Cat

Going back through old prompts. This one was “Cat“.

 

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He hadn’t seen his daughter in months.

The war had sent his career in the most skyward direction, and he was never home. A legitimate arms dealer, he had governments to seduce and deals to be made. Whenever he was home, it was after his princess was already asleep and he was gone before she rose, sleepily, to eat breakfast.

But he was home now. Or almost. The little cries from the box on the passenger seat sounded as eager to be there as he was.

At 5pm, he opened the door. At 5:03, the three-year-old opened her box.

Meow.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

 

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Reality

I couldn’t write for a long time. I could blame NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t finish that either. A more accurate excuse would be the election. It broke my heart and anxiety over the nuclear arms race that is coming has rendered me virtually immobile. But I am surrounded by people who claim that while things look pretty bad, there is hope. Their strength has melted the ice of fear that has gripped my heart for the last month and a half.

I’m back.

This week’s prompt was “Reality”.

 

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The truth of it? She didn’t want to know where her girlfriend had been for three days. She’d do this—start a fight for no logical reason and then disappear for a few hours. This time she’d been gone long enough for her partner to be worried. But there was no apology when she returned. There was no reconciliation. Just more excuses.

Someday, she’d find the courage to make her own life away from the perils of loving a woman so broken. She couldn’t find the strength to do it now. Too many bad habits barring the path to freedom.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Surprise

The prompt was surprise. Inspired by the terrifying results of the 2016 election, but I don’t think surprise is quite the right word. Shock is definitely apt. Fear as well. I wrote this piece as my reflection on what the election revealed about America and what the violence in the proceeding week set out to prove.

As a disabled LGBT mother to a child that is a WOC, I am scared. What happened on November 8th proved to me that my life doesn’t matter to nearly half of America. And nothing will ever make it right as long as that administration is in office.

America is no longer safe.

 


There are no words for the political horror America has unleashed. People of color are dying. Lesbian, gay, and transgendered people are being assaulted. There is no end in sight for the trauma we have done to ourselves.

America is broken. A flawed, unjust system gave rise to the greatest threat to peace and prosperity, and some celebrate it. The death of the American Dream is imminent.

Many may not survive this. But those that do must maintain their memory, fight for their legacy. The survivors must not simply rebuild what America was, but what it always promised to be.

 

©2016 Heather Stephens

Novel

This week’s prompt got me thinking about our current political climate. The clock is ticking, counting down to the most important election in our lifetimes. Will America choose fear and hate or will they choose experience and tolerance? I chose to be hopeful for this piece despite my fears of a Trump presidency. I am not very hopeful about this election, but I need to hold onto whatever positivity I can. As a disabled, LGBT woman who is mother to a person of color, I fear what a Trump presidency (and Trump-appointed justices) will bring.

But here’s to hope. Here’s to choice.

Good luck, America.

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“We have only taken a few writers in this niche,” the man said, “but you are by far one of the most original.”

She smiled. She was grateful for the opportunity, but she wondered if she would live up to the reputation her agent had created for her.

“I just want to give people the chance to see things from more variable perspectives,” she said, belying her reticence.

“It’s a brave new world for diversity, and I am sure you will be just fine,” the man said, patting her on the shoulder before walking away.

She knew she would be.

© 2016 Heather Stephens

A Distant Devotion

I like to think about love. Not necessarily my own love – for my family, my friends, myself. I like to consider what love can look like. It is my belief that there are a million different forms of love. On Sundays, I will look at a different way love can manifest. Some may be relevant to many people while others may only be pertinent to a select number of people. Still, I think love is something that should be studied by everyone.

Here is my first addition to the conversation.

 

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Her passion for the woman in her bed was distilled. All the toxic ingredients of a mutually beneficial arrangement – the drama, the attachment – was shed the moment the woman entered her apartment. It was a new sort of sensation, touching the woman without the perspective of romance. She had never done anything like this before, but her partner certainly had. Laying underneath the graceful, sensual ministrations of her lover’s hands, she experienced a new sort of love: a grateful devotion to the beauty of her sexual education.

She didn’t need commitment to learn. She only needed eagerness to come alive.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Voice

The prompt was “Voice” and so I am joining mine to fight for justice for all women. In the media, feminists and those who regularly stand for social justice are stereotyped as white women fighting for white women.

I reject the Lena Dunhams and Amy Schumers of the feminist movement. White feminism needs to go.

I am not perfect. I am not the strongest ally. I can’t be because I am white-passing and I don’t face the struggles that so many of my WOC friends face every. single. day. But I can try to empathize, I can prioritize understanding their issues. I join my voice under theirs, but with theirs.

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She stood on the pulpit, megaphone in hand. She stood for black women, dying in private prisons in red states and being mocked for reading comics in blue states. She stood for native women, being shot at routine traffic stops when they dared travel outside tribal lands. She stood for Latina and Asian women, being reduced to sexual fantasy and quota fulfillment.
She stood because she could. She stood to lend her voices to the millions of others demanding justice for the slaughter of so many lives, hopes, and dreams. She stands to silence the indoctrination that still lives on.
© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Grouch

This week, the prompt was “Grouch.” I hope I addressed this topic with the respect it deserves. I have nothing but respect for our servicemembers and those of our allies. Whether they fought in WWII, Vietnam, the Gulf, or anywhere else, our military sees horrors most of us can’t imagine. They leave their homes and their families to protect us or to fight because someone must.

I am fortunate that I will likely never see such trauma.

Politically, I am a pacifist, and I would hope that those I vote for will do their best to avoid war and conflict whenever possible. But when it is unavoidable, I am grateful to those who answer the call.

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He was a particularly ornery old man. Not just the type to scold kids on his lawn or curse the luxuries (and laziness) afforded by technology either. No, he was the cantankerous veteran who fought for our freedoms and don’t you forget the sacrifices he made.

But something changed in him when he visited the cemetery.

Amongst resting friends and former lovers and those who never left the small town in which he was born, he found himself feeling vibrant. He relived the moments that sustained him throughout most of his 94 years.

One man – the officer and the dreamer.

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

 

She Went on a Date

“You can’t say things like that,” she said, her brow furrowed.

“At least not in public,” he replied. His grin looked more like a sneer.

Her lips pursed together before she took a final sip of her cocktail, pouring all the remaining liquor down her throat.

This date was doomed from the moment he commented that she’d lost weight since the last time he’d seen her.

She wondered why the good men never showed their true faces.

She wondered why all the “nice” guys were just wearing masks.

She wondered why racism and misogyny ever persisted.

She’s better off alone.

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Just a thought about women.

A man could lay himself down at the end of the day, satisfied that he had achieved all that he set out to do.

A man could be content, knowing that he knows no master but himself.

Can women claim such comforts? May women claim such comforts?

Because it seems to me that women have everything dictated to them: how they should look, what they should wear, how dramatically they may paint their faces before being branded a whore.

For men, freedom lies in the masculinity that gives them their confidence. The future is theirs, ripe for the picking.

Women must climb higher, striving to bypass the low-hanging fruit that men can reach so easily.

Wine

The prompt for this week was the word “Wine”. I find that amusing because I’ve been craving wine all week, but only just got around to reading the prompt (a little late, but I have two kids so I was busy, damn it). Coincidences like this always make me curious about the tapestry of life, but never enough to consider a metaphysical significance.

It feels good to write again after a busy week. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to devote several hours a day to it, several days a week.

Someday.

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There is much to say about the elegance of self-sufficiency.

The woman felt coziest when she could come home on a rainy evening, pop the cork, pour herself a glass, and sit alone on her sofa. With her legs curled underneath her and a book in her hand, she felt a satisfied peace not easily found in those her age.

She didn’t need a partner, a child, or a pet to keep her company. Her personality was interesting enough to keep her content and the thousand worlds she’d explore through literature offered ample excitement.

She’d always be her own best friend.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens