8:39 pm May 23, 2013Parenthetical Hangout: Pen Names
12:01 pm May 1, 2013Things I’m Good At
4:05 pm April 20, 2013a Jon health update: April 20
Jon has had his staples out for a couple of weeks now. He’s still in pain, but aside from the surgical pain his pain is reduced. He can eat pretty much anything now… which is HUGE. So apparently the gallbladder was indeed the culprit for all of that nausea and pain associated with his eating. Even though he’s eating a ton he’s still having a hard time gaining weight. I think it may have something to do with how overall malnourished he’s been for months and months. The plan is to keep shoving burgers in his face.
He’s been on the trial drug for a few months now and his blood counts are all within normal range. NORMAL, you guys. The cancer doctor took him off of blood thinners completely… something I never thought would happen. I’m always kind of tiptoe-ish about reporting good news because I’m always afraid I’ll jinx things. Like as soon as I say “He feels great!” he’ll land in the hospital again. But it’s true: I’m super hopeful that the combination of the gallbladder removal and the trial drug have him on a path to feeling much, much better. He’ll return to work on May 1st. Woot.
8:21 pm April 19, 2013Parenthetical Hangout: Great First Lines
10:12 pm April 1, 2013Parenthetical Hangout: Love Triangles
What makes a good love triangle? Do you need them for a good story? What are some of your favorites? Last week we discussed love triangles in books and movies.
Subscribe to the Parenthetical Chicks channel and tune in this Thursday night (9 Eastern/6 Pacific) as we discuss “Great First Lines”.
9:09 pm March 23, 2013Jon update: Friday March 22
Jon came home yesterday afternoon and is now recovering at home. He’s in a buttload of pain as you might imagine, but he’s a tough cookie. (Spell check tells me “buttload” isn’t a word every time I use it. We’ll have to agree to disagree.)
These live Hangouts will be a weekly occurrence… and hopefully they’ll get smoother. Subscribe to the Parenthetically YouTube channel and watch us stream live Thursday evenings (9 eastern, 6 pacific).
10:09 am March 21, 2013a Jon update, March 21, 2013
2:01 pm January 16, 2013piles
The “important” pile
while “trivial things”
but are left behind
11:01 am December 30, 2012The Pact
I sprinted behind Hannah, our feet pounding through the leaves on the forest floor, the sound of anxious dogs gaining ground behind us.
“Hurry, Hettie!” she cried. Her dress caught on the sharp branches of the underbrush, ripping her hem, but she never slowed. Twigs and branches tore at me, but I barely noticed. I was just trying to keep up. Trying not to get caught.
Hannah glanced back at me. “Hurry, we’re almost to the wall!”
My stomach turned over as I realized there was excitement in her voice. This was fun for her. She was having fun. I, on the other hand, fought the overpowering urge to vomit — my scared, guilty heart nearly pounding its way out of my chest.
I’d seen the terror in his eyes. I’d smelled it when he wet his pants — his fear and urine and blood all pooling into a dark puddle of awfulness. I’d almost opened my weak little mouth to say something as he groveled for his life. As his tears and snot slid their way through his heartbreaking pleas. I’d wanted to scream. I’d wanted to wail STOP at the top of my lungs. I’d almost said something.
But instead I’d stood back paralyzed in fear. Witnessing Hannah do the evilest things I’d ever seen done. I’d just stood there, my heart filled with gallons of anguish and revulsion and despair, but not even a single ounce of courage.
The barking grew louder and I now heard men shouting. They were closing in. We would be caught.
“There’s the wall!” Hannah panted, sprinting for the long, crumbling stone wall that wove through the trees ahead. I lagged behind, my lungs unable to keep up with my legs. She leapt over the wall as swift as a cat, and I knew then that she must have jumped that wall a hundred times. I knew then that she’d done bad things before.
After what felt like forever I reached the wall, too, scrambling over it less like a nimble cat and more like a wounded giraffe. My foot caught on a rock and I fell, landing hard on the ground next to her.
We sat with our backs against the cold rocks, our chests heaving. The barks rang clear now, and I imagined the gnashing teeth in those foaming mouths — mouths and noses that had caught our scent and now sought us out. For a moment I could hear the pitchforks cutting through the air as the men came at us with their righteous anger.
I wondered what they would do to us.
“This way,” Hannah whispered hard, still out of breath, her grin never wavering. She grabbed my hand and pulled me along the wall, half running, half squatting. She stopped suddenly and began pulling rocks out. A powerful stench hit me as she dismantled the wall. Below was a dark hole, dug out of the earth under the wall. She reached in, feeling around, and pulled out the dead, stinking body of a skunk. She held it up for me to see like it was some sort of trophy.
She’d put it there. She’d planned this.
I watched in disbelief as she rubbed it through the leaves around us before tossing it into the trees.
She stared at me for a moment, her grin finally faltering. “Well don’t sit there like a dummy. Get in.” Her dark eyes flashed and I did not want to cross her.
Putting a hand over my mouth and nose, I crawled into the cold, dark hole. It was a tiny space — barely able to fit both of us, but she climbed in after me, pulling the rocks back in. Sealing us in like a tomb.
We were silent, listening to the sound of the empty cold in the trees and the barking and shouting. I thought we would stay that way — quiet. Not speaking of what had happened before or of what was happening now. But then she spoke.
“He deserved it. You know that, right?” Her voice fell flat between us — matter-of-fact and cold. “For all the things he did to me. For all the things he did to everyone. He deserved it.”
Again that poor boy’s face flashed through my mind. For all the things he’d done — the relentless teasing; the times he’d cut Hannah’s hair and told her she looked like a boy; the lies he told about her.
But now I tried to recall anything he may have done that would have warrented his being knocked unconcious and dragged into the woods; having his feet shattered with rocks so he couldn’t run away; or having every scrap of clothing torn from him so that his pale white body lay helpless and bound on the frigid ground. I tried to think of anything he possibly could have said or done to deserve his body being slashed all over, appearing to bleed from nearly every pore. I tried to think of anything — anything — that would have made that boy’s death understandable. Or even fathomable.
“He had to suffer,” Hannah stated. “His spirit was bad. You know that. He had a devil in him. He deserved what I gave him. He deserved every bit of pain that he got.” She spoke in a dead, far-away tone that scared me witless. “He had badness in him.”
But I knew that if ever there was a person with badness in them, it was her.
The dogs and the search party drew dreadfully close — I heard their feet stomping on the ground, like a pounding tide of justice coming to drown us. We would eventually be found and dragged from this hole, reeking of dead skunk and guilt. Hannah would pay for the brutal evil she’d carried out, and I would pay for my utter cowardice.
Hannah struck a match and I flinched at the dark shadows hanging over her face. She was an angry girl. How did I get here? Why had I followed so blindly at her heels?
“Give me your thumb,” she demanded, and when I hesitated she gave me that giggly grin — a look I would never understand. She rolled her eyes. “Just give me your thumb, silly.” Her voice, her face — I was deathly afraid of her.
The match went out. I held my breath.
She struck another and made me hold it, taking my free hand into her lap. “Have you ever had a blood sister?” she asked, her grin growing and twisting like the knot in my stomach.
I shook my head.
“A blood sister,” she whispered solemnly, “is someone you’re bound to. Forever. A blood sister is someone you can share any secret with. It’s the ultimate confidence, Hettie. An ultimate bond. Unbreakable.”
The match went out again, and she held my hand tight between her knees while she struck another match and handed it to me. When I looked down, she had a knife in her hand. My heart sounded like roaring water in my ears.
In one swift movement she pulled the knife across the soft pad of my thumb, sure and quick. I sucked in a breath between my teeth, even though it hadn’t hurt.
No, the pain would come later.
She did the same to her own thumb and held up our hands as the blood welled up in a line, and then a single drop rolled from each wound. She grinned again and a panicked shudder ran through every bone in my body.
“Blood sisters,” she whispered, her voice like sand paper on my soul. She pressed our wounded thumbs together — our essence forced to mingle and blend. “Now we’re bound forever.” She sighed — a deep, contented sound. “Can you feel that, Hettie?” She mashed our bloody fingers together harder, until I almost cried out in pain.
I felt the white heat of her anger flooding through me. It slithered up through the veins of my arm, caressing across my shoulder, and making a slow, languid descent for my heart.
Hot tears welled in my eyes as the dogs paced along the wall and my veins nearly boiled with Hannah’s vile gift.
A bond unbreakable.
A pitchfork hit the ground just feet from our huddled bodies.
And the final match went out.
(photo credit: The Field Notebook)