Wednesday, May 2, 2007

flashback to my cheesy beginnings

I think I mentioned somewhere that I write romance. I can't think of the last time I wrote one that wasn't erotic, but that's another thing on my to-do list. I have a half-finished soon-to-be Harlequin Blaze that I should probably get around to finishing one of these days. Anyway, a hundred years ago (in 2001), I joined a romance writers group to get advice and support from other writers. Mostly, there was a lot of gossip. LOL This was in the early days of the group and it has changed dramatically since then. When I was actively participating in the group, there were weekly writing prompts that challenged us to write about a scenario using the five senses in our writing. If you knew how difficult I found description then (and still do on occassion), you could understand how much I appreciated having the challenges and the feedback that followed.

Out of the blue I got the urge to look at some of the things I wrote back then. Man, was I corny. LOL I'm still writing romance, in spite of how cheesetastic my writing has been in the past, but I like to think it's not this cheesy anymore. I just looked over this short story and decided to post it. Who knows? Maybe I can figure out how to breathe new life into it.


July 28, 2001

Kathy pulled back the curtain from the side porch window and glanced at the house next door. With a few broken shutters here and there, an unkempt lawn, there was little to let on that someone was staying there. Except the new car in the front drive and the SOLD sign dominating the tiny front yard. No real signs of life. “Just as well,” she said. The house had been unoccupied for so long, she wondered how anyone could be forced to live in it, let alone be talked into purchasing the old relic. The old wooden floors had to be rotted through, the windows were too grungy to let in the sunlight, and she just couldn’t imagine—Kathy sighed. She couldn’t imagine anyone being able to bring back the old magic the house used to hold for her.

Soft meowing and purring at her feet brought her out of her musing. She smiled and picked up the tiny Persian, now beginning to paw at her toes. “There you are Bianca. Ready to go outside?” She received another purr and a soft pat on the hand in response. Kathy pushed the back door open and stepped out into the back yard, letting Bianca bounce onto the grass. The kitten began chasing a butterfly and Kathy found herself staring at the house again. It’s blue siding was now faded to a dingy gray color. The once- beautiful side gardens were reduced to weed beds where Kathy bet snakes and other nasty things had made nests. Her mother once told her that even true beauty fades with time, but Kathy had always believed that was an allusion to the cancer slowly eating away at her body. She’d never thought to connect that with the old memories of David, her childhood, and the house that had been a refuge from the harsh realities of home.

Reality. That’s what it really came down to. Had she ever been truly safe? She’d been caught with David numerous times, hiding under the bed, in the closet, even once, crawling into the oven to escape her father, but had it really been a haven? She’d always had to come back home, every night, to relive that nightmare over and over again. To dream of a day when David, her protector, would tell her that everything would be fine and that man could never put his hands on her again. Even her mother could never promise her that. Kathy shivered and rubbed the sudden gooseflesh on her arms. Now the nightmares were gone, but not the sweet memories of that house, and the only friend who’d cared enough to stand up to her father.

Kathy glanced around and spotted Bianca playing closer and closer to the old wooden fence. She was crouched in the grass, ready to pounce on a butterfly, looking every bit the predator. “Come here sweetie, time to go back inside.” The cat ignored her and turned over on her back, pawing at the grass that loomed above her. Kathy tiptoed closer and stretched out a hand, hoping to catch her off guard. Before she could blink, Bianca had turned over and darted through a broken slat in the fence, into her new neighbor’s back yard.

“Wonderful.” The gate was on the other side of the house. Grasping the top of the fence firmly, Kathy braced one leg on a wooden slat and swung the other over the top. Straddling the fence, she looked into the yard and could see nothing but tall grass and weeds stretching from the fence to the house. “Bianca!” she hissed. A movement in the grass caught her eye and at last, she spotted Bianca emerging from a bed of weeds and hopping up the steps to the back porch. “Get back here,” she said, louder than she had wanted. The last thing she needed was some neighbor wondering about the crackpot next door. She swung her leg over and instead of landing on soft grass, Kathy found herself dangling from the fence, casually swinging from a belt loop. I hope Bianca is okay, she thought, ‘cause when I get a hold of that cat, I’m gonna kill her.

She wanted to laugh at this. Heaven knew she’d been caught in dozens of oddball situations before. But there was something different about this, something oddly familiar. In spite of herself, Kathy smiled. She could still hear David’s laughter the first time she’d tried to cross this fence and managed to get stuck the same way. Some things don’t change. Woomph! And clumsiness is one of them. Another perfect landing butt-first in the grass.

Kathy stood and brushed the grass off her shorts before heading for the back steps. Even as a child she’d been overly cautious about coming up these, but…one wrong step and she’d greet her new neighbor in a leg cast. “Bianca,” she whispered. There was an answering meow and Kathy took that as her cue to hop quickly up the wooden steps before they could collapse under her weight. The door was slightly open and she called out again for her cat before pushing it on its hinges. Kathy took a step forward and grimaced at the loud squeak from the floorboard. So much for getting in and out unnoticed. “Bianca!” she hissed again. Even before she saw him, she smelled it. That cologne. He’d worn it the day he left and she knew that scent would stay ingrained in her memory as long as she lived.

“It is you Kat.” He appeared in the doorway, the kitten cradled in his arms. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

All at once, she forgot how to breathe, to speak, to do anything but stare in those warm green eyes and long to be held again. “David,” she whispered, her eyes starting to tear up.

He dropped the kitten and held his arms out to her. Kathy melted into his embrace as if the 15 years was as easy to bridge as the few steps across the floor. Maybe for their hearts, it was. “I’ve missed you,” David mumbled into her hair. The first tears were staining his shirt and their arms had begun to hurt from straining to hold each other tighter, but neither wanted to let go. “It’s okay, honey,” he whispered, rocking her slowly. “I’m here for you.”

Kathy closed her eyes and finally let out that tense breath she’d been holding. All her life she’d dreamed of this moment. Now she could finally let it all go.

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