Happy NaNoWriMo Day!!

Happy NaNoWriMo day!! Welcome to November folks. I have debated for a while about doing NaNoWriMo and thought I had decided to forego this year and focus on writing I’ve already been working on. Laughable, right? We all know me a bit better than that. I mostly gave up because I just couldn’t settle on a story or plot no matter how hard I tried because I wanted something different. Then, enter a few days ago. A friend posted a really cool picture on FB with a caption “there’s a story here, and I wish I knew what it was”. Of course, this occurred at 11pm and my mind immediately screamed “IF THAT’S NOT A STORY PROMPT I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!”  and couldn’t sleep until I started the bones of one. Here’s the photo:

IMG_2964

There is obviously an orphan sitting next to it who can go invisible, right? The lenses in her glass would give her away so she had to yank them off while she’s hiding, right? Clearly. What I found most amazing is that as I started this story, it was coming out in 1st person. Other than here, I NEVER write in 1st person. Frankly, it scares me a little. The more I thought about that picture’s story, the more I thought to myself “you know what, just go for it. Who cares if you don’t get all 50k because you know you don’t have time to this year but shoot for the moon and all that?” So, here goes! I have a lot going on in November and it is highly doubtful that I can actually finish NaNoWriMo successfully, but now I want to flex my fingers with some 1st person and just see where it goes.

Instead of daily updates like last year, I’ll probably just do a Friday recap with struggles for the week and word counts, etc. That way I have a least a little accountability reporting but it’s not an everyday thing.

Wish me luck, and to my fellow NaNoWriMo crazies out there: YOU GOT THIS!!

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The New Normal – Reddit prompt

[WP] Everyone is born with a super power. That is, except Barry in Accounting

“Can you imagine?” a stifled giggle floats over the cubicle wall as Barry rolls his eyes and tries to focus on the ledger of numbers in front of him.
“You can’t be serious. Nothing? Nothing at all? How awful.” a second voice dims as its owner continues away from Barry’s desk.
“Nothing? Nothing at all?” Barry mocks as he flips back and forth between the spreadsheets opened side by side on his desktop. “Can you imagine? When are these morons going to get over it.”
“32 years buddy and they still seem to be fascinated by it,” a voice says, startling Barry’s attention away from his computer screen. A tall, muscular man stands in front of Barry’s desk, trying to fix the edge of the cubicle he bent when he leaned on it, the now unhinged door in his other hand.
“Jesus Wes, you’re going to give me a heart attack. Gladys is going to kill you for destroying another cube.”
“If they would invest in half decent structural walls, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Wes replied, flashing a brilliantly white smile at Barry. Barry’s attention was already back on the screen.
“If we had it in the budget I’m sure they would love to do just that,” Barry huffed in annoyance, inputting a few more numbers into one of the columns.
“About that,” Wes started.
“No.” Barry replied before Wes couldn’t even finish his request. “I don’t care what you’re about to say but the answer is no. You can’t bypass the system by coming straight to Accounting. If you could see the black hole I’m looking at then you’d know our finances are hell.”
“Are you sure you can’t read minds?” Wes said with a raise of his eyebrow.
“Not you too,” Barry turned to face to him, raising an eyebrow. “I’m sure I have a paper cut somewhere. Want to pour lemon juice on that?”
“You know I’m just kidding Barry, lighten up dude.” Wes said, pulling out the old office chair in front of Barry’s desk and taking a seat.
“Lighten up?” Barry said incredulously, “did you just say lighten up? How would you like to be the only person on the planet that can’t do anything? I can’t lift things. I can’t read minds. I can’t walk through walls. I can’t glow, morph, catch things on fire, change colors or fly. Shall I continue? No? I didn’t think so. I do math and at the moment, I don’t even do that very well.”
Barry flashed back to the last time he agreed to hang out with Wes and the others after work. They had all gone to a bar down the street. He told himself it was a terrible idea before he even went. He had learned to recognize when Sayra was manipulating him and could usually avoid her hold on his personal free will. That night he ignored the signs and decided to follow them anyway. He had been right. It was a mistake. As soon as they walked in, Wes was surrounded by women as usual. They all tried to show off for the blonde haired, blue eyed man of infinite power. Well maybe not infinite but you get the picture. A redhead had tired of trying to get Wes’s attention eventually and floated to his side.
“What is it that you do?” she had asked seductively.
“Math.” He responded deadpan.
“Aren’t you funny!” she declared and playfully swatted him in the shoulder.
“No really,” Barry said glumly, “I don’t do anything.”
“Nothing?” she asked, her head cocked to the side in confusion.
“Yep. No flying. No strength. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” Barry confirmed, finishing the rest of his beer in one gulp.
“Oh you poor dear,” she said, patting his arm in pity, “I had heard that was possible but I never.”
“Yeah, well thanks. Nice to you meet you,” Barry said, cutting her off. “Wes, I’m out of here.”
Nights like that never ended well. It was always the same. Without some kind of power, he was only a pariah. After 32 years of being overlooked, pitied, or intentionally avoided, Barry had to admit his fuse had grown a little short.
“Dude, you need to lay off the caffeine. Or drink more maybe,” Wes said, snapping Barry back to reality.
“No.” Barry said again, pointing to the door. “We have no money. Whatever your new project is, go bug Delilah for the funding.”
“Okay, okay,” Wes admitted in defeat as he rose from the chair. “The next time you need a bookcase lifted off your back.” He trailed off as he walked out of the small space.
“It was one time!” Barry shouted after him, “And you’re telling Gladys about the door!”
Barry fumed as he turned his chair to look out the window over the city. A woman waved as she flew by his office window and he scowled in return. Was there ever going to be a day when he wasn’t reminded just how little he could do? Growing up as the only kid who wasn’t normal had made his life very difficult. He couldn’t count how many times he had been dumped into the top of a tree, helpless until someone took pity on him and flew him back down again, or tripped with rubbery arms or liquid or invisible feet. That’s how he ended up in Accounting.
Numbers were just numbers. There was nothing special about them. It didn’t take a special ability to understand them. Math either was or wasn’t. The rules were concrete and long established. It was the one place where he wasn’t constantly reminded there was something lacking in his very being. He spun back around, contemplating his fate, and went back to work on the figures on his screen. As he was hitting send on the updated file, a sudden flash of light erupted behind him.
“What in the world,” he exclaimed and spun frantically back to the window. All around the city people suddenly fell from the sky. He could hear exclamations of cursing from down the hall. Barry walked around his desk and stuck his head slowly out into the corridor. A short man with jet black hair went running by. “What happened?” he called out, but the man just kept running until he slammed into wall and fell into a heap on the ground, dazed and confused.
The phone in Barry’s pocked started beeping with the sounds of the emergency warning system. He pulled it out to read the illuminated screen.
“WARNING! THERE HAS BEEN A SUDDEN FLARE THAT HAS HALTED ALL ABILITIES. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION. WARNING! THERE HAS BEEN A SUDDEN FLARE THAT HAS HALTED ALL ABILITIES. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.”
Barry stared at the screen in confusion. Halted abilities? What in the world were they talking about? He turned on the radio that sat on the corner of his desk and tuned to a news broadcast.
“We are sorry to interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement. There has been a sudden flare. It is yet unknown where it came from or how long its affects will remain. We are receiving reports that people everywhere have suddenly lost their ability to fly, dropping out of the sky like deadweight. I’m sorry, poor choice of words. CUSHA, the Center for Understanding Super Human Ability, has issued a warning that any particular power you possess may be inoperable. Please plan accordingly. They are working on a cure for this condition but as it spreads, be careful out there. If anyone knows Barry Horowitz, please have him contact CUSHA immediately.”
Holy crap, Barry thought. Did he just hear that correctly? How does CUSHA know who he is and what would they want with him? He suddenly heard footsteps coming from the hall and men in suits burst through his doorway.
“Barry Horowitz?” the man in front asked.
“Um, do I know you?” Barry asked in confusion, the hairs standing on the back of his neck.
“It’s him sir,” someone said from the doorway.
“Barry Horowitz, I’m Agent Sierra from the CUSHA. You need to come with us.”
“Me?” Barry asked in confusion.
“Yes. As the only person not affected by the Flare, you have just become our number one priority.”
“How could I possibly be of any service?” Barry said skeptically.
“You’ve just become patient zero for the New Normal.”

False Advertising

Ok so I know I said I would talk about the story soon but I don’t think I’m ready for that. Mostly because if I do, I’d prefer it to have a purpose. Instead, here is the third and final Reddit writing prompt  I have attempted for your reading pleasure (displeasure?)  I’ll be back with the usual updates soon.

WRITING PROMPT #3
The devil, while in mortal form on earth, is accidentally killed while doing something good and gets sent to heaven. Awkward.
Cars honked as they tried to avoid the man standing in the middle of the street, looking dazed and more than a little confused. He was shielding his eyes from the sun as the morning rush hour backed up behind him. Fists were shaking out windows and several drivers were yelling obscenities as the green light now turned to red. The walk sign lit up and people poured off the sidewalk, jostling him as he took in his surroundings.
“Dude, get out of the way.” “Moron.” Most of the crowd passing him grumbled as they walked around him, trying to beat the flashing hand sign, signaling the light was about to turn green again.
“Sir!” Someone called from the sidewalk, but he was frozen to the spot in complete awe that he had done it. He had actually managed to make it to the surface. Not that this place appeared to be much better, with all the shouting, swearing, filth and general grime. At least it wasn’t so hot up here.
“Are you okay?” Someone was asking him now, tugging on his sleeve. “You need to get out of the road or you’re going to get run over.”
He turned and faced the woman speaking to him. Her blonde hair was pulled in to a ponytail at the nape of her neck. She was wearing workout clothes and tennis shoes, jogging in place.
“I,” he started to say, the sound of his voice unfamiliar to his own ears. “I’m fine,” he said, shaking his head to clear out the cobwebs.
“You don’t look fine,” she said but the honking started again. She turned to run back to the sidewalk and calling over her shoulder, “get out of the road unless you have a death wish.”
Her choice of words made the corner of his mouth raise slightly as he turned to face the cars inching closer to him. He raise his hand in partial wave before he finally made his way to the sidewalk. He strolled by the store windows, taking in his surroundings. The street was lined with parking meters ticking away as morning commuters ducked in coffee shops for a quick cup of their own fuel. A meter maid turned the corner just ahead of him. The corner of his mouth raised again as he passed by her, the sound of expiring parking meters in his wake.
Turning the corner, he was almost run over by a pack of dogs being walked by a harried young man. He bent down and patted the head of one of the dogs before moving on. As he passed one of the trees planted in the sidewalk, a squirrel shot out of its branches causing the dogs to take off after it. He pulled his shoulders back in a stretch, taking in a deep breath. Yes, this was definitely better.
He continued for a few blocks leaving flat tires and car alarms in his wake. His mouth now pulled into a full grin as two cars collided behind him as he crossed another street. By now, he had a full spring in his step and he whistled to himself as he walked. He came upon a set of stairs that led down into what appeared to be a cavern. His curiosity piqued, he walked down the stairs to a subway platform full of people pressing on to the trains that rumbled by. Now this was interesting he thought to himself, but too close to home. He quickly made his way back up the stairs to the shouts of people as the doors closed on the coat of a man leaving the train. Another man banged on the door after running at a full sprint but the train was already pulling away.
He squinted again as he came back in to the light, his eyes having to adjust to the bright sunlight. Glancing to his left, he saw a familiar bobbing figure out of the corner of his eye. It was the woman from the intersection. From where he was standing, he could see that she was clearly in shape. Her tank top and running capris hugged her curves in all of the right places. She had stopped to stretch, grabbing her ankle and pulling it behind her so she was balancing on one leg. She saw him staring at her and waved.
“I see you decided to live another day,” she called out, dropping her leg and grabbing the other ankle.
“What?” He blanched, then remembered what she had said to him before. “Oh, yeah. Rough night. Can’t party as hard as I used to I guess.” He hoped his shrug came off as nonchalant instead of the body shudder it felt like. This woman was mesmerizing.
“Not enough water,” she said, now standing with her legs apart and leaning over to the left side, her right arm extended out over her head. “It’ll get you everytime.”
“Yeah,” he laughed, I guess so. “Speaking of, why don’t I buy you some breakfast. I’m sure there’s a decent smoothie or coffee shop around here somewhere.”
She studied him for a long moment, her breath finally slowing to a normal rate.
“Sure, why not?” She finally said, walking over to here he stood, ponytail swaying. “Smoothie Hut is just across the street.”
He gestured for her to lead the way, watching her as she walked in front of him. They came to the intersection and she started across as he saw the truck barreling down.
“Wait,” he called out, jumping out to shove her out of the way. Just he felt the force of his hands pushing her body out of the way, he turned his head. “Well crap.”
He sighed before opening his eyes, mentally kicking himself for wasting his one opportunity to get out of the dank oven surrounding him. He looked up, expecting to see the same ceiling he saw everyday. It wasn’t there. In fact, he was actually standing.
“Woah,” he exclaimed spinning around.”What the,” he began.
“Welcome to The Gates. Please take a number and Saint Peter will be with you in a moment.” The announcement said, as it rang out through the air around him. He realized he was standing in a line of people patiently waiting, with little white tickets in their hand. He looked down and was startled to see one in his own right hand.

His name was printed neatly in script. He turned the ticket over and saw there was a series of numbers on the back. 12.341.431
“Hi, I’m Charlotte,” a voice said in front of him causing him to look back up. A woman had turned around and thrust her hand out to him.
“Oh, um hi,” he managed to stammer, “where are we?”
“Oh,” she said playing swatting at his shoulder with a giggle. “why, heaven of course! What’s your name?”
“Heaven?” He asked incredulously. “You must be joking.”
“Oh I never joke,” she replied solemnly. “What did you say your name was?” She was interrupted by her name on the loudspeaker as she twirled around and bounced to the gate to hand in her ticket. An angel who must have been Saint Peter read the numbers on the back of her ticket and showed her where on the map it was located. Another angel led her away. The man stepped up to the gate and handed over his ticket before they were able to announce it to everyone.
“I believe there has been a mistake,” he said as he handed the ticket over.
“If I only had a dollar for every time I heard that,” Saint Peter chuckled taking his card to read the name. His eyes widened and he looked back at the man. “Excuse me a moment.”
The angels at the gate huddled together as the people in line behind him started to whisper. He shuffled from foot to foot uncomfortably, not knowing what to do. This was too bizarre not to see it through. Saint Peter pulled out a small device and was consulting information on the screen.

“Well,” Saint Peter said as he walked back over to the gate and swallowing, “it appears that you saved a young woman’s life and in turn sacrificed your own. If you will kindly follow Michael here, he will show you to your new home.”
The man looked at him for a moment, giving him a chance to change his mind. Nothing happened. He slowly walked through the gate, wondering if he would combust spontaneously once he was through them. After a few steps he heard Saint Peter clear his throat.
“Welcome to heaven,” he said hesitantly, “Lucifer.”

The Night Before and a failed attempt at Noir

Twas the night before NaNoWriMo and all through the house,

not a keyboard was clacking, not even a word.

Wait, that didn’t rhyme. I’m really not good at this. Why in the world did I think  I could do this? That and other thoughts were racing through my already anxiety riddled brain yesterday. In fact, this morning I texted my brother and said “Talk me out of talking myself out of NaNoWriMo”. Tomorrow’s the day. Make or break whether this is the year or not. I’ve downloaded the special edition free trial of Scrivener. I’ve added in my characters and brief sketches. I’ve been brainstorming for weeks, months even, yet here I am. Scared out of my wits to do this. Yes, this is incredibly silly. It’s self-reporting, self-tracking, and only self-satisfying so what’s the big deal? I know I’ll regret not doing it more than not finishing but the task is so daunting it’s only natural to pause. To ask myself “who do you think are, Hemingway?” (You’ve read this blog now, trust me, I’m at least sticking to fiction. You’re welcome.) So here’s the final call, the final warning bell for someone or something to save me from jumping in front of that train. If nothing else, I kind of love this year’s ‘winner’ t-shirt. Whatever motivates you after all.

I’ll leave you with this: Reddit Prompt #2 or why I won’t be writing Noir. (or as I’ve recently discovered, it’s called hardboiled if the protagonist is a detective and Noir if not).

WRITING PROMPT #2 A world-class detective who can’t help but find crime everywhere he looks, is tasked with taking schoolchildren on a field trip.

No stone was left unturned. No door was ever left closed. Sam Harding hadn’t won the P.I. of the Year award five years running based on his good looks. In fact he barely took the time to do more than shower. An ever present five o’clock shadow covered his square jaw, barely managing to obscure the scar that ran in a jagged line from his right ear nearly to his chin. He had been blessed with that particular memento in a back alley one night after he followed two shifty looking guys out the back door of a restaurant. Needless to say, he was the only that walked out of that alley of his own accord that night. Trouble didn’t find Sam, he could smell it, hunted it down and made it beg for mercy. His life was definitely not a bed of roses.

The only soft spot Sam had was for his sister Alison and her son Matthew.  Never trusting any of her boyfriends, Sam was constantly on the look out for ways to get rid of any man Alison made the mistake of introducing to him. Alison was a single mom from day one, refusing to tell Sam who Matthew’s father was for fear he would take it upon himself to pay him a visit. She worked long hours as a secretary for a construction company, leaving Matthew to sleep on Uncle Sam’s couch in the P.I.’s back office. Sam tried his best to smooth his rough edges when Matthew was around but by the time the kid was seven, his vocabulary included words more likely found in a police station than an elementary school.

Sam’s phone rang as he was about to leave his downtown office on Thursday night.

“Harding,” he answered gruffly, annoyed that he was being delayed.

“How is my favorite older brother?” Alison asked, the sound of traffic in the background.

“Hi Als, what’s up?” He asked, his tone softening slightly.

“You know how you’re my favorite brother right?” She asked, pausing for effect.

“No.” He responded, knowing he was not about to like what she was working up to ask him.

“Oh come on Sammy, I haven’t even asked yet.”

“Don’t Sammy me sis, I know your game. You pull out the favorite brother line any time you want something you know I don’t want to do.”

“Not even for your favorite nephew who worships the ground you walk on?” She replied, playing her trump card.

“Fine,” Sam sighed, slumping back into his desk chair, “what do you need.”

“You’re going on a field trip.”

“A what?” He asked, hoping he had not heard her correctly.

“You heard me. Be at Matthew’s school at 8am sharp. His class is going to the fair in town and they need a chaperone. You know I would go if I could but I have to work and I’m next on the list of parents. I can’t bow out again. Matthew will be heartbroken.”

“A fair? With candy and rides and music? You can’t be serious.”

“As a heart attack.”

Sam pulled his hand down his face and scratched the stubble under his chin. He couldn’t say no and she knew it.

“One of these days I’m going to say no.”

“No you won’t. Love you Sam, you’re my hero.” She hung up before he had a chance to argue.

He arrived at the elementary school with a few minutes to spare. As we walked towards the front door, several of the children and a few of the parents stopped and stared at the stone faced stranger. He had to duck to pass through the door frame. He hated going anywhere when he wasn’t familiar with the layout of the building. He hugged the walls, peeking around every corner until he made it to Matthew’s second grade classroom.

“Uncle Sam!” A voice rang out as soon as he opened the door. Matthew jumped up from his desk and came running to the door, as Ms. Foster looked quizzically at the tall dark stranger.

“Ahem,” she said, clearing her throat, “may I help you?”

“Sam Harding,” he said, levelling his gaze at her, “I believe I’m supposed to chaperone today.”

“Oh,” Ms. Foster said hesitantly, “I thought Matthew’s mother would be joining us.”

“She had to work today so she asked me come instead.”

“Uncle Sam is a detective,” Matthew said enthusiastically, “he’s amazing. He put a couple of Micks away last week when they tried to bust up a joint downtown.”

“Matthew!” Ms. Foster said, inhaling sharply, “we do not use that kind of language.”

“Sorry Ms. Foster,” Matthew said, chastened. “He really is the best though. He won a big award and everything.”

“Well I’m sure he is very good. Thank you for joining us Mr. Harding.”

“Sam,” he corrected her.

“Sam. Now children, please get your jackets and line up in an orderly fashion.”

They piled onto the school bus and made their way down to the river where the temporary fair had set up its grounds. When they arrived, Sam was the first to the door of the bus barring the way.

“Stay here, I’ll run a sweep before,” Sam started before Ms. Foster interrupted him.

“Mr. Harding, please. This is a school field trip not one of your stakeouts.”

“I just think,” he tried again.

“Sam,” she said, placing her hand on his arm, “we will be fine. Now, if you don’t mind, please take the boys to the ticket booth. They should each have money for admission, a candy of their choice and a voucher for free rides. I will take the ladies.” She brushed passed him and off the bus before he could protest any longer.

He led the gang of scraggly boys to get their tickets and followed them inside constantly scanning the crowd as they went. Two of the boys wanted to go into the House of Mirrors but Sam said no, scaring them with tales of little boys that got abducted in darkened rooms. He led them to the carnival games and each boy spent their extra money tossing rings at milk bottles or throwing baseballs at tin cans. Candy peddlers walked around with calls for cotton candy and popcorn, causing the boys to abandon their games and clamor for the sugary confection.

“Stop!” He cried as he stepped in front of the fair worker pulling a bright pink bundle of cotton candy from his cart. “Let me see what’s inside the cart.” He insisted.

“I’m sorry?” The young man said, confused by the strange request.
“I said, let me see what’s inside the cart. If you think I’m letting these kids take candy from a stranger walking around with a cart, you have another thing coming.”

“Sir, I don’t think,” the worked replied, starting to protest but Sam was already opening the side of the cart to inspect the jars of sugar waiting to be spun into the pink clouds. Grabbing one of the jars, he held it up.
“What’s this?”

“Sugar, sir.”

“Show me,” he said, forcing the young man to make a fresh batch of cotton candy. Instead of taking it from him when it was done, he insisted, “no, you eat it.”

“Sir?”

“You eat it and then I’ll know it’s clear for them.”

“Uncle Sam,” Matthew pleaded, “we just want some cotton candy. Please just let us get some.”

“I’m waiting,” Sam replied, staring down the man in front of him. The worker finally took a bite of the cotton candy with an exaggerated to swallow to show all was good.

“Fine. Now was that so hard?” Sam asked. “one for each of them.”

Once every boy had his own bag to devour, the worker walked away swearing under his breath. The other boys ran up ahead but Matthew stayed back, looking up at Sam.

“Uncle Sam,” he said, tugging on Sam’s shirt tail.

“Yeah buddy?”

“You know I love you right?”

“Of course buddy,” Sam said, raising his eyebrow in question, “what’s up?”

“Can you stop?”

“Can I stop what?”

“You’re not letting us have any fun and you’re ruining the field trip.”

“What,” Sam said, clearly stunned. “I’m just trying to protect you.”

“Well can you protect a little less?” Matthew said, running after the other boys to ride the bumper cars.

“Not that easy is it?” A voice said from behind him. He turned and was looking at Ms. Foster, Matthew’s teacher.

“I know what goes on in this city. A good day can become a nightmare in the blink of an eye.” He said.

“I know,” she said, offering him a sympathetic look. “I appreciate that you took the time to come with us but I think it’s probably best that you don’t make this a habit. I don’t think kids are exactly your forte.”

“Is it that obvious?”

She laughed, her smile lighting up her whole face.

“Mr. Harding, why don’t you wait for them at the ride exit. We’re about to head back to the bus. Why don’t you make it up to them with some boxes of popcorn and I’ll let you off the hook for the next outing ok?” She said, with a grin.

“Only if you let me take you out to dinner tonight to prove I’m not such a boor,” he replied.

“You have yourself a deal.”

Reddit Writing Prompt #1

Prompt: At a park bench, an unfamiliar man sits beside you and glances at your newspaper. Unnerved by his presence, you hand it to him with a nod. He takes it and nods back, places a briefcase at your feet, and leaves. 

The October winds were blowing, whipping autumn leaves around the tiny park where Albert took his daily lunches. Every day at precisely 12:15p.m., Albert Snodgrass stood up from his oak desk and dusted off his pants legs. He pushed back his sturdy chair, whose seat had formed perfectly to the shape of his unaltering backside. Grabbing the newspaper he bought every morning on the way in to the office, he told his secretary goodbye and tucked it under his left arm. Walking briskly out of the building towards Sanderson’s Deli, Albert hummed to himself. Today was Wednesday. Wednesday meant corned beef, with sauerkraut and deli mustard on rye bread. Like clockwork, Albert arrived at the deli counter at exactly 12:30 p.m.

“Albert! What can I do for you today? Oh wait, don’t tell me. Today is the day you branch out and eat a salad,” Saul Sanderson said from behind counter, chuckling at his own joke. Albert stood unmoved.

“Albert, I swear I could set my clock by you. Ham and cheese on wheat on Monday. Turkey and cranberry relish on Tuesday. Corned beef with sauerkraut and deli mustard on rye on Wednesday. What are you going to do if I run out of mustard one day?”

“There’s not a chance that could happen is there?” Albert said, suddenly anxious. “I can bring my own if that’s going to be a problem.”

“Calm down Al, you’re going to give yourself a coronary,” Saul said slapping Albert on the shoulder. Albert stiffened at the contact, glancing over the counter nervously in search of the comforting presence of the brownish yellow condiment. “I have your order right here, already in the bag. Tell you what, it’s on me today.”

“No, no” Albert said, pulling out his weathered wallet and extracting exactly five dollars and forty two cents. “Won’t do. Every Wednesday I come here, get my corned beef with sauerkraut and deli mustard on rye and give you five dollars and forty two cents. Today is Wednesday so I would like to give you five dollars and forty two cents and you give me the corned beef with sauerkraut and deli mustard on rye.” Albert extended his hand and offered the money to Saul.

“Fine, fine,” Saul said, taking the money and putting it into the aging cash register. “Say hi to Rosemary for me.”

At the mention of his secretary’s name, Albert blushed and quickly picked up his lunch sack from the counter and walked out of the deli. Albert’s mother was always getting on to him about his need for routine. “OCD” she had called it. “You’ll never get a wife like that” she said, always followed with, “I’d like to meet my grandkids before I’m too old to remember I have them.” Albert loved his mother but she would never understand his need for things to remain the same. He took comfort in the lack of decisions he needed to make. He woke up each day and knew exactly how his day would go. He would put on a pair of slacks and a button up shirt with the same brown or black loafers. He sometimes added a cardigan to his outfit when the temperatures demanded. Then he would walk from his second floor apartment to the newsstand on the corner of Fifth and Elm where he purchased a cup of black coffee and a copy of the Stanford Ledger from Frank McGee. From there, he would walk the three blocks to Lindstrom Drive where he would climb the three flights of stairs to this office where he was an accountant for Morrissey and Sons. The Son was now in charge and Albert was growing more anxious every day as he saw subtle changes in how the company was run.

Albert did not do well with change. No, that was an understatement. Albert hated change. It made his heart start to race and he broke out into a sweat at just the thought of it. Rosemary had joined him on his walk to the deli once, talking the entire way from the office right up until he took the bag from Saul’s hand. He abruptly turned and all but sprinted out the door, heart racing so fast he couldn’t breathe. Ever since that day, Saul loved giving him a hard time about Rosemary.

Leaving Sanderson’s now with corned beef in hand, Albert took his usual right and walked along the Columbiana River to sit on the wooden bench with the view of the distant Ambrosia Island. Every day he made this trek to watch the waves gently lap the shore of the island and allow its constant rhythm to calm him. He arrived at the bench by 12:40 to find it was already occupied. He stopped for a moment, panic threatening to rise like bile in his throat. Taking a deep breath, he walked slowly passed the silent man to sit on his usual right side of the bench. He said a silent prayer that this stranger was not a chatty one. Hitching his right pants leg to sit down, Albert placed his lunchbag at his feet and opened his newspaper in an attempt to discourage the interloper from making conversation. The man remained silent, staring out over the river. Albert tried to focus on the articles on the page he was using to block his face but the stranger was unnerving him. He slowly lowered the paper and glanced at his neighbor.

The man wore khakis with a crease ironed so stiff, Albert wondered how he had managed to bend his  knees to sit down. He wore his own set of brown loafers and an unassuming neutral toned overcoat though the forecast hadn’t called for rain. The wind was starting to pick up and the edges of Albert’s paper were fluttering in the wind. He held his farce for a few more minutes until his stomach began to growl and he realized he was running out of time before he had to start walking back to his office. Albert folded the newspaper and placed it on the bench beside him when the man finally turned his head towards him, glancing quickly at the newspaper. He picked the paper back up and handed it to the man with a nod, who stood and placed the paper under his right arm. Albert sat still for a moment, willing the man to walk away so he could finally relax and enjoy his sandwich.

Without a word, the man bent to retrieve something from under the bench. Albert hadn’t noticed anything was there when he sat down. The man placed the briefcase next to Albert with a nod, turned, and walked away from the river, the paper still beneath his arm.

“Wait, I think there’s been some mistake,” Albert said as he stood quickly from the bench taking the briefcase in his hand and turning in the direction of the quickly disappearing stranger.

“Sir, I think you need to come with me,” a voice said over his shoulder, causing Albert to jump in fright. Albert turned slowly and came face to face with Rosemary. She wasn’t wearing the same baby blue sweater set she had on when he passed her desk earlier. Now she wore a navy blue two piece suit.

“I, I, I don’t understand,” Albert stammered, taking a step back. “Rosemary, is that you?”

“There’s no time to talk sir, I need to you come with me.” She repeated, taking him by the arm.

Albert looked over her shoulder and saw a white van had pulled up to the street just beyond the magnolia trees that lined the park’s edge. The side door opened and Rosemary beckoned him towards its darkened interior. He looked longingly at the lunchbag from Saul’s deli that still sat on the ground by the bench. This is what happened when you broke routine. All he wanted was to sit in silence and eat his sandwich. He was sure that where ever Rosemary was taking him wouldn’t have deli mustard.

On putting words to paper, or why I’m here.

I have a confession. I may be a little obsessed with the Broadway show “Hamilton”.

Words have always been an integral part of my life. I have been a voracious reader since I was four years old. In Kindergarten, Ms. Myers paused class so I could put on a play until I looked at her and said, “but I need paper to write it.” I’m sad to say that play was never performed. I submitted poems to Reflections in primary school. I am now an attorney who drafts and reads contracts for a living. This year marks 7 years as a member of my book club. In fact, Goodreads has my READ total at 420 books, 39 for the year.

In case it wasn’t clear, I’m constantly reading or writing. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if words flowed through my veins instead of blood. It is by far my favorite past time and at  the top of my bucket list is to one day have a published novel.

All of that to bring us to today. It’s that time of year again. The time when my brain cries out to put words on paper. Well, words on a screen at least. It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, or for the non-writing nerds among us: National Novel Writing Month. Every November, crazy people around the world decide they will write a novel. In a month. Totaling at least 50,000 words. Did I mention in a month? Okay, so maybe they’re not crazy but they’re not kidding when they say it’s a marathon.My first time out was in 2012 and I didn’t hit the full mark but I didn’t give up and finally finished that story in the last two months. It still needs a ton of work but here I am, gearing up for a new marathon.

So why a blog? Simple: It’s a place to chronicle my writing journey whether it’s a poem, response to a Reddit prompt or just a rambling idea. It’s also an accountability to report back on NaNoWriMo progress.