Anne’s No Rules Friday 08

The companion piece, Back to You, is now live!

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

In Repair

An undiscovered back road stretches out in front of me. Dead leaves and melting piles of snow outline my twisting route leading me deeper into the woods. The Scout’s tires eat up the cracked and neglected asphalt. My helmet’s sitting on the back of the bike. I should be wearing it. I know I should, but I want to feel the wind’s fingers in my hair, want to smell the gasoline off the bike.

The first warm day in weeks woke me up to all the possibilities of spring. My leather jacket isn’t zipped up, and the wind whooshes in and around my body. In its holster, my gun tap tap taps against my ribcage, as I shift into second gear. The bike flies past the aspen and pine trees. I want more than a taste of spring. I need this weather to last all week.

The bike shudders when I shift into third. I ignore it, give it more gas, and curse under my breath as the bike coasts to a stop. The forest goes quiet around me, as if the creatures living in it hold a collective breath. I get off the bike, thinking twice before kicking it hard. The whole thing topples over into the dirt.

“Sure, Rosa, make it worse.”

For an hour, I vacillate between walking up and down the road trying to get a signal on my phone and tinkering with the bike’s metal parts. Rust and grime cover my hands, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got streaks of the stuff across my forehead. Elías will kill me for taking the bike out before we finished restoring it, but living through another of Papi’s benders wasn’t gonna happen.

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“Human” by Ethel Veva King Inspires Anne

HumanEthelVevaKingHuman Behavior

Naveera never felt more alive than during nighttime in Manhattan. Her boyfriend, Damien, gripped her hand tight, as he led her past lampposts and tourists on Fashion Avenue. One of the design firms held a by-invitation-only rave for tonight only. Damien scored the invite because he knew a girl who worked there. It gave Naveera a funny feeling that Damien always knew a girl, like falling from a height or getting high.

From across the street, strobe lights pulsed on one of the upper floors. Shadows flickered past the windows, followed by the familiar trails of glow sticks. She let herself be pulled toward the stone building, past the line of clubbers, and right up to the side door. The bouncer barely looked in her direction as he nodded Damien through.

After spending nearly $350 on a fake ID that she didn’t get the chance to use, Naveera gritted her teeth. The guy that printed it promised it would pass scanners and black light tests with a money-back guarantee. She wanted to test the theory. The only thing he couldn’t promise was her seventeen-ass self would pass for twenty-two. Naveera eyed her wardrobe: short skirt, tight top, and a push-up bra. So much skin, and the damn bouncer glossed her over!

A thick girl, with piercings Naveera envied, waved them further into the building. “I’m so glad you made it!” the girl’s lip ring cooed. “The rest of your band’s not here yet.”

“Oh,” Damien said. He didn’t match the other girl’s smile. Warm relief flooded through Naveera. “It’s early.”

She watched the girl’s pierced eyebrow raised when Damien introduced her as his girlfriend. Naveera shook the other girl’s hand, secretly feeling sorry for disappointing her. Clearly, she thought Damien was available. Clearly, Damien let her think it.

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Anne’s No Rules Friday 07

lacrossestickSticks and Stones

Try-outs for the varsity lacrosse team were on Friday. They promised the roster would be posted today by noon. I’m sitting here, pretending to eat my lunch, waiting for the results. It’s rare that a freshman makes the varsity team. I know that. Still, I have hope. My friend, Aki, and I are both freshers this year. I bet he’ll make it. He’s one of the top underage attackers in the state.

“Don’t worry, Alex” Aki says, shoving almost a full sandwich into his mouth. He talks around the bread and meat. “Even if you don’t make varsity this year, you have three more, yeah?”

“I guess.”

It’s hard to argue with a guy when he’s spitting his lunch on you.

He drinks a long swig of chocolate milk. “Plus, we’ve got athletic scholarships. They already think we’re white-hot gold. Why would they hold back on us now?”

“Alright. Alright,” I say, throwing up my hands. As if to prove my defeat, I take a tiny bite out of my chicken quesadilla. The lunch ladies really didn’t out-do themselves today. It’s hard to swallow, but I chug down half a bottle of apple juice.

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“The Woodpile” by Frightened Rabbit Inspires Anne

The Noctambulist

Monday

For the second time that week, Cassidy woke in an unfamiliar place. Pieces of hay pricked her back through her thin nightgown. The movement of hooves stomping on dirt, and wings flapping in the rafters above shocked her further awake. A barn, she must be in a barn. The darkness clutched at her, hemmed her in like an oversized comforter. The salty tang of blood hung in the air stronger than the animal musk or hay. It turned the darkness into something fearsome. Something alive.

She stood on shaking legs, the front of her nightgown heavy, wet, and chilling on her skin. With sticky fingers, she pulled the material away from her chest. It sent up a dizzying aroma of blood-tinged air. She cringed before licking her chapped lips, and breathed a sigh of relief when they didn’t taste of copper. Her eyes adjusted and made sense of the shapes around her. The bales of hay stacked behind her. The ladder that lead up to a loft. The horses eyed her warily from their stalls. When she held her hands up to her face, the congealed blood streaked across her dusky skin.

Her stomach clenched as she searched her scalp for a wound. Her fingers brushed unbroken skin, and she shivered down to her bones. For seventeen years she had been waking up in strange places. Her mom put extra locks on her bedroom door; she slipped out of her second-story window and woke up near the eighth hole on a country club’s green. Her mom nailed the window shut; she managed to pry it open using a nail file and woke up in the park on the other side of town. All these things she did while asleep.

She squeezed her eyes tight waiting for a headache to bloom behind her eyelids. Nothing happened, and the fear she’d done something terrible crept in. Nested deep in her psyche. After a careful once over, she couldn’t believe that nothing hurt except the soles of her bare feet—blistered and raw—but the blood came from somewhere. Someone?

“Hello?” she whispered. Then louder, “Is anyone here?”

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“Initiator” by Tian Miao Lin Inspires Anne

Initiator_TianMiaoLinNOTICE!

This short story will be a day late and a dollar short. Please return to this space!

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For more inspiring art by Tian Miao Lin, please visit her website (http://www.wanggongxin.com/). Sculpture © Copyright, Tian Miao Lin 2004. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Stay tuned for extra content this week from Audrey. Return next Monday for Julie’s answer to this prompt.

Anne’s No Rules Friday 05

Rue Bourbon at Dawn © Anne Marie 2010

Rue Bourbon at Dawn © Anne Marie 2010

Trouble in the Vieux Carré

The key to planting revenge magic in the Vieux Carré is that you have to get in and out before some stupid tourist drunk from Bourbon Street sees you sneaking around. Or worse, a local catches you. Breaking and Entering is only illegal in New Orleans when you’re exiting. Then it’s worth the paperwork, and the chase I’d give them, to try and arrest me. Breaking in usually isn’t an issue because the cops wait for me to leave, pockets full of surprises. Good thing there’s the French Market to palm off the things I steal in the same hour I’ve stolen them.

Tante Opallina Mortisse gave me a task this afternoon. A task and a strict time limit. I have to be in and out in no more than five minutes. She must believe in me. Or I’m being set up by my own damn family. The trip from our house to the Quarter’s going to take at least thirty. I’m in my room deciding between wearing all black or something a little more conspicuous.

“Lucien,” Tante Opal calls from the front room. “Dispoze twa pakètas, souple.”

Tante’s got customers out there, so she can’t come out and say she’s sending me on a hexing mission. Not even in Créole. You never know who’s listening these days. Plus, she never really says anything in English or Créole. Everything’s in how she says it. The way her eyes bore holes in my skull. The way she places a hand on her elbow, tapping it with her finger. She doesn’t want to say “Don’t get caught” because that’s implicit.

Wi,” I shout back, trying to find my hoodie in the mess I call my room.

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“You Will Hear Thunder” by Anna Akhmatova Inspires Anne

YouWillHearThunder_AnnaAkhmatovaBeing Human

The snow crunches beneath my feet, the crisp air burns my lungs with every inhale. I flip the collar of my mom’s leather jacket up against the wind and continue picking my way across the sparkling snow. Every sound makes me flinch, waiting for the danger it hides. This isn’t my season. A million beats of my heart hammer blood past my ears, but no arrows fly toward me. No Waniyetu materialize from the dark winter’s night to kidnap or kill me.

At the first sign of snow this afternoon at the Denver Botanical Gardens, I knew I’d be sneaking away from my village well after midnight. Tracing the path my family’s rental car had taken one fateful night more than forty years ago. The night I lost them all. The night I gained immortality for the pattern of freckles along my wrist.

The traffic along Colorado Boulevard is heavier than it was back then, even at nearly three in the morning. It’s far too cold tonight for foot traffic, but I stay invisible to human eyes all the same. Bright colored lights adorn the cookie-cutter houses. They shine through the layer of newly fallen snow like beacons of hope.

The year I was twelve, when mom’s leather coat trailed on the ground when I tried it on, we flew to Colorado for a skiing holiday. It had been the most exciting week of my life with bright red cheeks and huge cups of hot cocoa. The swirl of heat off the marshmallow-dotted liquid rose into the mountain air. My little sister, Lucy, and I had snowball fights and learned to ice skate. We skied on tiny pieces of wood strapped to our feet. And we were more alive in the thin air than we’d ever been before.

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