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Prison Break Fanfiction
I write primarily non-shipper general fiction, and some Lincoln/Michael slash pieces as well. Yes, I know they’re brothers… and no, I normally wouldn’t be writing brothercest. That said, if it’s not your thing then please stick to the General Fiction section.

                  Prison Break Gen Fiction                      Prison Break Slash Fiction

Supernatural Fanfiction
Supernatural also deals with two brothers, who in this case are bound together in the pursuit of demons and vengeance. An excellent overview of this show and its characters can be found here.
                  Supernatural Gen Fiction                      Supernatural Slash Fiction

Other Fanfiction: Iron Man, Die Hard 4, Chuck, White Collar, Burn Notice, Reaper, and more

Original Fiction and Non-Fiction Stories: Miscellaneous Original Fiction // Real LJ Idol Season 8 // LJ Idol Exhibit A // LJ Idol Exhibit B // LJ Idol Season 9 // LJ Idol Friends And Rivals // LJ Idol Season 10


Venus

LJ Idol Season 11: "Brook"

Brook
idol season 11 | week 11, topic 2 | 1140 words
And The Creek Don't Rise

x-x-x-x-x

Once upon a time, there was an itty-bitty trickle of a young'un that lived along the western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

The little fellow's name was Brook, on account of his mama thought it sounded fancier than "Crick," which was the name all his cousins were given.

Brook was an easy-going sort, prone to slipping and sliding around here and there. Folks liked him well enough, though he never put any real effort into anything he did. "Lazy," his mama called it.

Brook didn't give a rat's patootie about whether he was lazy or not—whatever a patootie was, exactly. Or a rat, for that matter.

He liked how he was already, yessiree. He liked it just fine.

He liked where he lived, too, with the cool shady trees and big blue sky opening up above. It was right pretty there, and peaceful. A fellow could drift and dream if he’d a mind to, or enjoy all the critters coming and going. There was wildlife a-plenty, and Brook knew most every one of them and called them friend. There were foxes gliding and glinting through the woods, birds twittering and hopping nearby, and otters chasing each other in and out of the water and tumbling tail-over-whiskers as they skidded and scampered every which way and back again.

There were snakes, too, wending and winding across the water, and them slippery fish Brook liked so much that whistled past him, always swishing and tickling as they went.

There weren’t no better place to be, and no part of his life that needed changing, least as far as Brook could see.

His mama, now, she always hoped for more ambition. “Make something of yourself!” she would say.

Brook built himself up a little from time to time and branched out some, but it never stuck. It wasn’t really who he wanted to be.

“Your Uncle Runnel was like this, when he was young,” his mama said. “Fidgety little thing—couldn’t hang onto the idea of a bigger future for hisself for a dang minute.”

Brook had never met Uncle Runnel, who lived too far away, but he’d heard more warnings about him than he cared to. He thought it a pity Uncle Runnel wasn’t closer, though. Runnel seemed the type to understand just how things were, whereas Brook’s mama couldn’t even begin entertain any such notions.

Brook sometimes wondered how his Uncle Runnel looked at those growing-up years, and whether Uncle Runnel's mama used to make feel as purely tired as Brook's mama so often did.

Time went by, and still nothing changed much for Brook. He had to keep hearing about how this cousin or that one had worked himself up to be something bigger and more impressive. A few of his cousins were even given new names.

"Now, that right there is what I've been talking about all along," his mama said.

A pair of little rabbits quietly sidled up to Brook and tried to soothe him. "Don't worry," one said softly. "Your cousins are too full of themselves anyway. We like you the best."

"You're perfect," the other one whispered.

But Brook was no longer sure what was true.

Spring came, bringing new colors and new life. One day, it started to rain.

It rained and it rained and it kept on raining. The sky was dark and the wind blew cold, and all the little animals huddled in hollows or under dripping trees and bushes, and waited for the rain to end.

Brook stretched and swelled, and he started to feel power building up inside him—a power he'd never felt before.

He moved stronger and faster than ever, surging and spreading through the copses and meadows.

"Look at me, Ma!" he hollered. "I'm all growed up now!"

"About dang time!"

His mama's banks rose higher, and she seethed with the extra water Brook and his cousins brought in. She raged and roared, all mighty and proud as she tossed boats left and right and reached for the roadways that ran across the bridges overhead.

Suddenly, Brook noticed something stirring near his belly. A little squirrel was there, splashing and paddling as hard as it could. "Brook!" it gasped. "You're killing us!"

Brook felt a wave of horror sweep through him, and he just about stilled. "Oh, no!" he said.

Back he went then, back toward his creek bed. But there wasn't enough room for him, so he tried to think what to do.

His fish were gone, he noticed, what with the rocks and mud tumbling through his belly. They'd all gone back to the river where they started.

It gave him an idea.

He thought and thought as hard as he could, focusing on churning up dirt and rocks and sending them along to the river.

"What's that you're up to?" his mama asked. "You stop that, now, you hear?"

Brook kept on going, digging his channel deeper and deeper until he could settle back into it without hardly even a finger leaking out into the world beyond.

"Don't you dare!" his mama said. "Your uncle did the same fool thing, and nearly destroyed us all!"

"But I thought you said he got bigger…"

"For a little bit, but then he pulled that stunt. I haven't seen more than a trickle of him for years and years."

Brook noticed a pair of little birds up in a tree that touched his northern edge. "Thank you for sparing our nest!" they chirped. "We were so scared for our chicks!"

He heard a squirrel chittering nearby, and glimpsed an otter scampering away.

"You know I'll never leave you, Ma," Brook said. "But I can't help you destroy things either."

"But it's what you were made for! You can't go against your nature!"

"My nature says I gotta look out for my friends," Brook said. "And I'm gonna. I'm sorry, but that's how it is."

"Well!"

Brook's mama knocked down a trail signpost, and then tore a tree out of her own river-bank in a huff. But the rain was already slowing down.

"I'm sorry, fellas," Brook called out to the little critters in the woods around him. "I didn't mean to be so careless."

The rain stopped not long afterward. Then the sun appeared, glistening on the droplets at the edges of leaves and twigs. The hum of insects started up again.

A pair of otters chased each other down to the water and tumbled in. Ducks dozed on the bank, waiting for the current to grow quiet enough for a swim.

Finally, a little rabbit crept out from under a bush and hopped down to the creek's edge. It lapped at the water. "You're still the best," it murmured to him.

"I know it," Brook said.

And by then, he truly did.


--/--

Voting on this second topic is limited to current contestants. Details are here.

Venus

LJ Idol Season 11: "For The Birds"

For The Birds
idol season eleven | week 11, Topic 1 | 1270 words
Wild Goose Chase

x-x-x-x-x

Skrr-gonk! Gonk! Skrrrrrr-gonk!

Oh, for crying out loud, are you kidding me? It's the middle of January—how can those stupid geese be back at my office again already?

It's hard enough just having to go to work, some days. Do we really need harassment on top of it? And yes, that's what these birds bring to the equation: territorial behavior and loud, obnoxious voices.

Every. Damned. Year.

I'm talking about Canadian geese, of course—those large, handsome birds that have infested public parks and golf courses for decades. They were still listed as 'endangered' as of about twenty years ago, which honestly seemed like a joke. Down here in the United States, they weren't scarce or threatened at all. They'd just gotten smart enough to stop migrating! Geese that used to fly over Washington and Oregon and Northern California on their way to warmer regions finally realized that the climate near the midpoint of their journey was perfectly tolerable, so why keeping going back-and-forth every year? Achievement unlocked!

That saved the geese a lot of time and effort, but it has not worked out so well for the human population.

I don't remember how long ago the problem with the "office geese" started. I've been at this office for more than 25 years, but it seems as if these pesky visitors have only plagued us for about the last 7 or 8 of them. They just showed up one year and decided to build nests on the property, and they've been coming back to bother us ever since.

The heralding of the geese's mating season begins with rampant honking as workers walk through the parking lot toward the buildings every morning. There may be one or two geese standing on top of those three-story buildings, keeping watch and attempting to out-macho anyone they see down below. Sometimes they’re spread out across multiple buildings or even on the ground, and sometimes they stand high up over the main doorway and harangue everyone they see, reserving their extra wrath for a chosen few. One goose nearly worked himself into a stroke last year over a coworker in an orange sweatshirt. Clearly, Mr. Orange was an agent of Death.

In addition to making life unpleasant for all the humans in their vicinity, the geese also fight with each other. The office is popular with multiple mating pairs now, so hostilities break out over prized gutters or other random egg-laying locations. Most of the geese nest on the roofs, sometimes on the slanted metal plating or in other oddly uncomfortable locations.

Possibly this makes them even more ornery. The roofs are beady-eyed battlegrounds of honking and squawking and other goose-outbursts of, "Don't you eyeball me, boy!"

Because geese usually return to mate and nest where they are born, you can see that this will only grow uglier over time. And no, they don't remember that these other geese are family, any more than other birds or animals do.

While the noise is irritating, the squabbling and aggression can be entertaining—at least, from a distance. But sometimes, that desire to police the parking lot moves down to the ground level and gets more personal…

One year, a goose set up residence in the lane between the lot and the main pathway to the building. He would stand in the way of cars, and he would track your every movement as you walked past him toward the entrance. Landscaping and dirt limited how far away you could get from him without making a lengthy detour to avoid tromping through the mud. He would stare you down and hiss at you as you went, and while I don't think he ever attacked anyone, there was always that chance.

He might or might not have been the same goose that guarded a nearby area a year or two later. That goose patrolled the edge of the concrete sidewalk that abutted the drive leading between two of the buildings up to the main lobby. Often, he'd be lurking in the shade under the big tree there, and when people would try to drive through or walk past on their way to the lobby or across to the other building, he'd pop up and position himself in the way and let them know what was what.

In case you were wondering, the incubation period for Canadian geese is about 30 days. And then, of course, the goslings have to be protected too. So, once a goose picks an annoying area to defend, that obnoxiousness can last for several months. Hence the lack of enthusiasm for discovering that their mating season has started again. And it isn't even Spring!

Years before the geese showed up, the office started to get overrun with wild turkeys. While some turkeys can be aggressive (the Davis cemetery had problems with them for years), most just poop a lot and get in your way. Just yesterday, I noticed large amounts of poop by several of the outside doorways. The turkeys congregate there sometimes to stay out of the rain.

Unless those particular messes were also left there by the geese, which also have similarly large, troublesome poop.

The turkeys and the geese do not always get along, which can also be entertaining. Once, when I was getting my bike out of the car to go riding, I could hear this commotion over by the corner of one of the buildings:

*Lobble-lobble-lobble-lobble!*

*Honka-hurnka-ga-HONK!*

*Lobble-lobble-lobble-lobble-lobble!*

A flock of turkeys had discovered a goose nesting by the building and were busy counter-harassing it, perhaps to make up for previous weeks of being hassled by the geese who were trying to scare all the other wildlife off the property.

Now, I worry about both turkeys and geese when I'm out bicycling along the American River Parkway. Both are prevalent, and tend to be wandering on or near the pavement, although the geese are touchier and more likely to become airborne. Either way, whether I'm risking smacking into them with my front tire or getting clocked in the helmet with one of them, they are seriously large birds. The geese are apparently about 14 pounds (they look much heavier), and the turkeys anywhere from 10 to 24 pounds. That's a lot of impact!

At least, when I'm bicycling near the office, there's usually only a single goose to contend with as I leave or enter the compound. The open road is all about cars, of course. You can't have everything…

I've enjoyed some of the absurdity the geese bring to the workplace. There was a large male standing on one of the parking-lot light posts one day, and from about 15 feet away he mostly became an enormous, plump body parked on top of ridiculous pipe-cleaner legs and wide, flappy feet.

And Monday? Two of them were on the roof over the doorway, and had somehow managed to park their bodies on a concrete ledge and leave their feet dangling out behind them. I've never seen that before.

But mostly, depending on where all of them nest this year, I know I may be tempted to park around the back of the building any time I'm not bringing my bike in.

And I might be wishing that the property manager would consider goose deterrents, though it's a large area and they're hard to keep away. Plus, if you want to scare off geese with fake 'predator' animals, the only real recommendation is to use decoy swans.

From a corporate standpoint, I can see how festooning a roof with plastic swans might not come off as entirely professional…


--/-

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Venus

Dear Gluten-Free and Supertaster Peeps...

and if you're both, so much the better!

We'll be making a batch of peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies to take up north when we make a late "Christmas" trip to visit my family next weekend.

One of my sisters has now gone gluten-free, due to some stomach discomfort. This isn't the kind of change you expect to make in your 50s, but it happens.

So, I think that batch of cookies needs to be gluten-free. BUT... my husband's last gluten-free experiment for his brother, a double-chocolate banana bread, had a nasty, bitter aftertaste to it.

Ugh. We definitely want to avoid that. The peanut-butter will be stronger flavored than the banana and chocolate were, but I don't think it will be enough to drown out that bitterness. It was nasty.

My husband thinks he used Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour last time, so presumably we need to try something different.

Any recommendations for a good gluten-free cookie flour that bakes well but isn't bitter?

I know I've got some experts out there, so I'm hoping you can help! ♥

Venus

LJ Idol Season 11: "A Nose for Numbers"

A Nose For Numbers
idol season 11 | week 10 | 1300 words
Open Topic (Or in this case, the story I started for a previous topic and didn't want to let go of!)

x-x-x-x-x

He'd been at this job ten years now, and sometimes it seemed longer. This sure as hell wasn't his dream career—not even close. But at least it was a living:

Jimmy the Duck, Bookkeeper to the Mob.

The truth was, Jimmy had never wanted to be part of the Duck Mafia. He'd hoped to go legit when he finished his schooling, and he'd honestly thought it was possible. He had a nose for numbers, a real beak for business. He should have been able to work anywhere.

But his father, his grandfather, and all his uncles had been made ducks before him, and the pressure had been overwhelming. Jimmy had never really had a choice.

He'd actually enjoyed the work at the beginning. Pulling off Mafia-style accounting magic required both flare and expertise. Jimmy kept double sets of books, and applied inventive "business expense" write-offs. He used creative accounting to disguise protection-racket money as other income, and laundered the Mob's funds through an extensive chain of subsidiaries that included everything from Power Preen feather-wash franchises to web-wax salons.

But over time, Jimmy had grown tired of the whole thing. Tired of the sleaze and the warped code of ethics. Tired of the trashy females, with their wing extensions and those screeching voices that had all the charm of a stuck oven timer. Tired of his pencil-dick boss and all the other goons just like him, with their slicked-back head-feathers and their diamond-encrusted spats.

It all became very dull somehow, all of the lies and secrets and the endless pages of numbers that defined Jimmy's days. It was possible he was bored with accounting itself, of course, but he refused to even consider that. It was the job, Jimmy was sure of it.

It was enough to drive a duck to drink.

Jimmy had always been a drinker, and he'd had his share of lost weekends after too many rounds of fermented pond water or bulrush ale. But what he really liked were milkshakes, and stress always brought him back to his first love. After the disillusionment about his job really settled in, he became a bird of a different feather. Whether he was in a bar or his office or just wandering the streets, he usually sported a glazed-over expression and a straw stuffed into his beak. It earned him a new nickname, the Milkshake Duck.

What a travesty. At least he wasn't a button duck, like his uncle Gianni. No one could respect a button duck with a name like that.

Jimmy wondered if maybe that wasn't part of his problem as well. Not that he wanted to kill anyone, but there was no denying that his position in the Mob was unimpressive. Honestly, it was a lousy situation. He had most of the danger and none of the glory. Where was the prestige?

In the meantime, he avoided the wrath of Jake the Drake, and he ran the numbers, cooked the books, and tried to keep the numbers as uninteresting as possible where the I.R.S. was concerned. This was some job, all right, where you could find yourself feeling both nervous and bored at the same time.

Why hadn't he held out for the real thing, or even just dodged the bullet altogether by moving out West? Jimmy was kicking himself now.

He tried to talk to his Uncle, Manny the Mark, about it. "You know," Jimmy said, "I was thinking… Maybe this isn't the right fit for me, working for the Family. I'd like to try something new, like actuarial work or estate preparation."

"Hey," Uncle Manny said, "you don't leave this business, kid, you got that? Nobody gives a crap what you want. Grow that ulcer on your own damn time, capisce?"

"But—"

"No buts! This is good, steady work, and it's kept you in crackers all these years. Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

"I was just—"

"And what's with all the junk food, already?" Manny asked. "You're puttin' on weight."

Jimmy had forgotten what a temper Uncle Manny had. He approached his cousin, Billy the Hook, instead.

"Are you nuts? Not so loud!" Billy hissed. "You can't go around talkin' about stuff like that. That's how you wind up dead."

Jimmy waddled around dejectedly until he came to the pond. He hopped in, paddling in slow circuits and thinking. Was it really so wrong to want to be more than the sum of his family's bad choices? What was he willing to give up to make it happen, and was there any hope of surviving if he did?

The whole thing made him feel sad and tired, and he badly wanted a chocolate milkshake to help ease the pain. Instead, he dozed on a rock in the middle of the water for awhile, surrounded by the sounds of flapping, quacking, and splashing.

The air eventually turned cold. Jimmy left the pond and headed home, stopping at Waddling Wallie's Snack Shack along the way. There, he decided to forgo the Friday Fried-Frog special in favor of the tantalizing Butter-Baked Finwich Supreme. The Finwich was heaven, pure culinary heaven, and Jimmy was floating on a cloud of its remembered deliciousness until he walked past the Tailfeathers Lounge and his craw froze up all over again.

The Lounge's windows blared its wares at him: Premium Plumage! Hens, Hens, Hens! Tailfeathers was another of the Mob's moneymakers, a piece of despair trapped between a neon sign and a weed-infested parking lot.

Jimmy spread his wings over his eyes. I can't do this anymore!

A limo pulled up in front of the Lounge, and Jimmy braced himself. Emerald Eddie got out, flanked by Vito the Claw and Barbed-Wire Benny. Even in the fading light of the setting sun, Eddie's head gleamed the brilliant green so envied by all the other ducks.

"Jimmy," Eddie said. "Missed you around the back room this week."

"Oh?" Jimmy croaked out.

"Heard you was maybe getting cold feet about the business…"

"No sir," Jimmy said, "not me!"

"Glad to hear it." Eddie and his crew went inside the Lounge.

Jimmy stood there for a second, and then forced himself to move slowly and casually as he continued on his way home.

He yakked up the Finwich in an alley half a block later, knowing it would be his last.

After that, he gave in to speed. He trotted a few steps into the alley and took flight, arcing his way toward his apartment. Once there, he slipped in through the bedroom window, and started packing in the dark.

He tossed money, crackers, Worm-Slurm, and a tube of Feather-Preen in his satchel. Then he went out through the kitchen window and flew to his parent's house. He could say goodbye to his mother while his Pop was at the track, betting on the roach races.

"So, it's true," his mother said, when she saw the satchel. "Whatever—you were never cut out for this life anyway."

"I love you too, Ma," Jimmy said. "Tell Pop I'm sorry, and no disrespect intended."

"Yeah, yeah," she said. "Like anybody'll believe that…"

So Jimmy headed off, flying west-southwest and hoping for New Mexico or somewhere else quiet where a duck could disappear. He'd dye all his feathers black and run a cash register if he had to, see what the change of scene brought him.

Someday, if everything worked out and he found a nice hen to settle down with, he'd have to make up an explanation for the chicks.

Maybe he'd say he was some kind of mutant. Surely that was a thing among mallards.

And he was already used to living a life where he didn't quite fit in. At least this time, he hoped no one would want to kill him for it.

--/--

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.




Venus

Happy New Year!

Whoo, just squeaking in before the day ends.

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year, and a wonderful year to come.

We've been lazing around, enjoying having the kids home for the holidays. Our daughter stayed through the end of the Rose Bowl today (Oregon won—what a knucklebiter of a game!), and our son has to drive back to L.A. in a few days. Too soon, but it's been wonderful.

The Boy has been watching the most recent season of Bosch with us, and our daughter wanted to acquaint us with Big Little Lies, so we binge-watched Season 1 of that. Highly entertaining, though I'm not sure why it's set in Mendocino other than the beautiful scenery. Culturally, it feels much more like Marin County, and there is SO much histrionic drama. Which I guess is the point...

I finished reading The Devil In The White City a few weeks ago, and also read Thomas Tryon's The Other (not as impressive in our current culture as it probably once was) and Where The Crawdads Sing (very disappointed in the last chapters, and I have mixed feelings overall). Next up, Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds.

Meanwhile, there has been too much eating (of course), a fair amount of biking in the c-o-o-o-l-d, and much overall relaxation.

I hope your holidays have been good as well!

Xmas Penguin

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas today!

And for those who don't, happy random middle-of-the-week day off! Binge-watching, anyone? :D

Venus

LJ Idol Season 11: "The Journey Of A Lifetime"

The Journey Of A Lifetime
idol season 11 | week 8 | 1200 words
My True North

x-x-x-x-x

A lifetime ago, when you had hair and I had ambition, we talked about traveling the country like a Paul Simon song, looking for something bigger than the corner we called our own.

We didn't know what that was, we just knew the restless need that pulled us toward it. It was the history of our nation, the very definition of being young and free.

We would go the summer after our Junior year of college, we decided. That was the plan—one last hurrah before that life was over, before we launched into playing Musical Chairs with an entire graduating class as we all scrambled to find jobs the moment the school year stopped.

You had the car—a '79 Thunderbird convertible—and I had gas money and a Rand McNally atlas. Some part of me had probably been thinking about a big cross-country trip like that ever since I was ten.

By the time May of Junior year rolled around, we'd been talking about the trip for months. Route 66 was a must, either driving out or driving back, and so were the thirteen colonies. But how far North did we want to go? And was there anything to see going East after Yellowstone and the Rockies, other than Chicago?

I spent the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend sketching out routes from Barstow to the Grand Canyon, when I should have been working on my take-home History essay instead. You called just after two o'clock, your voice so tight you sounded like a stranger.

"Dad had a heart attack," you said.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.

I got a job bagging groceries that summer. The only traveling I did was to the parking lot, and my monuments were towers of canned vegetables instead of the national landmarks I'd hoped to see.

You had it so much worse. You left college to run your dad's store until he got better, but his health forced him to retire, instead. You inherited a job you never wanted, because somebody had to pay the bills. No one was surprised when you made that choice. That was just who you were. But we knew it wasn't easy.

College wasn't as much fun after you left. Neither was Bismarck, where I had my first job after graduation, or Rapid City, where I built the career that led me to stay.

We talked on the phone off and on, and I'd stop in and see you whenever I came back to visit. You almost looked like your dad, standing there behind the counter—confident and easygoing, ready to help anyone who needed it. You had two cute kids and a wife who adored you, and it seemed like life had turned out pretty well for you after all. Your family was busy with soccer games and Little League and scouts, all the anchors of our own childhoods growing up, and why not? There was no reason for any of the good in that to change.

Me, I had a few more hiccups along the way. My marriage hadn't been easy, and I'd never planned to get stuck living in a Midwest snow zone anyway. After my wife left me, I decided I just couldn't cope with South Dakota any more, so I quit my job to move back in with my parents and start over again. Despite the dreams I'd always had of driving all around the country, I was incredibly happy to come back home.

"Great timing!" you said, when I called you up. "That offer on the store went through, and all the paperwork was final last Tuesday. Now I've got a few months to figure out what to do next. Think maybe we could finally make that road trip after all?"

I couldn't believe your wife was okay with that idea, but of course she was. You'd married an amazing woman. I wish I'd been as lucky, though I wasn't half the man you were and would never have deserved her. Maybe I'd get a second chance with someone new closer to home.

I dug the atlas out of the closet of my old room at my parents' house, and flipped through it. Most of the Post-It notes had fallen off, and I'd already seen some of the places I'd marked the first time around. Route 66 was the one area we both knew we wanted to see, so what the hell? We packed clothes and music and snacks for a long journey, and loaded up the car. I'd buy another atlas somewhere along the way and we'd figure things out from there.

You didn't have the Thunderbird anymore, but my 2005 Sentra would do just fine. It was old but reliable. It'd gotten me back home when I'd needed it to.

We set off from Reedley, heading south on 99 toward Bakersfield. The first day of the journey would be nothing special, just miles of dirt and desert along the route out of the Central Valley armpit and over to the desolate path through Las Vegas to the Utah rock parks beyond.

It was good to just talk, though. With no time constraints and no family around, we didn't have to rush or be careful of the words we used. I learned that you were still funny as hell, and could tell a story like no one else. And that while you were grateful for the community and the safe environment for raising your kids, you thought that staying in Reedley forever might actually kill you.

"Oh, I know," I said. "I came back to regroup, but I really need someplace bigger. And less hot. This whole part of the state is pure hell."

"No kidding," you said.

"So, is Becca open to moving? And if she is, then where are you thinking?"

It felt like we were just picking up right where we'd left off all those years ago. Everything had made more sense back then, including me.

"Her parents died years ago, and her brother lives in Tacoma. So maybe around there."

I'd never thought about Washington. I hated snow, but I didn't mind the rain, and I was sure to find work there. Washington could be good.

"How much time do you want to spend in Vegas?" I asked.

"I've got forty dollars for slot machines, and then we can go whenever you're ready. Vegas was never my thing."

"Me either. Everything I want to see is on the other side, and then down past the Grand Canyon and out the old highway."

"Great minds…" you said.

And it was true. This was what I'd missed all those years, more than my childhood and my memories of college, more than the amazing future I once imagined would someday be mine.

I always knew who I was when I was with you, some better version of myself than who I'd turned into while living halfway across the country for so damn long

You kept me honest.

It was so easy to forget that life was more about the journey than the destination, but you'd always known that.

Everything about you still showed me exactly who it was possible to be.


--/--

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Venus

Multitasking...

during an online work meeting from higher-ups. Rah-rah-rah, blah-blah-blah. \o?

The kids came and went for Thanksgiving, much too quickly but it was great having them home. Our son spent too much time having to work on an 8-page essay paper due Monday (Finals start next week), and our daughter tends to flit even though she is unemployed as of last Friday and kind of in panic mode (which just prompts more flitting, in my experience). :O

(Is this our new business-unit leader talking right now? What a high, thin, nasal voice. Urgh).

Our daughter recommended Amazon's Modern Love, so we watched a few episodes with her while she was here. We also rewatched Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which she said she wasn't interested in seeing but quickly tuned into. Our son was researching Greek history on his computer, and the last he'd heard we were thinking about watching an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (because our daughter FINALLY gave that a try, and is now in season 4). So, he came out of his note-taking fog and looked up at some point and thought, "Wait, is this really Buffy The Vampire Slayer? It doesn't look quite right. And she's gotten kind of fat..."

I finished Tara Westover's Educated during the break, which was riveting and disturbing and often infuriating. What an awful way for a child to grow up. But what was more infuriating was discovering, courtesy of reviews on Goodreads, that there are a significant number of people who think much of it must be made up. Because children never have crazy, obsessed parents like that? Because fellow church members and acquaintances would have noticed (even though the family lived in a large isolated area, near a tiny rural Idaho town, and kept the children out of school and out of town as much as possible)? Because if people HAD noticed, they would have intervened (really? Always? With what authorities? When no laws were broken? And when, if anyone might have considered an informal intervention, the father and older sons were raging gun-nuts)?

Because children have never escaped from horrible imprisonment and/or abuse even in neighborhood homes inside regular suburbs?

One of the most maddening comments was in the top 'answered questions,' in which the poster essentially disparaged the brainwashed author for taking so long to realize that she'd been brainwashed. *stabbity rage*

Ahem. So yes, lots of feelings and opinions!

After that, I zipped through Lisa Jewell's The Family Upstairs, which had some similar themes. Pure coincidence. Hard to put down, as most of Jewell's books are, though it felt as if it ended before the story was over. :O

And right now? I purloined our daughter's The Devil In The White City a while back, and started and then stopped it a couple of times. My prevailing thought last time around was, "Man, this font is small! Even with reading glasses!" So, I got the bright idea to read it on Kindle, where I could make the font as big as I needed to. Whoo! I'm at least 4 chapters in, now. :D

I've also been making my way through and enjoying books in the Sandman Slim and Mrs. Pollifax series (for the ultimate disconnect). The first book in the Eric Carter series was fun too, though it felt a little like a Sandman Slim rip-off. But those two authors are friends, so I guess they're okay with it. \o?

Apart from Thanksgiving and kids and TV and books, there has also been Idol (who knows whether this week's story will get written by tomorrow?) and some Black Friday frenzy. And rain. LOTS of rain, finally. We did a lot of great outdoor bicycling this Fall, when it wasn't super-windy, but there's been a lot of garage biking this last couple of weeks and there's more to come. I'm in season 5 of rewatching Burn Notice out there. Thank goodness for Sam Axe. And the repeated appearances of Michael's Not-Dead-Partner Larry.

So, what have all of you been up to?