Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zee end- or is it?

Today is officially the end of the A to Z challenge. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and read some amazing things over the last month. I want to thank each and every one of you for all of your support and encouragement. You have made this month easy. But the question remains- what next?

First off, I’ve decided to continue with the super shorts, mainly because I really enjoyed writing them, only not quite so often. I will post a new short every Monday.

On Wednesdays I will continue to post like I always did, just me talking to you.

The biggest change will come on Fridays. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve decided I’m not doing my part. I visit all of your blogs and talk to you and get to know you, but I have not purchased or read any of your books. Not one. That officially changes May 1: Once a week I will purchase a copy of a book of someone I follow, or who follows me, and I will do a review here as well as on goodreads/shellfari, etc. If that author desires it, I will then pass that book on to my local library. I want to see each of you succeed, and will do my best to ensure that happens.

This new format will begin on Monday May 5th. This Friday, I will be participating in A to Z in review. But before all that, on Wednesday, tomorrow, I will be celebrating; because that is the day my very first book is being released. If you would like to join me, stop back in; I might even have cookies.

Thanks for all the love and support that you’ve shown me. You are amazing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yelling Silently

“I can’t do this anymore,” he said, looking out his window, like he wished he was out there, already done with this, done with me.

“Do what?” I whispered, drawing it out.   

He glanced back towards me. I lowered my eyes so he wouldn’t see the knowledge there. But he knew me well enough by then; he waited me out, waited for me to lift my eyes. Eventually I did.

“I can’t pretend I love you anymore.”

The words hung in the air as he waited for me to acknowledge them.

I nodded.

I didn’t know it would be so hard hearing it spoken out loud. I mean he’d been saying it for weeks, but not out loud.  

I nodded again and looked out my own window. His passenger door opened and then closed as he went out to where he’d rather be.  


Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xanax Moment

“You WHAT?!”
“Was that wrong?” I stammered, surprised by the sudden venom in his voice.

His glare told me it was.

“Well…you’re the one who told me to get rid of it.”

He grunted, throwing his hands up in the air. “I didn’t think you’d do that.”

My eyes lowered to the floor; but that was the wrong place to look. The water was getting deeper.

“That’s what we did with the last one,” I murmured, glancing towards the overflowing toilet.

“That was a goldfish, Maureen, not a chinchilla.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Who

“Who?” my daughter asks, as I’m half listening.

“Because,” I mumble and grab another shirt off the pile and start folding it.

 A little hand pulls at my sleeve. “I asked who, Mama.”

I put down the shirt and look at her. “Who what?”

“Who made God?” Her eyes look at me, waiting for an answer.

I shrug. “I don’t know. Go ask Him.”

She seems to reflect inward for a moment. “Oh! Okay,” she says.

“Okay what?” I ask; my curiosity piqued.

She shrugs. “He says time doesn’t mean anything to Him.”  With that my daughter left the laundry room with me staring after her.


*Of all my stories for this A to Z challenge, this is the only one that is completely true.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vacant/Void

There is a hollow inside of me, a sort of emptiness that defies explanation. I must have been happy at one time, I’ve seen pictures where I’m smiling and laughing, but even those could’ve been a lie. I still smile, laugh even.  Every once in a while I’ll catch someone watching me, someone who recognizes the contrivance of it all, and I’ll just shrug, really not caring that I was caught. Because that’s the truth of it; I don’t care. There is a vacancy where my heart used to be. I don’t know where it went; there was no one big thing that broke it, only a series of small fractures that eventually left me what I am today;  an emotionless void. So if you see me, in picture or in person, and I’m smiling or laughing, just pretend like you believe me. It’ll make it easier on both of us.  


*Before I get worried comments about my mental health, I just want to add that this is a work of fiction. I am a psychiatric nurse and I was just describing what I see in some people’s eyes both at work and out.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Utilitarian

Jan Smith is a useful sort of person. She reproduced exactly 2.8 children, after marrying her husband at twenty-eight years of age. She attended a college and received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, which enabled her to gain meaningful employment until she met and married said husband. At which time she continued to work, ensuring that her family remained in an elevated tax bracket. Her yard, her home, and her person remain perfectly manicured at all times, keeping up with the latest styles and seasons. She takes note of advertisements sent her way, and spends her dollars as such. She pays her taxes on time and with a smile. She keeps herself fit, so as not to be a drain on her children and the health system while she ages. She will wait until she is seventy years of age to cease working and will not even have the chance to cash her first social security check before she obediently dies two weeks later, making sure to have spent minimal amount of time in the hospital in the days before her death. Jan Smith is an ideal citizen.

For those of you who don’t know, my debut novel, The Newstead Project, is being released on May 1, 2013. If any of you would like to review it for your blog, please email me at Melanie@melanieschulz.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Temptation

“Miss. Chambers?” the deep voice asked.

Maggie’s eyes rose from the papers on her desk to a twenty-something with dark brown hair and darker eyes.

“Yes?” she responded, more forcefully than she meant to. “Are you Mr. Brooks?”

He smiled, sitting down on one of the desks in front of hers. “That’s me. I came as soon as you called. Is there a problem?”

“Miss Chambers?” he asked again when he got no answer.

Maggie let out a shaky breath and looked up from his full lips. “I’m sorry, usually I see Ms. Brooks when Tommy acts up.”

“Tommy’s mom was busy, so she asked me to come instead,” he answered, folding his arms across his chest, which, unfortunately for Maggie, only helped to define the muscles there.

“Just Tommy’s mom…she’s not your wife?” Maggie stammered; her eyes too bright.

“No, she my wife, too,” he answered, confused by the sudden disappointment on Miss Chamber’s face.


For those of you who don’t know, my debut novel, The Newstead Project, is being released on May 1, 2013. If any of you would like to review it for your blog, please email me at Melanie@melanieschulz.com

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Salt in an Old Wound

“Sarah?” a voice from behind me called.

Every part of me froze, except for my heart, which apparently had never forgotten him; that part sped up and pounded in a not so unpleasant way.  I turned and there he was, standing less than five feet in front of me.  He was older, but then again, so was I. The years must’ve been happy ones for him. The lines around his eyes were the type that only came from a lifetime of smiling. He wasn’t alone, like I was. Tucked very closely against his side was an equally happy looking woman. Of course she was happy. She had him.

“You’re married now?” I asked before thinking. I didn’t think he he’d ever want to settle down; that was part of the reason I ended it.

He nodded. “Ten years next week.”

I didn’t have a response for that.

“Well, it was good to see you again,” he said with a slight smile, before turning to walk away. Again.

For those of you who don’t know, my debut novel, The Newstead Project, is being released on May 1, 2013. If any of you would like to review it for your blog, please email me at Melanie@melanieschulz.com

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rachel

This is another snippet from my book, The Newstead Project, because you see, R stands for Rachel.

     It turned out I was wrong about not seeing any girls.

     She was behind the counter, the pretty waitress, trying to ignore all the overgrown guys gawking at her. Her dark brown hair with soft curls was pulled back into a loose ponytail that was stuck through a stained, well-worn baseball cap. Pizza sauce and cheese splattered the front of her apron as the pizza she was carrying almost slid to the floor. From the looks of her, that wasn’t her first near miss. She raced past us to a waiting table that thankfully hadn’t noticed that their food had almost tested the five second rule.

     I was too busy watching her to realize that Seth was watching me. I know he thought he was being helpful when he reached out and grabbed her arm just as she was walking by. I know that, but it didn’t change the way I wanted to rip his arm off when he did it. She looked like she felt the same way.

     “Can you get my friend a refill?” he asked, still holding onto her arm. Her face was beet red. I don’t think she was scared, I think she was angry. She reached over and grabbed my cup. She never looked at Seth; no, her scowl was only for me.

     My breath held until Seth let her go.   

For those of you who don’t know, my debut novel, The Newstead Project, is being released on May 1, 2013. If any of you would like to review it for your blog, please email me at Melanie@melanieschulz.com

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quite

There once lived a man a good while ago who never had quite enough. He worked and he toiled, acquiring those sorts of things that delight a man for a moment but fail to bring any real satisfaction. At long last he came upon a lady whose figure and form promised to hold if not his heart, at the very least his attention. He proceeded to call upon her, letting his intentions be known. She, being quite content herself, did not fail but to refuse him.

Finally a day arose when he would be refused no longer. He came upon the young lady in question and demanded to be heard, or at the very least to be listened to.

She, being also wise, held her tongue until he was finished with his rant concerning his lack.

At long last the lady spoke: “You, sir, hold no interest for me; you are quite short, and quite bald, and quite scrawny, and quite foolish and…”

She was interrupted by a cough on his part. “Have you finally had enough?” she asked.

“Quite,” he replied.




Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Promise

His nose grazed along my throat. “Right here?” he asked playfully.

     I nodded and let my head fall back, exposing more of my neck to him. He laughed quietly. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

     I sat up straighter and looked at him. His eyes were bright with the restraint.

     “To which part?” I asked and watched as the meaning of my question registered in his mind.

     “Hopefully to all of it,” he finally said, pulling back, suddenly guarded.

     I bit my lip as I nodded. “It was.”

     The soft smile started in his eyes and kept on until his whole face lit up. 

     The next graze I felt was cool metal on the fourth finger of my left hand.

      “Right here?” he asked and I nodded. Right there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Origami

Her fingers twisted the paper as I sat and watched.  It was the same thing every day; she’d come into the library and sit at the table furthest from the door, and she would make her creatures.

That day was different; she bypassed the usual birds and turtles and made other things instead; darker things.

One by one, the table became filled with dragons and slayers and such.
Her eyes rose to meet mine. Without looking down, she reached for sheet after sheet of colorful paper, folding and pressing them together. When she was done, she covered what she’d made with both of her hands.

Her chair scrapped across the floor as she stood and crossed the room, stopping when she came to my table. She placed the colorful phoenix on the seat next to mine and I knew it for what it was; an introduction and a warning. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Nimrod

“Is this seat taken?” I say to the fat ass overflowing into the isle. She looks up and smiles at me like she thinks she stands a chance.

“Oh, no…it’s all yours,” she gushes as I squeeze past her, doing my best not to make contact with her folds. Frickin’ gross.

“Going to work?” she asks, like we’re suddenly BFFs

I let out a breath, hoping she’ll get the point, but I can still feel her bug eyes on me. 

“What time is it?” I ask, with a surprising amount of patience.  

She scrambles to look at her watch. “A little after eight.”

“And what do people like me do at a little after eight on a Friday?”

She says nothing, just shakes her head stupidly.

“They go to work. They help move society forward. They contribute something. Now I know this may be hard for you to understand, but let me break it down for you: Me have job. Me have life.”

“I was just trying to be nice,” she whispers as she squeezes her eyes shut.

 Is she frickin’ crying? I don’t have time for this.  

“Nice is for losers and fat people. I don’t have to be nice. And I don’t have to waste my time listening to you, so shut your pie hole and let me have a few minutes of peace before I have spend the next eight hours kissing Mr. Stanbuck’s ass.”

The woman’s eyes pop open. “Stan Stanbuck?”

“Yeah. What about him?”

She smiles. “He’s my son. I’m just on my way to see him now.”




Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Marriage

“Did you remember to get the mail?” I hope that credit card statement isn’t in there. That’s the last thing I need to see right now.

“Nothing today, dear.” Wish you’d stop worrying so. We always make do alright.

“And I don’t suppose you remembered to pick up the milk, like I asked you to.” Even that’s more expensive than it should be. Why, I remember when you could buy a gallon of milk for under a dollar; now it’s four times that.

“It’s already in the fridge.” Look at those eyes; they haven’t changed a bit in all these years. So beautiful...

“And what are you smiling at?” Foolish old man, but he’s all mine.

“You.” That’s right. I’m yours

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Losers get the Last Laugh

“Finders keepers, losers weepers,” Mike said, making full use of his four inch height advantage by holding my new baseball mitt just out of my reach.
    “I didn’t lose it,” I grunted as I attempted to swat it down. It wasn’t working.
    “Well I say you did, so you did,” Mike retorted, standing on his toes when I started jumping.  
    “Enough Mike. Give it back.”
    “Or what?”
    I came real close to breaking a cardinal rule, I almost threatened to tell mom. Mike saw enough in my eyes to suspect as much. He glared defiantly down at me.

    “Fine, keep the stupid mitt; I don’t care,” I said and turned and stomped towards the house.

    Mom was in the kitchen, making our sandwiches for lunch.

    She called after me as I headed up the stairs, “You didn’t take that new mitt outside did you?”
    I swallowed hard. “No-why?”
    “We have to take it back to the store. Your dad told me we bought you a girl’s one by accident. Didn’t you notice the princess crown on the inside?”
    “That’s okay,” I called back, careful to keep the laugh in. “I’ll just use Mike’s old one.”    

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Killdeer

My eyes went to the cupboard door for only the briefest of seconds to make sure it was still closed. It was.

      The keeper’s eyes went there as well. “Are there more of you?” he asked calmly.

      “Of course not,” I breathed. “You’ve seen my papers.”

      He nodded, taking too much time to study my face. He nodded again and moved toward the cupboard.

      Too panicked to be wise, I gripped my stomach and crumpled to the ground.  

      He froze, looking down at me. “Are you a disease bearer?”

       I glanced past him to the small eyes peeking up at me from the open cupboard door. “Yes,” I whispered. “I carry disease.”

      The man nodded, not quite so unfeeling now. “Disease bearers are not permitted in the relocation centers or the work camps. They must go directly to be recycled.”

        “Yes,” I said, as I stood up to follow him to the door. “I know they do.”


Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Joel

 (Okay this isn’t a flash; it’s a scene from my book, The Newstead Project. You didn’t think I could let J pass by and not do Joel, did you?)

Neither of us said anything, at least not at first. When I was done eating, I took the box off my lap and put it next to me and leaned back on the railing to look at the stars. They were almost as bright there as they were at the trailer. I sighed contentedly, not realizing he was watching me until his quiet voice broke through the silence.


     I turned to look at the face that was staring intently at me. His cheeks were reddened, either from the cold, or from me looking at him. I should’ve taken the hint and looked away, but I couldn’t. It was the closest I’d been to that face since I’d met him. His eyes were fixed on me as mine dropped to the sudden movement in his neck as he swallowed. Slowly my eyes lifted to his lips that were parted just enough to see his breath freeze as it hit the air. Even still, he looked warm. Warm and soft and-   


     My eyes darted back up to his.

     “What were you thinking about just then?”   

     I flushed and looked away. “Nothing,” I said, shaking my head, trying to clear it.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Ice Queen

“Sara? Is that you?”
     I glanced up automatically before my brain registered who it was. I quickly looked back down, but it was too late. She'd seen me.      
     “I thought that was you,” she said pleasantly, closer now. It was impossible to pretend she wasn’t there.
     I looked up, meeting her eyes.  “Nadia.”
     Her smile was just what I expected it to be; as full as Angelina Jolie’s lips and just as fake. 
    “I was looking for you last night at Mark’s house, but I didn’t see you there,” she said, her mouth turned down into a frown.   
     My face enflamed. “I…I was out shopping with my sister last night.” I hated that I stuttered. 
     “That’s not why you weren’t there,” she said knowingly, with that sticky sweet smile back on her face. “You weren’t there because you weren’t invited. I think you were about the only one.”
     That smile stayed on her face as she turned and walked away, only that time it was real.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Horror

     “What you gonna do about it?” the man on the other side of the counter asked, waving his gun haphazardly in my direction.
     I smiled. I was hoping he’d ask that; it wasn’t very often my wife let me play.
     His eyes stayed fixed on me as I walked around the counter and stood in front of him. He was still confident though, overly so. And I guess I didn’t blame him. I hardly looked threatening, that was the point.
     “That’s far enough,” he said, looking down at me, smiling like he had all the cards and I had none.
     “Funny you should mention that,” I said, watching as his eyes showed the first sign of fear, of knowledge. That was always my favorite part, when they began to realize what they were in for.
     “I was just leaving,” he muttered, already taking a step backward toward the door.
     “No,” I said. “You went just far enough.”  
    I could see in his pupils what I’d become for him, what his worst fear was. Another clown. Who would’ve thought so many people would be afraid of clowns?
     Oh well, I thought. It's his nightmare, I'm just creating it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Growing Up

     Mike flicked the bell on his new bike as he raced down the hill. This is what freedom felt like; wind in his hair, bugs in his teeth. It had taken him eighteen months of shoveling dog crap to save up enough, but it was all worth it.

     Normally he wouldn’t have noticed the small boy sitting on the curb, but normally he wouldn’t have been flying down the sidewalk at close to warp speed. He wouldn’t even have noticed him that day except for the crash; the boy with the bike and Mike with the curb.

     The bike, the precious bike, flew out from under Mike, and, after making contact with the boy, landed in the road. Mike looked first at the bike, then at the crumpled form at his feet. He paused only for a second before reaching down and lifting up the boy to the sound of metal crunching behind him.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Fair

     “It’s not fair,” my daughter said with her hands on her hips.

     That’s right, dear. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Do you think it’s fair that I have to go to work every day and pretend I don’t see Mr. Jenkins looking down my shirt? Or that even though we’ve lived here for five years the neighbor’s dogs still bark incessantly every time I go out the front door? Or better yet- is it fair that I eat grape nuts and tofu and can’t lose a pound and your father cuts out his nightly Ben and Jerry’s and drops five in a week? Life isn’t fair, honey. Get used to it.

     I look down at her and hold back my smile. “What happened?” I ask.


Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Euphoric

     Janice Ross is a happy person. She goes to work every day with a cup of coffee in her hand and a smile on her face. She enjoys her job immensely; not in the way some people do, with their words only. No, Janice means it when she says she lives for her work.

     On this particular day, Janice is especially gleeful. You see, just the day before she discovered that her two-timing, good for nothing ex-husband was on the schedule for a routine operation, nothing out of the ordinary, certainly nothing that would require the long, intensive recovery time that Janice had in mind for him.

     Janice smiled to herself as she sat down at her computer desk, coffee in hand, and began typing out the doctor’s dictation from the day before, only she was careful to omit some words and put a few extra in, like delusional, in case he should insist he wasn’t scheduled for a radical bowel resection.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Duplicity

     “Do you love me?”

     I choked on the swallow of pop I’d just taken and looked down at her. She was eyeing me expectantly.

     “Well?” she asked, not impressed with my attempts to not spray Pepsi all over her.

     I coughed, trying to clear my lungs out. “Sorry…,” I muttered. “What were you saying?”

     “I asked if you loved me,” she repeated, obviously losing patience with me.

     I closed my eyes and pictured her face, the one before the accident, and sighed. “Of course I do.”

     When I opened my eyes again she was watching me warily, but there must’ve been enough desire still left in them to convince her.  

     She smiled and reached for my hand and I did my best not to shudder.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Courage

     “You going in?” Jase asked, looking tentatively at the door of the old house.  

     “Are you?” Sam retorted.    

     Jase shrugged, but didn’t move.

     “What do you think’s in there?” Sam whispered, but instantly regretted it; he didn’t want to plant any ideas.

     “Hell if I know,” Jase answered, before doing the unforgiveable. He stepped forward and reached for the handle.

     Sam watched, horrified, as the door swung open and Jase stepped through, closing it behind him. He didn’t even hold it open, like he knew Sam wasn’t coming. That’s what gave Sam peace about it later; that he must have known. 

     For his part, Sam waited and watched and listened for a full minute before turning to walk back down the way they’d come, down a path that on every other day of his life, before and since, began and ended with a vacant lot.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Beauty and the Beast

     Brian waited by the door, sweat dripping down his face.

     He knocked again, less patiently that time. The whirl of the air conditioner was so loud he figured no one had heard him. It was a thin excuse at best, but greater stories than this have begun on weaker grounds. He reached for the handle.

     “Hello…I’m here about your ad,” he called out, closing the door behind him. He didn’t hear it lock, because he’d at least been right about the air conditioner; it was loud.

     Brian pulled out the flyer he’d found stapled to the telephone pole in front of the house: WANTED: Handyman needed for fixing things; top rate available.Top rate sounded good to him, with four mouths to feed at home and no work all summer.

     A door slammed deeper in the house and Brian left the kitchen, rightly figuring it would lead him to the person who’d written the notice. Footsteps on the stairs led him up and a light on in the bedroom led him in, just like it had the man from the day before, and the day before that.    

     The air conditioner was loud enough that the man walking in front of the house looking at the new flyer on the telephone pole didn’t hear the screams.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Almost Amish (And Arlee Bird)

     “They told me I wasn’t plain.”

     Eliza sighed; she’d been waiting for this day to come; only she never thought it would happen so soon. Abbey was still so young.

     She got down on her knees so they were eye-level. “Don’t listen to them; sometimes people are just mean.”    

     Abbey nodded tentatively. Even if she didn’t understand, she’d heard truth in her mother’s words.

     “They said that you weren’t plain either, not anymore-what did they mean by that?”

     Eliza’s face went crimson. She always knew she’d regret not moving when she’d had the chance.

     “It’s about me, baby, not you,” Eliza whispered and Abbey nodded at that, too.

     After a few seconds of silence, Eliza pulled herself up and went back to the counter and the sandwiches she’d been making.

     Abbey stayed planted where she was, and looking down at the floor, asked one last question:
“What does it mean to be a bastard?”

*A special thank you to Arlee Bird to setting this up and continuing to do so year after year.