T is for Trust #AtoZchallenge #amwriting



Your mother taught you to distrust men for your own good yet you practiced faith in people, which permitted them to determine whether you trusted or not.

end 4/24/2017

S. Darlington


Hindsight 20/20

Thanks to Rochelle at Friday Fictioneers for hosting. If you’d like to participate, visit here.

For more stories, visit here.


PHOTO PROMPT © Magaly Guerrero

Hindsight 20/20

A lie frolics here around shoes with ribbons for laces. The art book chuckles at my naiveté.

“Strawberry-flavored wine?” Duane asks.

I stare at the shoes wishing I’d accepted Will’s invitation for poetry and ice cream rather than Duane’s “romantic evening.”

“They’re my wife’s.”

“You said . . .”

“Ex-wife. She lives here,” he says. “It’s not ideal.”

I say, “No wine, thanks.”

“Perfect, on to bumping uglies.”

My jaw drops. “No.”


“Don’t think so.”

“Dinner was expensive.”

Complete nightmare, I think.

Hindsight admonishes: Poetry and gelato with a funny caring man weren’t romantic enough for you?


end 4/23/2017

S. Darlington

S is for Sorrow #AtoZChallenge #amwriting




“Nathan Bickham lived by the ubiquitous quote: between the choice of being right or being kind, be kind. And Nathan Bickham was the most intelligent man I have ever known so, while he was most often right, he always chose to be kind,” Reverend Keeler said from the pulpit.

There are people you think will live forever because they carry with them a vitality, kindness, and sense of purpose that distinguishes them so completely from the rest of the population. Lena had always placed her grandfather in that extreme minority. She wanted to emulate him, but always felt she failed because her temper came from her grandmother’s side and frequently she felt kindness eluded her, harmony a futile quest.

The cancer riddling his body had not been kind. In true Nathan Bickham fashion though he had fought and continued to live the life he wanted. At ninety he had still been a force to be reckoned with.

“You don’t need a bucket list, Lena,” he told her. “Bucket lists devalue living in the moment.”

With those words she’d put away the paper and pen and stopped constructing lists to compete with the lists of her peers. He taught her to see the natural world, to be open to the experience of watching the woods and observing all of the creatures observing her.

He taught her that relationships were built on openness and trust; that not being forthright for fear of being hurt would hurt in the long-term but the hurt from being forthright would always diminish with time, and the truth gained would supersede pain. He taught her generosity and patience and kindness, but kindness was still an attribute she worked hard to attain.

The one thing he never taught her, although he tried during his last days, was how she could navigate life without his presence.

“I have taught you everything I know,” he said.

Tears pricked her eyes. “But I’m not like you,” she told him.

“You’re more like me than you know, but you are the best you. I’m proud of you. You approach life with grace,” he said.

Yet, that didn’t feel enough.

Later after the mourners left her grandparents’ house, Lena stood at the pond, listened to the throaty bullfrog chorus, watched the water snake’s red bands undulate through the murky water, and relinquished the ache in her chest. She could feel the essence of his words around her, the philosophy with which he lived his life, a shawl of protection and of comfort. Sorrow rose up and away from her, towards the mantle of clouds billowing toward the sea. She understood that while she lost him, his life continued through everyone who knew him, all of those with whom he had selflessly shared himself, and, perhaps the quintessence of Nathan Bickham would always exist in lives well lived with thoughtfulness and kindness. This knowledge that he would never truly be gone consoled.


end 4/22/2017

S. Darlington

Run for Your Life!

I call in the fire and then I call Linc. The call goes to voicemail. There’s just no good way to tell a man that the home that has been in his family for generations is literally going up in smoke and it’s crap to do it on voicemail.

The fire is puzzling me though because it’s overkill, no pun intended. Two people against me? Surely they could have found a better way to get rid of me than a fire, which they didn’t even stick around for. I mean, if you were intending to literally smoke someone out, wouldn’t you stick around to make sure they were dead and didn’t run out of the house when you left? I would, you know, if I suddenly decided to go on a murder spree.

“Maybe they weren’t after me,” I say to Buffy. She tilts her head slightly. “They probably weren’t after you either. Maybe there was something in the house.”

She lowers herself to the stone porch and places her chin on her paws as if giving this consideration.

We don’t think too long about the situation because I hear the sound of a vehicle driving up the rocky drive behind the house. The nice thing about the country is that you have ample warning when a car approaches. I grab Buffy’s leash and dash toward the woods. Buffy, thinking this is a game, barks shrilly but then quiets down. I duck behind the cover of a mountain azalea and peer through its branches. Two people get out of a black SUV. I don’t recognize either of them. They are definitely not from around here. My heartbeat spikes when I see that they both have guns. I’m pretty sure that these are the guys who set Linc’s place on fire. They must have seen me up here, which is probably why they didn’t bother sticking around to see if I ran from the house. I’m cool, but I can’t be in two places at one time.

This is one of those instances that I decide not to wait to find out what happens next as what happens next could be me with a bullet between the eyes, a graphic I have no desire to explore. Considering that they look like pure city boys, I’m not too concerned about them tracking me down in the woods, not these woods that I know like the back of my hand. On the other hand, they did find me up here so they get points for that.

There are deer trails cut through the woods, which are nice paths to follow so I take one that links to the Old Smith farm. I figure it will take those two guys some time to scout around before looking towards the woods. A blast from behind and the splintering of bark from the scrub pine tell me quite impressively that I was wrong. Damn. Now I have to hope that I was right about them being city boys and not being able to find their way out of can of beans. Buffy and I start running for our lives.

end 4/21/2017

S. Darlington



Safe and Sound…Or Am I?


From the number of pink post-its decorating the doors to this house you would think that Linc doesn’t trust me to stay put. Smart man. However, as I peel each away I do feel guilty. Yes, I realize that law enforcement is his job. He’s supposed to find the bad guys and put them away. But considering that my husband and my step-mother were murdered shouldn’t I help?

I have sat here for three hours, making friends with his lovely dog, Buffy, and snooping, which I know I shouldn’t do, but let’s face it. It’s me we’re talking about. The whole thing about poison being in my sugar canister too…what does that mean? Who would put poison in my sugar canister? Who would have access? Well, right after Ry died it was more like who didn’t have access?

But why target my step mother and me? Does this mean she wasn’t having an affair with Ry? That should make me feel good, right? You know, as long as I forget that someone killed her and wanted me gone too.

Is the fact that my stepmother and me were supposed to be killed in the same manner pertinent? I think back to the last time I saw her. We were having lunch at the diner. She hated it, but then she hated most things around town. They made her cranky. She was from Pittsburgh and thought our small town ways were a little too quaint, except for my dad, of course. She ordered a Caesar salad with the dressing on the side. I remember that because Dee the waitress asked about croutons. I ordered a blue cheese burger with sautéed onions and mushrooms with all of the fixings minus the burger and Dee just rolled her eyes as she did every time while Rosie chuckled.

“You know I’ve got to charge you for the burger.”

“I know.”

And Rosie and me both looked out the window and there was Ry right there in front of us…with Clarice. I didn’t think anything of it then. They both looked pissed off. Ry’s face was as red as I’ve ever seen it get. Clarice looked put out. But then Clarice never really liked Ry.

“What’s going on with them?” Rosie asked and then she bit her lip. Her eyes darted to me.

Again, I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t know that Ry was plumbing new depths with his penis. I shrugged as both Ry and Clarice looked in the diner window at me and Rosie. Me and Rosie eating lunch and watching Ry and Clarice, my sister, Clarice who I would trust with everything in this world.

Linc’s dog whined at me and I realized I was just staring blankly into space. I pressed my fingertips to my cheeks. My sister would never try to kill me, would she?

Linc’s landline rang and I stared at it. I wondered if whoever killed Rosie would figure out that Linc might have helped me escape. My sister might. Maybe. Suddenly I wondered if staying here was all that safe.


end 4/19/2017

S. Darlington


Word Prompt as Creation Story– Day 19 #NaPoWriMo #amwriting

Day 19 Writing Prompt: And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always!). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it.

Word Prompt as Creation Story

From a word prompt, an idea births, inviting phrases

joining sentences, combined into lines or paragraphs

until fragments fuse, a story shaped, mushroomed

from a single word, startling the author who never

imagined the consequence of that word in his brain.

end 4/19/2017

S. Darlington

Clearly Unclearly– Day 18 #NaPoWriMo #amwriting

Clearly Unclearly

You see clearly: black and white, no grays, no opaques. You speak clearly: this and that, no ifs, whens, maybes. You dance seldom and always as if someone watches.

Once you quelled my laughter, inhibited my dancing, told me ideas were black and white, the world colorless.

Because I thought I loved you I tried on a colorless world; it didn’t look good on me.

Laughter, dancing, color returned and although you’re long gone, I have you to thank for shrinking my world just long enough to reaffirm and see clearly unclearly.

end 4/18/2017

S. Darlington

O is for Outrage #AtoZchallenge #amwriting



Tempers flared. Indignation rumbled.

Kerry listened to her fellow citizens rail against the Mayor and longed for her iPod. Perhaps she’d be more sensitive if these weren’t the same people who’d voted for the “change” he claimed to represent.

To his credit, he’d achieved the one change these partisan, one issue voters wanted. As if life were that simple.

But now the outrage as he pushed through other campaign promises that hadn’t concerned them until they understood the ramifications.

She needed her iPod. One woman’s music was another’s drug, just a little Hozier to take away the pain.


end 4/18/2017

S. Darlington

meditation on quiet night–Day 17 #NaPoWriMo #amwriting

NaPoWriMo Day 17And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form! Need more inspiration? Why not listen to one of history’s most famous nocturnes, Chopin’s Op. 9 No. 2?


meditation on quiet night

The jolt of suburban late afternoon evolves into

the orange gold line demarking

day from night like lamplight

under a closed door.

Evening sounds settle slowly

the robin’s last remark vibrating

as the moon ascends coolly silver.

I watch the fluttery wings of the bat,

movements as erratic as its feast;

the barred owl calls plaintively

a brief sojurn before northward winging.

Meditatively moments resting

the embrace of darkness and illumination

of sequential concepts in stillness


end 4/17/2017

S. Darlington

in dreams i walk alone–Day 16 #NaPoWriMo #amwriting

in dreams i walk alone

Mornings when climbing from bed felt literal, the day ahead, a craggy mountain. The hike did not change; it did not grow easier, but understanding crept in, a gray whiskered intruder, stalking shadows, pointing at mortality with a boney finger.

end 4/16/2017

S. Darlington