Gone For Good

This is the first new fiction I’ve written in months. It also has the potential to be developed into a longer work but for now, it is going into the short story collection. Enjoy.

Moving day was finally here. I’d always hated living in the Philadelphia suburbs and at long last I was saying goodbye for good. The plan was pretty simple. Kim and I would recruit friends and neighbors to help load up the moving truck on Sunday, we’d stay with her family Sunday night, and first thing Monday morning, we’d go to settlement. With cash in the bank account, I would hit the highway in the truck, towing one of the cars. Kim hated the idea of a coast to coast road trip so I suggested she fly out five days later. “You’ll have some private time with your mom that way,” I had said.

The sale of the house netted us $53,000. Not a fortune, but enough to get started someplace new. Kim kissed me goodbye outside the realtor’s office and I took the cashier’s check with me to the bank on my way out of town. I promised to call her when I stopped for the night. My plan for the first day was to reach Knoxville, Tennessee.

At the bank, I deposited the check in our joint checking account and withdrew the small balance in our savings account which I added to the stash of currency I’d been accumulating over the past few months. The black Addidas backpack held $21,000 in tens and twenties.

The trip to Knoxville would take longer than if I were simply traveling by car. I was counting on that fact in keeping Kim from worrying if I didn’t call until late in the day. My first stop was actually going to be in Lancaster, at an auction, where weeks ago, I had negotiated a lump sum for all my worldly goods. The proprietor had also agreed to pay me in cash. When I drove away with my empty moving truck, I had another $8,000 to add to the backpack.

Next, I returned the truck to the local rental office and transferred my bags to the back of the Subaru. Now, I would hit the road for Knoxville. I arrived only an hour past my estimated travel time. Kim hadn’t worried at all.

The bank had said the money from the cashier’s check deposit would be available in increments of $10,000 per day on the first four days and the final $13,000 on the fifth day. I wouldn’t have time to access all of it before Kim boarded the plane for San Fransisco, but I’d be able to get a sizable chunk. I had planned my route based on branches of the national bank being close by. First thing Tuesday morning, I withdrew $9,990, just below the limit that would attract attention from the Internal Revenue Service. I did the same thing in Asheville, North Carolina the next day. And again in Atlanta, the day after that. Enough was enough. I was cutting it close.

That night in the hotel, I smashed my phone to pieces, cut my driver’s license and my credit cards into tiny bits and said goodbye to Perry Reynolds for good. My new driver’s license issued in Florida, read Michael Johnson, a name so common, it would never stand out.

The next morning, I parked the Subaru in the long term parking lot of the Atlanta airport and took the shuttle to the terminal for international flights. Instead of boarding a plane, though, I circled through the terminal to the area for arriving flights and hailed a taxi to take me back to the city center. After replacing my cell phone using my new identity, I made a single phone call.

“Hey, it’s me,” I said, the smile apparent in my voice. “I’m on my way.”

Emptying your veins onto the page.

Writing is therapy.

How much of yourself do you pour into your writing?  The answer may vary dramatically depending on the type of writing you do.  No one bares their soul in a technical manual.  But fiction writers, poets, lyricists… all inject their own joy and pain, fear and desire into their work.  The question is: what do we risk in exposing ourselves to the world?  How much do we give?  Sharing the very essence of yourself is either crazy or incredibly brave.

Part of it is about trust.  Do you trust yourself to convey those thoughts and feelings accurately?  Do you trust your readers to understand, to relate?  Because that’s kind of the point.  We are sharing.  We want it to reach someone, to entertain at a minimum, or to move the heart, stir the spirit.  This very notion gives your writing weight.  It’s a heady thing– moving a soul.  Choose carefully, the words you’re about to commit to paper.  Craft them with skill, arrange them just so.  Speak them aloud to see how they roll off the tongue.

Another part of it is honesty.  Do you share the difficult stuff, too?  The things that might make your readers cringe?  Exposing your fears, flaws, failures, and mistakes opens you up to criticism, rebuke and rejection.  And yet that cleansing, that catharsis may be just the thing you need to put out there.  Risk or not.

Consider your audience.  Who is reading your work?  Maybe you’re anonymous here on your blog.  That certainly gives you a lot of freedom to post at will.  For those of us blogging with full disclosure?  Not so much!  So what do you do if there’s something just eating away at you?

Some stories just beg to be told.  I’ve had an interesting life full of adventures and catastrophes, joys and pain.  The painful parts are the hardest to tell but they are also the stories that burn inside.  That doesn’t mean I have to write a memoir.  But I can tell a story.  Wrap a memory in the cloak of fiction and pen the narrative as if it happened to somebody else.  All the desperate hopes, crushed dreams and lost loves pour onto the page.

If you look hard enough, my writing empties my veins.  More of it flows out every day.  If you are able to separate the drops of fact from the volume of fiction, you will see the essence of me.  Go ahead and look.  I’ll leave you to decide which is which!

What do you say, writers?  Do you pour yourself out onto the page?

 

Budapest

A short story by Meg Sorick.

I tasted blood. I was on my knees, my eye was swelling shut but at least I was alone. Somehow —and the how was really fuzzy— I had managed to fight off my attacker. The block was quiet and dark except for the street lights at regular intervals. I had been in that dark space between two of them when I was struck from behind. Some preternatural sense had made me move at the last minute so that the blow didn’t find its mark, probably saving my life.

I pulled myself to my feet, abandoned my errand and hurried back to the apartment we’d rented for the month. “Let’s live abroad,” my husband had said. “We’ll never get this chance again,” he’d insisted. “You will love Budapest,” he’d promised. “I can work on my book and you can indulge yourself in history,” he’d tempted.

Julian had a way of convincing me that all his ideas were mine, too. So that when things didn’t go as planned I could share the blame. I kept looking over my shoulder as I ran, terrified that the attacker would return. I never should’ve gone out alone this late at night.

Julian had been tapping away at his keyboard all evening while I read quietly on the other end of the narrow sofa. Without looking up, he said, “Cara, I’m out of cigarettes. Get me some, would you?” It wasn’t really a request. The ‘would you’ was just a polite afterthought. He knew I would go. Most of the time it was just easier to acquiesce rather than bear his brooding if I refused his wishes. Tonight however, I had resisted.

“But Julian, it’s nearly midnight. Nothing will be open,” I reasoned.

“Try the Lado,” he suggested. “They’re open late.”

“You must be joking,” I laughed mirthlessly. “That’s seven blocks away.”

“But Cara,” he pouted. “I’m on a roll. The words are flowing effortlessly tonight. Please don’t make me beg you. You do care about me don’t you?”

Internally I rolled my eyes. I had fallen in love with the quintessential temperamental artist. Tall and gaunt, but roguishly handsome, a brilliant conversationalist, educated, cultured and absolutely the most frustrating and childish creature I’d ever known. He had enchanted me, romanced me, made me lose all sense and reason, and married me six weeks after we’d first met. Our days were certainly numbered. But tonight, I thought… tonight I would accede to his wishes once again and tomorrow I would make plans to leave.

I arrived at the door breathless, my heart thundering in my chest. Perhaps he would come to his senses when he saw my injuries. Surely he’d agree that Budapest was a mistake. With shaking hands, I inserted the key into the lock on the outer door of the apartment building. Tears of relief spilled over as I closed the door behind me and leaned back against it.

I climbed the three flights of stairs and stumbled, weeping, into the apartment. Julian stood and came over to me. I collapsed into his arms as he held them out to me. “There, there, Cara. There, there…”

“Julian,” I sobbed. “We have to get out of here. I can’t spend another night in this place.”

“Cara,” he said, holding my face between his hands. “We aren’t going anywhere.” He grasped me by the shoulders and spun me around. From the darkened bedroom a figure stepped forward. Julian shoved me toward him and snarled, “Now, be a good girl and let the man finish his work.”