Scribbles

The Good Sister

The Good Sister


The first time Seth Johnson invited himself over to my house, I could feel the butterflies racing between my chest and stomach, but I told him I would be out of town.  

He’d been wearing that look. A partial smile. Soft eyes moving from my gaze to my lips. Head slightly tilted.  

The second time he asked, I told him I would leave the door unlocked.  

Only my sister would be home.  

When he texted me that he was here, I went downstairs to where he had already slipped in through the glass sliding door, and I led him up to my room. Along the way, we passed the living room where my sister was sitting on the couch. She gave us a passing glace, her gaze lingering a moment on Seth.  

“Hey Cassie, this is Seth. He’s my project partner.”  

He gave her an awkward wave.  

“Hey,” was all she said in reply, then she turned back to the TV.  

We went to my room, and Seth shut the door behind us. I sat on my bed and opened the book. Seth sat close to me, way closer than necessary. When I began reading the prompt, his fingertips brushed over my leg and my hand as he pointed at the words to follow along, even though his gaze predominantly remained on me. The touch sent chills up my arms.  

There was a slight knock, and Seth moved away, half panicked.  

“Hey is my charger in here?” Cassie stepped in and moved around the room, looking behind bags and under papers.  

“Yeah. Sorry, I borrowed it.” I unplugged it from behind my dresser and tossed it to her.  

When she left, the door didn’t quite close.  

Seth stared at me, that soft look in his brown eyes gone, but I stayed looking at the pages.  

“Where was I?” I mumbled before reading again.  

Seth moved closer, but not as close as before.  

The second time Cassie came in, it was for her migraine glasses.  

“Getting a headache?” I asked.  

“Yeah, I’ve been staring at the TV too long.  

This time, she left the door halfway opened.  

A frown was firmly planted on Seth’s face. His features were so sharp, each one like they’d been carved in stone.   

The doorbell rang, and Cassie announced that her boyfriend Tyler was here.  

Seth seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. He glanced at me with a sideways smile as he got up to close the door. He’d no sooner shut it when Ty gently knocked and opened it to invite us to watch a movie with them.  

Seth almost spoke up, but not before I slammed the book shut and said, “Sure!”  

Seth looked at me.  

“I thought we were going to study?”  

“We can study during our free period tomorrow.”  

In the living room, I sat in the armchair on the left side, leaving Seth to sit on the couch next to Cassie and Ty. He seemed to pout at first when Ty tried to make conversation, but he eventually warmed up and even smiled a bit.  

When the movie ended, I walked him back downstairs to the sliding door he’d come in. We made small talk, and he gave the suggestion that next time he come over when no one else was home.  

I smiled, keeping my lips closed.  

“I’m not allowed to have boys over when I’m alone.”  

He shrugged, still smiling, and said, “That’s too bad.”  

Later that night, as I washed my face, Cassie came in to return the charger that she agreed to continue loaning me.  

“That Seth boy seems nice.”  

“Mmm.” I shrugged.  

“He likes you.” She leaned against the wall of the bathroom and crossed her arms. Her eyes were slightly narrowed. “You know how dangerous that is.”  

“Cassie, nothing is going to happen.” I laughed, and seeing a spot on my teeth, I wet my toothbrush and began to scrub it.  

“Not if I’m here,” she mumbled, leaving. “I just know what happened last time. You lose control sometimes”  

“I won’t kill him, I promise. But, did you see how cute he was?” I grinned.   

Cassie laughed, revealing her own teeth.  

“He’s not as cute as Ty.”  

I’ll never understand how she manages to have a human boyfriend. Then again, she was always the better sister. 


Photo by Marlon Alves 

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Scribbles

Breakfast

Breakfast

(Portion of a novel I’ve yet to write.)

I thought he was my fiancé, but as I curl my body to press against him, I realize he’s not wearing a shirt. 

Where’s his shirt? It’s freezing. 

The frightening thought creeps into my brain that this is not the man I thought it was. Something is wrong, he seems much larger, there’s no shirt, very little chest hair, and the muscles over his stomach are very defined and tight, as opposed to partially defined with a loose layer of skin over them. 

My body goes rigid, but just for a moment, then he wraps his arm around my back and inhales deeply once against head. Then, all is quiet. He returns to a steady breathing, a steady rise and fall of the chest, except this time I’m pressed against him.  

His hold with that single arm is strong, and I know that there would be no way for me to get away if he decides not to let me. Still, I don’t panic. There’s something familiar about his smell. It isn’t like me to get in bed with a random stranger. 

Is this a bed? 

No, we’re on a couch. We’d fallen asleep watching a movie or something. I’m in some type of dress. My bare legs move against each other slightly, and the heat rises to my face. It fades just as quickly. I close my eyes.

I was dreaming. It was late at night, like when you wake up while your brain and memories are still sleeping, and you don’t even know who you are. 

My fiancé died three years ago. 

I remember that now that I’m awake.

I’m alone on the couch now. Wrapped in a blanket. It’s folded over me several times and tucked underneath me so tightly that I feel like a burrito. 

Mickey is in the kitchen, and he’s wearing a shirt now. I recognize his dark red hair.  

We’re in some type of hotel, and we’d slept on the couch, just as I’d suspected. I glance towards the windows, the massive windows that take up nearly an entire wall and drown the room in light. We’re in France. 

“Scrambled?” he asks, already scrambling my eggs. I get up and am actually wearing a men’s shirt. Not a dress. It’s still long enough to cover half my thighs. 

I go to the kitchen, and he already has the eggs, sausage, and toast set on the plates. He has fried eggs.

“You know, when I was a little girl, I was so amazed how an egg could be cooked but still have the warm, liquid yolk inside.”

“You’re weird,” Mickey mumbles and grabs both plates. His eyes are honey-colored in this light. 

He sets them on the coffee table next to our drinks. Mine is a water and his is coffee. I hadn’t even noticed them. 

Everyone talks like Mickey, Jason, and I are siblings, even though everyone knows we’re not. Some people act like Mickey and I are dating – or worse, that we’re married. That’s not true either.

We’re just the adopted heirs of our adopted uncles whose business was shady, if not devilish, but I had yet to figure out how they had so much money. I knew it couldn’t be good if everyone called them the Devil’s Dealers, and traffickers and government agents alike would turn pale at the sound of their names. 

Mickey and I eat in silence. I have my book of Proverbs open on the table, and my food in my lap. He has his food on one knee and a Russian version of a Shakespeare work on the other. 

He’d told me that’s how he learned other languages. 

“I have Shakespeare memorized in English, so it isn’t hard to draw connections between the words and their meanings.” 

I’d wrinkled my nose and said, “You have Shakespeare memorized?” not because I thought it was stupid, but because I didn’t believe it. 

“Yeah, it’s a play, so it’s not actually that hard to memorize. Most everything rhymes.” 

“Oh. Yeah I guess you’re right.” 

“Mind if I record that? You saying I’m right?” 

Mickey was dangerous. He loved nothing but himself, but his eyes, and his half-smile, and his devilish charm made people desperate to please him. To hold themselves in his attention and do anything to keep him from losing interest. 

If Uncle Ron and Uncle Ralph were the Devil’s Dealers, most assumed Mickey was the devil himself. 

Jason even said once that Mickey resembled Alexandre Cabanel’s Fallen Angel. We just came from Montpellier yesterday, and we had looked at the painting.  

All Mickey had to say was, “My eyes aren’t blue.” 

Now we are going to the Louvre. 

“Hey, I thought we were going to grab breakfast at a café on the way.” 

“Me too. Till you slept in.” He takes a sip of his coffee and peers over at me from behind the cup.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?”

He shrugs. “Jason will be late too. He left at like five this morning because he wanted to go buy ingredients or taste-test stuff.”

Jason was the culinary genius of the three. Mickey was just a genius in his own right, and I was a jack-of-all trades, master of none, type person whose only real talent was being able to survive just about anything.

“Death just doesn’t like you. I don’t know,” had been Mickey’s comment after my appendix burst, and sepsis set in, and I had only been in the hospital for four days. “Don’t ask me to make sense of it.”

I happen to glance at my phone and see where Jason has called twice.

“Hey,” I say standing. “I think Jason’s ready.”

“Alright, I’ll wait on you to get dressed.” He takes another sip of coffee.

He said he’s at some shop just two blocks away if you want to go on. He sent the address, so I can find it.”

“Yeah,” he scoffs. “Not only would you still get lost, but you’d probably get hit by another car too. Just hurry and get ready.”


Photo by Ben Kolde 

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fiction, Scribbles

Just Another Nurse

Just Another Nurse


I like being with other people, even if I’m not actually with someone. I like to watch people. In a way, it makes me feel like I’m part of their lives. It’s probably a stupid feeling, but it makes me feel important. I am desperate to feel that way sometimes. 

Yesterday Jules told me to stop dating that married doctor, but I hadn’t known he was married. It would make sense why he bothered paying for all those hotel rooms, and never took me home with him, and never stayed the night.  

He didn’t believe me when I told him that I liked sleeping in my car, curled up on my side with a blanket and the seat all the way back like someone was holding me cradled against their chest. He said he wanted me to have a place to go because he felt bad for me sleeping in my car. Once booking my hotel, he always offered to stay with me. Just for a little while. All the signs were obvious, but the aching in my leaden bones was able to drown out all the whispers in my head.  

Brenda said I should keep dating him and tell him to pay off my student loans. 

I tried to call my mom. Twice. Her and my dad are traveling up north in their motorhome after losing their house in the protests. She says they don’t have service very often. It makes sense, and I know she’ll call me back sometime this week.  

I’ve never much liked working twelve-hour shifts. I like it even less now that I have to spend my time bathing people, mopping up accidents, and arguing with addicts about their pain med schedule. I’m just thankful they hired Cathy as my CNA. Without her, I could never survive having twelve patients. That’s double our limit, but the union disbanded. There’s no one checking to make sure they give us masks daily, or to make sure we’re not short-staffed.  

Jules is too scared to explain she has shingles because of what happened to Sarah. Sarah was pregnant and refused to work with patients who had the virus, so they let her go. It was in the name of protecting her health, and they even wrote up a report saying the hospital didn’t need her despite the incoming hordes of patients. 

I close my eyes, and the music washes over me. I don’t know what song this is, and I don’t care. Megan, Jules, and Brenda brought me here. They want to buy me drinks, but I don’t drink. They want me to dance, but I don’t dance. I just want to sit amidst the movement, and watch people, and live out a tiny piece of their lives as the lights flash, and pictures are taken, and videos are made.  

My friends are okay with that because I’m their safe ride home.  

I scroll through my phone, so the man three seats down who keeps glancing at me will think I’m busy and won’t try to talk to me.  

A text comes through from my sister. I had tried to call her five minutes earlier when I was sure the man would slide into the stool next to mine. Instead of returning my call, she texted, Why did you call? I stare at the words lit up on my screen until the notification disappears.  

Yesterday morning I asked the doctor if he was married, and he acted a bit strange. Said he was in the middle of a divorce.  

I went to the bathroom and vomited, then I blocked his number.  

Lunch today had a little buffet because Stanley brought sandwiches, Brenda brought cheese and crackers, Jules brought potato salad, and I brought baked beans. All store bought. We sat spaced out across the nurse’s station. It’s outlawed, especially thanks to the virus, but management wasn’t around.  

We piled the food on paper plates and ate in silence for the first ten minutes before Jeremy told a story of how the old man thought he could bandage one of the patients himself. He used a handful of cotton balls with not even enough wrap to go around the patient’s stomach. Jeremy said it looked like a murder scene with blood squirting out every time the patient moved. We all laughed and shared stories of having the old man‘s patients and how he was so nice but really needed to retire because his practices were as outdated as the days of Regan’s presidency. Megan showed up late with cupcakes for dessert.  

The musician sounds like he has a trace of an accent. I examine his shadowed appearance and try to decide where he’s from and how old he must be.   

Megan is attempting to dance with a dark-haired man. I overhear her giggling over how she hates orthopedics, or orthos as we call them, because they don’t know about anything other than cutting open a knee and tying some ligaments back together. She’s probably had too much to drink because she only talks about work, and a lot of times, it’s enough to make even the most desperate guys squeamish.   

After I blocked the doctor, he showed up that night, tapping on my passenger window. I should’ve parked somewhere else, and I knew that before I pulled in to the parking spot. He said that even if I hated him, he still felt too bad to let me sleep in my car because I am very special to him. In his hand was a bag with sub sandwiches. Dinner. He rode with me to the hotel, and I knew where it was going before he invited himself inside to use the bathroom. Curled up against the cold leather of my suburban doesn’t compare to someone who can hold you close and whisper lies that you are desperate to hear.   

Part of me felt sick, but I brushed it off as having donated plasma that morning. That $50 goes a long way for groceries. 

I will probably stay at Jules’s house tonight. It is the quietest since her divorce, and she has that spare room from where her kids are grown and gone. They all take turns dragging me over to their houses, but I really don’t think the parking garage is that dangerous. I park next to the wall and out of the light where no one can see me huddled under my blanket.  

My old landlady’s name was Jessie. I had just finished working four days in a row, and was a bit delirious when she tried to talk to me about raised rent prices. Sometimes, there’s a buzzing in my brain that dulls everything I hear and mixes up everything I try to say. It’s the same buzz I hear when patients or their families scream at me, and I can’t explain that I have eleven other patients, the doctors won’t answer the phone, and my CNA is hiding in the bathroom with a migraine. So, I just smile, and nod, and process their words as best I can. I do the same with Jessie and never burden her with the knowledge that the new prices mean choosing between my apartment and making my student loan payments.  

Most of my things went in storage. I only need two more months before I can request lower monthly payments. If they don’t raise taxes, I can afford to move back. In the meantime, the hospital has showers, a relatively safe parking garage, several friends with spare couches, and an adulterous doctor.  

The head ortho at our hospital is named Wilkins. Today I shadowed him to take orders. He was training a new doctor who actually had the guts to interrupt him mid-sentence, asking if he should help me first. There was probably a lot that I needed to do. The nurses seemed short-staffed. I probably needed to check on a patient or something. Anything other than follow them around. 

Wilkins laughed. He explained to the new doctor that this was my job. You see, nurses are like dornicks, little rocks used to prop doors open that you never notice or appreciate until there isn’t one around. That’s why he always likes to keep nurses around. 

The new doctor stared at him, stunned. Wilkins glanced at me, as if waiting for me to agree, then explained how when one nurse isn’t around, another can jump in and take over. Like little worker ants that just keep going, and going, and always find a way. So, I didn’t have anywhere that I absolutely had to be. 

I said nothing and walked away.  

The guitar solo washes over the crowd, and everyone sways in the same direction. Brenda grabs my arm and pulls me up, just as the man several seats down stands. He stares after us. We go to the mostly empty floor, and I empty my mind to join her in this awkward, embarrassing dance that makes us both laugh until tears blur my vision. Jules and Megan join us. I have to work tomorrow, but tonight, I don’t have to be a dornick, or a worker ant, or a mistress. I’m not even desperate to feel important.


Photo by Mick Haupt 
Story inspired by my sister, an RN, and her coworkers and friends.

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Scribbles

Eyes Closed

Eyes Closed


The sky is so blue. She closes her eyes and imagines that she’s falling. Falling. Falling, from very far away. Clouds surround her, and she starts to sing. The ground looks like her great aunt’s quilt. The air is so pleasant up here. 

A noise disturbs the silence. She opens her eyes to see a helicopter approaching from one side. It looks like a slowly approaching dot, but she knows what that almost see-through line on top of the dot represents. Spinning blades that will tear her apart. Her heart starts pounding, but she calms it. 

Surely they will see me. 

She’s falling so fast, but the helicopter is following. Struggling to keep up, yet still following. Pointed right at her in a slanted nose dive. Soon she will outfall it, and it will pass her up and be unable to catch her. 

Sure enough, the helicopter passes slightly overhead. She feels like laughing. 

But wait! Someone’s jumped out!  

It’s one of those smaller carrier helicopters that don’t have doors on the sides. She would have noticed if the door had opened. 

Now, the person is free-falling beside her, all adorned in white except for the black visor on the helmet. They have a parachute backpack on. They don’t have wings like her. 

She smiles, knowing she could outstretch her wings at any moment and let the person fall right past her. Strange how they manage to stay beside her, but slowly, slowly, they creep past her, falling just slightly faster because she hardly weighs anything. The helicopter circles around and is struggling to catch them again. The ground no longer looks so much like a quilt. 

The person outstretches their hand. 

“We’re here to help!” comes the muffled sound of a woman’s voice. 

“I’m fine!” she calls out and smiles, but the mystery woman continues reaching, moving as close as she can. 

It’s rare for someone to approach her in the sky. It’s hard to notice a falling speck. 

This person is running out of time to release her parachute. 

“Take my hand!” says the muffled voice. 

The mystery woman grabs her arm. She twists it back, but the woman’s got her. Her heart jumps to her throat. What is happening! Who is this! 

A sky fight. She hasn’t had one of these in a while. And never against a wingless person. 

Mystery woman grabs both her arms, and they spin. Spinning. Faster and faster. Her hair gets in the way, and all she can see is orangey-red that whips against her cheeks and eyes, forcing them closed. 

The woman has to deploy her parachute soon, and the jolt will allow her to escape. Yes! No need to panic. 

The wind is spinning in her ears too fast. She can’t hear the helicopter.  

“Margot…” She hears. The woman knows her name. Why isn’t the parachute deploying? What is that?  “Margot!” The woman’s got some kind of weapon. This evens the fight, but they’re too close to the ground. If she lets go to get away, the woman will probably fall to the ground and– 

“Margot! Supper is ready, c’mon!” 

She opens her eyes to the blue sky. It takes a minute for her eyes to adjust, then she rolls over and tumbles to her feet. She’ll have to finish the sky fight later. 


Photo by Johnny McClung 

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