Flash Fiction Friday: Frostfire World

frostfire

The ice gods had forsaken the Mirawraith people. They sent the burning sickness among them scorching their young from the inside. Their small blue hued bodies twisted with the flames that licked at their muscles and organs as it fed on their internal frost. It devoured whole generations. The Elder Mother of the tribe warned the people not to turn from the old ways, but Kipland’s father, the chief had grand new ideas.

The Mirawraith were people of the cold. Frost clung to their essence. Kip had survived the burning sickness as a child, but was forever marked with crimson eyes and hair. She was one of the few. Most of the others fell in battle due to her father’s continued arrogance. The people dropped to their knees begging the ice gods for forgiveness, but it was too late. Chief Amun had gone too far by declaring himself equal to the gods.

Enormous fireballs rained from the sky. Searing yellow bolts of lightning lashed at Amun’s people. Those not burned from within were burned from without. With blackened, cracked, and oozing flesh the Mirawraith fled to the foot of the mountains.

That was ages ago, now Kip, one of last of her kind, struggled to free her foot from the two feet of crystalline snow. Her foot broke through the frozen outer crust with the transfer of her weight and dropped to the ground beneath. She forced her cracking determination to continue putting one foot in front of another.

Her breath came in heavy huffs turning to ice just past her sapphire lips. Snowflakes formed on her eyelashes and brows. Icicles hung in her crimson dreadlocked hair. She pulled a gray course fur cloak tighter around her shoulders. The elements of ice and fire were at war within her. Her fingers contorted with a searing internal fire. She grimaced and bit her lip.

A blue and purple marbled glacier loomed above her. The black and gray clouds rolled overhead like thick suffocating smoke. She wrapped one hand protectively around her swollen belly. It’s nearly time for this little one to break free and join the Mirawraith people.

She could feel the fire of his essence warming her from within. Her heart skipped a beat, knowing that his fire would be her undoing if he did not come soon. Kip leaned into the pressing wind stinging her face, and took another step. The leather harness around her shoulder tightened preventing another step. She looked behind her. Her eyes followed the rope to a small sled piled with food and furs. A mound of shaved snow bared the path of the runners of the sled.

She gripped the rope with her hands. Clenching her teeth, she pulled hard and pressed her right shoulder against the leather harness. The sled was jostled free. A low growl emanated from the furs. A moist black nose and emerald eyes peered out from under the pile.

“We’re nearly there Hailstorm,” Kip called to the obsidian wolfhound nestled in the warmth and safety of the sled. She couldn’t leave her behind, and there was no way Hailstorm’s broken ribs had healed enough for her to make this journey on foot.

The orange and yellow light of the sun sliced through the storm above for a second. Kip turns her ruby eyes from its burning light. The child’s body within her own twisted and caused a ripple to course through her stretched muscles. She must hurry.

They had tried to come to the life-giving cave a week ago, before the descent of the arctic winds from the north. Hailstorm had pulled Kip out of the path of an avalanche only to be swept away by the cascading ice and rock. Their survival was a gift from the gods. Hailstorm was her only companion now, and nothing could make Kip go on without her.

Hailstorm would have to be the one to gather meat for the months they would spend within the cave after the baby came. The cold intensified the child’s strange unnatural warmth. Kip was at home in this frozen land. Her child would not be. She had not figured out how she would manage to reconcile their differences, but they had not killed one another during the time they have shared her body.

A crackling rumble pushed through the night air as she stepped through the unseen veil at the mouth of the cave. The warmth of the life within her made her own body rebel against its frozen nature. She had made it just in time.

Quartz crystal of every hue clung to the walls and ceiling of the cave. A deep green moss covered the ground. The fur cloak fell from her shoulders revealing her sapphire skin, which was bare other than the deerskin camisole and loincloth she wore. She stepped into the turquoise spring at the back of the grotto. Walking into it depths, the muscles in her legs relaxed in the cold clear waters. Pins and needles clawed at her skin as the blood began to bring the inner heat to her skin. The vigor of the child within her made her wonder how she would ever provide for him.

The center of her body contracted sending shards of pain through her back. She let out a low moan and pulled her knees toward her chest. Squeezing her eyes closed hard, she exhaled through pursed lips and then let her breath go in a gust.

Small eyes like molten gold peered up at Kip, and a high-pitched wail escaped the child’s throat. Swirls of golden hair were plastered against his pale sapphire skin. Kip’s cold blue lips curled into a crooked grin and she pressed them to his warm skin.

Frostfire’s birth was proof the gods had not abandoned the Mirawraith, at least not her. His birth wove the elements into one. He gave them a reason to reclaim their lives and become great once again.

Refuse to be Confined

glass

Throwing rocks in a glass house has always been frowned upon, but what if the glass walls were constructed to keep you from reaching the rest of the world, or the world from reaching you?

I say throw the rocks! Throw anything and everything you can get your hands on. Bust out the machine gun and blow torch if you must.

Life is not fair. People are selfish. Pain and suffering are inevitable. We build walls around ourselves, so that we don’t have to hurt and suffer. Sometimes the world that locks us inside, because no one wants to be contaminated by who we are or what we represent.

We watch the world from inside our safe space. We plant our self-serving gardens. We close the blinds when something happens to our neighbor that doesn’t jive with our perception of the world.  If it’s too hot, we turn on the AC. If it’s too cold, we crank up the heat.  We wave to our family and friends who live in their adjacent glass houses, thankful that we are free of their contamination.

Trunks stuffed full of dirty little secrets line at least one wall in our houses. Our demons live in the bunkers we’ve constructed beneath our feet.

Rose-colored glass is a popular, as is concave and convex. See the world in bright yellow or calming blues, if you wish. Enjoy a constant sunrise or the dark of night. It’s your house, and you may build it to filter the world out as you see fit. Greenhouses are on the rise.

It all seems lovely, so why would anyone encourage rock throwing? Because I refuse to be confined by myself or others.

Of course, breaking the glass means shards will cascade upon our heads, and shrapnel will fly from every direction.  We’re not going to come out of this without lacerations and permanent scars. We may be dismembered, blinded, and disfigured.

It will be beautiful to see the light fractured among the storm of glass.

Death’s Gift

death

“Life is so short,” Jasper said. He stared off into the distance. Sage words from a seven-teen-year old boy, who has his whole life before him. He turned his steel blue eyes toward me. A longing sadness filled his eyes and clouded his expression.

“It is, but the fact that you realize that now rather than when you are fifty is an opportunity for you to make the most of what you have,” I said. He ran his hand through his short dark brown hair.

“Don’t leave things unsaid, set goals, and clarify your priorities. You’ll be all right,” I said.

This isn’t the first conversation we have had about the end of life, and I’m sure it will not be the last. At least, I hope it is not. Jasper often thinks about death. Some may believe he shouldn’t dwell on something so negative. I disagree. The sooner you realize that you don’t have all the time in the world, the more you will strive to be exceptional now.

Immortality is great as an idea. Immortal beings crop up in many fantasy novels and we love them. How wonderful would it be to have immeasurable time to accomplish all we desire?

How many of the things that we hold dear would lose their value because they and we are infinite? You could put off learning to play the piano, writing a novel, camping with your children, and fishing with your dad until there was nothing remaining.

There are those that find the shadowy specter of death hovering in the fog of the future terrifying instead of inspiring. Rather than allowing the end to scare them into taking full advantage of the beauty and happiness before them, they shut themselves off from the world. Not taking risks, not venturing out of their comfort zone, they sit wasting away. They lock up the little life that they have in a safety deposit box. In doing so, they have already breathed their last breath.

Death is a gift, it places immeasurable value on each and every moment you have. Make them count.

Wandering in the Labyrinth of the Internet

I am Writing

This morning I began listening to Chasing the Bard by Philippa Ballantine, AKA Pip Ballantine, (free on iTunes as a podcast) which is a fantasy novel. I had no idea that you could find such quality writing for on iTunes. The second book in the series is also free and called Digital Magic. I found out about these while listening to The Creative Penn podcast by author JoAnna Penn.

The Creative Penn is full of loads of information on self-publishing, writing, marketing, traditional publishing, and everything you could want to know about becoming an author. It is a wonderful resource. JoAnna has four years of podcasts on her website free for anyone who wants to take a listen. Some of the information from 2010 is a little outdated because the self-publishing market has changed quite a lot over the last four years.

JoAnna interviews various authors and entrepreneurs. I have found them very helpful in navigating the very intimidating world of becoming an author. She also provides a lot of inspiration and hope for me as well. She began her writing career with a non-fiction book and initially wrote while holding down her day job. I started the same way beginning with my memoir Fighting for a Chance to Dream, which has been vacationing in my closet waiting for another edit and me to save the money for a professional editor and book designer (for a cover, maps, and internal formatting).

When I first began writing my memoir, I wanted to go the traditional publishing route, but having learned more about self-publishing I know that it the best path for me and my books. I falsely believed that going the traditional route would save me time, which is a huge commodity in my life, because  I would not have to do the marketing, but the more I delved into the well of information the more I learned that this is just not true. Most agents and publishing houses will not even consider looking at your work if you haven’t spent a year or more marketing it and yourself before publishing. I am sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I didn’t make it through law school and as an ultrarunner with two children in tow believing I was the exception to the rule.

There is so much information about self-publishing and becoming an author on the internet and the various social media sites that it is frankly overwhelming. I’ve tried to put some sort of boundary on where I am getting my information only to maintain my own sanity and sense of control.

Here is a list of the sites I have been relying on for information:

TheCreativePenn.com (Author JoAnna Penn)

  • Marketing, platform, self-publishing (all aspects), traditional publishing, and craft is sprinkled in here and there.

Helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com (Author K.M. Weiland)

  • Craft of writing.

Terribleminds.com

  • Flash Fiction Fridays, information about the state of the publishing world and other authors.

From these sites, I explore the sites of authors and others involved in the business of writing. Check them out if you haven’t already. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

Flash Fiction Friday: Bad Parents

Flash Fiction Friday is a challenge offered by Author Chuck Wendig on his blog Terribleminds. Chuck throws out a random topic and you have until Friday at noon EST to write a fictional short story in 1000 words. This week’s challenge was near and dear to my heart, “Bad Parents.” In a sense my personal experiences probably limited my creativity since bad parenting is the crux of my day job.

Bad Parents

“Get out of my face you little bastard!” she screeched inches from Andy’s cherub cheeks, sprinkling them with her spit. With narrowed eyes, she pushed on his chest, and he plopped onto his behind. Tears spilled from his eyes and his bottom lip quivered. I glared at her and pulled him into the bathroom.

“Hurry up in there you little whore. He needs to be in bed before Steve and Dereck get here.” She slapped the door.

Letting out a held breath, I leaned against the door pressing it closed. I hated her. Yes, she was my mom, but I hated her. I felt bad about hating her, I mean, I should love her, right? What could I do at seven years old? I couldn’t leave or tell anyone. She said we would be in foster care, separated, and god knows what else. I wasn’t going to lose Andy. He needed me, and I needed him.

The running water drowned out mom’s continued raving about how worthless we were, and how she wouldn’t have to get high all the time if she didn’t have us. She told me she needed to escape her awful life. I lifted Andy into the warm water. A brown ring circled the tub. I scratched at it with my fingernail lost in my thoughts of how I could make mom’s life better.

“Sit down, so you don’t fall,” I told him. We pushed his rubber ducks around in the bubbles I had made with dish soap. Mom cries a lot, ever since we found dad hanging in the closet by a belt. I wish he were here. She didn’t get high so much then.

I pulled Andy out of the tub, dried him, and put a diaper on him.

Through the door, I heard Steven and Derek come into our one bedroom apartment. I opened the door just an inch. She snatched my shirt and yanked me toward her. My cheeks and forehead cracked against edge of the door and the doorframe.

“I don’t want to see your ugly face tonight,” she said through clenched teeth, pushing me back into the bathroom.

Mom and her friends were laughing and coughing out there while I read The Giving Tree to Andy in the corner of the bathroom. Heavy footsteps passed the door. Two more sets of steps followed a minute later. I stroked Andy’s hair and waited. No light came under the door. Their muffled voices came to my ears. I turned the doorknob and peeked out. Her door was closed.

Andy and I tiptoed down the hall to our mattress on the floor behind the couch. I cleared the old pizza box and McDonald’s wrappers off. A cloud of pee wafted through the air as Andy flopped onto our mattress splotched with yellow and black stains.

“You sing?” Andy asked.

“If you’re quiet, I’ll sing,” I told him. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was the only song that came to my mind.

Once Andy was asleep, I tiptoed down the hall. What are they doing in there? Their voices were getting louder. Mom was talking real fast. It was dark in the room, other than an occasional flicker of dancing light.

There was rustling on the other side of the door. I shuffled back down the hall tripping over a pile of clothes. Mom grabbed my arm and pressed her nails into my skin. I squeezed my eyes closed.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Trying to catch a peek of my man? You little slut,” Mom said, shaking my eyes open.

The fire in her eyes scared the heck out of me. That fire had burned me more than once.

“No mommy, I was going to the potty.” I looked at the floor. Her backhand caught me on the left side of my face and sent me crashing into the wall. I pulled my legs to my chest and tucked my chin into my knees. She kicked me in the ribs and slammed the door.

The sun rose casting a soft yellow glow through the front windows.

“Mommy, wake up,” Andy said, shaking mom’s bare shoulder. She didn’t stir. Her eyes didn’t flutter open sparkling with love. She didn’t even breathe anymore. I stood at the door of her bedroom. I knew before Andy touched her. Her lips were blue, and white powder dusted her nose. The oozing pus nodules ringed in red on her arms stared back at me like her red-rimmed eyes. Andy looked back at me, his diaper sagging between his knees.

“Come on Andy, she’s real tired. Let’s change you and go for a walk,” I said, waving him out of her room with my hand. He kissed her pale cold cheek. I pulled the door closed hoping the residual chemical smell wouldn’t follow us like the specter of my mother.

“Why won’t she wake?”

“She was up late last night little man.”

“With her friends?”

“Yeah,” I whispered wiping the tears from my face. I chipped dried oatmeal out of a bowl and set it on the table for Andy. I poured the last of the frosted flakes in the bowl.

As I turned the blue lid of the milk, a rotten stench ran into my face. I gagged and set it in the sink overflowing with dishes caked in week old rotting food.

“There’s no milk.” I handed him a blackened spoon. Mom used it to smoke a rock last night, but it was the cleanest spoon in the house.

Pulling out clothes from a knee-high pile of dirty laundry in the corner of the living room, I brought each piece to my nose. It’s all sour. All the socks are yellow and stiff. I tug one of mom’s t-shirts over Andy’s head and roll some socks over his toes.

“I need to call someone,” I said.  “Let’s go.”

Taking his hand in mine, we walked in the morning sun dragging his dingy blanket behind us.

 

What’s it all about?

023

Fighting for a Chance to Dream is my life’s premise and theme. I began fighting for my chance to dream when I was seventeen years old. My archenemy was myself as is the case for many of us. My newborn son was the inciting event, which caused me to drastically change my life’s course from what you see above. That’s my brother and me. I’m 13 years old in that picture.

Homelessness, major depression, suicidal ideation, delusional, cults membership, a rape victim, a domestic violence victim, a drug addict, criminal, high school dropout, pregnant teen, and teen mom, all of these labels have hung from my neck. In the past, I have allowed other people’s beliefs and my experiences to define who I was and what my abilities were.

I chose to fight back once I realized that the sun still rose over the mountains despite my belief that I was not worthy to walk in its warmth. I decided that I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, especially the victim of myself.

My prior experiences still color who I am and the decisions I make. They always will, but they no longer define me. Rather than allowing them to weigh me down, I have climbed on top of them using them to reach for the sky. Currently, I am a single mom, attorney, ultrarunner, and writer.

True freedom is the combination of the ability to dream and the courage to fight for your dreams. Acceptance, belonging, and hope begin and end within yourself.

Here you will find posts containing my writing, writing tips, thoughts on children with mental health issues, parenting children with mental health issues, advocacy issues, and frustrations of mine with the world as a whole. You will also find inspiration and hope.

This blog will have no boundaries. It will contain all facets of me to some extent. However, my running advice, experience, and musings will be posted primarily on my blog Ultrarunningmom.com, but I’m sure some of it will leak into a few blogs here. So, if you only want to read about running you can go here.

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