Cozy Morning

Cozy3

Bonnie sat in her warm, cozy bed. She sipped tea from her favorite mug, watching her girlfriend, Rya, sleep in the sun’s gentle light. Marble, their black and white cat, hopped onto the bed, curled up on a spare pillow and purred in preparation for a mid-morning nap. A vanilla candle burned on the nightstand, filling the room with its sweet scents. The only sounds were birds chirping outside and the occasional soft swoosh of cars going by on the road. Bonnie brushed her ginger hair out of her eyes, and pulled out her journal so she could get some reflections done. Still lost in her dreams, Rya smiled and hugged her pillow. So far, today was a good day.

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April Showers

April2

Jeremy ran a hand through his dark brown hair. He drummed his fingers along the polished, wooden table and sighed. The diner was mostly empty this late at night. The light hanging above the table seemed extra bright, especially in contrast to the pitch black darkness outside the window. When he looked out, all he saw was his sleepy reflection staring back at him.

He tapped two fingers against the old fashioned Jukebox that rested in front of the window. The musical devices adorned every table, but they were rarely used. Each one had a selection of songs from a variety of musicians, including Elvis, Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. Most patrons at this fine establishment preferred to listen to their iPods, if they listened to music at all, and it was often a way that people, young and old, chose to kill time while they waited for their food. It was easier than trying to make conversation with friends and family. It was easier than trying to pretend one’s day was interesting.

At least, that’s what Jeremy assumed. He’d never owned an iPod, or any similar device. He’d barely owned a cell phone. He had a laptop, though. It was sitting beside him in the dark, orange booth. He always had a laptop.

Across the diner, there was an elderly man reading a newspaper, sipping coffee, with headphones over his ears, bobbing his head to a beat that Jeremy couldn’t hear. The man was listening to his iPod.

Someone cleared her throat. Jeremy looked up to see April. Her wavy, dark hair and her pea coat were wet from the rain. Her lipstick was the color of red rose petals, and her dark mascara was smeared, just a bit. Whether it was from the rain or from tears, he didn’t know, and he wasn’t sure if he should bother to care. She said nothing, but her eyes were pleading, her sincerity almost believable. He nodded his head, gesturing that it was okay for her to join him.

She sat across from him, folding her hands over the table. She looked at his hair, his neck, his wrists, anywhere but his eyes. Her lips parted as though she were about to speak, but was interrupted when a waitress placed a stack of hot pancakes on the table, along with a small container of maple syrup. Jeremy smiled and thanked the waitress, wondering, as he often did, if she’d been working here since this place opened in the 60s.

The waitress’s name was Jenny. She flipped open a notepad, turned to April and asked, “What can I get for you, Dear?”

“Uh, just coffee. Thanks,” she answered. Jenny walked away and Jeremy poured syrup all over his plate of pancakes. He cut a triangle with his knife and grabbed three layers of pancake, dripping syrup, with his fork.

April smirked and nodded toward the plate. “Breakfast for dinner. You’re certainly set in your ways.”

He took a bite of the sweet pancakes and chased it with some nice, cold milk. “Yes, well, one of us has to be.” A silence hung in the air after that. He had nothing to say to her. Nothing.

Jenny came back with a cup of coffee and a bowl of coffee creamers. When she walked away, April opened a sugar packet and poured it into the cup.

“I know you hate me,” she said. She tour open another packet and poured. When she didn’t get an answer, she tried again. “You haven’t answered my messages all week. I got worried.” Seconds ticked by and the silence was palpable. She opened another packet, her final packet, and added it to her coffee before mixing it with a wooden stirrer. It was always three packets. After more silence filled the space between them, she added cream and then took a sip.

He just stared at her, looked her dead in the eyes, trying to be emotionless when all he wanted to do was cry. Or break things. Or both. Instead, he took another sip of milk. He leaned forward, holding her gaze, and spoke his words with intention, careful to pronounce every syllable.

“We had a good thing going, you and I. Picnics at the park, holding hands under the stars, sneaking out to come to this godforsaken diner, pancakes for me, a burger for you. But you had to go and ruin it,” he said. The tears were pooling in his eyes now and his hands were shaking.

She sighed and looked at her hands. “It doesn’t have to be ruined. I mean, it was just one kiss,” she said. It came out wrong, and she knew it. She sounded defensive and she shook her head, as if that could shake away the line that had been drawn between them. “What I mean is, I made a mistake. Gosh, Jer, it’s just, if the roles were reversed, this wouldn’t bother me the way it bothers you. Because you’re your own person and we’re not each other’s property.” She put her hair in a pony tail and placed her fingers on her temples, furrowing her brows. In a whisper, she said, “Things were never supposed to get this bad between us.”

He placed his fork on the table and laughed a bitter laugh. He knew she was telling the truth. That somewhere in the deep recesses of her brain, she actually believed that this was no big deal. Maybe if she dated someone, and that someone kissed an old flame–maybe if he himself had kissed another person, she really would just brush it off like a spec of rubble from her coat sleeve. But he couldn’t do it. It hurt too much.

She pointed to the seat beside him. “I see you brought your laptop. Is that all I am now? A fictionalized story for The West Wing? Another person in your life who has betrayed you in the worst way possible?” The West Wing was their high school’s literary magazine, and Jeremy often wrote stories loosely based on his real life experiences. It was how he coped with the betrayals, with his traumas, but those were stories for another day.

She reached across the table and took his hand. Hers felt warm, soft. It felt like home and he hated that. Tears were streaming down his cheeks now, and he was no longer hungry. He wanted to leave, but he was weak, and he held her hand tighter as if it were the only thing tethering him to this world. Maybe, maybe it was.

“I know I messed up,” she continued, “but please tell me I’m not being put in the same category as all of those people who hurt you. Please tell me I’m not going to get the silent treatment from you for the rest of my life. I…I couldn’t bare that. I couldn’t live with myself if I lost you. We’ve been through too much.”

They were both crying then. He pushed his plate of pancakes aside and grabbed her other hand, holding them both, looking at her chipped, dark blue nail polish. She stroked the back of his hand, and as much as he wanted to be mad at her, he just wasn’t. At least, not in this moment.

“You were all I had, April. I trusted you, and you know how hard it is for me to do that,” he said.

Tears streamed down her face and she nodded. “I know.”

“So why did you lie about the kiss for even a second? Why did you kiss him at all?”

She squeezed his hands tighter. In his peripheral vision, Jeremy could see that the old man with the newspaper took off his headphones and was calling Jenny over. He met April’s eyes, the diner’s lights glistening against her teary pupils like stars. She looked down at the table and shook her head.

“We’re graduating soon. Going to different colleges. I was having self doubts. I worried that once we were apart, our relationship would be over,” she said.

He squinted and studied her. “So your magical solution to this dilemma was to kiss another guy? To make me lie awake at night, imagining you being happy with someone else? You could be with anyone April! You’re beautiful, smart, more normal and more sane than I’ll ever be. You’ll have no problem finding someone new. But me? No, no one is going to want me.

“You and I being together has been nothing more than a glitch in the Matrix. I’ve thought it was too good to be true, and now you’ve just confirmed it.” He was shouting now, loud enough for Jenny to look over in concern, so he lowered his voice. “I’m not another one of your charity projects. If you didn’t want to be with me after graduation, you should have just said so.”

She let her hair loose, got up, and went over to his side of the booth. With gentle hands, she lifted his laptop, placed it on the cleanest section of the table, and sat beside him. She smelled like lilac soap. He thought he’d want to leave the booth and never look back, but he stayed, wanting to stay frozen in this moment forever. Because beyond this moment, there was nothing but uncertainty.

“I kissed Luke,” she started, “because I have a long history of self sabotage. And I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to ruin the one good thing in my life. You. I know I haven’t acted like it, but…I love you, Jer.” It was the first time she’d said it. A civil war raged inside his mind because he’d never wanted to hear those three words from anyone else so badly. But she also cheated on him. She withheld the kiss, only for 24 hours, but still, keeping it a secret for any length of time was enough to make him panic. It was enough to make him think she could do it again.

There were so many things he could say in this moment, so many choices he could make, so many feelings he could express. So, he just chose to say what was on his heart.

“And I love you April,” he said. “And you don’t have to worry. I haven’t written any stories about you. I couldn’t, because you’re right. You’re not like those people who hurt me. You’re better than them.” He leaned forward and kissed her, soft, sweet, urgent, then sweet again.

She pulled away, took his hand, and sighed. “Then why do I feel like I’m worse?”

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Thanks for reading ❤ If you like my blog and would like to support me, please check out my books on Amazon 🙂

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Black Hair Magic

[This story is taken from a book I’m self-publishing called ‘Impossible Things.’ The genre is magical realism. Thanks for reading! Full book coming soon. ❤ ]

A short story

By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

Black Hair Magic

It was a hot summer day but the air conditioning was cool. Abigail sat on her bed, flipping through a copy of her favorite magazine while eating from a pack of peach-flavored mints. She was wearing a new pair of denim shorts with her favorite white top that was decorated with lace.

She paused when she saw a picture of her favorite popstar, Daphne Moon, and circled it with a blue pen. Daphne wore red lipstick, a golden, glittery dress, and her smile was bright. What really stood out, though, was her hair, slicked back but still showing off her beautiful curls. Abigail snapped a picture with her smart phone and sent it to her best friend, Jayla, typing,

“Ugh she’s so perfect. Why can’t my hair look like that????”

There was a knock on the door and her mother walked in, carrying a brown box. She shook the box to get her attention, its contents rattling inside. As soon as Abigail heard it, she knew exactly what it was. She hopped out of bed and took the box in her hands, holding it to her chest like a long lost treasure.

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Like this story? Read the rest of it here 🙂

A couple of short stories I wrote are published on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl website :)

Check out the stories here:

http://thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com/scary-stories.php

And if you’re not familiar with The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube channel or book series, be sure to check those out as well!! ❤ 🙂

Sock Full of Coins

A little boy walked into a toy shop,  the bell above the door chiming when he opened it. He had a mop of brown hair, big, green eyes, and wore a little red coat with light brown buttons. He carried a sock that was filled with coins, clutching it in both hands. Wandering through the vast isles, he looked around at life-sized dolls, bins filled with colorful bouncy balls, remote-controlled robots, stacks of red and blue building blocks, and toy kitchens. After a few moments of walking in his little blue rain boots, he saw it– a shiny, red and green toy train on display in a plastic box.

Holding the handle of his sock bag between his teeth, he reached up and grabbed the large box with his tiny hands. As he pulled it down, he wobbled a bit, almost losing his balance. But before long, he was marching down the isle with the toy train in hand. He went up to the cashier and hoisted the box onto the counter. The shopkeeper had to peer over the counter to greet his small customer. He scanned the box and said that the train was $9.50, and the boy handed him the gray sock filled with quarters, smiling wide enough to reveal a missing tooth. The shopkeeper counted the quarters and handed the boy a plastic bag with his new treasure inside. He even included a free set of stickers!

“Thank you vewy much,” the boy said, and he went on his way. The bell rang when he opened the door and went back out into the world. He went out to his mother who waited by the car, proud to show her his new toy he bought all by himself.

Things of the Heart

[I wrote this story a few years ago. While my writing has evolved quite a bit since then, this continues to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve done.]

           I stood in front of the Lindherst Concert House, where my name was up in lights. It said in big, shining letters, “Tonight, Cindy Kale, Live Performance: The Hottest Ticket in Town.” So, this is what it feels like to see your dreams come true, I thought. I stood outside in the cloak of night as strangers passed me by in the street. I wondered, would any of them see my show tonight? Would any of them see the mountains I’d climbed, the desperation, the hard work, and the tears that led me to this very moment? When they heard me, would they remember my voice, or would it only be another insignificant moment in their memory bank, stored away only to be forgotten? I shook the thoughts away as I held my coat closed over my chest, took a breath of the cool night air, and made my way into the building for my sound check.

            My heals clicked softly as I walked across the stage. I sang my “do re mi’s” and my “mi fa sol’s” as the sound guy cued me and the stage lights gleamed into my eyes. Then, I sang the first few bars of my opening song. “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re miles away…”

            “Okay, you’re good.” The sound guy told me. I smiled a charming smile and thanked him for his time, and then let the owner of the fine establishment show me to my dressing room. I took in the sight of the white walls, the mirrors lined with lights, and the neat display of make-up brushes paired with eyeliner and face powder. There was a table with bottled water, flowers and fruit, and beside that was the clothing rack that contained all of my costumes. I scanned the rack for the blue, glittery, strapless dress that I’d be wearing for my show tonight. When I spotted it, my heart leaped in my chest, and that’s when it all began to feel real. I was performing tonight, and people were coming from all over town to see me. I looked back at the manager to see that a golden plaque hung from the dressing room door, and engraved on it was my name: “Cindy S. Kale.”

            “You’ll be on in forty-five minutes, Miss Kale.” The manager told me. I thanked him and he went on his way, closing the door behind him. I pulled out a stool and sat down in front of a mirror, and looked back at the painted smile and pretty red curls that stared back at me. My lips have learned to smile on command, but my blue eyes couldn’t lie, and they told me the whole, sad-hearted truth. I made myself busy with placing my make-up in front of me. I pulled out all of my brushes, shadow,  highlight, and lipstick; my make-up sponges, powder, mascara, and eyeliner. Then, just as the pressure began to build, I let the tears fall, cool and salty, down my cheeks, just missing the corners of my quivering lips. I felt a lot of things in that moment.

            I felt the things I knew I should feel: the excitement, the fulfillment, the sense of joy and achievement. But mostly, I felt empty, because there was someone I missed. Someone I left behind in pursuit of this life. And even though I knew I was about to embrace the stage lights and the audience and the piano keys, I knew there was another love I wished to embrace. Someone who I ran away from, someone who I was afraid to love in return, someone I pushed away when I needed to let the music in. And I knew that he hated me for it. I knew that he wouldn’t come to my show, even though all I wanted was to see him there, sitting in the front row, hearing me sing, that way, I would know that we weren’t completely lost. That way, I wouldn’t feel forgotten.

            I wiped the tears away with my hands. I dabbed my face with a cloth and began applying my eye makeup. I applied my shadow and blush, my lipstick and my false lashes. I applied powder and smacked my lips together, and then smiled, my blue eyes bright this time with the adrenaline of getting ready to perform.

            “Break a leg,” he said. My memory brought me back to a time when my love was still with me. We stood outside of Coffee and Jazz, a hole in the wall café in a secluded location. It had an open-mic night and the best cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. I was there to sing, and he was there to watch me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and held my hands in his.

            “You’re going to watch me sing, aren’t you Brian?” I’d asked him. Light snow flurries had begun to fall, and I watched his sweater collect the glimmering crystals.

            “Are you kidding? I’ll be in the front row, cheering you on. And afterwards, I’ll take you out to celebrate, anywhere you want to go,” he told me. I told him that sounded wonderful and he gave me a gentle kiss for luck. He walked me inside, and later that evening, I got up on stage and I sang. Brian kept his word, and he sat right there, in the front row. It didn’t matter that there weren’t many other people there. I was really only singing to him, anyway.

            “You’re on in five minutes Miss Kale.” The manager called through the door, pulling me out of my memory. A tinge of sadness was left behind as I realized it would be only that, a memory. I slipped out of my jeans and into my dress and my heals. Shimmering, dolled up, and pretty as a sunset, I took one last look in the mirror.

            “I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream,” I told myself. The manager knocked on my door and I opened it up, my smile easy and natural, and my body energized. I told him I was ready to go on, and he led me to my entrance onto the stage. He walked out to greet the audience and to introduce me, and I felt my heart pounding, accompanied by sweaty palms.

            “Ladies and gentleman, now, the moment you have all been waiting for. I present to you, Miss Cindy Kale, the hottest ticket in town.” The audience clapped as I walked out, showered by the love of their applause. The piano keys started playing on cue, and I started singing my song. I didn’t need to do much of an acting job. The feelings I needed were already there.

            “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re—“ And I stopped. I couldn’t continue. Confused, the piano keys dwindled to silence, and all I could do was stare. I knew it was unprofessional, but I couldn’t help it. I only did it because I saw a familiar face sitting in the front row. When I saw Brian, I was caught off guard, and all I wanted was to step off the stage and into his arms. I wanted to touch his face, to see if he was real. I wanted to say his name. But instead, I remembered where I was, and decided to sing another song.

            “Sorry about that, but if you all don’t mind, I’d uh, I’d like to start off with something a little different.” I cued the piano man to switch to song number three, and when he was there, he gave me the okay.

            “This song is for all of the couples out there tonight. This song is for anyone who’s ever been in love.” The piano came back to life and I started to sing.

            “You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You told me, that’s how I knew that you loved me…You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You loved me, that’s how I knew you were mine…” When I finished my number, everyone whistled and clapped, but the only person I saw was Brian. He clapped in his calm, yet enthusiastic way, and when I smiled he winked at me. I did the rest of my show, just as I had rehearsed.

            And I don’t know if everyone thought it was great, and I don’t know if everyone really believed that I was the hottest ticket in town. But it didn’t matter, because Brian did. And he told me so after the show when he presented me with a kiss and a bouquet of roses. I gave him apologies and he gave me forgetfulness. He asked if he could take me to dinner, and I said yes in a thousand languages. A lot of people came to see me sing that night, and that was a dream come true. But being there with Brian, with his roses and his kisses, for the first time that night, my dream felt complete. For the first time, my heart lacked nothing, and I truly believed that I could spread my wings and fly.

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#fiction

 

Affection

Lana held her girlfriend’s hand, their fingers intertwining together as they sat on the edge of a picnic table, their feet resting on the wooden bench. She rested her head on her partner’s shoulder as the wind blew strands of her curly, red hair into her face. Her girlfriend gave her hand a squeeze and she could smell the peppermint on her breath that came from her chewing gum.

“You okay, Lan?” her girlfriend asked. Lana nodded without looking up.

“I’m good,” she said.

Scooter sat on the bench a few feet away from them. He smoothed out his black hair that was already shaped with gel. He stared at his phone and the heel of his foot moved up and down like a lever. A soft sigh escaped his lips and he muttered something to himself that no one else could hear.

Lana brushed the loose strands of hair behind her ear with her fingers and glanced over at him.

“You seem troubled, Scoot. What’s goin’ on?”

He looked at her, startled, as though he forgot she was there, and then shrugged.

“It’s Skyler. When we first met, we hooked up and drank wine at her apartment. We had fun, no strings attached. But she was funny and adventurous. I wanted to take her out for real, so I did. We went to dinner and drank beer beneath the stars, and then slow danced, not well by the way, while music played on the radio. She said she really liked me,” he said.

“Sounds like you had a nice time. Why are you upset?”

He slumped his shoulders and looked down at the grass. The air smelled like fresh earth and the clouds provided partial shade from the warm sun in the mostly blue sky. The park was mostly empty with the exception of one or two families who were at the playground, on the other side of the field. Two small birds landed in the grass several feet away and started pecking at the ground.

“She hasn’t texted me back all week. I haven’t heard from her since that night,” he said. He placed his phone on the table with a soft thump.

Lana’s girlfriend slid over to Scooter’s side and sat next to him on the bench. Her short, brown hair was shaved on one side and she wore a leather jacket even though it was summer. She popped her gum and gave him a playful punch on the shoulder.

“Hey. Don’t worry about this. Maybe she lost her phone, maybe she had a family emergency, and maybe she doesn’t want a relationship after all and is too scared to tell you the fuckin’ truth. You can sit here on this beautiful day with friends, driving yourself crazy with maybes, or you can accept the fact that you had an amazing time with this girl, which might lead to something more. Or it might not. But you can’t let one person blind you from all the affection you already have in your life. Keep your door open to all forms of love and the right person will find their way in. This is one girl. Let her come to you. And if she doesn’t, then move on. But for now, spend this day with us. Don’t spend your day with maybes,” she said.

Lana hopped down from the table and smoothed out her skirt before sitting next to her girlfriend. She reached over and held Scooter’s hand.

“Court’s right. We can go out. We can have fun. And we can make new friends, new memories, and new stories. You don’t have to stay stuck in this chapter,” she said.

He nodded and smiled a bit, revealing his dimples.

“You’re right. I guess I just wanted to have someone by my side who could help me forget to be sad.”

Courtney gave him a playful nudge in the ribs.

“That’s what the night is for,” she said.

Behind them, Scooter’s phone vibrated and rang. He picked it up off the table and looked at the caller ID. A picture of a girl with brown hair appeared on the screen along with her name. It was Skyler. He looked at his friends as if wondering if he should answer it, and Courtney gestured with her hands to say that he should.

“Tell her that the three of us are going out for milkshakes,” Lana said.

“Yeah,” Courtney agreed, “she should come.”

Scooter took a breath and answered the phone. He walked away from the bench and the two birds who were in the field flew off into the sky together. When he walked far enough to get some privacy, he cleared his throat. Lana rested her head again on Courtney’s shoulder, the two of them were barely able to hear Scooter’s soft hello.

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#fiction, short stories