Rain

The prompt was rain, and it made me miss Washington yet again. I miss it so much. While it’s nice to be able to have access to a sandy beach with actually warm ocean water, I’d much rather reserve California as a place to visit. Not a place to live. Not for someone like me, with a soul like mine, that craves the rain. That craves the shadows under dark clouds.

Someone who hides from the sun.

It overwhelms me. I despise it here. And I just don’t understand how I could ever be happy here.

I’m dying a little with every sunny day.

 

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My mother told me it would be cloudy today. It is. The sky is dark, and it rumbles deeply, shaking my bones.

It’s a comfort.

The clouds opened up five minutes ago, and already the parched earth is coming back to life.

So am I.

I’ve always had an affinity for water, and when it falls from the sky, it cleanses my soul as much as it does the air and the earth.

This time, the rumbling makes the whiskey in my glass shiver like Jurassic Park.

The storm grows closer. I grow more comfortable.

Evolving with the ever-changing storm.

©2018 Heather Stephens

I am a Writer.

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I think it always sounds so pretentious when people call themselves a writer. I don’t know why, but whenever I do it, I feel like a fraud. Yes, I write 100-word stories semi-regularly. Yes, for several years I made my living content writing on a freelance basis. But I know in my heart that what I really mean by “I am a writer” is I am a novelist.

I have not yet completed a novel, so I don’t think I really am one.

But I want to be one, and They™ always say “Fake it ’til you make it.”

So that’s what I do. I write because life is too hard for me, and I want to create worlds in which good wins. I write because I have regrets and I want to create characters that find redemption, even when I, myself, don’t know if I’ll ever find my own. I write to be heard. Doesn’t everybody just want to be heard?

I’m taking part of a blog challenge run by Amanda McCormick. I have trouble keeping up with this blog (in so small part because I want to update it and expand it but I can’t afford someone to design a good website for me. Even if I purchase a premium theme I’d need help actually using it and I can’t afford to pay someone to do it) and I think it would help me connect more with readers and, honestly, myself if I updated my blog more often.

Don’t worry. Everything I post here will be relevant to writing or reading or me. It won’t be a spam dump just to attract views. I promise. PINKY promise.

Stay tuned!

 

Bubble

This one is autobiographical.

I despise where I live. I want to move back to Washington, where communities have grown more organically, not as much of a bubble as where I live now.

I don’t belong here.

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Traffic at one o’clock?

Undoubtedly. The schools get out at 12:58 PM on Wednesdays. Everyone is picking up their children.

There are three elementary schools within a mile of my house.

I gave directions to the sweet lady at the grocery store. Which way to the Marriott? Oh, just take Street 1 to Street 4 and turn right. The road will bend, and you’ll see it on the right.

Yes, ma’am. Very efficient.

Yes, ma’am. My husband’s commute is only fifteen minutes. Everybody in this town also works here. No reason to look elsewhere.

Master-planned lives in a master-planned community.

©2018 Heather Stephens

Respect

The prompt was respect. As a parent, I feel it is important to teach your kids, especially your sons, not only what respect is, but what it looks like. Your kids (whether you have them now or will later, or you just know some kids that aren’t yours) watch more closely than you think and they absorb everything. Model good interpersonal relationships for them so they can make healthy social decisions later.

 

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She wasn’t having it tonight. Doing the dishes should not be requested more than once.

It isn’t like she didn’t give him time to relax first. She gave him a full hour after he’d gotten home from work. She’d asked him first on her way out the door to go to yoga. Again when she got home.  Again after her post-workout shower. Again when she bathed the kids.

Their son watched them both as she asked for a fifth and final time. Her husband smiled, apologized, and rose to finish the dishes while she tucked the children into their beds.

 

© 2018 Heather Stephens

Windows Update lost my files.

 

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Over the years I’ve heard all sides of the Mac vs. PC debate. I’ve never been a fan of Macs, being raised on PC at both home and school. I’m 30 years old, and I’ve been loyal to PC the entire time. Microsoft has never screwed me over, to be honest, and in fact, I’m even a fan of Windows 10.

Until.

A recent Windows update over the past week gave me a fright when I couldn’t find my folder of documents for my collection of flash fiction that I’ve been working on for a year. I know, I know. I can hear you screaming at me to back up my work. I will from now on.

The update made it harder for me to find documents saved solely on my PC, only giving me quick access to my OneDrive documents.

“But Heather,” you ask, “If you can save to OneDrive, why wasn’t that folder saved there too?”

Good question.

And the only answer I have to that is I suffer from extreme laziness. A byproduct of disability. When you spend so long not even being able to do anything, you grow accustomed to it. So while I am physically incapable of doing things like workout for an hour or go to work consistently, I also have developed a preference for the quick-and-easy solutions to all of my problems. It’s a learned mindset, and one I do not want to teach my children.

But the good news is I found the folder and I’m back at work on my Little Book of Flash, as well as my horror short stories. While I intend to finish the two novels that I’ve started, I think at this point of time in my life, big projects that are easily broken up into smaller pieces are the way to go. Each 100-word story I finish will boost my motivation to write more, which will lead to the bigger victory of finishing the book. Every horror short story I post and narrate will do the same.

I feel good about this. My body may not want to cooperate most of the time, and my mind is even less generous, but at least I have goals.

Maybe someday I’ll reach them.

New Adventures in Writing

I want to broaden my horizons.

I am working on my fantasy novel as well as a literary fiction novel. They’re both going fairly well (for first drafts, anyway). I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, ever since I was a little girl.

But these years I’ve spent writing 100-word stories has taught me that I excel at short stories. I get overwhelmed easily in most aspects of my life, and writing is no different. When being concise is necessary, I thrive. It is a completely different experience than trying to organize a novel with 15 characters.

‘I could choose to accept that maybe I’m just not gifted at novel writing, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s merely a symptom of my BPD–I want to please everyone, so I’m trying to write books that will please everyone. Intellectually, I know that’s impossible, but here I am.

So here I am, thinking about my short-story writing abilities that I feel far outmatch my novel-writing abilities. In my free-time, I read a lot of horror, both published works and user-uploaded stories on the internet. I think I’m going to try my hand writing those. Short stories, serials, etc. I think I could do well.

I’ll still be posting 100-word stories frequently. Even more frequently than the past six months have shown. I just also might be posting links to my horror stories as well.

Join me down the dark path.

 

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Past

The prompt was Past.

This one is autobiographical.

 

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It weighed upon her like so many rocks, stifling her breath, taking away her ability to think straight.

It wasn’t painful. It was more like breathing in toxic air every time she inhaled.

She inhaled more anxieties. She inhaled more poisonous memories.

Without an acute sense of identity, she was lost. Fallen to the ravages of time not well-spent.

What did she have to show for it? Not much.

A home of strife, burnt to the ground. It was never perfect, but it had been hers.

Her life was like that. She’d never build a better one on broken foundations.

© 2017 Heather Stephens

Lost

The prompt was Lost. I could have gone a million different ways with this, but I chose this way. I hope it’s coherent and my point comes across clearly. If you’ve read my other posts, my 100-word stories are always a little bit abstract, but I wasn’t sure if this was too abstract. My husband says it’s coherent, and that’s good enough for me. Here you go!

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Basically, she couldn’t find it.

She’d looked for it everywhere. Everywhere. She’d looked for it in Greece. She’d looked for it in France. She’d looked for it at every job she’d held in the past two years, and she’d had too many of those.

Giving up was not an option, so she kept looking. Desperately, fiercely, painstakingly searching for it everywhere she went. In flower shops and cafes, in bookstores and shopping malls.

It wasn’t until much later that she realized she’d been picking up pieces of it all along.

It was up to herself to put it back together.

© 2017 Heather Stephens

Diary

The prompt was Diary.

This is my favorite thing I’ve written. It is very dear to me.

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She didn’t weep as she wrote her miseries onto the paper. Her tragedies were her own, internal, and she had no desire to give them up. Speaking them out loud would set them free, and that would end her.

She held on to those miseries as if they were lifelines. Her regrets were strength. If she could build up a kingdom for a life on top of the ashes of her dreams, she would truly have won.

She didn’t feel like she was winning.

And as she scribbled down her melancholy, she swam in the warm comfort of her struggles.

 

© 2017 Heather Stephens

 

Water

The prompt was “Water”.

Water is always blissful for me. I love being near it. Whether I’m at the beach, looking out on the Pacific Ocean with a thousand other people or I’m walking along a river or I’m gazing at a lake, I find peace always.

Water calms me. If I’m feeling capricious or my mental illnesses are too much to bear, I know I can at least find some semblance of focus.

I love being near water.

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The lake always gave her tranquility.

And it was a gift. Tranquility was something she did not usually possess. Yet as she sat on the shore, a blessed calm passed over her, blanketing her in warm silence.

Her mind, too, was quiet.

So she relished this, away from the pressures of a life gone horribly wrong. A life that could have gone a thousand ways, but had chosen a harsher course.

Still, she had the lake, and all that it gave to her. Strength could be found in its peaceful waters.

Heeding the wisdom of the still water, she survived.

© 2017 Heather Stephens