewed the coffee he called Lily and told her where he was. She drove to the woman’s house and the three of them waited while the girl slept. By the time she woke up the storm had blown over and it was clear she was going to be okay. They thanked the woman and left for home.

    That was twenty years ago. The girl moved away to start a new life and though they had planned to stay friends they’d lost touch after a while. She never did tell him what made her run out that day. Each time he asked she would merely smile and say. “It doesn’t matter. The important thing is you came looking for me. That’s what I needed and I will forever be grateful you did.” He’s forgotten what the girl looked like, what her voice sounded like, even her name. The story faded in his memory until it was just a fable he told himself. The moral of the story, though, would stick with him until the day he died. You don’t have to understand to care and sometimes, that’s enough.

    • says

      Ilana, I commend you for taking the risk to try writing fiction. Did you notice how you can sometimes tell as much if not more of the truth when you have the freedom to invent and move that fiction provides? How was it for you to make up characters and try something completely new?

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Laura. I’ve actually written fiction before but never shared it here. John and Lily are from my book. So is ‘the girl’ but because she is based on me and I was saying nice things about her, I wasn’t able to use her name. Still working on that aspect of self love.

        Still, you are absolutely right. Using this fictitious scene I was able to communicate the truth of how disgusting and ugly I feel sometimes and then challenge it with the caring response of all three of the other characters. I love the way you said that. Fiction provided the freedom to step away from myself and truly share my feelings without owning them directly. It also gave me the ability to challenge them in a way that no real person can be depended upon to do it. Thank you for this inspiration. Thank you for the freedom to got with it where it took me and thank you for your response. I have learned more from expressing myself in my own writing than I have from any text book I ever read. IM

    • Diana says

      I would love to know more about “the girl” and John and their friendship. I like the line “None of it mattered now” I would like to read about the circumstances that brought them together.

      • Ilana says

        Thanks Diana- The fact that you are interested to hear more is quite a compliment. This is not an excerpt from my book. However, Alyssa- ‘the girl’, John and Lily are all characters from it. She is much younger than them but their boss because of a higher level of education. I know what was bothering her, though that is not in the book at all, because I really did once race from the room with no explanations. Thank you for asking the question. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      So nice, Ilana. In the sense of its quietness, which is just perfect. It’s so effective that way. You’ve got me curious about trying the same thing and then learning from the parallels; also, I think it would be a reprieve when I can’t handle the other style of writing on any given day. I’m always blown away by you, my friend! Take good care of yourself. Sister’s orders.

      • Ilana says

        Terry- Talk about great words. “The sense of quietness” at the end, I’m assuming, was exactly what I read from it. The last paragraph wrote itself but I read it the same way you did. Thank you for your support and warm comments. So cool to have discovered this no man’s land between fiction and nonfiction. Thanks for sharing the discovery with me. You take care of yourself too, my sister! IM

  12. Eve says

    Coffee Enema

    It had been a long grueling 12 hour shift and Eve just wanted to get home. Her back was throbbing, head was pounding, and feet were screaming bloody murder. The last thing she wanted to do was stop in some random bathroom to take a poop.
    “This is just stupendous”, she thought to herself.
    She tightened her cheeks and went running for the Rotten Robbie bathroom. Stoked that she did not have to ask for a key, because she might not have made it in time. As she hovered over the toilet seat, she looked at the wall and saw this latrinalia-


    “What the the fudge is that all about? What incredulous bastard vandalizes a bathroom wall with that kind of shit?” She said out loud to herself.
    She could be a little bitchy and cynical after a long shift of saving lives in the intensive care unit. Floccinaucinihilipilification had set in before she had even read the second line.

    As she continued on her journey home through the redwoods, an ad for Rainforest Organic Coffee from Costco came on the radio.
    “Could this be a message from God?” She wondered.
    When she got home at 9pm, she heard singing and laughing coming from the living room. She went in and found Adam watching TV by himself. She bent down and kissed him.
    “What the fuck are you watching?” She asks.
    “MAAA-RRY POPPINS!” He exclaims.
    “Cute,” she grumbles.

    She went over to the computer and googled, “coffee enemas.” She found a plethora of information about them. Supposably they did ease pain and headaches, both of which she was still experiencing. Before she knew it, she was brewing 3 tablespoons of her mother-in-laws coffee in 1 liter of distilled water. Adam, smelling the aroma of coffee, came into the kitchen. He knew how much she hated coffee.
    “What the heck are you doing?” He asks.
    “I’m going to stick it in my butt,” she replied.
    Then she explained her ride home from work. She then went upstairs to her bathtub, laid down on her right side and instilled the fluid into her rectum. As she was lying there breathing deeply, she felt as if something was opening in her liver. All of her pains began to ease. She continued to breathe deep. A serenity washed over her like none she had ever experienced. An ethereal feeling of bliss.

    The sound of her alarm, when the 15 minutes had passed, brought her back to earth. As she sat on the toilet to release the fluid, she could not believe how good she felt.
    “It really was a message from God,” she thought to herself.
    She thanked Him for yet another one of His blessings that she did not deserve. When she walked back downstairs, Adam looked up at her.
    “Well, how did that feel?”

    • Laura Davis says

      Eve, thanks for making me laugh out loud with your raw humor. Loved the piece. Could imagine you performing it.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Eve- Great way to start my morning. It made me laugh too so I read it to my husband. We’re both wide awake now and ready to deal with the kids. Hey would the enema work better on Zander because, like you he hates (to drink) coffee? Nicely done. IM

      • Eve says

        They will work well for both of you, but especially well for you because when we drink coffee it constricts our bile ducks. When you take coffee by enema it dialates the ducts. Dialating the liver bile ducts helps the liver to release the toxins that are causing pain, memory loss & fatigue. Not to mention reaking havoc on your immune system.
        Love, Eve

  13. Hazel says

    You have a very warped, funny, fantastic sense of humor! Loved your piece with such a lovely Mary Poppin’s ending.

    Thank you, for sharing.

  14. Talia says

    List of words:

    Frances stared at Cooper’s eyes, deep liquid pools of melted chocolate. She sighed. Those were Gypsy eyes; eyes to beguile and entice you into their depths. How, she wondered, did he manage to have those Gypsy – dark eyes, rimmed black like the most perfect black – ink eyeliner one could ever hope to apply? It was unfair. They were mesmerizing. Frances could feel her scolding attitude slipping rapidly away.

    Francis tried to look stern. “Cooper,” she began again.

    His expression altered from one of being lugubriously solemn with guilt, to being near angelic. He was expectant, curious, hopeful.

    The last three inches of Cooper’s tail began to wiggle back and forth almost imperceptibly. She only caught it because his red-brown furred tail was tipped with white. How did he do that? Wasn’t a tail wagged from the base, and not the tip? Strange dog. “You broke Martha’s cache pot in the garden, oh wicked beast,” she began scolding.

    It had begun as a somewhat dull winter’s day; grayed with a heavy mist that had an echo of rain. Going outside that morning, while the air was tranquil, misty drops landed on her nose and the backs of her hands as a reminder to hurry with tasks to avoid a deluge.

    The portended rain failed to manifest, however. By 1:41 that afternoon it was a brilliantly sunny day presaging a warm and tender spring on the California Central Coast.

    Cooper and Frances had enthusiastically danced outside once the mist had cleared. What mischief could they get into?

    Frances breathed in deeply, then emitted a languid exhalation. The fountain bubbling nearby gurgled lazily, increasing the peaceful ambience. She left the house with a full armamentarium for a backyard excursion: notepad, phone, pen, hat for sun protection, gloves in case there was a surge of gardening interest. Additional items which were just as essential – teapot, tea tray, milk, sugar, teacup, teaspoon, and a slice of Dutch honey spice bread. Something sure to nourish during the hours ahead. She even brought a peanut butter flavored dog biscuit.

    As Frances was becoming settled in and feeling lulled by the trickle of water she reflected, “All is right with the world.” For a Sunday afternoon it was. One could indulge oneself in simple contemplation. One could casually observe one’s thoughts, or perhaps allow attention to rest on the beauty of the garden, and listen to birds twittering nearby.

    Tranquility was not long-lived.

    A huge squawking and screaming, shrill in the way birds express panic, burst forth. It was followed by a mad, “Woof , woof,” woofing, breaking the peace.

    “Oh no!” A voice cried and then – crash. It was the sound of pottery breaking.

    Frances catapulted herself out of her powder coated wire chair, tea utensils rattling, “Cooper!” she shouted.

    Apparently playing quietly in the garden was not enough to occupy the dachshund mixed hound. Cooper could not resist chasing the peacocks which had taken up residence in the garden. Cooper chasing them was almost a daily occurrence since Frances had moved the two of them to this property. Why the peafowl, cocks, peahen and peachicks continued to roost in her pine tree and provide temptation to the little dog was a mystery. There were plenty of other trees to roost in; and acres of vegetation all around her property which was in the countryside. But who could know the mind of a peacock?

    After a merry game of Chase-the-peacocks, the peafowl escaped and were huddling on the roof of the shed. Cooper had wound up in the wrong gardening bed. When he was sprayed with the garden hose by Amy, her housemate, he had panicked and jumped through a row of pottery, knocking a turquoise Chinese cache pot off the ledge. It crashed below on the concrete.

    Tally: Cooper – 1; cache pot -0. And like Humpty Dumpty, there were too many pieces to try and glue it back together again.

    Cooper looked up at Frances’ shouting, initially frozen, peacock feather in his mouth, looking with brown eyes gazing soulfully. When she spoke to him, that’s when his tail began it’s mute staccato.

    Frances began to look Cooper over to see if he favored any of his limbs or was injured, but no, there was nothing. In fact he looked remarkably fat and sassy in his orangey-brown rust colored coat of fur. Oh well no one was hurt, Francis thought to herself.

    Cooper began bounding over the lawn. All was forgiven, his gypsy eyes had worked their magic again, and he had his feather prize. A towhee, black capped and rusty – sided scratched industriously in the leaf detritus nearby. Cooper began trotting around the garden’s perimeter.

    It was time for squirrel patrol.

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