“Tell me again about the last time you saw her.”
“Seriously? I’ve told you at least a hundred times.”
“Then we’re gonna make it a hundred and one and a hundred and fifty if need be. Tell.”
Evan Mulraney sighed and ran a hand through his hair, the other hand loosely clasped around his tepid cup of police station coffee. Detective Don Belarus stood over him with his arms crossed, waiting for his story with a glare.
“In the morning, two days before Christmas. She got up and dressed before me and was on her way out the door to go shopping. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. She came in to the bedroom to tell me where she was going and kiss me goodbye.”
“Why didn’t she just leave a note?”
“I don’t know.”
Belarus snorts. “You don’t know?”
“Cause she loved me.”
“Why are you such an asshole?”
The detective’s face didn’t change and he didn’t wait a beat before firing the next question.
“What did she go shopping for?”
“Wrapping paper. God, I’ve told you this over and over -”
“And over again, I know. Why did she just leave like that? Why didn’t she give you the option to come with her? Do you think she wanted to get away from you? That maybe she had someone she wanted to meet that morning?”
“No, I told you, she just let me sleep in. She knew I’d think it was an annoying chore. She was doing something nice for me.”
The detective smiled and barked a laugh.
“Oh, disappearing was her way of doing something nice for you, huh? Making it look like you did something to her right before Christmas, that’s love, oh yeah. That’s how I see it.”
“Look, are you going to arrest me or not? I’m really getting sick of being dragged down here practically every other goddamn day.”
“No Mulraney, you’re not under arrest. Yet.”
Evan stood up and walked out of the interrogation room. Today’s interview was over.
He strode out into the crowded cubical maze, full of cops. They called it the bullpen. Evan felt like a prize steer on the way to slaughter.
Pictures of his pretty wife’s face, in full color, bore down on him from the bulletin boards.
MISSING in bold, capital letters.
Hannah Mulraney. 27. 5’5, green eyes, dirty blond hair. Last seen December 23.
Every cop’s eye was on him as he made his way out, questioning him, every look a single thought:
What did you do to her?
Hannah, where are you, and why the hell did you do this to me?
Next Friday is my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary.
It also happens to be the seventh anniversary of the last time I saw your face.
Seven years have passed since you told me you loved me and I believed you meant it for the first time.
Seven years have gone by since you told me you wanted babies, that you wanted to start our life.
Seven years since all I ever wanted exploded spectacularly in my face.
“You know I can never be with just one person for the rest of my life.”
“You know I’m going to cheat on you, you know I sleep with all my friends.”
“I’ll always love you, but you know I can’t be the man you want me to be … right?”
That was news to me.
So I ran out the door and out of your life.
The last time I saw you was through a veil of tears as I was starting my car, you were standing in your doorway with your cellphone to your ear, staring at me.
Who were you calling?
How was the rest of that day for you?
That week, that year?
The last I knew, you were moving up in your company and had moved to California (La Jolla?), exactly where I knew you wanted to be.
We were still friends on Facebook, then. I would look at your profile every once in a while and see what you were doing, so happy without me.
You moved in with a man.
You came out.
I can’t say I was surprised.
I deleted that Facebook account.
But for so long I wanted to hold on.
I obsessed over running into you. I was convinced that if we saw each other again our lives would change.
When I visited Arizona a few years ago we took a road trip and traveled through southern California from LA down to San Diego, and for an entire 24 hours my heart beat faster knowing that the potential for bumping in to you at a gas station or that place we got Mexican take-out was far greater than it was back home.
I always imagined this dramatic reunion, something out of a damn rom-com, where we see each other and realize what we’ve both been missing all this time and fall into each other’s arms and just start over, go back to that place, that time when we loved each other.
Then last week, a random click.
Your public Facebook page.
You’re back in Connecticut.
You’ve been living 20 minutes away from me for the last year and a half.
My heart stopped.
And when it started again it wasn’t beating for you anymore.
Seven years and then I know, finally, for sure.
We’re never going to be together again.
We’re never going to have those beautiful brown babies.
I’m never going to marry that man I thought was the love of my life.
You with those brown eyes and dimples and the softest hands in the world.
I’ll probably still love you ’til the last beat of my heart.
But, this is my heart.
You can’t break it again.
You can go ahead and break someone else’s.
And you will, won’t you?
I’m just glad it won’t be mine.
Seven years, and I think this is: over you.
And my heart is still beating.
It’s beating without you, and I’m breathing deeply again.
A few days ago I printed out all fifty pages of my most recent Work in Progress.
It felt like such a momentous thing to do, as this WIP is only as recent as November, because it’s the NaNoWriMo novel I gave up on.
I spent some time reading through it, marveling at how I had forgotten what it was really about. There were some anecdotes, some foreshadowing I threw in that there that now I don’t understand, because I can’t remember what I was thinking months ago when I wrote it, and I never do any outlining or take notes when I’m writing.
I used to not slow down at all, is the point I’m getting at.
I used to just write all the time and not have a problem with stopping. In the past, if I stopped I would always get started again the next day or the day after that, but certainly months didn’t go by in a painful drought.
I told myself:
I’ll get back to this tonight. I’ll write more after work…
A few days later I picked up the WIP again, this time with a pen and highlighters in hand. I read through it again, making notes between the lines and in the margins, highlighting the timeline in yellow, highlighting the plot points and foreshadowing in orange.
I was taking it seriously. I was getting my ducks in a row.
I told myself:
I’ll really get back to this now. I’ll pick up right where I left off after work tonight…
But then I come home and fell right back into my normal routine. The “new” normal routine, the one which no longer includes daily writing. The new normal routine that leaves me feeling lazy, unmotivated, blocked, and a whole list of other unpleasant adjectives that go along with being ashamed of oneself.
A few days later the WIP is still sitting on my side table; it’s starting to gather dust.
I tell myself:
I’m going to write tomorrow.
Because tonight I’m too tired, it’s too late, I have to get up too early, the idea is just too big and I am just too lost to figure it out.
Because it’s a goal, it’s my ambition, it’s what, eventually, I’ll do.
It’s a work in progress.
This here post marks the end of NaBloPoMo, and Nano Poblano, and NaNoWriMo.. ALL OF THE NANOS ARE OVER.
I gave up on one goal for the month, which turned out to be a great decision for me. I was not happy with my writing or my writing process and I have a lot to learn when it comes to setting goals and sticking to and following through with them.
That’s life. You set goals, you try, and sometimes you fail. And then you try again and maybe fail again, but better. Like life, it’s a learning process. I’m really happy that I did at least one thing I set out to do this month, which is blog every day in November, and I learned a lot from the process.
What NaBloPoMo 2014 Taught Me About Blogging
- Blogging (for me) is not a habit, it’s an intention. Even though I intended to blog every day, since it wasn’t a habit it was something that I needed to remind myself to do, and there were quite a few days that I rushed to the laptop after 11:30pm to get my post in for the day. I think if you want to be successful at doing anything daily, you have to make it a habit, work it into your schedule like it’s something you HAVE to do every day, like brushing your teeth.
- You get back what you put in – I started this new blog on WordPress.com because I wanted to have a community. I wanted to blog, of course, but more than that I wanted to have people read my blog, which is no small feat when you are using Blogger or hosting your own site. WordPress comes with a built in community, but that doesn’t mean the community just comes to you. For every comment someone leaves on my blog, I’m leaving two or three on other blogs. It’s not easy, and it’s time consuming, but it’s worth it when the people on the other side of the computer screen start to feel like friends.
- The time of day when you post is really important – Here’s something I noticed pretty quickly and have learned from – the earlier in the day I post, the more readers and responses I get. If I wait to post until almost midnight, by the time people start reading blogs the next afternoon, my post is buried way down in the reader behind all the people who post in a timely manner. So, I learned that in blogging as in life, the early bird gets the worm and all that.
- It’s important to follow the rules of the game – If you’re participating in a blog hop or a writing challenge, it’s probably best to follow all the rules. That’s something I ignored for the name game and dropped the ball with as well. I still feel bad about that, Mark! I learned another lesson about following the rules when I participated in a YeahWrite.me microstories challenge – at first I didn’t follow the rules, which would have disqualified me from winning. But then, I went back and changed my post to follow the rules, and I “won” second place! Yeah, I am still a rebel at heart, but there’s a time and place for rebellion, and on other people’s hops and challenges is not it.
- Being honest is important, but being nice is more so – I got to know some great people blogging this month, but I encountered a few ignorant fools, too. You know what? We aren’t all going to be friends and we aren’t all going to agree with one another’s beliefs and opinions. I learned that THIS IS MY SPACE where I can say whatever I want, but other people’s comment sections are NOT the place to debate, ridicule, or otherwise try to edumacate someone who you think needs it. The blogosphere’s huge. If you don’t like what you’re reading, stop reading. Don’t waste your time or energy being nasty to someone who you disagree with on principle. It’s not worth it.
- Plan ahead – This is something I learned a little too late, but something I am going to utilize going in to December and beyond. Like I said before, the time of day is key for posting, so you know what’s a great idea? Writing posts ahead of time and scheduling them for publishing. I intend to do that tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day, and so forth. We’ll see how it goes.
Well, November was fun. I feel happy and accomplished. What’s next in the world of blog challenges? Bring em’ on!
I was thrilled this evening when a little ping on my phone alerted me to a new comment which was actually an invitation from Destino to participate in the #teampepper NaNoPoBlaNo blog hop story.
I got excited about this blog hop story the first time I saw it. I remember when I was in elementary school my friend Michelle and I used to write these little stories in class. She would write a paragraph, fold up the piece of paper, and then secretly pass it to me when the teacher wasn’t looking so I could write the next part of the story, and we would pass it back and forth until the end of class or until we got caught, which thankfully wasn’t often. We had some great laughs and some great little stories in fifth grade.
I didn’t think I had a chance of being invited into this blog hop since I’m so new on the scene, so THANK YOU DESTINO!
I am nominating Kim of Drunk on Life to write the 10th installment of this story, but first, my addition is on the bottom highlighted in blue!
The Blog Hop rules are simple:
- Add a new post on your blog with these rules, the story so far, and who’s been tagged.
2. Title and tag the post as Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story.
3. Add at least two sentences to the story.
4. Pick another Pepper to tag. (Preferably one who hasn’t already been tagged).
5. Add a link to your chosen Pepper’s About page to the Tagged list below.
And now here’s the story:
Edward walked into the hotel lobby just as the sun began to light up the city. He dragged a large, heavy trunk to the reception desk and rang the bell
As he waited for someone to answer the bell, he tried to calm his breathing and wiped his sweaty brow with his coat sleeve. He heard a soft thud from the trunk and jerked his head towards it. His eyes had just a touch of fear in them as he listened for any other sounds. He never meant for things to go this far.
When the concierge emerged for the door behind the registration desk Edward stood up straight and tug on the lapel of his coat and says, “Er.” The concierge huffs and says, “Yes, may I help you?” Edward clears his voice and stutters out, “Mr. Maddox told me to deliver this trunk here for him.” Before the concierge could respond Edward abruptly turns and quickly runs out the door.
“What the …,” the concierge half-yelled as Edward cleared the door and ran down the street of still-waking businesses.
The concierge, Randy, was now more than a little put out. First, he had been interrupted while playing Candy Crush at the end of a dull night on the desk. Now, he was having to deal with miscreants leaving junk in the lobby. He hoped his boss didn’t walk in at that moment and chew him out for it.
Well, Randy thought, “I guess I can prop my feet up on this at the desk.” He slowly, but carefully as not to ruin the flooring, started to drag the trunk into the office.
As Randy dragged the Victorian-era trunk with brown leather-bound maple paneling and shiny brass studs naied inot the trim, he noticed that the weight wasn’t distributed evenly. Grunting when he tried to lift the heavy luggate over a snag in the office carpet, he finally maneuvered the large object into position. This would be pefect for resting his tired fee, so he plopped his posterior into the cushy high-backed chair and threw his feet up into the light side of the trunk.
Still bitter about his Candy Crush high score getting interrupted, he decided to pull up Plants vs. Zombies instead. Circulation returning to his legs, he vowed silently that no zombies would eat his brains tonight. He’s seen “Walking Dead.” They weren’t getting him or his sunflowers. Maybe it was thinking about zombies, perhaps it was thinking about how immobile he was if the zombie apocalypse hit, it could have even been the soup he made for dinner, but something didn’t sit well with him.
And then he heard and felt a thud coming from inside the trunk.
He whipped his feet off the trunk so fast, one of this shoes went flying across the room, knocking over a coffee cup. Dregs oozed out from between the cracks of his boss’s favourite mug.
“Damn it,” Randy exclaimed momentarily forgetting the sounds from inside the container. And then the screaming started.
The day clark, Hank, had just entered the hotel lobby when he heard the screams coming from the office behind the reception desk. He ran fast as he could into the small office and saw Randy slumped in the cushy office chair, wide-eyed and breathing heavily, and wearing only one shoe. Randy’s face was ashen gray and he was literally shaking.
Hank saw the large, antique trunk, its lid open and some sort of thick liquid inside. “What the hell, Randy?” he asked. “What was all that screaming about? And what is that trunk doing here?”
Randy extended a shaky hand toward the open trunk and pointed. All he could say was “something.” He said it several times, his eyes filled with fear.
Hank looked carefully at the trunk and then walked slowly closer to it. That’s when he noticed rancid smell and a trail of dark liquid leading from the old trunk out of the office and into the hotel lobby.
At precisely the moment that Hank’s addled brain (which, franky, was a rather slow-moving machine in the smoothest of situations) caught up to the reality of what he was witnessing, the sounds of pandemonium crashed into the ears of both men. Screams seeped in under the doors. The metallic crunches and thuds of cars unwillingly having their shapes rearranged filtered through the lobby windows. Hank imagined that he heard bones snapping and blood dripping amidst the chaos, but certainly that wasn’t possible. Was it? Hank locked eyes with Randy, both faces reflecting terror to the other. What had been in the box? More importantly, would they be held responsible? Given his usual weasel-like demeanor, Hank made a brave decision: He would go have a peek at the street to get a better idea of what he had gotten himself into. Inhaling deeply for courage and balance, he shifted his foot to begin the short walk back to the lobby doors. And that’s when he noticed it … he was standing directly in a puddle of the sticky fluid from the trunk, and it was working its way through every opening of his shoe.
All of a sudden, both of his feet started to burn like he had just finished walking on hot coals. He certainly was getting paid enough to deal with such crazy shenanigans. He should have been a lawyer, just like his mother wanted him to be.
A quick detour to the mens room appeared to be in order, and whatever lurked outside the lobby doors would just have to wait. Leaving a trail of shoes and socks and rancid ooze behind him, Hank pushed through the washroom door, noticed that the cuffs of his pants were ruined and decided to drop those too.
He hopped up to the counter, turned the taps on full blast and plopped both of his burning feet under the gushing, cooling water. It immediately turned a sickly greenish purple. One of the cubicle doors opened and a stunned person stopped dead to take in the sight of a disheveled boxer-clad day clerk effectively occupying two of the sinks, decided against washing his hands just this once, and hurriedly scuttled sideways to the exit. Hank heard the door open, he heard the door close, and in between over the thudding of his own heart, he heard the muffled sound of chaos from the streets.
Outside the hotel, meanwhile, Detective Dick Richards swore loudly and then crammed into his mouth the last third of that cream-filled donut that had distracted him enough to slam into the school bus stopped in front of him, causing the city bus following too closely behind him to make an unmarked-car sammich.
All the school kiddies looked fine, but they were bellowing on the sidewalk outside the hotel, the same joint that he’d been casing undercover for weeks now, waiting for those clerk clowns Randy and Hank to take the trunk from that middle man Eddie. Cripers. Those clerks watched so much HBO they probably thought that trunk held zombies or vampires or something. Dick Richards wanted to clean up this mess outside so he could get back to his binoculars and watch for the next player in the game to show up.
Detective Richards was squirming out the passenger side window and was hanging upside down as Detective Sargent Beverly Hills approached his accordioned vehicle. Dick would know those gams anywhere. Bev had the best legs in the Department, although Andy Highwater on bicycle patrol came in second with his long, tanned….
“What the hell are you doing Detective Richards? You are required to stay put while the fire fighters use the “jaws of life” to remove you from this mess.”
“I’m fine, Bev.”
Dick lost his purchase on the car and dropped like a stone further out the window, slamming his head on the curb, effectively knocking himself out. Meanwhile, a HAZMAT Team showed up to contend with the dark ooze that trailed from the hotel. An uniformed officer ran over to Beverly and informed her that a dead man had been found in the men’s washroom of the hotel and he appeared to be one of the desk clerks. An EMT was tending to the revived Detective Richards, so the Detective Sargent followed the Officer into the hotel and to the washroom, relieved to leave the pandemonium outside. Beverly stopped in the washroom doorway, stunned by what she saw.
It was not possible, was it? Given her line of work, she had seen many corpses. But this one was different; this corpse was her ex-husband Hank. “Oh, Hank. What did you get yourself into?” she moaned softly to herself. Despite their divorce, she had no hard feelings toward Hank. He had always been a nice man. He was just so…dim-witted. Ending up as a murder victim in a hotel bathroom was proof, as far as she was concerned, of his general ineptness.
The hardest part of this job was never knowing when you would meet a corpse you recognised.
Slim chance, but there was Hank, with his pale cheeks pressed up against the mirror. A noticeable crack in the glass, overshadowed only by the putrid stench of…what WAS that in the air?
Beverly began to step closer, instead turned away covering her face. A ringtone echoed, and she fumbled for her phone. As she accepted the call, she realised it was not her ringtone but, ‘Everyday I’m Shuffling’, Hank’s favourite song when they were still together.
She hesitated, ‘…Hello?’
‘Hello Bev…you never read my poem’ – the call ended and a text came through.
Beverly sank to her knees frantically trying to open the text with her now trembling fingers, the officer wondering what this idiot woman was doing, tapped her shoulder. Beverly glanced at him and gestured to the phone, ‘It’s from…him’, she mumbled – pointing at the corpse of her ex, ‘I can’t read it, we must read it!’
The officer – being a gentleman – read:
‘You held me with my fears
With a gaze of distant years
Your face reflected in the glass
I breathed in, the scent of arsine
You tried to help me stand,
Then I saw within your hand
Your axe about to thwack
The mirror will expose your crack.’
Heads down, engrossed in the text, they almost didn’t see the dark reflection in the mirror. They looked up just in time to dodge the large axe that seemed to be heading straight towards them. When they turned around, the black cloaked figure was rushing out of the restroom, laughing maniacally saying “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. Bev and the officer looked at one another quizzically, was it a clue? What seemed most odd to Bev was the voice of the cloaked man. It sounded just like Hank, but how could that be when she was looking at Hank’s dead body, laid out on the bathroom counter before her? It was becoming clear that this wasn’t a normal murder scene and they were dealing with a lot more than contaminated ooze.
(My bit) ….
Bev’s face felt cool like a slither of ice had been brushed across it, crimson fingertips rose to wipe away a slick of almost slimy sweat from her brow as the other grasped the mobile. Legs weak, trembled like a baby doe as she attempted to rise not initially noticing the officer’s thick hairy topped hands that went to aid her. His greedy digits apparently needed to slide under one ass cheek, stealing a squeeze before hoisting up as the other paw wrapped around her slender upper arm brushing rather too keenly against freshly starched cotton covered breast.
Though Bev was in shock, she detested this Officer, his actions causing a reaction akin to touching an electric wire as delicate hands rose with purpose, palms flat slamming in to his portly chest, pushing with determination and anger. Neat little heals slipped amongst the acrid slime on the floor as shrill voice shouted “Get your grubby hands OFF me Officer you dirty DOG!” as whhooooooosh, feet went out from underneath the enraged patron of order.
Slender body crumpled and bent like a piece of old parchment as limbs flailed in attempt to block the obvious conclusion of her action. The accused Officer did as instructed, moving away, only to see the saucy morsel crash to the floor, raven locks billowing over slippery floor as a ‘CRACK’ of skull echoed over the tiled floor.
“OH BOLLOCKS” could be heard loudly from the restroom. “SHE’S DEAD THE SILLY BITCH” followed with a tone of indignance at the inconvenience of it all. He crouched down just to double check, muttering “what a waste.” Thick set knuckles tugged the mobile from her grasp, standing to stretch as leisurely as a rise from a good nights slumber, cracking a few joints before proceeding to leave.
“FORENSICS” he bellowed, doing a quick dart back of body avoiding being face slammed by the opening bathroom door as a group of officials rushed in. “WATCH THE FLOOR” he yelled, tucking the mobile in to his trouser pocket, leaving and murmuring “you know what to do”.
Heavy footsteps slowed a moment as a “buzz buzz” was felt against his hip. The phone gyrated like a limber pilates teacher as sweaty fingers lifted it out, swiping to open the message “I am watching you, you filthy pig faced man, don’t ever touch my ass again!”
The Officers mouth resembled a breath starved goldfish momentarily as he turned, retreating to pop his head back in the restroom.
“She is dead isn’t she?” he asked the gang of forensics.
“Oh yes man, head split open like a melon” one geeky spotty male answered.
A sigh of relief escaped stubble ridden lips as he turned to leave feeling a slither of cold, as cold as ice pass his face.
Blinking repeatedly, a form appeared, floating before his eyes; it was Bev as if made of glass, or water, shimmering almost ethereal like, turning and advancing towards him. He glanced entranced by the pure beauty of what was before him, oblivious as she opened her mouth as if to scream. A sound not heard by others catapulted through his brain, as if splitting it in two, eyes burning and bulging as hands pushed either side of his head as if to hold it together.
Time slowed, everyone slowed, sounds of voices became blurred, movements merged one in to the other as the silhouette of glassy form left.
“This is officially the worst migraine,” thought the officer.
He looked in the mirror in order to fix his hat. It felt tighter than usual. Funny things happened to him whenever the migraines made their presence known.
As he adjusted his hat, he caught a glimpse of Bev’s silouette in the mirror. By the time he saw the hammer in Bev’s hand, it was too late. He was right though. This was the worst migraine the officer would ever have.
Hours later, Detective Dick Richards knelt just outside the restroom door and put a hand over his nose to try to stifle the thick stench of blood emanating from the room. Now there were five bodies in the restroom, and a trail of bloody foot prints leading down the hall, into the lobby, and out to the street.
Richards took out his cell phone and dialed an old, familiar number. It only had three digits. All of them were the same.
“Yesssssss?” a voice hissed on the other end of the line.
“The plan’s been foiled again. The contents of the trunk are… missing. At least five people are dead. Five good people.”
“And you think I care about thisssssss?”
“No, of course not. But it’s my job to keep you informed. What’s my next move, boss?”
“Since the contents of the trunk have been misplaced, His Excellence will not be pleassssssed.”
“Clearly.” Detective Richards fidgeted, wondering what exactly His Excellence would come up with as punishment this time. Another trip into The Pit? Richards shuddered to think of the time he accidentally misplaced the twelve virgins to be ritually sacrificed.
“Don’t worry, Richardsssss. The Great and Powerful Cortoogoo has wonderful plans for you. Now, it is time to move on to the next step. You must acquire The Key.”
Who has contributed so far?
Fish of Gold
To Breathe Is To Write
Silently Heard Once
Not a Punk Rocker
Inspiration in Progress
Nerd in the Brain
Knocked Over By a Feather
Lucy at the Excessive Gardener
Debra at Booking It
Idiot Writer at Idiot writing
Storm Chaser at Parenting a Teenage Tornado
Eclectic Odds and Sods
Destino at Chasing Destino
Cheney at Blog Apocalypse