Friday, February 29, 2008

2.5.1 A. Nina Simone – Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair/TBS

Nina Simone – Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair

Black is the color of my true love's hair
His face so soft and wondrous fair
The purest eyes
and the strongest hands
I love the ground on where he stands

While Luka had fallen in love with Danijela at first sight, for the teenager, it had taken longer. In those first days she wasn't even aware that she had caught the tall college student's eye, if she was perhaps things might have unfolded differently, as it were, each continued on their separate paths until he grew bold enough to take that next step.

Once he had discovered that she and her friends visited the coffeehouse every afternoon he made a point of altering his schedule so he could be there as well. He had to study, what difference did it make where he did the work? If Tomo and Stipe, or better yet Gordana, wanted to tag along, all the better, at least it wouldn't draw undue attention to what he was doing.

Through the course of the next couple of weeks he put his plan to catch her eye into motion. Whether it was as she moved from the counter to a table with her coffee, or simply as she glanced around the small shop during a lull in the conversation, it would have been hard for her not to miss the dark haired man's eyes on her. If by chance their eyes would meet, her shy smile would usually be accompanied by an embarrassed blush as if she were not quite sure how to react to his attention.

It was hard too to say why he didn't simply go up and talk to her from the start, later he would claim it was her age, in truth he wondered if there was more to it then that. Once he had her eye, he was ready to take things to the next level, and so he anonymously arranged for her drink to be paid for over several days, next, he added a sweet to her order, before finally venturing forward to identify himself.

In that simple task, he knew he would be undergoing more than just her scrutiny, he would be subjected to that of her friends as well, and he wondered which was worse. Over the course of the weeks that he had been watching her, the actions of the girls with her had not been lost on him, the way that they giggled over this person or that, the private jokes whispered behind upraised hands. How many times had he wondered if hehimself hadn't been the brunt of their latest joke, or the subject of their conversation. As he approached the table where the girls sat, all he could think of beside how beautiful the dark haired teen was, was that he would finally know for sure.

Once the introductions were made, it was as if everyone around them faded into the background and they may has well been alone for the notice they took of anyone except each other. Over the course of the next several weeks the afternoon coffees expanded to stolen meetings on weekends as well, and gradually Luka was introduced to Danijela's parents. By then though, the young couple had already realized that they would one day marry. Out of respect to Danijela's parents, they would wait until she turned 18 to wed, but, they were sure fate had brought them together, and now, it was only her age that was delaying what they now both knew was their destiny.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Prompt 11.2: What is the difference between having sex and making love?/Muse Erotica

There was a point in my life when I didn't care anymore. I almost think I had given up on believing that I could have again what I had once shared with Danijela, what I had tried, but failed to find with Abby, our first time together. I fell into a pattern of using sex as a means to try and find what my life was missing, and instead came away with only more emptiness.

I look back on Danijela and my wedding night, I have no doubt that what we shared between us was more then just the act of our bodies uniting as one. There was a connection between the two of us that often made the need for words unnecessary, a connection that made us seem to know what the other wanted before we had even asked.

When I think about my encounters since I can't help but find them lacking, and while I may not notice it at the time, it's all too clear by morning's light.  In the beginning all I wanted was a way to escape from where my life was, and in those moments I was with those nameless women, I was able to do that.  In those moments all I wanted was to know that I could feel something beside the ache of loneliness and the pain of failure.  Sex became a tool for me, be it with someone from the hospital, a stranger I met in a bar, or in those most desperate moments when I found myself willing to pay, with Valerie. Whoever I chose, the end result was the same, but, I never found that which had been there with Danijela, that which I am beginning to find with Abby.  I only wish I could have learned my lesson before I had hurt so many, it's one of far too many mistakes I will forever be doing penance for.


Prompt 219: Headlines/Theatrical Muse

They were the kind of headlines you never want to see. A revisiting of a nightmare, but there they were, everywhere I looked as I woke from my fitful sleep on that morning after.

Three Dead in Diner Robbery, One Critical...

Trina, that's her name, though the papers have yet to identify her. She was the only one to survive the terror that those at Doc Magoos must have been put through yesterday morning.

If Jing-Mei hadn't asked me to breakfast at that moment Trina might not have survived, if we had gone earlier, perhaps we would have been among the dead, I suppose it's for those reasons that Kerry scheduled the appointment with Psychiatry, it didn't make going any easier.

You would think with the violence we see on a daily basis that something like this wouldn't faze me, but, these were people we knew. People we had laughed with, whose names we knew. Suddenly the rules all change when you can put a name to the face laying there in front of you.

I don't remember how long we worked on Trina before she was stable enough to move out of the walk-in, but, even then she was touch and go. As we moved her across the drive-way Kerry tried to get us to stop, I think she saw the thing in us that neither Jing-Mei or I were willing to admit, or maybe she saw something worse, I don't know. Maybe I never will.

Monday, February 18, 2008

2.3.1 F: Give it to me, baby./TBS

As I sit here on this park bench watching our son play near-by, I can't help but wish that Abby were here with me, with us.  So many of these last few months have been ones we've spent apart, one or the other en-charged with the care of our son, when what he needs most is the love and guidance of both of his parents.  I worry sometimes about how these months will affect him in years to come, if they will affect him, and then I wonder how they cannot.

I know that the time Abby is taking now, is time she needs to take for her well-being, time that can only benefit Joe and our relationship in the future, but, that doesn't make the separation any less difficult. As I look now at how Abby's absence will impact our son, I can't help but wonder how the time I was out of his life will affect him.  There was no way I could anticipate my father's illness, any more then I could know that within days of my returning to the States, he would be gone.

"What do you have, Joe?  Give it to me, baby, bring it to Tata."

Nothing would mean more to me now then to have my wife, Joe's mother here with us, maybe in time that will happen.  For now, Joe and I will do this alone, but, he will know his mother loves him, he'll know she would be here if she could, and most of all, he'll know in time, we'll be a family again.

Prompt 24.1 C: Mistakes Quote/ Writers Muses

"I know that I probably didn’t do the right thing that day. I am usually much stronger than that. But what can I say? Things happen."

We all make mistakes, it's part of being human, but sometimes you reach a point in your life when it's almost like every move you make is one meant to send you down a path of self-destruction. I wish I could say I know the exact point in time when I became aware of what I was doing, but, I don't. I do remember that at the time, It didn't seem to matter that my actions were hurting other people, I didn't care about the consequences to my actions, or maybe I was just too numb to see any of it for what it really was. I think in my own head I was looking for a way to feel anything other than the loneliness that was eating me up inside, and if it hurt someone else in the process I didn't care. I just needed to stop feeling so alone.

I wish I could say that what I was doing never impacted my work, but that would have been as much a lie as anything else. From my liason with a patient's mother in a storage room while her daughter waited alone in an exam, to the one night stands with those who I later expected to work with as if nothing had happened, all I saw in each of them was what I needed in those moments I was with them. I didn't care about what the experience might mean to them, I didn't think about what would happen once the moment had passed, all that mattered was that I got what I needed from them. All that had mattered was for those minutes, those hours I felt something other than alone.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Prompt 23.1.B Everyone has secrets/Writers Muses

"Everyone has secrets. The question is whether it is one that they wish to keep hidden, or to reveal or even want to acknowledge within themselves."

For many years I built my life around the secrets I kept.  After I left Croatia and came to the United States I tried to put my past behind me, and the only way I thought I could do that was by never talking about it.  It wasn't easy, I rarely stayed anywhere long enough for people to get to know me, my past was a secret I kept locked away, and in turn I remained a stranger to everyone.  In fact, whenever people tried to get to close to me, or when it seemed that the outside world was starting to threaten the bubble of isolation I'd formed around myself, I just left. 

It wasn't until I came to Chicago and began working at County that I began revealing any of my past, and even then I was very selective about who I spoke to about it and even more selective about what I told them.  Carol was one of the few with whom I felt comfortable enough with to share the details of the day I lost Danijela and our children, with others it's enough that they only know that at one time I was married, and that I'd lost my family in the war. 

I never used to worry about what people might think about me. I knew I was never going to be in any one place long enough for it to matter if I built friendships, the only thing that mattered was doing my job. Even now, very few people know the details of how my first family died, but, I'm no longer running from my past, and I've accepted that what happened then is as much a part of me as what happened yesterday, or what will happen tomorrow.  While that doesn't mean I will automatically tell everyone I meet about my past, neither do I feel the need to conceal it from the world in secrets doled out to a chosen few. Those I lost are always going to be with me, and after so many years of denying the fact, I've finally realized that there is more to their lives than just the day I lost them. I understand now, that as long as I can remember those days, for those few moments I can almost feel like they are with me again.




Prompt 218 - Write about a lie your parents told you./Theatrical Muse

"Luka, you have to move on with your life, you have to find someone else to love, start a new family. One day you'll find someone you'll love as much as you loved Danijela, who'll love you as she loved you, you'll see."

In those early months after I returned to their home, my parents repeated those words often, anything to find a way to break through the depression that I wore as a second skin. In those early months nothing mattered to me, I avoided both friends and family, choosing instead to live in the past. I forced myself to re-live those final hours of my wife and children's lives as if I could somehow do something differently and change the outcome. No matter what I did, no matter how many times I went over that day in my head, it always ended up the same. I reached the point where I could call up each image as if it were a snapshot, from my baby boy's hand as he reached through the rungs of his crib, making his last plea for help before death claimed him. To my wife's face as I told her that her of his death, but, none so clear as those of my little girl's face as I fought to keep her alive, and then her face as I knew I had failed her. How was I to believe that I could just move on and find someone to replace them?

It took me fourteen years to find my way back to Abby, and while what we have is nothing like what I had with Danijela, it is enough. I don't think my parents intentionally lied to me, I just think they didn't understand what Danijela and I had between us, they couldn't understand that our bond didn't end with her death. Abby and I have something Danijela and I didn't and in a way, I think it's enough, though I know I'll always miss my first love.

When our son Joe came, I knew he would not replace the places in my heart that Marko and Jasna held, but I found room for him and that is what mattered. So, no, Mama and Tata, I didn't find someone to love in the way I loved Danijela, but, I did find room in my heart to love again, and after far too many years of living in the past, I've finally started looking to the future, and I think that's what you wanted me to do all along.

Prompt 10.1 Sensual Dream/Muse Erotica

What was the last sensual dream you had? Who was in it? Was it someone you knew well or someone you’d just met? Could you tell them about it or did you have to keep it a secret?
Tell us about it.

Maybe it's being back in Croatia, back where I met Danijela all those years ago, maybe it's being away from Abby, it's hard to say. Since Niko and I buried our father, I've spent so many hours revisiting the places of my youth with Joe. I suppose it was only natural to find so many of my long suppressed memories of my wife to return as I found myself back in those places where our relationship first blossomed. As the memories returned, I guess I should have found it as no surprise that dreams of her came as well, and I almost feel as if I'm cheating on Abby when the intensity of them awakens me with my arousal still lingering. How do I tell my wife that I'm not just dreaming of my first wife, but that dreams of her still excite me?

Is it any wonder that the dream finds it's way back to me over and over?

It's so real. I feel her hand touch my cheek and I awaken to her smile, the smile that draws one from me in return before she leans forward to kiss me. Everything about her actions is hesitant and I know it is because this is all so new to us both. After she coaxes me to lay back on our bed, she slowly begins an exploration of my body, leaving soft kisses on my skin as she touches me.

I want so badly to return her attentions but, she pushes me back, silencing me with another lingering kiss, letting me know that in this, she is in control. She seems to be in no hurry, and if anything she slows her movements as I begin to squirm under her, my erection hardening under her weight. This is so unlike her, and if I come away with anything above the feelings of desire that dominate the dream it is that moment so rare to her.

What remains of the dream are moments private to my wife and I, moments of intimacy long lost, but forever cherished. Is it little wonder then that I find myself waking with the feelings still holding on to me? Is it any wonder that she remains the love of my life, even after so many years? No matter how many years pass, nothing can change that, my love for her is eternal, and maybe this is her way of showing me that for her the same is true.

Monday, February 11, 2008

February Prompt 003:Fantasy Lover (not your usual lover)/Artistic License

I don't know what prompted me to take her back to my apartment, I could just as well have gotten any room, in any hotel, the place for what we both knew was coming really didn't matter.  Neither of us expected anything special out of our time together, for her it was simply a business arrangement, for me, I don't know, maybe I just needed to know I could feel something.

One we were in bed I tried not to think about what she was, I didn't want to believe that I was capable of sinking so low, but, the fact was, I had. I forced my mind to shut down and gave in to the carnal instinct that I wished I could deny had been driving me for these past few months.

My lips find hers, and I silence her questions before she can ask me anything more then the small-talk we exchanged before leaving the bar. It doesn't take long for need to take control, skin against skin, her experience becoming all too clear.

I'll never know what led me into that bar that night, what prompted me to sit at that spot at the bar, but had I not done just that I would never have met her.  I wasn't looking to meet anyone, I'm not even sure I had any intentions with my being there other than erasing the memories of the day with alcohol.

When she first came up and sat down bedside me I didn't think anything of it, conversation was the last thing on my mind, but, once it was there I didn't turn away from it. When she suggested we go someplace else, I was ready for the companionship, learning it would cost me stopped me only for as long as it took me to down my drink.

It was only after she was gone that the disgust at what I had done registered with me.  What would Danijela say if she saw how far I had fallen? How would I begin to explain the changes in me that would justify my ending up in bed with a prostitute? When did my physical needs become more important then anything else in my life?

Yet, after that night was over, after I had time to think about what I had done, as sick as I was with what I had done, I called her again. What kind of a man am I?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Prompt 217: Ring and Book/Theatrical Muse

My life was changing. Truth be told, it had been changing constantly since that day I entered our apartment in Vukovar and found Marko dead, since I had watched my wife and daughter die. For almost five years I had told myself that my life was over, but it wasn't, it was just a lie I kept telling myself because the reality of what my life had become was too hard to face.

For almost five years I had looked for ways to deny what my life had become. At first, it had been easy, the grief of my losses was so deep that it ate away at me until nothing mattered to me. While the bombing had taken my family and our home, I sacrificed far more, deserting friends, even family who could have supported me had I let them. When I fled Vukovar I found refuge in the anonymity of the displaced person's camp, escaping into silence as a means for coping with what my life had become.

That was then, and now, the truth is something I can no longer deny, if I was to start thinking about moving on with any kind of a life I had to leave Croatia. As long as there were so many memories of Danijela and the children around, nothing would change. The decision was not one being met with with full support even within my own family, and while I doubt Niko would ever understand why I had to do this, I knew I had no choice.

As the time neared for me to leave for the airport, there was one final thing that had to be done, as hard as it would be to do, I had to sever that final tie to Danijela, the connection to the life that was no more. The day the Priest placed our rings on our fingers we knew they were there until death parted us. In my mind, that statement meant I would wear her ring until my death, but, here I was, alone, and as hard as it was, I knew I had to let her go, and that meant saying good-bye to my ring.

That day I walked out of my father's house to embark on my new life, I didn't just leave my wedding band behind in my father's house that day, I left my final tie to the woman who had won my heart and the life we had built together. I left the life that was no more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prompt 2.2.1: Second chances: Are you for them or against them?/TBS

I only have to look at my wife and son to know that were it not for second chances my life as I know it would not exist.  It's not just because I was married before, or that the deaths of my wife and children lay behind my reasons for leaving Croatia and coming to the United States.

Abby and I had a relationship not long after I accepted a permanent position at County, for far too many reasons, things didn't work out for us as a couple.  Our break-up was a difficult one, we both said things we shouldn't have, things that were meant to hurt the other, and which, at least from my side, were almost immediately regretted.  Over time we were able to repair the damage our words had done and I like to think we also succeeded in building a friendship far deeper than we might have had we not said what we did.

I don't think either Abby nor I realized that we'd progressed past the friendship stage again until we were already there, and I think in the early stages of that realization we were afraid of recognizing it.  I know I found myself tip-toeing around the truth at first because I didn't want to take a chance of having things fall apart a second time. 

I think we were both surprised to find out how much we both had changed once we finally allowed ourselves to trust our feelings and let whatever was going to happen, happen. Looking back now, I can see our early mistakes for what they were. I can see too, ways we might have been able to prevent things that had happened at that time, but, knowing that can only help me now, and as Abby and I encounter new obstacles, we will find ways to work through them together, as a couple, and as parents of a young son.  Because of second chances, we are a family, for better or worse, till death do us part.


Prompt 216: Impossible/Theatrical Muse

I should have known something was wrong from the sound of Abby's voice when she called me. I should have realized that there was more to the call then her just wanting me there with her and Joe. I'd been with her long enough to recognize the signs if only I had taken the time to listen for them. I can't even begin to describe what went through my mind when I reached the apartment and found Curtis Ames there holding a gun on Abby and our infant son. Why hadn't I listened more closely, why hadn't I realized something was wrong?

There was never a doubt in my mind I would do as he asked, I don't think I even thought about the consequences. It didn't matter what he might do to me, but, I wasn't going to risk anything more happening to Abby and Joe, they had already been through far too much. When he demanded I leave with him there was no question of my complying, it was impossible for me to do anything else, and in those moments it was as if I were blind to seeing anything but him and what he was demanding of me.

I would have given anything to have gone to Joe before I left with Ames, to have held my son in my arms and inhaled the scent of him, to have kissed him, and whispered my love for him. I wish too that I could have gone to Abby. I wanted so badly in those final moments to hold her, I wanted her to know how grateful I was for the time we'd had and for the gift of our son. More importantly I wish I could have told her how much her love meant to me, because I was sure that in leaving I would never see either of them again.

I didn't dare look back as I left our apartment with Curtis Ames, for as difficult as it was to agree to go with him, it would have been next to impossible if the last thing I had seen was Abby's face. You see, I know what would have been written there, and seeing her expression change as I defied her unspoken plea to remain, would have been even harder than that.

So, I left them, the two people who were my life. I left them, believing that in doing so I would never see them again, but, knowing that they would be safe, and in my heart, in my head I could think of nothing more valuable that I could leave with them then that gift of safety if I could no longer be with them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February Prompt 005. What sort of legacy do you wish to leave behind? /Writers Muses

"What do you see, Joe? Do you see Mama? Yeah, that's, Mama, she loves you very much, Joe, and she misses you." Luka struggled to keep his voice light as he carried on the conversation with his young son, the video of their wedding currently the only connection the toddler had to his absent mother.

"Mama." Joe raised his hand and pointed to the screen as Abby again appeared, then giggled and crawled to the television as he himself appeared.

"That's right, that's you, Joe." This wasn't the life they had planned for their son, him living first with one parent, then the other. Reaching for the remote, Luka switched the tape off, then rose and retrieved his son.

"Let's go outside, Joe, we'll see if we can find Niko." He swung the toddler comfortably onto his hip as he headed for the door. He wasn't going to spend the days he and Abby were apart in mourning, she wasn't dead and he wasn't going to act like she was, it wasn't fair to Joe.

"Do you want to walk, Joe?" He lowered the toddler to the ground as he asked the question of him, then began to follow him as the boy began to wander along the walkway. These past months had been so unfair to him and while they certainly didn't compare to the sacrifices that Jasna and Marko had been forced to endure, he was still being forced to face things he shouldn't have to.

This wasn't the life he wanted for his son, neither had it been the life he had wanted for Jasna and Marko. In the case of his first children the choice had been taken from his hands, this was not, or most of it wasn't. He couldn't erase the months he had already missed being with Joe, but he could make sure that he missed no more, and if it meant giving up his work at County and taking a position at a smaller hospital, or moving back to Croatia to do it, he was willing to make those sacrifices.

"What did you find, Joe?" As his son stopped and seemed drawn to something on the ground, Luka first moved up behind him, then dropped to a squat at his side. As he caught sight of what had captured his son's attention Luka couldn't help but smile.

"Bug, Joe...can you say, kukac?" He coached the boy through the word first in English, and then in Croatian. Of all the things he could give to his son, of all the things his son might remember about him when he was older, nothing could be more important then to know that he would most remember that his father had been there for him. What better legacy could he leave to his son than that of the importance of time spent with family?

2.1:8H To Sleep/TBS

You’re muse has been without sleep for several days, for some reason. Write a fic about the last hours before they finally do sleep.

I want to believe it's all a dream, that I'm already asleep and that all of the horror we have gone through, are going through is just part of a seemingly never-ending nightmare. Please, don't make this real.

I can hear the music so much more clearly now, it calls to me as I sit here in the dust, and blood of those whose lives have already been taken. Can't you hear it? It sounds like angels calling me and I have to wonder if it means my time is almost here. I have to make my peace, I have to ask for forgiveness for all the years I turned my back on the church, turned my back on God. I have to make it right if I want to be reunited with Danijela and our children.

It's fear that drives me, that finds the strength in my exhausted limbs to force me back to my knees, fear that makes me once more bow my head in prayer, that forces words from my dry and cracked lips.

"Oce nas, koji jesi na nebesima,
sveti se ime tvoje...
dodi kraljevstovo tvoje,
budi volja tvoja...

Kako na nebu tako tako i na zemlji.
Kruh nas svagdanji daj nam danas...

I otpusti nam duge nase
kado i mi otpustamo deznecima

I ne uvedi nas u napast,
nego izbavi nas od zia."

It's hard for me to understand all that is happening, as they grab me I'm sure it's to take me to the tent where all but Patrique met their deaths, but we don't go there. Instead, I find myself thrown into a truck where other dead already rest. The smell, oh God, the putrid smell of death is everywhere, and all I can do is lay there on top of the bodies, afraid to move, afraid to attract anymore attention. I can hear their voices around me now, and soon, other bodies are thrown into the truck, I'm afraid the weight of them will suffocate me, and I wonder what is the worst kind of death.

Suddenly we're moving, I don't understand, why not kill me where everyone else died? The motion of the truck could easily lull me to sleep if not for the stench from those all around me. Gasoline and exhaust fumes mingling with the over-powering smells coming off the bodies, sweat, urine, feces, but none more powerful then the blood as it leeches into my clothing wrapping itself around me until it claims me as it has it's victims.

When at long last the truck grinds to a halt I can only imagine that my time of death has finally come and I whisper again those silent prayers. I ask for forgiveness, begging God to allow me to find my way to those who joined him so many years before as hands grab at my clothing and pull me off the bodies. Squeezing my eyes closed, I pray that my death comes quickly but, instead of a bullet I find myself landing with a hard thud on the ground, and as I dare open my eyes again I find myself in the darkness of a small hut.

I'm beyond understanding, and when Sakima's voice whispers to me in my ear, and coaxes me to sip brackish water I do so willingly before giving in and allowing my eyes once again to slowly close. Her words are so quiet, and as she reassures me that safety is finally ours. I want to believe her, finally, at long last I can surrender to the sleep I have been denied. Sleep, as I edge closer to it I can't help but pray that when I wake I'll find that all of this has been just a dream...please, let it be just a dream...

(Luka's prayer is "The Lord's Prayer")

Saturday, February 2, 2008

21.6 Torn/Writers Muses (A Deep End Ficlet)

What was it about Margaret Hall that made her so different from all of the others? It wasn't like this was the first time that Nagel had sent him out to do his dirty work for him. Oh sure, he could tell him that they were partners in the deal, but, that wasn't really the way it was. Okay, yes, he'd get a share of the take, whatever that happened to be, but nothing near what Nagle took, and in the meantime he was the one taking all the risks, he was the one who would end up taking the fall if something went wrong. So, what was it about this woman that made her so different from any of the others that Carlie Nagle had set his sights on?

How the hell was he going to explain to Nagle that he didn't get the money, that he didn't get any money from the woman? Lighting a fresh cigarette off the end of the one still burning in his hand, Alek contemplated the dilemma he had placed himself into. Carlie Nagle was not a man who tolerated mistakes, neither did he tolerate things not being done the way he wanted them done and Alek was positive Nagle would consider him guilty of both. Why then wasn't he bothered by the consequences that he knew would come of his having screwed up?

There was something about this woman that was different from the people he and Nagle normally dealt with and it wasn't just that she was trying to protect her children, he'd had no trouble getting payments out of those with wives and kids before. So what? The old man? No, what did he care if the old man lived or died, but, he must have cared, why else help her by doing CPR on him?

The feelings the woman was raising in him were ones he wasn't used to. In fact, if he was honest, he wasn't used to caring about anyone but himself, he'd learned early on that it was the only way to survive the life he'd been dealt. So, why now? Alek began replaying the conversations with Margaret in his head as he made the drive back to Reno. What the hell was he supposed to do? The woman meant nothing to him, but she had tapped into something in him he didn't know he existed and unfortunately, he was going to pay a hefty price to Nagle as a result, he could only hope she was worth it.