He wrote, she wrote.

Category: he wrote

He Wrote, Week 7

by Dave Smith

The garden store opened at seven o’clock in the morning. Its large, glass storefront displayed a variety of manual and gas-powered garden tools and overlooked the cemetery across the street. Cassie, a new girl in town, was shivering in the cool air of an early spring morning. She had arrived a few minutes early, hoping to make a good impression on her first day at work. She was waiting outside for Amanda, the store owner, to get there and unlock the door. Her eyes were fixed on something in the distance.

“Hey, Cass, whatcha staring at?” asked Amanda.

Cassie, lost in thought and suddenly jolted back to the present, jumped at the greeting.

“Oh, hey, Amanda. What’s up with that old guy over there?”

“That’s Arnold. He and his wife, Dora, used to own this store.”

“Why’s he in the cemetery this time of morning?”

“He’s done that for years. That’s Dora’s grave. She died on her way here one morning. A dumptruck swerved to miss a kid on a bike, overturned, and crushed her car,” Amanda explained.

“Oh, God, that’s horrible!”

“Yeah, it was. Arnold never came to terms with it. He sold the store and pretty much barricaded himself up in their house. She was his best friend, so he comes back to her grave every day at five in the morning, the time of her death. Rain, snow, ice – doesn’t matter. He always stops, spends a few hours, lays a single lavender rose – her favorite – from their greenhouse on her headstone, then leaves quietly.”

“He ever come in here? Y’know, to chat or see if the business has changed?” asked Cassie.

“No. He’s never been back in. Hardly ever see him in town for anything anyway. Just necessities. He mostly just isolates himself. I think he’s afraid of making other human connections, just in case he loses them too. But what do I know.”

“Such a sad way to live,” concluded Cassie, as she straightened up the window display.

In between customers, Cassie watched Arnold through the window.  She saw him talk to whatever part of his wife might still be there listening. He kissed the headstone, left the rose, then walked to his pickup truck and drove away. Cassie surprised herself when she felt a teardrop, ever so  slowly, creep down her cheek.

Probably just from allergies, she thought. Read the rest of this entry »

He Wrote, Week 06

by Dave Smith

Dallas Reed and Craig Paulsen were classmates in film school and graduated together, tied for tenth spot in class GPAs. They went separate ways for a few years before serendipitously meeting again at Comic-Con. Over cocktails and heavy appetizers, they caught up with each other. Craig worked as storyboard artist and assistant script writer for a small video game company. Dallas had spent his time after graduation writing scripts for local television station commercials. It kept bills paid, but was far from exciting.

Craig, seizing an opportunity to work together with Dallas again, offered an inside tip on a game tester position coming available. It hadn’t been made public yet, but would be advertised soon. He gave Dallas the contact details for Mr. Brantley, the head of quality assurance, and suggested he get in touch before the applications poured in from the public. Craig promised to put in a good word for him.

Dallas knew that as an entry level video game tester, he’d bear the grunt work of endlessly inserting and ejecting disks, booting and rebooting games, or repeating the same in-game interaction hundreds of times and writing reports before he moved up any rungs on the job ladder. Sure, boring at first, but, in the end, the potential for new and exciting things was better than local commercials, so he jumped at the chance. Read the rest of this entry »

Always Bury Your Mistakes (He Wrote – Week 05)

by Dave Smith

The ballasts buzzed for a few seconds before the fluorescent lights flickered to life, slowly brightening as they warmed to operating temperature in the chill of an early fall morning. Ansel Greenwood, clad in his Dickies work uniform, dark brown trousers and khaki shirt, stood by the switch, clutching a beaten red lunchbox with his name permanent markered on the side.

He laid his coat down on the wooden workbench, slid the lunchbox into the mini-fridge, and opened the metal overhead door. His boss, Pete Hammond, was standing just outside. Read the rest of this entry »

Flash Fiction Challenge (He Wrote, Week 04)

by Dave Smith

As I mentioned last time, this week’s challenge is a little different. We decided to participate in the Flash Fiction Challenge at terribleminds.com. This week, we had to choose only four items from a list of ten, and then had to incorporate them into a story of around 1000 words. I chose an unopened envelope, a rocking chair, a child’s toy, and an iron horseshoe. My original idea was an Amazing Race – Bear Grylls – Survivor meets The Most Dangerous Game (wouldn’t that be a helluva reality show?). Unfortunately, reading it now, I think it steered too far toward Hunger Games. Not at all what I intended. Oh well, enjoy anyway!

Shane knew there wasn’t much daylight left and he had no idea where other contestants were. He was so delirious he really didn’t care. The absurdity of his situation stoked his rage for Mr. Bartholomew. Shane wanted to cut the puppet strings and escape that man’s twisted game, but any attempt at skirting the rules was a direct path to losing.

Shane hadn’t eaten in five days and hadn’t found water in nearly two. His head felt like it was occupied by an army of sledgehammer-wielding dwarves trying to escape. His feet were heavy and clumsy, as if shod with a dozen iron horseshoes.

Weak with a deep, gnawing hunger, a handful of grubs and wild blackberries looked like a gourmet spread. The sweetness of the berries balanced the funky, beefy grubs. Shane was amazed at how so little could boost his energy and spirits. He needed it to find the next waypoint before dark or he’d end up a meal for something else. He forged on in the darkening wilderness, stopping occasionally to check his navigation course.

Panic started to settle in just before he found the familiar yellow and green flags marking the waypoint. There were six small shelters – down two from the waypoint last week – each built from weathered vertical boards like an outhouse, and not much bigger than one. Shane couldn’t see lights inside them, so he couldn’t tell if anyone had beaten him there. Wolf howls and a human scream in the forest told him at least one shelter wouldn’t be occupied that night. Read the rest of this entry »

by Dave Smith

This week kinda fell apart. The challenges were to be entries, using a random plot scenario generator, for the Flash Fiction Challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s blog, terribleminds.com. In characteristic fashion, we fell victim to indecisiveness and real life schedules and just didn’t do it. So, in an effort to maintain writing momentum, I’m reflecting and rambling on my own process as it has manifested thus far.

As best as I can recall, the past couple of weeks have been the first sustained efforts I’ve put into any kind of creative writing since those magnificent days of parachute pants and rat tails. It was assigned work back then and made me want to stab eyeballs. Now, I’m doing it for fortune and glory entertainment and pleasure.

Ideas have never really been a problem. Getting them out has been. I think in what I best describe as movie snippets, “seeing” short, non-sequential scenes play out in my head. But that’s usually where they stay. Writing these stories has forced me to focus on those snippets and record them before they disappear, then organize and make some kind of sense of the mess. It’s like trying to pass a 20lb dumbbell: you get the first part out, screaming and cursing until you find relief. Then you realize, well shit, you’ve still got the ending to push out.

Coming from a background where brevity and economy of words rule the day, building a compelling story has been a real challenge. Making emotional connections between the characters and readers hasn’t been my strongest suit so far (I read encyclopedias for fun when I was a kid, for cryin’ out loud), and my endings have fallen a touch flat, but I hope those will develop with practice.

The single idea behind all of our challenges has been to just write; to get off our asses of pondering ideas and then sitting on them. Get them planted and grow them into a story, good, bad, or indifferent. Three weeks in, I think we’re accomplishing that.

So, what’s in store for next week?

We’re going to give the latest Flash Fiction Challenge a shot. This time we have to incorporate four random items from a list of ten, all in about 1000 words. It’s easy to start and wrap up a story in 3500 or more words, but having to compress it all into only 1000 will be a challenge all on its own. All stories are due by high noon on Friday, so even our deadline gets moved up a bit. It sounds like fun, and we’ve both found terribleminds.com tremendously entertaining, so we’re looking forward to it.

Please, join us back here after noon on Friday, August 2. And if you participate in the challenge too, let us know.

Happy scrivening!

Games We Play (He Wrote, Week 2)

by Dave Smith

Selwyn Street, known as simply Sel to his friends and coworkers, was a creature of habit. In the big, bad chaotic world outside, his habits gave life some semblance of predictability. They comforted him.

“Hi! Welcome to Burt’s Diner. How may I help you today?” said the clerk. She was new there, probably barely out of high school. Burt’s was a mishmash of pastry shop meets sit-down greasy spoon. They took pride in their “fresh” homefries. Sel was sure they were actually frozen, just covered in enough grease and salt to hide the freezerburn. He’d only ordered them once before and vowed to never touch the vile things again. Instead, he ordered doughnuts, which they were remarkably good at.

“I’ll take a cream-filled doughnut, please. Large.” It was his usual; $2.99 plus tax.

He watched other office workers on the sidewalk as he made his way to work from the pastry shop. They all looked so happy, at least happier than he was. He always wondered what they did and liked to speculate on his own way to work.

“I’ll bet she’s an accountant,” he thought, as he passed a young woman, dressed practically, but neatly. The man behind her struck him as an engineer, and the man behind him was obviously a designer. The stylish glasses, messenger bag, and white iPhone were dead giveaways.

He took a bite of his doughnut and a tart, sweet syrup erupted from the airy dough. “Dammit! I asked for cream, not raspberry! Incompetent fucks! Can’t even train the new kids right,” he thought. He wasn’t fond of surprises. Read the rest of this entry »

Haunting the Haunter (He Wrote, Week 1)

by Dave Smith

When people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always told them I wanted to be a mountain lion.

I was serious, but they always laughed.

It was discouraging.

Of course, now I know that was all childish foolishness. I never became a mountain lion.

But now. These days, when people ask me what I do, now that I’ve grown up, I tell them I’m a ghost haunter. Yes, that’s right, I said haunter, not hunter.

I’m just as serious, but they still laugh.

*****

Now, I didn’t always believe in ghosts. I used to think they were stupid fairy tales and the people who believed in them were drunk or high or something. But about seven years ago, right around the time I turned twelve, something happened that changed me forever. Read the rest of this entry »