Sunday January 31st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the case.

Natalie came over this morning to play with Max. For a very long time they were in Max's room with the door closed, making just enough noise for me to not worry about them. It was great.

We're very fortunate that they play so well together. Here's hoping that when there are four of them (number three will be arriving next month!) that the dynamic continues to be this good.


"As this is your first day, each of you will be assigned two cases."

That's it? Two? I'll be knocking on his door for more work by lunch!

"One case will be current. Basic, fairly straightforward stuff. General, you're a warm body and that's all that's required to finish things up, kind of work."

Did I say by lunch? I should have said by coffee break. First coffee break.

"The second will be an older case. Really old. Crimes that have gone unsolved for years and years. Covered with dust and complicated. Intricate. Convoluted. Strange."

Now this sounds interesting.

"The expectation is that you will be a fresh pair of eyes, bring a new perspective to these cases. You will find a detail or ask a question that men and women who are much smarter than yourselves have missed. You will uncover something, no matter how seemingly trivial."

Give me my mine already. Let me at it.

"You are not expected to solve these mysteries."

Maybe you don't figure any of them will be cracked. But you should expect one to have its perpetrator brought to justice. Mine.

"Good luck, ladies and gentlemen."

Luck? Luck will have absolutely nothing to do with this.

"And welcome to the force."

Let. Me. At. Them.

Saturday January 30th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about someone or something that is: shallow.

Almost out of January. Almost.

We organized our seed inventory for this year's garden this morning and Kat put in the order for what we need this evening while I was putting Max to bed. So spring's pretty much here, right?


He says that he is done,
That there is nobody left to save;
But we all know that he's
Buried his faith in a shallow grave.

Friday January 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the tailor.

Apologies, mine ended up being something that probably needed more than four lines. I did what I could with it anyway though.

Both jobs went well today. I am very tired now though, so I'll just get on with the show.


"The alterations you requested have been completed," the man behind the counter told me, his expression and tone combining to leave no doubts about how unimpressed he was.

"Don't be so grumpy, Pierre," I said as I reclaimed my suit. "You are being paid handsomely for your work - and discretion - after all."

"Not handsomely enough," he said, but he took the envelope stuffed with cash anyway... because of course he did.

Thursday January 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that has been: abandoned.

Happy to report that my arm was only a little sore this morning, as opposed to the paralysis I was half expecting. Work went well also, despite that being my first shift at Town Hall since I was trained last May.

Tomorrow I've got a two hour shift there again (11:30 to 1:30) and then I'm back at the community centre to do the closing shift (4 to 9). They'd actually initially asked me to do 8:30 to 1:30 again, but then they realized that I was also working at the community centre and that would have put me into double time.

Which, I was informed, 'we don't want that'.

I'm assuming the we in this instance is the people responsible for payroll and budgets and things. Because I was all for it, thank you very much.

Also: apparently two people retired late last year and were replaced by people who had more seniority than me in the relief pool. I've been told to expect more calls because of this. I guess I'll see what that actually looks like in the next few months, but so far so good.


"And here's the desk you'll be using today."

"Front and center, I see. Nice, nice."

"So basically we just want you to answer the phone and deal with any people who drop by, looking for information or what have you."

"Great, yeah, sure... I can do that."

"All right then! Good luck and we'll see you in six hours."

"Sorry, what? Where's everybody else going?"

"Management have us all in a training session today. That's why they called you in, to cover for us!"

"Oh, uh... right. Is there, uh, anybody I can call if I have questions or run into trouble or...?"

"Nope, not really. Talk to ya later!"

"... okay?"

"Assuming you're still here when we get back."

"Oh, of course I'll be he-"

"And still breathing."


"Have fun!"

Wednesday January 27th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: neighbours.

I nailed the back of my left arm, just above the elbow, on the sharp corner of the new fridge's door handle this afternoon. I'm hoping I'll still be able to fully extend my arm when I wake up tomorrow morning.

Especially with having to work at Town Hall, covering for the receptionist, from 8:30 to 1:30.

I still have no idea why I'm suddenly getting all these calls after seven months of nothing. Tis the season to be sick, maybe?


Nicholas was sitting in his favorite chair, a plush recliner with enough beer stains to leave its original colour in some doubt, when the doorbell first rang. He hadn't had a chance to move before it rang four more times.

"Hold on! Hold on!" he shouted, fumbling for the lever that would allow his feet to touch the carpeted floor. "I'm coming!"

Despite his pleas - or, perhaps, because of them - the bell rang nearly a dozen more times before he reached the front door. By that point Nicholas was about ready to knock somebody's block off. Preferably whoever it was that was standing on his porch.

"What the... oh." Nicholas cleared his throat, forcing his voice back down to a more conversational level. "Hello, Henry."

"That's Henri, Nickyboy." A cloud of cigarette smoke obscured the neighbours from each other's view before Nicholas waved it furiously away. "You know that. I've told you at least twenty times now. Don't make me tell you again."

"Or what?" Nicholas regretted the challenge the moment after it had escaped his lips.

"Or I'll have your dog shaved bald and my name tattooed on its sides," Henri said, tilting his head to the side and allowing a bored expression to settle on his face.

"That... that won't be necessary..."

"And if that doesn't work," Henri continued after exhaling another cloud of smoke in his neighbour's face, "I'll have your son's name legally changed to mine."

"You can't do that!" Nicholas shouted, his returning anger pushing caution aside. "I'll call the police!"

"Nickyboy," Henri said with a smile that would frighten the Grinch, "you do not want to test me on this."

The two men stared at each other for a long time then. Nicholas was red in the face and breathing hard. Henri was the picture of calm and patience - a terrifying omen to anyone that knew him in the slightest.

"Whatever, Henri," Nicholas said at last. "What did you come over for anyway?"

"Oh, right," Henri said, perking up noticeably. "I was wondering if I could bother you for some sugar?"

Tuesday January 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: melting.

Max had very little interest in going to daycare this morning. I got him there eventually, and only had to stay a few extra minutes before he let me leave.

Max had even less interest in coming home from daycare this afternoon. Kat had to drag him out of there while he was crying. Because he was having so much fun and he wasn't ready to leave. He wants her to pick him up later next time.

I guarantee you by Thursday morning we'll be back to the not wanting to go stage of the daycare loop.



Ice cream vanishing,
flowing like cold, sugary
lava down my arm

*     *     *

Steady drip, drip of
icicles melting to death;
spring will be here soon

Monday January 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the rift.

Max and I returned to soccer class this afternoon and it was a lot of fun. There were a whole lot of kids missing from the first class, but that was likely due to illness and kids being kids. Hopefully we can be there again next week to see how many other kids are sticking with it.

This morning I managed to finally get started on catching up on comments, yet again. Caught it just before I fell a full two weeks behind. Hurray?


The three of us had been travelling westward on foot for weeks. Though we were strangers thrown together by chance, a close friendship had developed in that time. It was a kinship we all desperately needed in those days.

I remember Shelby was telling us about a dog her family had taken in when she was young. Maybe five or six years old? Something like that. It sounded like he was a real sweet, friendly puppy. Slept at the foot of her bed at night, keeping her safe.

Right up until the night he tried to tear her face off.

As we moved through a forest crowded with towering trees and littered with broken branches, it was difficult for me to ignore the potential similarities to our current situation. I managed to not look at Wayne directly after she'd finished her tale. I guess I was trying to convince myself that he truly was the kind-hearted protector he'd presented himself as during our time together.

I suspect a part of me knew differently though.

Rain clouds had begun to gather as we broke through the treeline into a vast, sprawling meadow. Without anything needing to be said, we all paused. It was still early, before lunch I think, but the thought of being caught in the open during a bad storm made thoughts of lingering in the trees undeniably tempting.

"Do we risk it?" Shelby asked. I wasn't sure which option she considered the bigger risk: staying or going.

"We can stay dry and hide ourselves here," Wayne said after a wary glance over his shoulder. "There's been no sign of pursuit for days. What do you think Leo?"

"I say we keep going." I wanted to stay, keep dry. It seemed like the smart thing to do. But fear was at the wheel back then and I had stopped fighting for control a long time before that. The thought of waiting around for them to find us terrified me.

"Me too," Shelby said. I wish she hadn't. I wish it had been just me that couldn't think straight.

It could have worked out all right for us. We may have found more secure shelter before the worst of the weather came down on our heads. Our trail could have been washed clean, turning us into ghosts on a broken landscape.

But it turned out that landscape was more broken that we could have ever dreamed.

As it was, some two or three hours later, when we crested a hill and saw the massive rift in the land before us - one that stretched from horizon to horizon - it was too late. There was no going around it. No possible way to cross it. Nothing to do but turn back, hoping to return to the forest before they found us.

And the rain began to fall then, in heavy, pounding droplets.

Sunday January 24th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the hypnotist.

The weather is gradually warming up around these parts. Max has taken full notice, now that almost all of the snow has melted away.

This morning he was determined to get outside and play in the yard, whether I was ready to get out of bed or not. He insisted that I get some of his outdoor toys out of the basement so that we could play together. I brought up a couple of his tools, some trucks, and a ball.

Surprisingly, the ball was pretty much completely ignored. The tools required new batteries, so while I was busy with that he got right into building things and digging in the dirt with his trucks.

I'll just be over here, pretending that it is spring now. Please don't bother me.


Relax. Just relax. That is all that you need to do, right now. Relax.

I'm sitting in the back row of the packed auditorium, reading the words of the famous Dr. Franklin. World renowned hypnotist, as his poster proclaims. Dirty rotten conman, as I know him.

Allow the world outside to melt away. Watch as your worries and conflicts and cares are washed away. Relax. You have nothing to worry about. Nothing at all. Relax.

Nothing outside of this room, maybe. Just you inside of it, you bastard.

Listen to my voice. Listen to my words. Listen to me.

Fat chance. I've got earplugs in both ears. Your voodoo hoodoo crap isn't getting into my brain that way. I'm also wearing shaded glasses (I designed them myself, thank you very much) that have muted all the colours in the room to white and grey. Just in case he's using flashes of colour in his act, or some kind of hypnotic wheel, or... whatever.

Also? Because it's picking up the audio (his audio, since he's the only one in here talking), transcribing it, and scrolling it across the lenses. This way I can follow along without being affected. I'm the only one in here immune to this shyster and I'm going to take him down.

Now. Slowly, slowly, gentlemen... take out your wallets. Slowly, slowly, ladies... pick up your purses. Take out all of your cash and hold the bills above your heads. I will now move, slowly, slowly, around the room and collect your donations. You are donating to my cause. So generous of you. So kind.

So not happening. You're not getting me like you got my dad. You're busted, you piece of... why is my wallet in my hand?

Saturday January 23rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: history.

Long day. I am sleepy. Good night.


I keep looking back
Because I want to learn;
There'll be no mistakes
When it is my turn.

Friday January 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: familiar territory.

I got a call late this morning, asking if I could work the closing shift (4 to 9) at the community centre tonight. Very unexpected, but equally welcome. And then they called again a couple hours later, asking if I could do the same shift next Friday night.

It would seem that I'm finally getting some paying work out of this job. Only took more than half a year!

Tonight was fairly busy (compared to my shift right before Christmas anyway) but it was nice to have somewhat recent experience to help me out. If this starts to become a regular thing I might even be able to eventually go in without bringing my three pages of notes with me.


He finds the silence uncomfortable, like a faint itch that he is unable to scratch. There is a temptation to squirm, to change positions constantly, even to get up and leave the room. But then the yelling starts up again, a cacophony of accusations and expletives.

And he returns to a placid stillness, for this is what he has known all of his life.

Thursday January 21st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the ratio.

Today marked ten years since my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. As in recent years, I celebrated. But ten years seemed like a fairly significant milestone, so... I had two donuts this time around.

Kat and I got some good cleaning done around the house this afternoon before Max returned from daycare. Which he, of course, did not want to do this morning. But I was dropping him and Natalie off together, since her mother had to work early today, so that helped.

When he came home he informed me that he'd had another good day and he was his usual happy self. Now everybody gets a few days off before we go through it all again next Tuesday.


"That's not the correct ratio."

"I'm pretty sure that it is."

"Well, I'm completely certain that it is not."

"Whatever, nerd."

"I'm also sure that what you're trying to do will likely lead to a rather violent explosion."

"Don't be such a wuss. It's going to be fine."

"If you insist on following this course of action then I'm packing my bags and getting out of here."

"What is your problem? I'm following the instructions for this solution perfectly."

"No, you're not."

"How would you know?"

"I invented it."

"... you're such a showoff, Dad."

Wednesday January 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the dump.

Our fridge had been teetering toward complete failure in recent weeks, with the freezer compartment not working properly since we returned from our Christmas vacation. And it was getting more and more vocal about its issues.

So yesterday Kat and I bit the bullet and went out and bought a new one. It's slightly larger than the old one, which is nice. Also: it doesn't sound like a helicopter just before it crash lands.

I took the old fridge to the dump (thus today's prompt) and the new one already feels like it's been here forever. Probably helps that it's the same colour, and we've got all of the same pictures and things on its front now.

Oh, so Kat is taking Max to music class again. Started up last Wednesday morning. He loved it and didn't want to leave at the end. This morning she was all, Guess where we're going today? Music class! Aren't you excited?

Max: But I want to go to daycare.

Kids, you guys.


I sit on the sunken couch in the living room, my only blanket wrapped tight around my shivering body. It's always cold in here. Maybe if the window in the kitchen actually closed properly the baseboards might stand a chance of making a difference.

The neighbours are fighting again. I'm not sure which ones. All of them sound the same when they're yelling like this. Maybe they're all fighting at once. With each other, even.

I'm hungry but I don't want to move. Besides, the stove only works around fifty percent of the time. It would be soul crushing to walk across the frigid floor, dig some canned soup out of the cupboards, find the cleanest pot to warm it up in, and then turn on the element only to have it do nothing.

I don't think I could handle that right now.

Ordering in isn't an option either. The pizza guy refuses to come to my street after the second time he got mugged in the stairwell. And the Chinese place won't even answer my calls. Can't say I blame them, what with the white supremacists on the first floor. Not that I've got any cash to pay for it. Plus I always feel bad when I'm not able to tip them.

I need to get out of this dump. Find somewhere better. Something safer, with working locks on all the doors and maybe some proper security measures in the lobby. A building with reliable heat and electricity and...

Who am I kidding? I don't got the money for that either.

Tuesday January 19th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: trauma.

Max had zero interest in going to daycare this morning. At one point he did agree to go if both Kat and I dropped him off, so we went with that to get him out the door. Sadly, that momentum didn't even last long enough to get him into his car seat.

Long story short, we got him there eventually, Kat went in to stay with him for a little bit until he got comfortable, he didn't get comfortable while she was there, Kat left while he was bawling his head off.

Kat and I sat and talked for a long time in the car about whether or not this whole rigmarole is really worth it. We definitely considered going back in there and taking him home. Eventually we drove away, but Kat did call the centre to make sure he was doing okay, and not still freaking out.

Two minutes.

That's all it took before he was totally fine and playing with the other kids.

When I picked him up this afternoon he told me he didn't want to leave because he was having so much fun. And then he told me about how great a day he'd had. And he was his usual, bouncing around the house, chipper self after we got home.

It's like he'd completely forgotten about the start of the day. You know, the one that left his parents just a little traumatized.


Hmm. What do I do?
I have fallen down and the
bone is sticking through...

*     *     *

He is laughing now
but my ears hear crying and
my eyes see his tears

Monday January 18th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that has been: skipped.

Spent most of the day with Max. Unfortunately he wasn't feeling well enough to go to soccer class this afternoon, but hopefully it will work out for us to be back there next week.

Managed to find some time to bring another load of firewood to the house as well. It's getting to be a muddy, slushy mess out there. At least most of the snow has melted away.

Feeling remarkably tired. I guess that's what I get for actually working for a day and a half this weekend.


Let us be done with this excessive nonsense. It is not worth the time nor, indeed, the effort. Too much work, too little reward. I am certain that we can all agree on this, can we not?

Show of hands then?

One, two, three, four... oh, Bruce. We can always count on you to be the contrarian. Would it actually kill you to agree with us, just once? I think it might.

Fine. It does not matter. That is still four votes to one. The majority has spoken.

Tonight we are skipping dinner and going straight to dessert.

Sunday January 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the investment.

We were basically all done by 10:30 this morning, so those of us who were finished our assigned areas did some audits and then got to go home while the others finished up. I wouldn't have minded another hour of work, but I was also about ready to get out of there.

Max is struggling through another cold at the moment. I'm feeling like spring could come take over for winter any time now.


"As your trusted financial advisor, I would like to remind you that this would be an excellent use of your inheritance money."

"What, like, all of it?"

"No, no, of course not! We'll have to set some aside for your day to day needs, obviously. But once this investment starts paying off - which should be within a few weeks at most - you won't even need that small amount on hand."

"So, like, all of it except for maybe, what? Like five hundred dollars?"

"I'm sure you could get away with less. After all, the more you put in, the more you'll get out. But I suppose five hundred is a nice, round number."

"And there's no chance I'm gonna lose all this?"

"Come now. I wouldn't be very good at my job if that were the case."

"Right. Right. I dunno, man. I th-"

"With all due respect, it's not your job to think, sir. It's mine. Trust me: you are about to invest in the future of technology. This is the best possible use of your money. VHS is the road ahead, my friend. Jump behind the wheel of this sports car and hit the gas before you're left behind, sucking in fumes and dust."

Saturday January 16th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: recruits.

There was a crew of 14 of us doing inventory at the shop today. Working from 3 until 10 we managed to get a little over 70% of the store inventoried, which means we get to start at 8 tomorrow morning instead of 7. They open for business at noon and it's fully expected we'll be done before then.

It was generally all right. I had a few frustrating sections I had to inventory (belts are my new nemesis now), otherwise it was just keeping at it. With fairly regular breaks to ask questions or get help with things that weren't scanning properly. Time passed surprisingly quickly.

My feet are killing me though. I guess that'll happen after standing that long in the boots I was wearing. Definitely bringing my running shoes tomorrow.


They're a ragtag crew,
A mix of old and new;
They'll get the job done
(Mostly right, too - what fun!)

Friday January 15th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose that have something to do with: chickens.

I drove out to Cawston this morning (about half an hour west of here) to pick up three frozen chickens and two dozen eggs from a farmer we know at the Penticton farmers market. It's a beautiful drive in the winter, one that I can appreciate when the roads are clear like they were today.

I'll have to go again before the snow is totally gone, and actually bring my camera with me to capture some of the views.


"The chickens are loose again," Henry called from the kitchen.

"Which way they headed?" Martha shouted back from the living room, her hands continuing to work at her latest knitting project.

"Looks like the elementary school again," Henry said as he turned his attention back to the newspaper.

"That ought to save us a couple feedings," Martha said after a quick glance at their grandfather clock confirmed that it was time for recess.

Thursday January 14th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something: fancy.

I'd just like to say that yesterday was an example of how much better my writing is when I get it done during the day, rather than at night when I'm fighting off sleep. And that it tends to be better when I actually write it out first, like with a pen and paper, instead of just typing it up.

I should probably apologize now, as today's writing features neither of those things. Winging it as usual with sleep knocking on the side of my head, demanding to be let in.

Kat and I went up to Penticton today for a midwife appointment. Up until now we'd been seeing them every five weeks but we'll be switching to every three weeks until we hit the final stages, which features appointments every week. 

The start of April is fast approaching.


"What is that?"

"What is what?"

"... are you being serious right now?"

"I  honestly don't know what you're talking about!"

"What is that... monstrosity you're wearing?"

"This? That's harsh, dude."

"Just answer the question already!"

"You said to wear my fanciest suit! This is my fancy suit!"

"That cannot possibly be true."

"Well, it is."

"That is not fancy. That is something my Aunt Gertrude would pick to reupholster her couch with."

"Then she must be a very fancy la-"

"She's not."

Wednesday January 13th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that is: disjointed.

I found an ad online yesterday for one of the shops in town needing temporary inventory help. It didn't specify what temporary meant so I dropped by this morning to find out.

And now I'm working this weekend, doing a Saturday shift that starts at 2:30 and runs until late (probably 10) and then back again on Sunday morning to finish things off (I'm under the impression that it will go until noon but I suppose that depends on how quickly things are going).

It's not much, but it is certainly better than nothing. Just a bit of work to help tide me over until I find something full-time.


I walk up the three steps to my front porch, fishing my keys out of my jacket pocket. Rain continues to pour from the sky, an icy November shower. The cold metal stings my fingers as I quickly unlock my door and step inside.

Yelling, coming from the kitchen. It's a fight. A bad one. Glass shatters on the floor.

Shaking my head sprays rainwater around my entranceway. I peel off my coat and set it on its hook, leaving it to drip a puddle onto the floorboards. Kicking off my boots, I head to my bedroom to get changed.

Someone is pounding on the bathroom door. A muffled voice responds from within. She's locked herself in and is refusing to come out. The fist on the door grows more insistent.

I leave my clothes in a soggy heap. Shivering, I grab jogging pants, a wool sweater, and thick socks out of the laundry basket. I'm pretty sure they're clean. The kitchen is calling with an invitation to put a kettle on for tea and I answer it.

The front door slams. 


Silence reigns supreme once more. It is not a happy quiet. It is lonely. It is angry. A drawer in the living room is yanked open.

Standing at the counter I look down to find an open bottle of whiskey in my hand. I don't remember picking it up. Didn't I lock that cabinet? There's no taste of it in my mouth at least. That's something.

A single shot comes from the living room, echoing around the house. Something clatters to the floor, followed by a muffled thump. Like a sack of books being dropped, maybe from shoulder height. Silence returns, this time to stay.

The bottle is half empty now. This has to stop. I can't go on like this. I need help. I... take another drink.

Tuesday January 12th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: soccer.

Continuing on from yesterday's prompt inspiration.

This morning while Max was in daycare I borrowed the truck and brought a big load of firewood down to the house. Hopefully that'll last us for a while. Long enough for the snow to melt and the wheelbarrow to become a viable option again?

Probably not, but that would be nice.


Soccer? What are you
on about? You bloody Yanks!
It is called football.

*     *     *

The black and white sphere
travels in strange patterns. "Dad,
don't they want to score?"

Monday January 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the coach.

We've signed Max up for soccer class, which runs Monday afternoons at the community centre gym. I'll be taking him for as long as it goes, as long as I continue my search for a job. It's for 3 to 5 year olds, so pretty basic stuff - dribbling, kicking, that sort of thing. At least that's how it started; we'll see what future weeks have in store for us.

Max enjoyed it but wanted me pretty close. I'm hoping he'll get more comfortable soon and I can just leave the coach to his work while I watch from the stands.

Speaking of the coach, Max was doing a pretty impressive impression of him after we got back home. Which, obviously, involved him telling me what to do. I got a video of part of it on my phone that I suspect I'll be sharing pretty soon.


I dial the number from memory and eye my surroundings while I wait for an answer. I don't like what I see.

It's dark in here, but there's enough light to see the water pooling on the floor. I'm not sure where the nearest toilet is but I'm pretty sure I'd find it if I traced the leak back to its source. I'd tried calling four different plumbers but they'd all hung up as soon as I'd given them the address.

The desk situation is precarious at best. I'd say the left end is a good inch lower than the right and all but one of the drawers are stuck closed. That's probably a good thing. At any rate, I haven't tried too hard to get them open.

My call goes to voice mail just as the furnace in the next room roars to life like a drunken, misplaced lion. I can barely hear the recorded message but I don't need to. I know it by heart at this point.

"Hi Curtis," I say after the beep as I head for the door. I force myself to resist the temptation to drop a match in my wake. "I think we're done, buddy. Thanks for nothing and I hope you rot in hell."

It's a fresh start for me. Now I'm in need of a new job and a new life coach.

Sunday January 10th, 2016

The exercise:

Daily Writing Practice's yearlong prompt tradition began in 2013 when I introduced you to Mejaran.

It continued in 2014 when Greg brought us to Vancouver Irrealis.

2015 saw me invite you to visit The Colony.

It's 2016 and the tradition must continue. So, for only the second time in this blog's 7.5 year history, the words below are not Mine. They are Morganna's.

Without further ado, I'll allow her to introduce us to the House of Mercy.


Julie sat at the tiny table in the tiny apartment kitchen and held the knife to her wrist. She admired the silvery blade gleaming against her skin. She imagined slicing downward, watching the warm, red blood well out until she passed out and died. She pressed down. The apartment door opened and her roommate came in.

"Julie!" screamed her roommate, Anne. Anne ran into the kitchen, grabbed the knife from Julie, and stared at her, panting. "That's it! That's the second time this week. I'm checking you into the mental hospital."

Julie stared at her dully. Things were changing.

Anne ran into Julie's bedroom and grabbed an overnight bag. She quickly threw a week's worth of clothing in, along with Julie's toothbrush. She zipped it closed and ran back to the kitchen. She grabbed her friend's arm. 

"Come on. You're getting in the car." Julie did not resist as Anne led her out of the apartment and into her car.

When they reached House of Mercy Psychiatric Hospital on the other side of town Julie nodded at everything Anne said, signed when told to sign, and was soon bundled off to a room for an extended stay.

Anne hesitated at the front desk. "She will be all right, won't she?" she asked the front desk clerk.

The clerk looked up. "Of course she will, honey. Now, we'll give you a call in a few weeks when she's ready to go home. Until then, you don't need to worry about a thing. We'll take good care of your friend."

Anne nodded and went out to her car, glancing behind her as she went. She knew this was the right thing to do, but somehow something didn't feel right.

The next morning, Julie woke up in a bright, white hospital room with sunlight pouring in. She smiled and stretched before she remembered what she was doing there. Before she could worry about the wreck of her plans, the door opened. A breakfast tray came through the opening, carried by a giant lizard in a white coat. "Here's your breakfast, sweetie," croaked the lizard.

Julie gasped. "You're a lizard! I can't eat breakfast brought by a giant lizard."

The lizard glared at her. "I'm not a lizard! Now eat your breakfast."

Saturday January 9th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: roommates.

Because we recently started watching New Girl online. That's pretty much it for inspiration today.

The snow continues to slowly melt. All the roads other than our little cul-de-sac are clear now, so it's just a matter of getting out of our driveway and up a slight hill to the stop sign before it's clear sailing.

It may surprise some of you to discover how much of a challenge that can actually be.

Reminder: yearlong prompt, the 2016 version, begins tomorrow.

Hint: I wrote the first opening, Greg took care of the second, I did the third. Seems like we might be due for someone else to start us off, hmm?


He's wearing my socks
Because all of his were dirty.
Now he's with my mom
And getting really flirty...

Friday January 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the alchemist.

Max usually spends Wednesday and Friday afternoons with Kat's parents. He loves it up there and never wants to come home. Usually when I open the front door to welcome him home and to thank Kat's dad for bringing him back, Max refuses to come inside and tries to walk away.

Not today though. He actually came home an hour early. Because he missed us? Hah.

Kat had told him after lunch that she was going to be making (gluten and dairy-free) chocolate chip cookies while he was out. Apparently he decided around 4 o'clock that the cookies were probably done, so he needed to come home to eat one.

His arrival kind of screwed over my late afternoon plans but it was funny enough that I didn't really mind.


I never liked going into my father's laboratory. It's not that it was dark or scary or even unclean. The smell that always lingered in there, permanently attached to all the equipment and benches and the walls... I just couldn't stand it.

It would be many years after his death before I finally realized that what had bothered me was the stench of failure.

Thursday January 7th, 2016

The exercise:

It's been long enough since last time, I think, so let us revisit the Random CD Prompt. Go find a song as randomly as you like and then borrow its first line. Use it as your opening and then take things from there.

Managed to get caught up to 2016 on the comments this morning. Being only a week behind feels, sadly enough, like an accomplishment at this point.


High Hopes by Kodaline

Broken bottles in the hotel lobby should have been enough of a warning for me to turn right back around as soon as I walked through the entrance. Sent me running back to my car, really. Hit the gas and don't let up until the next town came into view.

But I didn't have a car. There wasn't even a bag over my shoulder. So I stepped, barefoot, around the shards of glass and approached the unmanned front desk. My hand was halfway to the counter before I realized there wasn't a bell waiting for me there.

"Hello?" I called out, my voice hoarse from the recent onset of dehydration.

"You need a room?" The speaker was hidden in an office to my left. Other than her voice the only indication of her presence was the soft glow of a computer monitor in an otherwise darkened room.

"Uh... yeah?"

"Here you go." I saw a pale hand appear for less than a heartbeat before I needed to focus on the key flying in my direction. I caught it by its red plastic tag. I don't know how, but I did. "Second floor, almost all the way to the end of the hall. Take the stairs - the elevator stopped working two weeks ago."

"Thanks," I said, feeling a little stunned. "Uh, don't I need to sign in or something?"

"Why?" She stuck her head around the corner to look me up and down. I placed her in her early twenties, but I'm terrible with that sort of thing. Curly black hair framed a pale face with an expression that combined boredom with irritation. "You a crook or something?"

"No, nothing like that," I assured her. "I just... I dunno. Isn't that fairly standard?"

"We don't worry about that sort of thing here," she said, returning to her computer. "Just pay when you're ready to leave. Trust me, you don't want to pull a runner."

"No, I wouldn't... why?" Something about the way she'd offered that warning concerned me.

"Anybody who tries that? We sick the dogs on 'em."

"The what now?"

"And those mean little bastards always find their man." She leaned just enough to the side for me to see one cold, blue eye. "You sleep tight now, all right?"

Wednesday January 6th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the craft project.

The snow has begun to melt, which is nice in the sense that mobility will soon be much easier. Less nice in the sense that the roads will be slushy messes until all of it is gone.

I'd honestly much rather drive on ice than slush. But hopefully it will soon be gone. Not to be replaced by new snow.

Oh, heads up: yearlong prompt begins this Sunday.


I place my overflowing shopping basket on the checkout counter of my local dollar store and begin unloading its contents for the cashier to scan. The lighter stuff is on top - feathers in all the colours of the rainbow, packages of stickers and googly eyes - and I know that if I don't work fast they'll end up in the bottom of the bag, crushed by the heavier items.

"Got a bit of a craft project going on then?" the cashier asks, not unkindly. I figure she's in her early fifties, could stand to eat less and exercise more, and is clearly too fond of her makeup collection. But she's setting my items aside, rather than immediately stuffing them into a bag, waiting to see what else I've got, so I like her immediately.

"You could say that," I say as I start extracting the tape and glue and scissors.

"Looks like it'll keep you busy for a while," she says as she continues to ring up my items. "Find everything you were looking for?"

"No, actually, I didn't." I'm doubtful she'll be able to help - I did check every aisle in the store very closely - but I'm pleased she asked. I pull the list out of my back pocket and examine my handwriting. "Let's see... right. Do you carry any live animals?"

"Uh, no," she says, her hands beginning to move more slowly.

"What about bits of formerly living animals?" I ask. "You know, frog legs and toad eyes and that sort of thing?"

"No, ma'am, I'm quite certain we do not." She's stopped now and I begin to worry I've said something wrong. "Which kind of craft did you say you were making again?"

"Yes, exactly," I say with a smile, relieved to discover she's not only not upset but also understanding. "It is a witch kind of craft!"

Tuesday January 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: snow angels.

Because Max and Natalie were making them the other day. And, now that I've got snow pants, I'll likely be making some with them soon.

Max returned to daycare today for the first time in... two and a half weeks, I believe. He was pretty reluctant when we told him that was where he was going, but he eventually warmed up to the idea. Well, enough for me to get him there.

I had to stick around for a while before he'd let me leave. But he did, eventually.

And then when his Aunt Becky dropped him off at home this afternoon he was excited to report that he'd had a good day and there were lots of new toys to play with and that they're learning about penguins this week.

So, you know, typical Max behaviour.


Snowflakes fluttering
down, like an army of snow
angels attacking

*     *     *

The soft swishing of
snowsuits against powdery
snow, drowned by laughter

Monday January 4th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the reversal.

Snow, snow, so much snow...

This was taken a few days ago, but you get the idea:

Just, you know, add the five inches or so of snow that fell today and then you're all set.

P.S. If anyone wants to deliver firewood to my door... I won't say no.


"Twenty-one red!"

The dealer sweeps my chips off the table, all of them having kept a safe distance from the winning number. Again. I shake my head and place more chips, spreading them around the middle third of the table this time.

"Place your bets please!" The dealer calls in a loud, clear voice. I'm the only player at the table but he has been doing this before every spin. Gotta admire his commitment. "No more bets, please!"

Come on, you stupid little ball. Land right for me, just once. I need this. You know I need this. Come on... come on... yes... yes...

"Two black!"

Why does he have to yell the winning number with so much enthusiasm? Especially when it's not my winning number?

"Place your bets please!"

I look down at the chips remaining in my stack. Singular. Where did the rest go? Only enough for one more play. On a hunch I go all in on thirty-six red. I've got a good feeling about this. I'm due. I can't miss.

"No more bets please!"

It's time for a reversal of my non-existent fortunes.

Sunday January 3rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the breakdown.

We left Max with Kat's parents this morning while we drove up to Penticton to do some shopping. Happy to report I found some snow pants in a secondhand shop. Oh, and we also got a bunch of groceries and I finally replaced my broken phone case.

No success on the wall map front, but I think I've found one online that will do the job. I'd like it even more if it was slightly bigger, so I'll take a little more time to poke around the internet to see if I can find something closer to my ideal before placing the order.

Terribly behind on the blog, as usual, but I'm trying to get 2016's yearlong prompt sorted out. Expect something middle of the month if I can get my act together.


This old body is falling apart on me. There are aches where there should be no aches. Pains in places I've never felt anything before. Shaking has replaced steady, weakness has overpowered strength.

It is... infuriating.

I want to scream until I lose my voice. But my throat is so tender that I wouldn't even get to full volume before a coughing fit would knock me to the floor.

I want to throw something, anything through the nearest window. But I can't find anything I could lift, much less heave far enough to break glass.

When did this happen? It seems like only yesterday that... never mind. I hate that phrase. I hear it too often as it is around here; there's no need for me to start in on it as well.

There's got to be a way to get this body back in working order. Tip-top shape and all that. Some medication, maybe. The more cutting edge the better.

Do you know I almost cut myself in the kitchen this morning? I just wanted a slice of toast with the right amount of peanut butter on it. The damned nurse had barely put a smudge on there! So I grabbed a knife - who knew it was a steak knife? - and had a go. Almost cut my danged finger off!

Ain't right, that. A man should be able to do that sort of thing for himself. Makes me feel like a child.

Anyway. What was I talking about again? Oh, right. Right.

So, like I was saying, my mattress needs replacing. The springs are so busted up on that thing... a man could lose an eye just rolling over in his sleep! I remember when I was a child myself, way back in...

Saturday January 2nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: boots.

This morning I went to Oliver to spend one of the gift cards I received for Christmas, this one for Mark's Work Warehouse. Going in I wanted a pair of snow pants (for outdoor time with Max) and new winter boots (to keep my toes warm during outdoor time with Max... and also getting firewood). I was disappointed that they were sold out of snow pants in my size, but it is getting toward the end of their Boxing Week Sale.

I did, however, pick up a pair of these. I would never have bought these at full price, and I still had to think about it with the gift card and them being half price, because I just don't spend that much money on... well, myself in general. But footwear in particular.

Anyway. After only a half day of use I am liking this decision. They've kept my toes warm (which is a remarkably difficult task in winter) and they're super comfortable. They're obviously high quality, so they should last me a long time as well.

So, uh, yeah. That's where the prompt came from today.


We put the boots to 'em,
Drunk, they'd often laugh and say.
And I'd smile to myself,
Thinking: You'll have yours one day.

Friday January 1st, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: a new beginning.

Welcome to 2016! I hope the year ahead is a very good one for all of you.

Went up to Kat's parents house this evening for a New Year's Day dinner. Kids were going nuts pretty much the whole time, but we adults managed to squeeze in some conversation here and there.

Quite enjoyed it, actually.

Now, however, I am so tired that I've just been staring at my laptop for like forty minutes without really doing much. So, perhaps, I should just get on with the writing portion of the show.


The calendar, heavy with history and the ink of long forgotten appointments, falls to the floor. The sound is magnified in the silence and darkness of the midnight hour, echoing throughout the apartment. He doesn't flinch, though... doesn't even seem to notice the folded up heap resting against his slippered feet.

He is too focused on - too eager for - a new beginning.