I love stories. They let us be someone else for a while, to discover the same thoughts and feelings we’ve had within the mind and heart of another. They remind us that no matter how different we are, we are all the same. And no matter what we’re fighting for, we are all on the same team.
If you’d like to read some of my latest musings, click here.
Below are introductions to a few of my own stories.
serial fiction Podcast; Depression-era Southern Gothic
status: final revisions and pre-production
I grew up in a forest where trees bleed scarlet instead of sugar. When it rains there, the grass dries up and when the sun shines, it drowns everything it touches. Nothing is ever as it should be and rarely is anything what it seems. That’s why I refused to believe him at first, why I found it so hard to trust his gentle hands and quiet words. It’s why the first day I saw him, I tried to kill him.
It was just like a thousand other days I’d known in the wood, a day of torrential sunshine that left me gasping for air. I’d left my hair down that morning, too lazy to bind it up in the braids I wore on most days. The sun plastered it to the sides of my face and it stuck patched clothing tight to my skin. But as miserable as I was, the boy stood on the rock ledge by the river, dry as could be and smiling at the sun like a fool.
I’d never seen anyone like him before. The only men I’d known were my father and brothers, rough and thick the lot of them, with skin made of scars turned red by fevered lusts. This one though, this boy who grinned at the sky, his face was smooth and calm without the violent lines I thought everyone was made of. I had to touch him, to know what immaculate skin felt like. I had to ask him why he deserved to wear it when I did not.
Before my feet took any steps at all, I stood before him. He took my wet, mud-brown hair in his fingers and it became something new: clean, dry, the color of poppies. I watched the blush run from his fingertips up every dirty knotted strand until I could feel it seep into my face, where it pooled warm behind my cheeks.
Never Read the Comments
YA Noir Mystery
The video I really want to make? It’s just me—no wig, no voice changer, no disguise. It’s me talking to Audrey, screaming at the lens, asking her why she left.
But I can’t do it. I can’t sit there and just be me. Instead, I stand silhouette in front of a bright light and spout off about whatever. I like to get people stirred up. Hell, I’ll say anything to make them squeal. I’ve got twenty thousand subscribers and they love to duke it out in the comment section. Everybody’s brave when they can stay safe in cyber shadow, hiding behind avatars like rubber masks.
Truth is, starting The Nickel Press saved me after we lost Audrey. Filled in those quiet spaces she left around the house. The minutes before sleep when we used to tell secrets under our blankets. The Sunday afternoons I’d convince her taking strawberries from the neighbor’s yard wasn’t really stealing. Or the early mornings when we’d try getting used to the taste of coffee, pouring in creamer until the bitterness disappeared. I drink the stuff by the gallon now. Black. And strong enough to hold up the spoon.
A hundred comments and four death threats on my latest video in just under an hour, and I don’t even remember what I said. Got a rise out of this moron, though:
randyforyou: If I find out who you are, I’ll have your nads hanging from my rearview.
Sorry, baby. No fuzzy dice here.
I smile at my own joke. If only I could actually type in the reply. But I have one rule: never engage. Do not feed the trolls.
I glance up from my phone and look across the high school parking lot. There’s this guy staring at me from the back side of the bleachers, not far from my car. I have no idea who he is, but I do know, even from thirty yards away, that he doesn’t belong here.
YA Magical Realism
status: in revision
It was there again, the metallic sting that bit my throat every time music crossed my mind. I knew better than to try to actually sing, that only made it worse, made me cough and gag with what tasted like a mouth full of pennies. I cleared my throat, swallowed hard, and stretched out on my back, my toes and fingertips reaching all four edges of my childhood tree house in a backyard that was no longer mine. Closing my eyes, I imagined the wind was my dad singing to me.
I’d been told I met him once, right after I was born, and I liked to think I could still hear his voice if I tried hard enough, his song hidden deep within the folds of my mind. Having been abandoned by my mom—again—I was desperate for the familiar, no matter how faint.
It wasn’t long before the singing became real, a melody tossed by the breeze that barely moved as if afraid to venture from a single pitch. The air reached down through the open roof in quiet breaths that stirred something behind the skin at the base of my throat. I gasped, for it was just that: a stirring and nothing more. Nothing like the searing pain I expected music to bring with it.
The melody tiptoed along, not yet moving from the first pitch more than a few steps. It grew louder and I was afraid to open my eyes, afraid I must be dreaming, afraid to be awake. Images of my dad glittered from side to side, dissolving into each other and fading to the next, the notes of the air dancing with the pictures of my mind.
The stirring in my throat synchronized with the simple melody until it turned into a familiar tickle. I started to sweat because I knew what was coming. I tried to stop hearing the music but even when I covered my ears it throbbed within my brain, not to be silenced.
The wind lifted my hair.
The tickle turned needle sharp.
I could taste it, long, cold and metallic, freezing my throat from the inside. The images of my dad lost their sparkle and thickened. I shivered. Leaves flew at my face.
The needle wanted escape. I opened my mouth to let it out but it only pierced me and dug itself into the back of my tongue.
MG SF, set in 1977
Walkie talkies. I’d been wanting a pair of those since I could remember. They were as big as my forearm and heavy, not toys like the other guys at school had. I clicked one of them on but nothing happened.
“Didn’t have time to get batteries,” Dad said. “We’ll have to grab some after cake.”
I nodded and set one down so I could look at the other one closer. All black with chrome details, scuffed on the sides, a gash in the back. Three dials, a long silver antenna, a speaker on one end, a microphone on the other.
Dad crouched down in front of me. “I got these in the desert. You ever hear of Area 51?”
Aliens the government didn’t want us knowing about? Of course I did.
“Well, these are from an army surplus store not a mile from there. Who knows,” he turned the walkie over and ran his finger along the gash, “they might not even be from our army.”
I looked at him and he pointed to the sky.
We all busted out laughing.