writing

The Lumecriton

This is my entry for this week’s Reddit/WritingPrompts Smash ‘Em Up Sunday which gives you a theme and writing constraints. The prompts/constraints reminded me of this piece I wrote a while ago and helped me build more on that world. I already have a lot more for this story in my head, but part of the constraints was a word count of 800. I definitely plan on writing more, hence the abrupt ending.


 Just add ‘em to the pile, I thought as they wheeled the corpse past me down the hallway. Strangely, my palms began to sweat. Surely I’ve seen enough dead bodies by now, but today I had more at risk. Today was my 22nd birthday. 

At the end of the hallway was the entrance to the exam arena. To my left was an empty chair and to my right, the check-in window, which was manned by a slovenly fellow with a scanner. 

“Please present your identification,” he said without looking at me. Stepping up to the window, I placed my arm through the small opening. The man slowly moved the scanner over my upturned wrist.

The scanner gave a loud BING!

“Oh good a Terri. I’m getting tired of calling the morgue today. Thank you for your cooperation. Please be seated.” he said. His words lit a spark of fear in my chest. Sit and wait? I didn’t want to do any more waiting. Isn’t 22 years long enough? 22 years of hoping I’m making the right decisions. 22 years of knowing my fate may already be written. 22 years of wondering if I’ll make it to 23.

There were plenty of those who thought this system wasn’t fair; it was rigged against all of us. But what was the alternative? There was only so much space left to live on Mars. Earth had been overpopulated long ago. So we did what we could as a species, only let the strongest, kindest, and most honest survive. There was simply no room left for anyone less than.

“Enter the chamber.” boomed a voice from behind the arena door. I took a deep breath and straightened my spine. I’ve long known this day was coming, but now that it was here, it felt surreal.

I grabbed the door handle. It was ice cold. The door began to swing open on its own. The chamber was pitch dark, except for a single spotlight in the center of the room. I took a few steps forward, but paused as I heard the door closing behind me. There was a soft hiss as it sealed, which echoed throughout the chamber. 

The room was frigid. I could probably see my breath if only there was enough light. 

“Please step into the Lumecriton.” said the voice. I made my way toward the light. My head began filling with doubt even though everyone had told me I had nothing to worry about. My entire family, including distant cousins, had made it through The Judgement. “We have solid DNA.” my Mom would always say. But as long as I could remember, I always felt something dark inside. What if I were somehow different?

I stepped into the light, and felt its warmth on my face, much like the sun.

“Sarah Dunn” said the voice. “You are here today to seek Judgement.”

‘Seek?’  As if I had a choice.

“We are well aware of your family’s performance, but it will not be relevant here. You are to stand in Judgement, alone.”

‘Let’s just do this thing already.’ 

“Do not attempt to resist the light. This will be a pain-free exam as long as you do not resist.”

My feet suddenly left the floor as the light became blinding. I could feel the warmth of the light reaching my bones. Suddenly a flood of memories whirled through my mind – it was as if I were on a merry-go-round watching my life spin by. Then I saw his face. Tyler. I missed him so much. No. Not this memory. I can’t relive saying goodbye again. I began to feel a sharp, searing pain in my head. Everything went black.

I was cold. There was something frozen against my cheek. I opened my eyes but all I could see were blue halos. There were faint voices in the distance, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“Hello?” I croaked. “Have I been Judged?” My mind began to clear and I realized I was on the floor. I was pushing myself up when I felt a hand on my shoulder. 

“It’s OK Sarah, time to go.” said the voice as he helped me to my feet.

“Go? Go where? Have I been Judged? There was pain. Did something go wrong?”

“Relax Sarah, nothing went wrong. We’re just not used to Terries failing.”

“Failing? I failed? No – no. I’m a Terri. My Mom, My Dad, my whole family.”

“We know Sarah” said the voice. “Your test results simply didn’t add up.”

My eyes welled with tears. My knees buckled. I didn’t want this to be the end.

“But don’t worry Sarah,” said a different voice from behind me. It was a voice I recognized. “We have different plans for you.”

“Tyler?”

Hello 2021!

Happy New Year! Usually every year I make a big list of resolutions, but this year I’ve decided to guide my decisions based on two goals: 1) getting healthy and 2) embracing the discomfort. This first is pretty straight forward, but I should probably explain the second.

I realized this last year that there are a lot of things I don’t do because I’m basically avoiding discomfort. For example, one of my weekly tasks is to clean the bathrooms, but I constantly put it off because I’ve deemed it a complete pain in the ass. In my head, I’ve built it up to this Herculean task that will take forever, when in reality it takes 30 minutes tops and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. I used to beat myself up and label myself lazy. But all that did was make me feel worse about myself and definitely didn’t inspire me to get the damn bathrooms clean.

However, I’ve decided to try re-scripting the conversation that goes on in my head and asked myself what it is that I’m trying to avoid. The answer, to my surprise, was simply boredom. Cleaning the bathrooms is boring. And by trying to avoid the discomfort of being bored, my brain brews up a swirling shit storm of negative thoughts to make sure I walk away. It’s a defense mechanism really. My brain is just trying to keep me in my comfort zone because in a very basic way, comfort is equal to safety. But now that I know this, I need to flip it on its head. Instead of stepping outside my comfort zone, I need to actually expand that zone to include things that I once deemed uncomfortable. Embrace the discomfort.

As for my blog, I plan on continuing my daily art posts. I am going to work on a weekly schedule that includes writing, because I haven’t had the time for that lately and I don’t want it to fall to the wayside. And in case you didn’t know, I also started a YouTube channel. I’m super excited about building that up this year and plan on making one video per week. Where will I find all the time? I have no idea. But I’m sure going to give it my best.

So here’s to a new year of full of creativity, good health, comfortable discomfort, and clean bathrooms! What are your goals for this shiny new year?

The Goo

“Pull it open!!!” I could hear them shouting orders, attempting to coordinate their efforts. I had no idea who they were and I wanted to help them, but the slime had completely immobilized me. It was dark, and getting darker. The good news was, I felt no pain. I felt nothing for that matter. The limpid goo must have commandeered my nervous system.

How long have I been in here? It seemed only moments ago I was investigating reports of a missing dog. Of all the cases I’ve worked on over the years, how does a missing family pet lead to my demise? I can’t recall. It’s all getting fuzzy.

The goo. I remember seeing the goo. It was in a small puddle in the middle of the trail. I thought it was water, but it doesn’t rain here. Why was I there again? Oh right, Mittsy. The Spencers’ dog. She had been missing for a few weeks. Or was it days? Hours?

The goo. It smelled like flowers. I found her collar. It was wet. Mittsy the Pomeranian. How did it get so wet? It doesn’t rain here. Sometimes it rains. Doesn’t it?

The goo. I remember touching the goo. It was dripping out of a flower. The blooms were gorgeous. The smell, exotic. Have I seen them before? Maybe it’s just déjà vu. Déjà visité. I’ve been here before. But I couldn’t have. I’ve never drowned before. Have I?

The goo.

So this is how I die. The goo.

Swallowed whole. By a flower.

The goo.

The Machines

“Next.” called the man behind the thick glass. I approached the window with the entirety of my wardrobe in a bag and slipped my ticket through the narrow slot.

“Well look what we have here. A laundry winner. I guess your whites will be whiter for a while.” I smiled a bit remembering my mangy wedding dress. He slid a pouch of white powder and a thin piece of heavily scented fabric through the slot. A loud buzzer sounded. read more…

The Walkway

Saturday started like any other day. Mitch was up early and went out for a run. On his return home he was surprised to see his neighbor working in the front yard. Every few months, Mr. Walters would make a rare appearance and add several bricks to his walkway. It’s virtually the only time anyone in the neighborhood saw him. He noticed Mr. Walters was struggling with his wheelbarrow and stopped to help. read more…

Haven’s Passing

“THEY SAY THE SHADOWS DANCE in those woods.” the voice came from behind her. Camille turned around to see an old woman sitting on a porch in a weathered rocking chair. She wore a pink floral housecoat and white fuzzy slippers. She seemed like the stereotypical old woman except for her eyes, they were unnaturally blue.  read more…

Inktober 52 + Writing

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”- Ray Bradbury

I have an idea for a novel that has been eating away at me. I attempted to start writing it, but realized right away that I was in over my head. I read a great article about how beginner writers should start with short stories because it will give them the ability to practice while also feeling the achievement of completion. Not long after reading that article, read more…

Prompt: Invent a word.

“Enter the Chamber.” the large voice charged. Sarah took a deep breath and straightened her spine. She had known this day was coming, but now that it was here, it felt surreal.

She grabbed the hefty door handle. It was ice cold. She began to pull but the door slowly swung open on its own. The chamber was pitch dark, except for the single spotlight in the center of the room. She took a few steps forward, but paused as she heard the huge door swinging closed. There was a soft hiss as it sealed which echoed throughout the chamber.

The room was frigid. She could probably see her breath if only there was enough light.

“Please step into the Lumecriton.” said the voice. Sarah made her way toward the light. Her head began filling with doubt even though everyone had told her she had nothing to worry about. Her entire family, including distant cousins, had made it through The Judgement. “We have solid DNA.” her Mom would always say. But what if she was somehow different.

As soon as she stepped into the light she felt its warmth on her face, much like the sun.

“Sarah Dunn” boomed the voice. “You are here today to seek Judgement.”

‘Seek?’ As if she had a choice.

“We are well aware of your family’s performance, but it will not be relevant here. You are to stand in Judgement, alone.”

‘Let’s just do this thing already.’ she thought.

Prompt: They went to Los Angeles to see his parents.

Micheal stared out the window in awe of the bright lights. “Is this traffic for real?” he asked dumbfounded. Carl just chuckled and kept an eye out for his opportunity to merge.

They both were keeping the conversation pretty light considering the situation. Neither wanted to deliver the bad news, even if it came with the world’s most prestigious award. It was a universe-altering breakthrough, but it had come at an unbearable cost.

“So how long do you think we have til we get there?” asked Micheal.
“Judging by the flashing lights ahead, 2 hours?” Carl guessed.
“OK. Well I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

Carl nodded in agreement. They both knew the next few days would be an exhausting whirlwind of piercing interviews, never ending press conferences, and sweaty-palmed handshakes with the top leaders on the planet. And worst of all, they had to meet his parents.

“Wake me when we’re close?” asked Micheal.
“Sure thing, Boss.” scoffed Carl.
Micheal snickered and said, “You know I hate it when you call me that.”

Micheal stretched out in the back seat and tried to quiet his racing thoughts. What was he going to say? How was he going to say it? If he were in their shoes, how would he want to hear the news? How will they react? He had years of training and a 4 year degree in psychology, but books and classrooms don’t prepare you for this.

15 Minute Writing Session, #1

Since I am a complete noob to writing, I thought creating a daily practice would be a good place to start. Every morning I try to write for 15 minutes using a prompt I pull from a book, 400 Writing Promptsor from somewhere on the interwebs. I will be sharing these daily, unless they tie into a larger story that I want to save for later. Without further ado, here’s my first session.

————————————

Why is this so painful? Putting words on paper is like carving out pieces of one’s soul and smearing them on the page. They’re just words. Why should it matter so much? Oh but it does. Words mean everything.

I have an incessant need to get this story out of my head. I can already see how beautiful of a story it is, but I just don’t know how I am going to fill in all of the blanks. It’s like I have the aftertaste in my mouth, but I never ate the meal.

What if I never figure out how to write this story? It will just remain a shell inside my brain, never given a chance to experience the excitement of quickening pulses, the giddiness of laughter or the heartbreak of tears. I want so badly to bring this to life. I need to breathe air into its lungs.

So what else can I write about? Let’s try the prompt book:

In what ways are you above average?

YIKES. Umm. I’m really good at problem solving. Especially for others. Solving my own problems can be tricky because I have a tendency to be very negative about my own abilities and worth. Why is that? I’ve always been this way. Hating on myself. Beating myself up is a regular pastime. So yeah, even though it’s a negative, I am definitely above average at tearing myself down. I’m a pro at that shit.

So what else… I’m good at taking two unrelated ideas and bringing them together to make something new. I’m good at drawing. I’m good at singing. I’m good at graphic design.

TIME’S UP!

Postcard Therapy: My New Mantra

I had a small breakthrough last week which led to the birth of my new mantra: It’s going to be hard, but I can do it. During a conversation with my husband, he helped me realize that I have always believed that happiness should just happen, and that if it didn’t, then there was something wrong with me. For some reason it never occurred to me that happiness was something I would have to work at. Of course it seems obvious now, but I just never saw it that way before. This led to the realization that I think this way about a lot of things. And that I talk myself out of A LOT because I focus too much on how hard everything is going to be – how much work I will have to put in – which eventually leads to the “I can’ts”. So I decided to take that bad habit and flip it on its head. I’m used to telling myself it’s going to be hard, so I’m building on that ingrained habit and adding the positive twist – but I can do it! It’s been almost a week with my new mantra and I’m already noticing a huge difference. Not only am I not shying away from things, but I’m also seeing things in a more positive light.

I also started reading the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is all about learning how to control your consciousness to discover true happiness. The timing couldn’t be better.

I hope this postcard helps whoever receives it, as much as it has helped me.

Session One: I need therapy.

I have always been a creative person. The few times I have really thrived in my life, have all occurred when I was deep in the process of creating something – music, writing, drawing, painting, coding, designing, photography, problem solving, building a business. All of these things bring me joy. A few years ago I became very depressed and stopped creating. Fear of failure crippled me. And even though I had two small children and an amazing husband/best friend, I had no joy in my life. My fire was out. My soul had grown cold.

Then came the psychotic break. What started out as slight paranoia, turned into full blown delusions with auditory and visual hallucinations, and I was admitted to the hospital. My entire life was turned upside down. I remember thinking, “This can’t be my life.” But this was not part of the delusions. It was real, and it was terrifying. And, it was best thing that ever could have happened to me.

My first day in the hospital was hell. I knew no one. I trusted no one. I wasn’t even completely sure where I was. I was so scared. I cried the entire day. The only time the tears let up a little was during art therapy. But even then I struggled to create anything. I was so deep in my depression, for so long, that I didn’t even notice I had been swallowed whole.

It’s a little over 3 months since I got out of the hospital. So much has changed for me – all for the better. I have stronger relationships with my family and friends, and most importantly, with myself. I have found connections to things that give a deeper meaning to my life. I no longer feel like I’m unworthy or not enough. I am not only capable, but capable of great things. I have passion. My soul has been set on fire. Creativity fuels this fire. I decided to start this blog to document my creative sessions.
It is my much needed therapy.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The first two drawings I made while in the hospital were of this infinity symbol. My delusions had a very distinct theme of duality. At times I felt as though my soul was at the center of The War of Good & Evil. But I began to see it less as a war, and more of a delicate balance — Yin & Yang through infinity. I also started to gain some clarity about how negative & positive are not just things that exist in opposite of each other, but actually exist because of each other. How would you define good if there were no evil? How would you truly find joy & happiness if you hadn’t also experienced sadness & disappointment? Without these opposing forces, life would be flat. Emotions would be monotone.  Expressed as color, black & white would be grey and expressed in form, infinity would be a straight line. So even though we try desperately to deny or avoid negative emotions or experiences, I now believe they are a necessary part of the ebb & flow of life. They are also temporary. Sooner or later the tide will turn and everything will seek balance.

This is a very comforting idea for me. My depression came with a very heavy theme of nothing-will-ever-change-ism. I felt permanently stuck. It seemed as though Herculean amounts of effort would be needed to even scratch the surface. I had a chronic case of the “can’t”s. Of course none of it was true, but when your manipulative self-talk spins its web of lies, it becomes the truth. Truth through simple belief. Now I am beginning to understand that when I am struggling, there is something I need to learn. Some erroneous belief or idea that I need to let go. Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” I’m starting to ask “What is the Universe trying to teach me?”

There is a great quote from the Dalai Lama,

The enemy is a very good teacher.

If negative experiences are an inevitability, I might as well gain something from it. If I can walk away with a little more knowledge or at the very least gain a little perspective, all is not lost. The infinite loop will go on and balance will be restored.

I think our time is up. Until next session.