Monday, December 4, 2017


This is almost the end of my journey with THE STORY INTENSIVE. It has been quite an experience. Though I have been unsure about how well I would do, I gave myself permission to at least give it a try. I don't regret one minute of it. This is a three part exercise which will end with WRITING WEEK which we are in this week. This is not a finished story. I will be fiddling and refining in the weeks to come and post it together when it's done. It starts with a 1st person POV and the 2 other titles are 3rd person, omniscient I'd say.

          Yes, we have your order, we’re just not ready to deliver it yet, said the girl at the front desk, after I’d been waiting for more than fifteen minutes for her to be done with her call I knew wasn’t to anybody in the shipping department. She reminded me of my first wife. She had that kind of defying attitude, daring me to show her wrong. She was ready for me to go “       at it” with her, so I didn’t say another word, turned around and left the building. Everyone is entitled to the respect they give, I always say.
          Anyways, I’m buying a BIG BUCK’O lottery ticket today and I’m going to win myself some leisurely time with my darling Honeycomb at last and that little missy at Home Depot can just kiss my behind before I give her anymore thought.
          All the stars are aligned for it to happen, Honeycomb said to me as I was getting ready for work yesterday. Which I hate doing while she is enjoying her second coffee, snuggled with a book in the comfort of the new Laura Ashley “canape” I bought on credit last week. It’s a couch I said to myself and left it at that. I was in no mood to try to convince Honeycomb otherwise.
          I hope I can find a parking space.
          A black truck speeded through the red light as I got out of my car, missed me by no more than an inch.
          Good luck. I knew as I let myself fall against the car, a bit winded from an almost certain death if that truck had hit me for sure. I nodded at Suyin rushing out of the store asking me if I was alright.
          This thought then pushed itself in my mind; of all the ways to die, falling asleep to never wake up would be my death of choice, though shocking for Honeycomb to find me that way. And I certainly was not going to die, hit by a stupid speeding truck on today of all days. The Day I was winning the BIG BUCK’O lottery.
          Still I stayed there offering my saved face to the sunrays not giving a damn if it was smeared or not with sunscreen. I was still here and for once I was going to let that inner voice, the one Honeycomb talks about for hours on the phone to anybody who will listen, tell me I was winning this week’s BIG BUCK’O lottery, no ifs or buts about it.
          So I marched in the Convenience Plus and came out minutes later with a ticket with my lucky numbers 4, 8 and 10 and mine and Honeycomb’s birthdates, in the end, to make it six numbers, I added 13, tempting fate or pushing my luck, I don’t know, but I did it anyway.
          After enquiring about the near miss, sweet Suyin told me not to forget to sign it in case I lost it, someone else could legally claim my winnings. I turned to look at her and thought how long I’d known this young woman for stopping by almost daily and never once did I worry about her, but her kindness reminded me to put her on my list of people I could do something for with the money I won.
          The adrenaline-charged feeling stayed with me. There was no way I could settle down, so I started to walk, laughing out loud remembering how I had teased Honeycomb when she and I joined a walking group to help us get into better shape and me saying that round is a better shape than none.
          She didn’t laugh, not even a smile. The thought of her rarely humoring me by laughing or at least smiling at my jokes crept in my-winning lottery thoughts-I humor her all the time. Especially when I force feed myself her spinach soufflĂ© when she knows I hate spinach.

Peggy Elms, writer
November 03, 2017

She is nervous this morning. She is pacing from her boudoir to her reading room. From her reading room to her mini-gym. From her mini-gym to her four season solarium. She has been doing this for more than twenty-seven minutes. As she walks past the clock on the wall in her mini-gym, it points exactly on the hour.
Nine o’clock.
She resists the impulse of thread-milling her fears away.
She has never seen Blake act out in this unusual manner. Her way has always been the way, for her, there is no highway. She oversees everything and everyone gravitating in her life.  This man she calls Her Husband is her biggest fan and she has always been smart enough to know what to do to keep it that way.
She runs to her bedroom for the comfort of her image in her cheval mirror.
No, she screams at her flawless painted face in perfect horror. Her hands bunch up the pockets of her silk dressing gown as she searches her delicate features she may have left untended. Her feet keep shifting from left to right, right to left in an uneasy dance. Catching her breath slowly, she leans in closer, her hands resting lightly on the wooden frame, shoulder height.  From behind, one would almost believe she is caught in an embrace with a lover, her head tilting sideways. Yet, the only thing she is embracing is her beauty, with her eyes, making sure, once more that everything is where it’s supposed to be.
Reassured by her mirrored face, she takes a few steps and let’s herself fall gruffly on her bed. Her body sinking softly in her goose down comforter.
“”Oooh, she moans softly, smiling to herself, this is so much better than last night’s sex.”
The act of coupling was messy to her, so naturally it was put down the bottom of her “TO DO LIST”. After twenty—two years, she had this sex and candy rule down, so she made sure to curb her husband’s carnal appetite at one “sĂ©ance” a month.
After the two minutes of much needed snuggling on his part, which was more than she could take last night, they took turns in the shower and of course, together, they replaced the soiled sheets with fresh ones. She had never known any other lover to do that snuggling-bit thing. She would have been happy to go back to the high-school days, when once the deed was done, the boy keeled over and slept. Better, he left.
The memory of her husband’s sweat sends spasms of uncontrollable hiccups up her throat with bile she unwillingly swallows, not daring to leave the slimy yellowish green streak of it on her white comforter. She makes it to her on-suite bathroom just in time to kneel over the toilet ready to let go the disdain from inside her, perhaps along with the ugliness of the life she has made for herself also.
Again, facing herself, this time in the vanity mirror, she wipes her mouth leaving traces of her pink lipstick on the plush towel she promised Blake she absolutely needed for the finishing touch of her perfect on-suite.
She puts it back neatly folded on the towel hanger.
Instantly, the pit in her stomach makes her doubt in her power over him.
She is surprised of how afraid this harebrained idea her husband has come up with might unravel her daily order she works so hard at keeping safe and predictable.
Saturday is shopping day, she’d shouted to him.
“BIG BUCK’O LOTTERY”, was all she heard as he left, without even sharing their morning kiss.

 Peggy Elms, writer
November 20, 2017

          Suyin can easily picture the mix of colors every time she closes her eyes. Better focusing from her mind’s eye, she relies upon. The warn-out wallpaper falling at the corners, comes alive instantly. Carrying her to a time when feeling the velvety contours of each flowers of the pattern, meant safety and warmth and love, running from under her tiny fingers, straight to ayi Zhou’s arms. She affectionately called a yi’yi. Her aunt Zhou never corrected her about the proper way to say aunt in Mandarin, which was ayi or yiyi also, but keeping the second a with yiyi, made it exclusively their language.
            The old woman laughed when Suyin came home upset one afternoon, from her Mandarin classes, claiming she was taught the proper way to say the word. Aunt Zhou shrugged it off and put Suyin on her lap, wiping the tears from her cheeks, still laughing and hugging her. The child was surprised and irritated at how her aunt was reacting to something that made the kids in class make fun of her. But asthe tears had dried out, aunt Zhou explained quietly, breaking in giggles between some of it. Suyin recalls still being upset not only with her classmates but with her aunt Zhou, which had never happened before. Still, she wanted to know why it was so funny to her only ally she had had in life.
            Oh darling niuniu (little girl), she said. There are many ways to say aunt in Mandarin anyways. Who would care if we invent our own language, right?
            The memory so vivid makes her run her fingers through her hair just like her aunt had done then. The tiny squeeze to her heart make her yearn for a moment the comfort she remembers from the heath left by ayiyi’s gliding fingers.
            Familiar moments, closely binding.
            A ritual for the child she had once been long ago. There is safety in repetition.
            As she moves in her daily Tai Chi gestural, grounding herself into today.
            Today, she is a grown woman. And feels a bit older than the forty years she’s lived. Though no one could guess by looking at her. Changing into her work outfit consisting simply of a pair of white leggings, an oversized blue sweater on top a pink T-shirt. A pair of Sketchers sandals, comfortable and stylish, the ad said. Worn and in good shape, too. So she ordered them.
            Suyin always bought her clothes in thrift shops online or off, she rarely bought used shoes though, for obvious hygiene reasons. So she made sure to give them a good cleaning with a her Aunt Zhou’s dream cleaning recipe, made of baking soda, vinegar and lavender perfumed essential oil, which was popular in her household way before you could find, prepared in so many different ways on the web today.
            Sketchers were her favorite style when it came to sandals. Never mind, the fact that they were made of rubber, light and easy on the ankles, the suede straps held her narrow feet perfectly. But what did it for her was not only finding them in a size 6, which was a miracle in itself, they had a two inch Wedge style heel which added two substantial inches to her five feet three height, that gave her a perfect five feet five, she was proud to stand in.
            She barely looks old enough to be working at all, she’d overheard a woman say, to her friend, just the other day. The latter adding in all ignorance, but thinking she understood something of Suyin’s culture.
            Well, you know the Chinese, they have a saying about making their children productive as early as you can. I think they would make them start as soon as they left the crib if the law permitted it.
            They had laughed at their racist comment, but stopped when they saw Suyin looking straight at them, expecting confrontation from the young woman. Suyin saw their flushed cheeks and remembered thinking, at least they know enough, that they shouldn’t speak that “kind of talk” in front of a Chinese person. These women were regular customers too, coming in and out of her store ever since Suyin can remember.
            But it still hurt to hear snide remarks from the people she applied herself to serve in the deferent manner she had been taught to do day in, day out.
                She shrugs, lifting her dark mood as she leaves the back store for the day.
            In an emulation of her all time idol MJ, she slides along the aisles gently. Aware that she is not as graceful as him, she however holds on happily to her groove. Check-list in hand, ready to fill any empty space on the shelves rapidly. She finds none. The facing is impeccable. She understands how Fridays can get busy and knows first-hand how difficult it can be to reshelf the whole store, let alone make it look so good. She reminds herself to tell Derek he did a great job as soon as he walks in later on. He is not only a thoughtful young man. But he has a self-discipline quality rarely found these days. She wants to keep him motivated.
            Most teenagers she comes across are for the most, entitled and easy to frown upon any changes in their schedule. And though they agree to fill in for her when they discuss the fact that they may be called upon to replace her from time to time, during every interview, they seem to forget about it when she needs one of them to fill in for her when she needs a day off.
            One never knows when one needs a permanent replacement for oneself, musing out loud as she ends her dance by moon-walking behind her counter, ready to cease the day.

 Peggy Elms, writer
December 4, 2017

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This is almost the end of my journey with THE STORY INTENSIVE. It has been quite an experience. Though I have been unsure about how well I...