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October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 16: Dan nursed his wounded leg for an entire day, but nothing made it feel better. When his son walked in through the front door he hadn’t expected much, but John was smiling. It was so rare to see that smile on his face any more that it completely caught Dan by surprise.

“Hey,” he said. “What’re you up to?”

“Nothin’.” John brushed his hand through his hair until it stuck in every direction. It was dark, but when the light hit it, it looked liked copper. He shoved his hands in his pockets, the smile still evident on his face.

“You look happy.”

“I kinda am.”

“Oh no. What’s her name?”

John squinted at his dad. “How did you know?”

“It’s always a girl.”

“Hey, Dad?” John rested his hand on his dad’s shoulder. It was very warm and took away the ache in his shoulder almost instantly. “Never mind.” He removed his hand and Dan felt the pain return. He looked at his son and shook his head.

Year 17: The forest was supposed to be a surprise. John hadn’t even thought to bring his epi-pen. He was wearing long pants, shoes…nothing was supposed to happen. When the bee landed on his arm, it was so sudden, so unexpected that John didn’t even move to shoo it off. It stung him and within seconds John’s eyes fluttered closed.

It was just as he knew it would happen. He sensed his slowing heart, the accelerated rise and fall of his chest. It wouldn’t be long. His last thoughts were that he didn’t cry out. Not once did he call for help. He lay in peace and silence, with only his own mind keeping him company. There was no one to hold his hand, no one to say his name. He was alone.

There were feet pounding the distance and then stopping directly by his head. A muffled scream. Hands pawing at his clothes. Cries for help.

Through dry lips, he muttered one word: “Tessa.”

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 12:

“We don’t have to do this. ”

“Yes we do.” Dan’s hair was slicked back and he was wearing a crisp collared shirt. Carole’s death had done something to him. It brought him back to a son that no longer wanted him.

“Don’t you think I’m getting a little old?” John twisted in his chair. Every one of his limbs twitched uncomfortably. He had been inside all day. What he really needed was a run, not a slow leisurely walk with the pretense of getting free candy.

“You’re short. No one’s going to say anything.”

John wasn’t worried about what other people would say. He didn’t care about any of them anyway. But his mind felt too tight, like a rubberband stretched beyond its capacity.

“Go change.”

“I don’t want to wear that costume.”

“Then you should have picked one out when we were at the store. You get what you get now.”

John pulled the costume over his clothes. “Seriously? A jail bird.”

“Well,” his dad shrugged. “You know what they say.”

John felt the heat rising in his cheekbones. He had gotten in more fights that he could count. In the beginning, everyone said it was a product of what he was going through. They said he’d get over it. They never said when it would happen.

October Memoir and Backstory challenge

So I’ve been ridiculously busy these days–who isn’t these days, right? But I got a couple of requests on my manuscript and have been revising and editing like crazy. Anyway, this challenge has been the bane of my existence for two reasons: one–I absolutely can’t stand not finishing something once I’ve started it. And two–I really want to know what happens to John. It’s the end of the month now and I’ve barely gone half way. My goal is to finish before the end of the month. Uhh…tomorrow. And then there is NaNoWriMo. I so wish there were more hours in the day. Two more and I just might make a dent in my “to do” list. Alright, enough of this.

Year 11:

Grains of sand fell through John’s fingers like passing time. He dug his toes deep into the warm sand, knowing that soon it would be cold again. The birds above flew in great sweeping arcs, occasionally diving for some unseen object.

He sighed at another day lost. His hand involuntarily touched the tender area below his right eye. It was still swollen despite it’s color, a faded dirty yellow. He got a week off school for his little skirmish–that’s what the women in the office called what he had done to that boy. The boy he used to call a friend. But it was hardly a skirmish. It was a fight and John had to be dragged from the boy. He couldn’t even remember why he lost his temper.

He lost his temper a lot these days. It didn’t take much. The wrong glance in his direction,  whispers, name calling…it didn’t matter, all of it set John off. There was an anger dwelling deep in his soul now and the only thing that made him feel better was when he lost control.


October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge

Year 10: The beeping machines marked every passing second as another moment lost for Carole Warren. Her chest rose and fell in an automatic sort of way, controlled solely by another machine connected to her fragile body. The accident Carole had been in, had done her the worse possible injustice–allowed her to live in a dead shell.

As John walked into her  hospital room, he passed his sleeping father. There was a car magazine on the floor by his feet.

John found the brush beside her bed and began stroking the long brown strands of hair that had already started looking like a brillo pad. The routine hadn’t changed in eleven months: school, hospital, and sleep. When he finished brushing her hair, he started to clean her room, discarding food wrappers–anything to forget why this day was so important.

Eleven months and Carole hadn’t changed at all. The doctors had given his dad a pile of papers that sat on the counter untouched for months. Today, they were placed in a file at the hands of Carole’s doctors. Already, several tubes had been removed from her body. The rest would be gone within minutes.

Carole’s pale face was thinner than John wished to remember. Her body had withered until her skin hung loosely on her fragile bones. She was so still. So peaceful.

But she wasn’t peaceful. She was trapped. That was why John had pushed those papers at his dad last week. It had been too long. Everyday, John wished he could place his hands upon his mom and heal the wounds that ran too deep. It wasn’t fair.

The nurse came in first. With a clipboard in her hand, she began moving amongst the machines, writing things down. The doctor came in next.

Dan stirred in his seat, eyes wide. His hands clutched at those of his wife as if the doctors had come in for him and not her.

The doctor spoke, but nothing made sense. Tears streamed his father’s face. John didn’t know what to do. Should he be standing? Sitting? Holding his mom’s hand? Touching her face or her hair? No one was telling him what he should be doing and so he stood to the right of the bed, opposite his dad, stiff and numb. He nodded in a timely manner so that the doctors knew he was listening even if he wasn’t. One, two, nod, one, two, nod…

His breath hitched in his throat. He leaned against the bed for support. The doctor unplugged the first device and the steady beeps turned into one long whine until it turned off altogether. Her chest stopped rising and falling. John reached for her hand. Had it already begun to cool?

With a sigh, all of the forced air left her body.

Both the doctor and the nurse left the room. Dan stifled his sobs into his wife, but she made no move to comfort him.

John leaned forward, touching his mom’s mouth and then kissing her lightly on her cheek.

He left the room and no one moved to stop him.

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 5: At five, John knew how he would die. There was a field behind his house that was mostly dirt and bright yellow flowers that were taller than him. He was walking with a stray dog at his side. The dog was yellow with matted fur and a tongue that was too big for its mouth. John repeatedly threw a stick ten feet forward for the dog to chase. 

“Hey, Buddy,” he called after the animal. John skipped forward, not paying attention to the dirt that billowed around his ankles with each step. “Come back here.”

His foot landed hard on something that gave away at his touch. It only took a moment for the wasps to scatter around his body in an angry flurry. The stings came fast and consistent. He ran with arms flailing and made it to his back porch before he fell to his knees. His fingertips grazed the back door, but he was unconscious before anyone came. 

He awoke in an unfamiliar place with nurses and doctors. His mom was sitting, her eyes wide and vigilant. “He was lucky this time,” the gray haired doctor was saying to his mom. She nodded once. “He’ll need to take this if it happens again.” He handed her a syringe and John shuddered. Both of their attentions redirected to his sleepy form on the bed. 

“John?” His mom had gotten to her feet, her hand already stroking his hair. “How are you feeling, angel?”

John’s mouth opened to speak, but everything felt clumsy and too large for words. His stare grew frightened as he looked between them. 

“It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

The doctor cleared his throat. “Yes, as I was saying…he’s going to need to keep this with him at all times…”

Year 3: The air…

Year 3: The air was heavy with the scent of jasmine and fried foods. There were brightly colored blocks in front of John, but he wasn’t playing with them. It was too quiet in the house. The man that was his father returned earlier in the week. He was a lump of a person with empty eyes and stained clothes. John didn’t like it when he touched his cheek with his callused hands and had flinched away from him the first time. That was the last time the man looked at him. There were things on the table where before there was nothing. Dishes that cluttered the sink. Trash that littered the floor. The only spark that remained in the man was found in the brilliance of his green eyes, a feature John had acquired before his first birthday. John was good at staying out of his way, watching from a safe distance. When his father cut himself on a rusty tool, it was three-year-old John that had brought the bandages. He held the towel with a pudgy, but determined hand as his father smiled at him.

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge

What is October without a little writing challenge to spice it up a bit? This month I am participating in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan. So, every day during the month of October for 25 days–that’s 25 posts, writing about years 1-25 of life. It can be my life, my MC’s life (backstory is always good to see where a character is headed and the reasons for it), or maybe even one of my kids. My kids are still little and I wouldn’t get very far with them…

Here is my YEAR 1 from the perspective of John Warren (one of my MCs)

John Warren was born on April 25, 1973 to Carole and Dan Warren. Carole was a stay at home mom and Dan was a soldier in the Vietnam War. Dan wasn’t around that first year of John’s life, but John was spoiled as an only child. He walked early and was moving around well before his first birthday. His mom often gave him treats like ice cream, pie, or cookies, and he developed a fondness for sweets.