NaNoWriMo2020

Caught on Film

It wasn’t as if she knew what she was doing.

Okay. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Whitney reached into her car and grabbed her camera bag. She unzipped it and pulled out her DLSR and lens. She hooked the strap around her neck and stuffed an extra battery into the pocket of her jacket. She was slipping her phone in her other jacket pocket when it dinged.

Where are you?

She stuck her car keys in the pocket of her jeans and locked the car before answering.

At Cricket Falls. Taking pictures for class. 

You’re still on the photography kick? 

You make it sound like a hobby.

Isn’t it?

Listen Seth, I have spent a lot of money on classes and I need to practice. I really want to make this into something. Why can’t you support me?

Because it’s stupid and a pipe dream. Stick with the bank. You have a future there.

Whitney sighed and rolled her eyes.

Why can’t you support me?? She typed furiously.

I’m trying to prevent you from making a mistake. 

Whitney was beginning to wonder if Seth was the mistake.

I can’t talk right now. I need to go before I lose the light. 

Fine.

She angrily tucked the phone into her other jeans pocket and briefly closed her eyes. She had been taking photography classes for nearly four months and she resented Seth for making her feel stupid. She wanted to enjoy the classes and he was making it impossible with his negativity and complaining.

Asshole, she thought.

She tugged a hairband in to push her curly black hair out of her eyes. She tested the door handle of her VW bug and set off toward the hiking trail. She hadn’t been to Cricket Falls in quite some time and she was looking forward to taking pictures at sunset.

She stopped just as she entered the tree line. She had forgotten her water bottle. She paused. She should probably go back and get it but it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a little over two hours and it would take her nearly an hour to reach the falls.

She shrugged and continued down the path.

She stepped around tree roots and over smooth, flat rocks. She took deep, cleansing breaths. There was nothing like fresh air to clear the week’s cobwebs. She knew Seth wanted her to stay with the bank but she was bored. She wanted a job where she could be creative and spontaneous. She had no idea if she would be able to make any money at photography but she certainly wanted to try. She loved learning about F-stops and angles, lighting and focus points in class. It was challenging to look at something and then set up the perfect shot in order to try and capture the mood she wanted to portray.

The day was quickly cooling down and she was thankful she had grabbed a jacket. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind distended gray clouds and it looked like a storm front was heading in. She paused to check the weather on her phone. She had to walk up an incline in order to get a better signal. Weather was definitely coming in but she figured she had about three hours before it reached her, plenty of time to shoot some pictures and make it back to her car before it rained.

Her phone dinged. She sighed and continued walking. It was probably Seth and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the time she had and to focus on her pictures as she was hoping to touch them up and present them at her next class for critique. She ignored the text and kept moving. She glanced up at the sky. There were now more clouds than sun and she was beginning to think maybe she should head back to her car as she didn’t want to risk getting her camera equipment wet.

She was lost in thought and seriously thinking about turning around when she rounded a bend and there, in all it’s glory, was Cricket Falls.

She paused to to fully absorb the sheer magnificence of the beautiful waterfall. The falls were not as swollen as she had seen them in the past but she knew it would only be a matter of minutes after the rain started to turn the relatively calm waters into a raging, angry flow.

She heard a crack of thunder and it made her jump into action. She lifted her camera, adjusted her settings and began taking pictures from various angles. She was actually glad the sun had disappeared behind the clouds as it provided her with better light and a somber atmosphere. After taking about twenty shots, she was placing her lens cap back on the camera when another round of thunder reverberated above. She nervously eyed the sky and turned around to head back. She paused at the fork in the path and decided to take another route back to her car. She didn’t know for sure if it was quicker, but had hiked that particular path before and felt like the way back was less rocky.

She was weaving through the trees, dodging and dunking under branches when she heard a sound.

After being in the woods for over an hour, she had gotten used to the shuffling of critters in the leaves and the wind rustling the tree branches. But this sound was different. It sounded like a soft hiss, or scrape, then as if something was being dropped onto soft earth.

She broke through some trees and her phone dinged again.

She paused and dug it out of her pocket.

Another girl has gone missing. I don’t like you being out there all alone. Come home.

Whitney sent a quick text back to Seth.

You worry too much. I got my shots and am heading back. 

He answered back immediately.

Good.

She dropped her phone back into her pocket and squelched her irritation.  He was trying. She needed to try as well.

She entered the next clump of trees, carefully picking her way through the path when she heard the strange noise again.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

What was that sound? It seemed so out-of-place in the woods and yet, she felt like she had heard that sound before.

She veered off the path and crept toward where she thought the sound was coming from. She reached out to move a low-hanging branch only for it to swing back and slap her in the face.

“Ow!” She clapped a hand over her cheek to try and quell the sting.

The sound abruptly stopped.

Whitney also stopped and stood still. She could feel her heartbeat quickening even though she forced her breathing to slow and quiet. Something felt wrong. Why did the sound stop? A flash of lightening pierced the darkening sky above her. She counted silently in her head … 1 … 2 …3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … Thunder rolled across the sky and Whitney glanced at the time on her phone. She estimated she had about thirty minutes before the rain reached her. Though she knew she needed to move, she couldn’t. It was too quiet. Though she didn’t know what the sound was, she suddenly wished it would start back up again. She instinctively knew the sound resuming was safer than not.

She continued to stay still and she silently urged the sound to continue so she could move. She didn’t know why it was so important for the sound to resume but she was spooked enough that she didn’t feel like she should move until it did.

Her phone dinged and the sound seemed to echo loudly.

“Shit,” she reached in to her pocket and quickly muted her phone. She could hear a rustling up ahead of her and she quietly moved closer to the trees, off the path and into the shadows. She felt ridiculous for playing chicken with the mysterious sound but the goosebumps on her arms was enough to give her pause.

After long minutes, the sound started back up again and she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

She cautiously moved forward, careful to avoid disturbing the leaves and rocks in her way. She crept into a small batch of trees and tried to peer through.

She saw a flash of blue.

Was that a person?

Continue reading “Caught on Film”

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Jax

Hello Blogfam and welcome. I’d like to introduce Jaxson Fuller. He goes by Jax. Is that right?

Jax: Yes.

Me: Very good. Jax is the male lead in the story and Maya’s potential love interest though I believe you don’t make an appearance in the story for quite a while, is that right, Jax?

Jax: Correct.

Me: Well, welcome to my blog. Thanks for being here.

Jax: *nods and gives a small smile*

Me: So, Jax. Tell us about yourself.

Jax: I hate when people say that. Can’t you just give me a question?

Me: Okay. Tell me about your life before Maya.

Jax: I was a First Lieutenant in the Army. I served three tours in the Middle East and about five(ish) years ago, my unit was attacked. I sustained an injury and had to rethink my career. It wasn’t fun.

Me: What sort of injury?

Jax: *points to his left leg* I was shot several times in the left leg. Banged me up pretty good. I was honorably discharged shortly after that. I spent a year in rehabilitation and I can walk on it now, but I am gimpy.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.

Jax: *shrugs* Comes with the territory. After I finished rehab, I ran into a buddy of mine who works for the Secret Service. He pulled some strings and I was able to get a job.

Me: The Secret Service, eh? Sounds exciting.

Jax: It’s not really. But you do have to be super vigilant.

Me: I can imagine. Who was assigned to you. Would I have known that person?

Jax: Possibly. I would rather not say who I watched over.

Me: Of course. They don’t call it “Secret” service for no reason. *laughs*

Jax: *smiles – though clearly not as amused*

Me: How long have you been in the Secret Service?

Jax: It’s been nearly … three years now.

Me: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Jax: Definitely the people. I’m either watching someone who is totally paranoid about being attacked or someone who doesn’t take it seriously and takes all kinds of risks. It can be exhausting.

Me: Can you tell us about one of your more challenging clients?

Jax: *sits for a bit, then nods brusquely* Sure. It was about six months ago, actually. I was assigned to watch a Senator’s daughter and she took it upon herself to sneak out of her house and go to a party that none of us knew about and certainly didn’t approve she could go to. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I had to swallow some pride and call in reinforcements. It took us nearly two hours to find her and by the time we did, she was very drunk and very loud.

Me: I take that to mean, she wasn’t happy to see you.

Jax: You could say that. Her father was also not very happy to see me.

Me: Did he punish you?

Jax: No. *he flexes his jaw in irritation* He campaigned to have me fired.

Me: But it wasn’t your fault!

Jax: Doesn’t matter. She was my responsibility and I lost track of her. If something had happened to her, I would have been prosecuted and likely charged with negligence.

Me: Wow. Why do you stay in the job if there is that much pressure?

Jax: Because I’m very good at my job. I had allowed myself to become distracted in that case. That will not happen again.

Me: What distracted you?

Jax: I’d rather not say.

Me: It was a woman, wasn’t it? Was it Maya?

Jax: *face flushes a light red*

Me: Are you married?

Jax: I was.

Me: What happened?

Jax: *sighs* We were bad for each other. We were polar opposites, which was great in some ways, it was never boring. *soft smile of remembrance* But after a while, the novelty wore off and we just got tired of trying, I suppose.

Me: Any children?

Jax: One. But she died from SARS when she was four months old. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

Me: *blinks – clears throat* I’m sorry.

Jax: …..

Me: So. Any love interest now?

Jax: *arches a brow* I think you know the answer to that one.

Me: *sly grin* Just seeing if you were still with me. How did you and Maya meet?

Jax: Her dad … talked me into being her bodyguard.

Me: You didn’t volunteer for the job?

Jax; Not exactly.

Me: Why would Maya need protection?

Jax: Unclear. Though her father is head of the Secret Service to the President and when you’re that close, you tend to make enemies.

Me: What is Maya like to guard?

Jax: She’s a pain in the ass.

Me: Really? I would have thought Dree would be the pain in the ass.

Jax: Dree is tough, but she’s street smart. Maya is clueless to what goes on in the world. Thank God her father had the foresight to make her take kickboxing.

Me: *chuckles* Forgive me. But after meeting Maya, … kickboxing? Really? It just doesn’t compute.

Jax: *shrugs* Yeah. She’s a bit of a princess and her form sucks, but she’s got determination, I’ll give her that. She will get better.

Me: What makes you so sure?

Jax: Because I’ll make sure she can defend herself. You never know what life will throw at you. You need to be prepared.

Me: Sounds like an army slogan. *chuckles*

Jax: Be all you can be.

Me: Now you’re making fun of me.

Jax: *smirks*

Me: Do your parents live here?

Jax: My dad is a Colonel in the Army. Mom is a typical Army wife, sponsors fundraisers and events to help boost the troops’ families. They are stationed in West Virginia right now.

Me: So fairly close. Do you ever get to see them?

Jax: Not as often as I would like.

Me: Any siblings?

Jax: I have a younger brother, Mark.

Me: And what does Mark do?

Jax: He’s special ops. I haven’t seen him in nearly … five years, I think.

Me: Your parents must be proud – both of you serving your country.

Jax: *frown* I guess.

Me: You don’t think so?

Jax: *rubs the scruff on his face absently* No comment.

Me: Well, that’s intriguing. So Jax ..

(*a loud pop sounds outside and causes Me to jump and squeal*)

Jax: Get down! *jumps out of his chair causing it crash to the floor and whips his Glock semi automatic pistol out of his waist band. He points is at the window.

Continue reading “Interview with Jax”

NaNoWriMo2020

Dree’s Pre-Story

Dree studied her reflection in the mirror. Her cheeks were sunken in and she had dark circles around her eyes. She turned her head from side to side and casually smeared a droplet of blood dripping from her mouth across her chin.

She smiled.

“Wow. You look dead.”

She spun in her chair and grinned.

“Sick! You blackened your teeth!” Riley fully came into her room and plopped down on her bed.

“Does it look like I eat brains for breakfast?” She laughed while reaching for her wig.

“Totally. What do you think about my costume?”

She crunched up a dead leaf in her hand and rubbed it into her raggedy wig. “Love it. It really looks like some big zombie dude grabbed you by the head and ripped it off your shoulders. You need more blood though. Hang on.” She tucked her hair into her wig cap, bent forward, tugged the wig on and then sat back up, her long, black hair curling around her shoulders. “Wigs are so freakin’ hot.” She adjusted it more comfortably then reached for her fake blood. She got up and moved toward him. She began to smear blood around the corners of his mouth and ran a finger down his chin and neck.

“I wish they weren’t going to be there,” he whispered staring her straight in the eyes.

She shrugged. “Yeah. Me too. We would have more fun if they weren’t there, but whatever. We’re going to have fun regardless of the shit they pull tonight.” She backed away and smiled. “Perfect. You look like a headless person now. Bravo.”

He got up to look at himself in the mirror. “Yeah. Good job.” He turned to face her, his face falling serious. “You’re driving us, right?”

“That’s the plan short stuff.” She paused while putting her theatrical makeup away. “Did something happen again?” She turned to look over her shoulder at him.

“Not really. Just the same shit. This bruise here?” He pointed to his temple. “That’s not makeup.”

She narrowed her eyes and slammed the last of her makeup in her backup. “He’s such an asshole.”

“I’m so glad you’re living here, Dree. I don’t know how I would …” he trailed off. Dree reached out and ruffled his hair. “Don’t sweat it, short stuff. We’re a team. You’re not getting rid of me. Besides, this is the first time in months I’ve had a roof over my head and a real bed to sleep in. Why would I give that up?”

He smiled and nodded. “Okay. Let’s go have some fun.”

“Agreed. Come on.” She grabbed her purse and they exited the bedroom.

“Wow. You guys look great!” Mandy paused stirring the punch she planned on taking to the party and apprised them both. “Definitely scary looking.”

Dree bowed and Riley howled in mock pain.

“Pretty sure you guys will win the costume contest.”

Dree shrugged and tried to hide her pleased smile. “I don’t know, you’re looking pretty great yourself. Bride of Frankenstein?”

Mandy laughed. “Yeah. Let’s go with that. I think that’s my official costume but I’m not sure I actually carried it off. But I thought, what the hell, if Richard could go as Frankenstein then it seemed like a no brainer to go as his bride.”

“Oh. Is Dick coming?” Dree gave Riley the side eye. She hadn’t really anticipated Dick coming, she was hoping he would think a Halloween party was beneath him but whatever, they would just avoid him.

“Yeah. He decided to go at the last minute.” Many shrugged. “Seems weird, really. He has never seemed interested in going in year’s past.”

Dree sighed. He was going because she was going to be there. She never should have told him she was thinking of going. She silently berated herself for her stupidity.

“Okay. I guess we’ll see you there,” Dree said. She motioned for Riley to follow her.

“Oh. You guys are driving? I thought we could all go together.” Mandy looked wounded.

“Nah. That’s okay, Mandy. We may not want to stay as late as you guys so I’ll drive me and Riley. Did you want us to take anything?” She looked out over the spread on the kitchen table. It was covered with wrapped candy apples.

“Oh actually, yes.” Mandy glanced over shoulder and pulled out a carboard box. She began putting the apples into the box. “If you could take these, that would be great. This cider isn’t quite ready so …” she trailed off and Dree helped her load the apples.

Dree could sense Riley stiffening beside her. Dick had entered the room.

“Hey. What’s going on?” He moved to stand next to Dree. He reeked of pot and beer. Someone had started the party early.

“Just loading up the apples, Richard,” said Mandy. “Dree is driving them over. We’ll meet up with them later.”

“Nope. I’m driving all of us,” said Dick.

Riley practically threw the last apple into the box as Dree hugged it close to her chest and pulled it off the table. She completely ignored Dick.

“Let’s go Riley.”

Dick moved to block her. “I said I would drive us.”

Dree stared at his chest. She could feel the anger bubbling up inside her. She moved to sidestep Dick only for him to step back in front of her. She stood for long seconds before lifting to meet his eyes. She didn’t even bother hiding her disgust. He smirked down at her.

“Move, Dick.” She emphasized his name to imply that he was acting like a dick, too. He reached out as if to take the box from her.

“I can put this in the car,” said Dick, a challenging light in his eyes. Riley cowered back, his eyes volleying back and forth between them with fear.

“Oh my gosh!” Mandy yelled while moving toward the stove. Her cider was beginning to bubble over. Her cry of alarm was enough to distract Dick long enough for Dree to pull free of his grasp and slide past him.

“Hey!” Dick called after them.

“Let them go, Richard,” said Mandy. “We’ll catch up. No big deal,” she placated him.

Dree didn’t stick around to hear anymore. She kicked open the door and hurried down the front steps, Riley close on her heels.

“God, I hate him,” Dree muttered between clenched teeth.

“Yeah,” Riley said and opened the back door of her Chevy Malibu so Dree could shove the box of apples into the back seat.

“He’s not that bad,” said Riley. “He doesn’t hit me as often as my last foster family.”

Dree sighed and buckled her seat belt. “I don’t even know where to start with that statement.” She started the car and backed out of the driveway. She saw the front door open and accelerated. She slammed on her brakes when she heard a car horn, uncomfortably close, honk at her. The car continued to blast it’s horn as it maneuvered around her.

“Jesus!” Riley shouted, putting out both hands to catch himself before hitting the dashboard.

Dree gritted her teeth and stared at Dick. He was illuminated by the porch light and she could see his knowing smirk even from her distance.

“Riley. We’re not moving until you buckle up.”

“Damn Dree. You nearly killed us.” He reached around and snapped the belt into place.

“Yeah, sorry dude. I wasn’t expecting Dick to open the door. I thought he might come running after us.”

Riley studied her for long moments, but kept silent.

Dree forced herself to take deep, calming breaths. He was not going to hurt her again. She was ready for him if he tried. She had been working out at Jimbo’s Gym for several months and she had never felt stronger. She was also noticing muscles that hadn’t been there before. She also taught herself to use a punching bag. If she wasn’t at school or working, you could find her at the gym. In fact, she kept most of her clothes at the gym, the only thing she had at Mandy and Dick’s house were PJ’s and a toothbrush. Though she appreciated having a roof over her head and a comfy bed, she didn’t feel comfortable living with them. After the incident, she insisted on them putting a lock on her door. She had had to convince Mandy that one was necessary without telling her that her asshole husband was the reason she needed one.

She spent many long hours at the gym obsessively working out after the attack, trying to sweat the memory of him touching her out of her body. Jimbo watched her work herself into utter exhaustion before approaching her late one night.

“What’s up, kid?”

She had stopped punching the bag, putting a hand out to stop it’s forward momentum before reaching over to grab a towel and wipe the sweat from her face. “Nothing. Just blowing off some steam.”

“You have a lot of steam.”

She shrugged and moved to step past him and make her way to the locker room.

“I’ve worked with enough damaged people to recognize the signs.”

Dree froze in place. Her heart began to pound and she focused on breathing evenly. How would he know? She hadn’t told a soul. In fact, she worked extra hard to appear as normal as she could. Or at least, as normal as she thought people expected. She turned to face him.

“I’m fine, Jimbo.”

“Sure kid. I don’t believe you, but okay. Tell you what,” he reached for the disinfectant and began spraying down the punching bag. “Let’s get you into some kickboxing classes.”

“Kickboxing?” She tilted her head. She had seen several girls in the ring learning kickboxing but she had never thought she had the coordination to try it.

“I think you would be a natural. And if you need to defend yourself, there’s really no better way.” He paused cleaning the bag and gave her a knowing look.

He knew. She didn’t know how he knew, but he did. In some ways, she felt relieved that he knew but they didn’t have to talk about it. She smirked and nodded her head once in agreement. Jimbo had made sure she got into a class and came to check on her from time-to-time. That was four months ago. She wasn’t nearly as good as most of the people in her class but Jimbo had been right  – she felt stronger and more prepared to defend herself, if she needed to.

She hoped she never had to.

Continue reading “Dree’s Pre-Story”

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Dree

Hello Blogfam and welcome.

I’d like to introduce Dree Sanders. Dree is a supporting character in this story. She has graciously allowed me to pick her brain and to share her with you all. Welcome Dree.

Dree: Thanks.

Me: You look mad.

Dree: I’m not mad. But I don’t think I appreciate the supporting character part of your introduction.

Me: But you are a supporting character. You’re not the main character so …

Dree: Whatever.

Me: Okay. *swallows nervously* So tell us about your relationship with Maya.

Dree: I don’t have a relationship with Maya.

Me: *nervous laugh* Wow. This interview is going great. Are you saying you’re an enemy of Maya’s?

Dree: I wouldn’t say enemy, per se …

Me: *waits*

Dree: *sigh* I guess we’re more like frenemies …

Me: Why is that? What happens?

Dree: *gives her a condescending look* Pretty sure I can not contractually answer that question.

Me: *shrugs* Maybe not. Okay, do you hate Maya?

Dree: I don’t feel anything for Maya. She’s my competitor. But … *big sigh* I guess I admire her, too.  If you tell her I said that, I will stab you.

Me: She’s kidding Blogfam … she wouldn’t really stab me. *tilts head* Would you?

Dree: *shrugs*

Me: How did you and Maya meet?

Dree: I actually kicked her ass.

Me: *blinks* You … that’s how you met??

Dree: Yep.

Me: Like, *nervous laugh* did you jump her in an alley? I don’t understand.

Dree: No. God, *rolls eyes* In kick boxing.

Me: Oh, of course. So that’s how you two met?

Dree: Pretty sure I just said that.

Me: Geez Dree, no reason to be a bi … difficult.

Dree: *smirks* It was easy to kick her ass. She’s not very good at kickboxing.

Me: I see. Let’s switch it up. Do you have a boyfriend?

Dree: That’s personal.

Me: *waits for an answer*

Dree: *sighs* Fine. Yes .. and no.

Me: Oh my God, Dree! It’s like pulling teeth to talk to you! You’re the who agreed to this interview.

Dree: Actually, no I didn’t. You forced me to ..

Me: *holds up a hand* Stop. Just stop. The purpose of this interview is to introduce you to the Blogfam as well as give me an idea of who and what you are. I have to say, I’m not exactly a fan of you right now.

Dree: Ditto.

Me: *takes a calming breath* Look. Just tell us your role in this story.

Dree: I keep everyone from killing each other.

Me: Do people turn on each other?? I don’t remember that being part of the plan!

Dree: What do you mean part of the plan? You don’t even know what the plan is yet! You haven’t written the story yet.

Me: But the little I’ve planned out in my head does not say my characters kill each other.

Dree: You’re forgetting one little fact.

Me: What?

Dree: There is a whole lot about this story you don’t know yet. How do you know what happens in the middle? Answer, you don’t. What if I go on a killing spree?

Me: Then I guess I’ll have Maya take you out.

Dree: *snorts* That princess? I’d like to see you try!

Me: Are you threatening me, Dree?

Dree: You started it.

Me: *takes a calming breath* Okay … this is getting weird. Let’s move … wait, you never answered the question about having a boyfriend? *consults transcript* Wait. You answered it .. sort of.

Dree: *dramatic sigh* You’re annoying.

Me: Ditto.

Dree: *cracks a smile in spite of herself* Touché.

Me: ….

Dree: What makes you think I have a crush on a boy?

Me: *slow blink* You’re a lesbian?

Dree: Maybe.

Me: I mean … if that’s what you’re in to, I’m not judging. Not to mention, I really don’t care but …

Dree: *laughs* I’m not into girls … though there are a few characters in your story I would do if I swung that way.

Me: Gah. This conversation just gets more and more strange. *clears throat* What are some things you like to participate in?

Dree: S & M, kinky exhibitionist stuff.

Me: Dree!

Dree: *loud laugh*

Me: Will you please be serious. I’m trying to get to know you here and you’re doing your best to keep me at arm’s length.

Dree: I don’t get close to people.

Me: Oh, why is that?

Dree: *shrugs*

Me: No. You don’t get to not answer that. Spill the tea.

Dree: *gives it some thought* Because people suck.

Me: Meaning …?

Dree: People are constant disappointments. I can’t count on anyone, ever. I can only count on myself.

Me: Sounds like you’ve been let down in your life.

Dree: You could say that.

Me: Tell me about your home life?

Dree: What home life?

Me: What are your parents like?

Dree: I have no idea.

Me: You’re not close to your parents?

Dree: I don’t have parents.

Me: Dree, come on. Someone impregnated your mother so that you could be born. You didn’t just appear out of thin air.

Dree: Sometimes I wish I had.

Me: Bad people?

Dree: You could say that.

Me: Do you have any contact with them?

Dree: God no.

Me: When did you move out?

Dree: I didn’t. They kicked us out.

Me: Us?

Dree: *bites her lip* My little brother.

Me: *raises eyebrows* I didn’t know you had a brother.

Dree: I don’t.

Me: *exasperated chuckle* Dree! You just said …

Dree: We both came from foster care. We actually ended up in the same shitty household and we both picked up our shit and left when things got too intense. We’re not really family, but we’ve been through some stuff so … we’re close.

Me: Does he make an appearance in the story?

Dree: Maybe.

Me: Hmmm. So you’ve never felt like finding  your true parents?

Continue reading “Interview with Dree”

NaNoWriMo2020

Maya’s Pre-Story

“You want me to do what?” Maya pulled an earbud from her ear to blink at her father.

Thomas Cooper peeked over his reading glasses at Maya. “You heard me.”

“But dad,” she whined. “I’m meeting my friends! I can’t have Bryan tag along, I would die!”

“First of all, you won’t die,” he grinned. “Secondly, your mother has to go to this meeting and Carla has the afternoon off. You’re our only choice.” He paused. “You’re the best choice, obviously. Bryan loves hanging out with you.”

“And I love hanging out with him, but not in front of my friends. It’s not cool, dad.”

Thomas dropped his phone into his suit jacket and gave his daughter his full attention. “Look Gracie,” he stepped forward and gathered her into his arms, placing a kiss on her head. “I remember being fourteen. I know exactly what you’re feeling right now. Remember how I had to stay home with your aunt and uncle so grandma could go to work?”

“Yeah. But you didn’t have a choice. Grandpa had died.”

“True. But you don’t have a choice either. Someone has to watch Bryan, he’s too young to stay home by himself. You don’t want anything to happen to him, do you?”

Maya wrapped her arms around her father’s waist and gave him a loving squeeze. “No.”

“Just act like the cool sister. Show your friends how responsible you are. They’ll be impressed.”

“But he’s so annoying,” she murmured into his suit jacket.

He chuckled. ‘He’s also your little brother. Flesh and blood. We do whatever it takes for flesh and blood, right?”

She sighed and nodded against his chest. She loved the smell of her father. He smelled like sandalwood and gun powder. She lowered her hand and ran her palm over the butt of the revolver in his belt. It brought her a strange sense of comfort knowing her father carried a gun.

“Where’s mom?” Bryan entered the room.

“She at her meeting, bud.” Thomas slipped out of Maya’s embrace and ruffled his son’s hair.

“But … ” he looked from his father to his sister and then back. “Carla is out. Am I going to work with you dad?” He bounced on the ball of his feet, excitement shining in his green eyes.

“Sorry, no. You’re hanging out with Maya,” he said.

“But she’s a girl!” he whined, looking horrified.

“See!” Maya said. “He doesn’t want to hang out with me and my friends either!”

“Look you two,” said Thomas. “We don’t have a choice. Mom is out, Carla is out. There is no one else available. If it’s going to bother you so much, Maya, then stay home. You don’t have to hang out with your friends. Or better yet, invite them here.”

“No. We made plans for the park. We have to go to the park!”

“Oooh, is Damon going to be there?” Bryan sing-songed.

“Who’s Damon?” said Thomas.

“No one!” Maya yelled, reaching out to swat at Bryan but he was too quick for her and dodged her hand.

“Maya, you’re not meeting a boy, are you?”

“No dad. It’s just me and the girls. We need some fresh air. End of discussion.”

Thomas arched a warning brow at her.

Maya crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Fine. He can come.”

“But I don’t want to hang out with her! Girls are gross!” Bryan whined.

“Enough!” Thomas yelled. Both the kids jumped at his sharp tone. “I need to go. Leave, stay, I don’t care, but you are not to leave Bryan alone, do you hear me, Maya? If I find out you did, you will be grounded.”

She sighed and nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Thomas softened his tone and took a calming breath. “I’ll make a reservation at our favorite Italian restaurant tonight and then we’ll go out for ice cream later, deal?”

Both kids nodded and he smiled. He bent down, pointed to his cheek and smiled when Maya gave him a quick peck. Bryan hugged him tightly around the waist and hung on as Thomas started to walk away. He laughed. “Get off me,  you monkey.”

Bryan laughed and let go, stumbling backward.

Maya rolled her eyes.

“See you later, kiddos.”

“Bye dad,” they both chorused.

Maya waited for him to leave then turned to Bryan. “You better not embarrass me.”

“You better not embarrass me! I know you’re going to the park to watch Damon’s soccer team practice. I’m not stupid.”

“Whatever brat. Go grab your jacket.”

“I don’t need a jacket.”

“It’s 50 degrees, Bryan. I don’t want to go to the park and then you start complaining about being cold. In fact, I want you to be invisible. Got it?”

“Fine. I’ll bring my invisible cloak then.”

Maya growled. “Get your jacket!” She lunged for him and he dodged her once again.

“Haha! You’ll never catch me, Maya. I’m much faster than you!”

She made to grab at him again but he once again ducked under her arm and raced toward his room.

Maya scowled after him and sent Ava a text. Dad is making me bring Bryan. She walked over to the mudroom and grabbed her green pea coat from the hook. Her phone dinged as she slipped it on.

No worries. I think your little brother is funny.

You wouldn’t think that if you had to live with him.

“Come on slow poke!” Bryan bumped into her as he rushed past.

“Oh my God! You are so annoying!” She yelled after him. She grabbed her cross over bag, made sure she had the door key, her lip gloss and some cinnamon gum before following her little brother out the door.

“Bryan, wait up!” Maya yelled while skipping down the stairs. He was already half a block ahead of her. She reached in her bag and retrieved her lip gloss. She tried to apply it while speed walking after Bryan. She felt nervous. Even though she told her father she was going to the park to hang out with her girlfriends, which was technically correct, she was largely going because Damon was going to be practicing with his soccer team. She had had a crush on Damon for nearly two years and this was the first year he finally noticed her. It was also the year she developed boobs and bought her first bra so maybe he had finally noticed she was becoming a woman.

She pressed her lips together and looked both ways while crossing the street. One block to the park. She could just make Bryan out in front of her. “Bryan!” She yelled.

He spun around and began to run backward while waving at her.

“Slow down!” She could have run after him, but she didn’t want to arrive at the park all hot and sweaty. Though maybe a little sweat would make her t-shirt cling to her newly developed breasts and that would prompt Damon to finally talk to her.

She thought back to the first time she had seen Damon. They had fifth grade class together. He sat to her right, catty-corner from her desk. She had the perfect spot to watch him without him noticing her stare. He was gorgeous. He had hair the color of swirling milk chocolate and light hazel eyes. He had a dimple in his left cheek whenever he smiled. He didn’t smile a lot, but when he did, it took her breath away. He was very quiet that year and stayed mostly to himself. She thought he was mysterious and broody. He never once looked back at her and he never seemed to sense she was drooling over him every day. The only time he actually looked directly at her was when Mr. Shaw asked her a question and she didn’t know the answer. The other kids snickered and whispered but he simply turned around, grinned and said, “don’t sweat it. We can’t always know the answer.” She had been lost from that point forward.

She always made a point of knowing where he was at all times that year. Then in six grade, she had casually asked her friends to find out from his friends what classes he was taking so she could try and get into the same class. She was never able to take a class at the same time as him but she had English right after he did so they nearly always passed each other in the hall that year. He never said a word to her but she always made a point of walking past him every day.

This year, she had been lucky and had Social Studies with him. She sat directly behind him so she could gaze lovingly at his thick, wavy hair. He seemed to be interested in Social Studies and knew a lot of the answers. Because she didn’t want to appear stupid in front of him, she studied extra hard and often competed with him to answer the teacher’s questions. One time, she was asked a tricky question about September 11th, 2001, and when the teacher told her she had the right answer, he turned around, grinned and said, “nice.” She thought she would melt into a puddle on the spot. She carried that memory with her for weeks.

Then, last week, she heard he had tried out and made the soccer team. She immediately signed up to be part of the pep club so she would have an excuse to attend all of his games and cheer him on. She talked her best friend Ava into joining her. Her phone buzzed in her purse. She reached in to read the text: Where are you? Practice is starting and we saved you a seat.

Nearly there, she typed back.

She put her phone back and gave her full attention to the path before her.

Bryan was no where to be seen.

Maya’s heart quivered. “Bryan!” she yelled. “Bryan!” she yelled louder. She broke into a jog straining her eyes in search of her little brother. “If you get lost, mom and dad will never forgive me,” she muttered under her breath.

Continue reading “Maya’s Pre-Story”

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Maya

Hello Blogfam and welcome,

I’d like to introduce Maya Cooper. She’s the main character of my NaNoWriMo project and she has graciously consented to being interviewed for my blog. Please give her a warm welcome.

Me: Hello Maya. *warm smile* Thanks for hanging out with me today.

Maya: Hi. Thanks for having me. *shy smile*

Me: So. You have a starring role in my upcoming story, how do you feel about that?

Maya: Well, *soft laugh*, if you had asked me how I felt before I lived this story, I would have been tongue tied and terrified. But now.. *shrug – pause* let’s just say I’m no longer terrified.

Me: Oh wow. That’s quite a loaded statement. Can you elaborate?

Maya: And spoil the story? Of course not. *chuckle*

Me: Well now I’m intrigued. What happens that changes your perspective?

Maya: What happens? A lot. In fact, I have a bone to pick with you, did you have to put me through so much agony? It was touch and go there for a while. Actually, several times. *she frowns*

Me: *embarrassed chuckle* Well. I couldn’t make it too easy, it wouldn’t have been as interesting to read.

Maya: I suppose.

Me: Okay, well. I’m sorry?

Maya: *chuckles*

Me: By the way, I LOVE your hair. It’s gorgeous.

Maya: Thank you.

Me: I wish my hair was long and thick like yours. Did you French braid it yourself? And I love how you left the pigtails loose at the bottom. Very pretty.

Maya: Thanks. Yeah. I did it myself. When you have waist-length hair, you think of creative ways to get it out of your face. My friend, Ava, taught me how to French braid. In fact, most of the styles you see me wear in the story was created by my friend. The color is growing out though. I need to go back in and touch up my highlights. *self-consciously touches her hair*

Me: And what a gorgeous sweater dress. That dark green looks amazing on you, it really highlights your light green eyes.

Maya: *blushes* Well, thank you.

Me: Where did you get those boots?

Maya: *chuckles* Now you’re just buttering me up.

Me: Is it working? *grin*

Maya: *laughs* Maybe.

Me: So tell us a little something about you.

Maya: *sighs* I’m not sure where to start so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Me: Always a good place to start.

Maya: *narrows her eyes* Are you making fun of me?

Me: No, no! Sorry. I guess I’m feeling a little embarrassed because I didn’t realize I was so hard on you.

Maya: I nearly died a few times, Karen. Not to mention, what happened to …

Me: Go on.

Maya: *shakes head* No. You’re not going to trick me into telling your audience what happens. That would spoil everything and make my story less “interesting to read,” as you put it.

Me: *blush* Okay. Fair enough. Start at the beginning.

Maya: *takes a breath and looks off into the distance* I was a happy child, for the most part. Mom and dad are still married though after the adventure you put me and my friends through, I don’t know if they will stay married.

Me: Wow. Sounds serious.

Maya: It was. You pretty much destroyed my family … in some ways, but in other ways, you healed it.

Me. Sounds cryptic. Care to elaborate?

Maya: Not at this time, no.

Me: *chuckles* You sound like a politician.

Maya: *shrugs* I’ve learned a lot about being careful what I say and to whom. *smirks*

Me: Sounds like you don’t trust me.

Maya: I don’t. *pointed look*

Me: Ouch. And touché. *nods head* Please continue.

Maya: I had a normal childhood … at least as normal as you can get when your dad is a secret service officer hired to protect the president.

Me: *blinks* As in, the President of the United States?

Maya: That would be the one.

Me: How long did he do that?

Maya: Oh gosh, years. I don’t even know how long. He has protected five presidents over the past 25 years.

Me: Was he ever hurt on the job?

Maya: That’s classified information.

Me: Really?

Maya: *chuckles* No. But it sounds cool.

Me: *grins* What about your mom?

Maya: She’s great. My mom and I are close.

Me: Are you close to your dad?

Maya: *pauses and chews her lip* Not exactly. We sort of had a falling out.

Me: Care to elaborate?

Maya: I’d rather not.  You’ll have to read my story to find out what happened.

Me: Wow. That sounds mysterious. Not to mention, that puts pressure on me to deliver.

Maya: *shrugs* You’re the writer.

Me: Or at least, I like to pretend I’m a writer.

Maya: Are you looking for a compliment?

Me: *grins and shrugs off her comment* Any siblings?

Maya: *long pause* No.

Me: Did you have to think about that? Do you not want to claim a sibling? *laughs*

Maya: *quietly* It’s complicated.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Did … something happen to your siblings? Continue reading “Interview with Maya”