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Tag: Futility collection

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/15/16 #8Sunday

coverFor May I’m pulling from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.

It’s eleven stories about veterans and their relationships with family and friends.

Today’s excerpt comes from the second of five related stories, “A Family Tradition.” This one is about Maarten, a man who served during WWII and has spent his life battling his father’s legacy, as conveyed by his single mother, Ophélie.

In this week’s excerpt, Maarten is just arriving home from a Scouting trip with his three sons.

* * * * * * *

A large black Chrysler sat parked in front of their house. Catherine usually accompanied them on Scouting trips, but at seven months pregnant with their fourth child she had been looking forward to a quiet house to herself – or so she’d said. He didn’t recognize the car, especially with Michigan plates.

Normally he enjoyed arriving home, with the perfectly cut lawn, Catherine’s fastidiously pruned roses, and the white picket fence the boys repainted every spring—everything perfect for his perfect wife and family—but not now. His hands trembled slightly as he parked in the driveway, then got out and leaned against the car instead of going in. He and his wife both had cousins in Michigan, and although they didn’t talk often, maybe they’d stopped by.

Of course, that’s what it was, not Catherine with a strange man while he was gone, she loved him; he was so good to her and the boys, never drank or swore, maybe a little tough at times but never violent, not a monster like his father had been towards Maarten and his mother. Ophélie had left him because he was violent, a coward not to be trusted, not putting his family first.

Now Maarten put his family first, and Catherine knew that, of course she knew that, so this man, this stranger in his home while he was gone, must be—

“Dad?” Artie asked.

* * * * * * *

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Weekend Writing Warrior 5/8/16 #8Sunday

For May I’m pulling from me short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.

It’s eleven stories about veterans and their relationships with family and friends.

Today’s excerpt comes from the second of five related stories, “A Family Tradition.” This one is about Maarten, a man who served during WWII and has spent his life battling his father’s legacy, as conveyed by his single mother, Ophélie. It continues where last week’s excerpt left off.

* * * * * * *

Growing up without a father around, with a mother who made sure he knew what kind of man his father was, Maarten had had no choice but to excel at everything, and so enlisting had been the obvious step after high school: a chance to prove to his mother, his father, and himself that he was strong, that he cared about more than himself. What better cause than one’s country?

His time in the Algerian desert wasn’t what he’d expected. He’d wanted to be in the infantry, just like his father, but he’d ended up as a mechanic, fixing broken-down jeeps and supply trucks. It had kept him from the front, but to his surprise he didn’t mind; in fact, he liked it. It was a relief not to have people depending on him, life or death hinging on his trigger finger.

Ophélie hadn’t understood, of course—not after the lies Joos had told her—and so Maarten had lied too – no, he’d exaggerated. Other men’s exploits became his, and they stayed his when he returned home and married Catherine, they continued in the bedtime stories he told his sons, and they stretched into the future, in his hopes that his boys could make them real.

So far, he hadn’t been disappointed. His sons John and Ted had what it took to be soldiers some day, and Artie… well, Artie tried.

* * * * * * *

And now for the stuff you should do!

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/1/16 #8Sunday

coverThis month I’ve shifting gears, away from my short story “The Stand,” which will hopefully be out as soon as my semester is over in a couple weeks, to my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.

It’s eleven stories about veterans and their relationships with family and friends.

Today’s excerpt comes from the second of five related stories, “A Family Tradition.” This one is about Maarten, a man who served during WWII. It’s the opening lines.

* * * * * * *

Maarten glanced at his rearview mirror. Three blond heads greeted him, lolled back against the seat. The weekend scouting trip, full of canoeing and hiking and camaraderie, had worn the boys out. It was worth it though; John had placed first in archery, Ted first in soap carving, and Artie… well, Artie had tried. Maarten’s youngest son hadn’t meant to wander off on Saturday’s hike, or to drop his paddle in the lake. Twice.

While Artie’s older brothers excelled as Boy Scouts, he struggled to be even mediocre.

Maarten sighed. He didn’t quite know how to relate to his youngest boy, so different from himself.

* * * * * * *

Lots of calls-to-action today!

What a (mediocre) burger

whataburgerThe stars aligned this year; my university, my son’s school, my boyfriend’s university, and the school where I’m interning all had spring break this week, so we jumped in the car and are currently wandering around Texas: Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, then over to Galveston before winding our way back home.

I lived in Houston for awhile about a decade ago, which didn’t give me the best impression of Texas. It was very hot and humid, I didn’t have transportation at the time, and the program I was in required 18-20 hour days.

One day while I was in there towards the end, a couple people forgot a textbook or something and needed someone to run back and get it. They gave me their keys because I had a free period to run back, and someone else in the program offered to drive. I think he was from Houston, possibly Texas, because he suggested we stop for a burger on the way back.

We stopped at Whataburger. All I remember is that it was a burger – not the best burger I’d ever had, but not the worst. Just a burger.

coverI’ve run into people from Texas since then, and many of them swear by Whataburger. I still don’t understand what’s so special about it, but I realize its role in Texas culture (for some, at least), and so it factors into two stories I’ve written that are set in Texas: “Burger Run” and “A Wedding.”

Both are included in my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier. Those two stories focus on best friends at two points in their lives, the summer after high school graduation and then ten years later. Both, as I mentioned, involve Whataburger.

Readers, do you agree with Texans’ assessment of Whataburger as a great place to eat? What’s your favorite burger place?

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/29/15 #8Sunday

coverThis week’s snippet is from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which has a print edition coming out this week.

Today’s excerpt is from “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Carolyn is going through boxes belonging to her ex-husband when she finds a medal that triggers some memories of when she went out for the afternoon, leaving her husband to watch their baby. She arrived home and no one was there. After several hours of searching, the police called to let her know they found her baby, safe.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Her mom drove her to the station, where Shanna slept in a strange car seat. Carolyn picked up her daughter and embraced her so hard the baby woke and started screaming, their tears and cries mixing.

Carolyn had so focused on Shanna she hadn’t noticed Bryce, who now stood right next to her, and she pivoted, trying to shield the baby from him with her arms.

“I knew I couldn’t trust you,” she said, her frustration and relief and fears morphing into anger. “Three hours, Bryce, I left you for three hours, and you couldn’t handle that. What kind of father are you?”

His eyes, unstable at the best of times, flashed with an emotion she didn’t have time to read and didn’t want to read, and then hardened. He stared at her, stared at her daughter, and turned on his heels and walked out the door.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Read more about Carolyn and Bryce in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/22/15 #8Sunday

coverThis week’s snippet is from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which has a print edition coming out later this month.

Today’s excerpt is from “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Carolyn is going through boxes belonging to her ex-husband when she finds a medal that triggers some memories of when she went out for the afternoon, leaving her husband to watch their baby. She arrived home and no one was there.

* * * * * * * * * * *

“I left Shanna with Bryce and I got home and I can’t find them,” Carolyn said, her words coming in a rush, the syllables matching her pounding heart. “Have you seen them?”

Her neighbor Meredith exchanged a look with her husband, Jim; They were military too and probably trying not to reach the same conclusions as Carolyn.

Other neighbors popped out of their houses, and Jim organized them into pairs. They fanned out on foot through the neighboring streets, or jumped in vehicles to search farther spots.
Carolyn’s mom arrived, coaxed her daughter into the house, and made her drink some tea she’d probably laced with Valium too because the next few hours were a fog.

It was dark when the police called to say they’d found the baby, and Bryce too, but Carolyn barely heard that part. All that mattered was that they’d found her baby and that her baby was safe.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Read more about Carolyn and Bryce in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/15/15 #8Sunday

coverIn honor of Veterans’ Day last Wednesday, this week’s snippet is from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which has a print edition coming out later this month.

Today’s excerpt is from “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Carolyn is going through boxes belonging to her ex-husband when she finds a medal that triggers some memories of when she went out for the afternoon, leaving her husband to watch their baby.

* * * * * * * * * * *

She pulled into the driveway beside Bryce’s car and hurried inside, leaving the groceries in the car. Of course Shanna was fine. It was the middle of a Saturday afternoon, the sun shining down on their rundown piece of suburbia, so why was a voice screaming in Carolyn’s head that everything wasn’t okay?

“Mommy’s home,” she called as she entered through the kitchen door, throwing her purse on the counter next to Bryce’s phone. “Did you miss me?”

No response.

“Bryce, I’m home.”

Still nothing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Read more about Carolyn and Bryce in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

The stories veterans tell

I’ve come across a lot of veterans in my life: family members, friends, classmates, clients, students.

oscar

My great-grandfather (left) with his brother and sister, taken around 1918.

cyriel

My grandfather during WWII

Each person has a unique story but shares similarities across the ages, the wars, the bases, the experiences back home.

coverI try to capture these in the eleven stories in my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.

  • A girlfriend explains why she knew her boyfriend wouldn’t come back from the front.
  • A stranger reminds a veteran what matters in life.
  • A wife struggles to trust her husband with their baby after he returns from deployment.
  • Old friends search for a way to reclaim the dreams and plans of their childhood.
  • A woman haunted by her experiences finds an unlikely ally.
  • One man’s enlistment creates ripple effects for generations as four sons seek to make sense of what they and their fathers are fighting for.

The book also has a list of resources for helping veterans with physical or mental issues, as well as places that provide support for families.

What stories do your veterans and their families tell?

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/8/15 #8Sunday

coverIn honor of Veterans’ Day on Wednesday, this week’s snippet is from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which has a print edition is coming out later this month.

Today’s excerpt is from “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Carolyn is going through boxes belonging to her ex-husband when she finds a medal that triggers some memories.

* * * * * * * * * * *

She was going out to lunch with her mom, followed by a trip to the grocery store—gone three hours, tops. She had reservations leaving Shanna with Bryce, but he reassured her they’d be fine.

“It’s my own daughter, for God’s sake; you think I’d hurt my own daughter?”

Not intentionally, she wanted to retort, but she swallowed her words and misgivings, handed him the baby, and said, “I’ll be back in a few hours. Her bottle’s in the fridge. She likes it when you sing her to sleep, and she sleeps with her teddy bear, on her back.”

Bryce tensed, and Carolyn stopped offering the same laundry list of details she gave teenage babysitters. This was her husband, Shanna’s father, and he didn’t need this; they’d be fine.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Read more about Carolyn and Bryce in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/1/15 #8Sunday

coverIt’s a new month, so I’m shifting focus back to my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, because a print edition is coming out later this month!

Today’s excerpt is from “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Carolyn is going through boxes belonging to her ex-husband when she finds a medal.

* * * * * * * * * * *

A simple bronze medallion dangled on a silver chain, the raised image and engraved words worn away by constant contact. Bryce’s medal had been awarded for bravery or good conduct or something along those lines; she couldn’t remember anymore. She closed her eyes and heard his voice as he’d told her of the honors he’d be receiving for his combat experience. She couldn’t recall the exact words, just the tone: happy, proud, and relieved to be coming back home.

Even then, however, there’d been a touch of bitterness underneath it all, an impotent anger festering beneath the surface of his personality. He hadn’t been okay, of course; he’d changed over there.

Yet she’d been so happy to get him back, and for him to finally meet their daughter, she’d overlooked the sudden mood swings and the sullen drinking.

Until she couldn’t ignore it any longer.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Read more about Carolyn and Bryce in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

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