In hindsight, the solution was obvious. They had sat there for nearly half an hour, staring up at the stars. She'd tried to figure out why he was so quiet. He'd picked her up at 7, right on time, survived her dad's "look of death", and taken her out on the river in his boat. Now, sitting on the little sandbar, the remains of their picnic sitting in the basket beside him, he'd gone silent. She wondered if she'd said something wrong, something that made him regret ever asking her out in the first place. Or perhaps he was bored;...

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Dear Past Self,
Let me tell you a few things you should know;
This is your life now.

I can see that gap between your little eyebrows begin to furrow up.
Well let me untangle it for you now;
It's not the breath catching breeze that I can feel from the top of the cliff,
or the chill that will roll up my spine when I hit the water,
and not even the risk of blood and ambulance sirens.

To fill in your answer blank, yes,
You will laugh in the spur of a bad moment,
And you will look...

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All he had to his name was this park bench, and not even that.

As he sat and gazed off into the distance, he contemplated his fate. He'd lost his job, then his home, then his family. Nothing was left to him, not even his body that lay six feet under rotting in a pauper's grave. His spirit sat on the bench that the shelter had dedicated to his memory. Suicide had not ended his suffering. Dispossessed of everything he had held dear, he contemplated getting his life back.

His ex-wife stood looking at the bench, at his name...

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The first thing he felt upon regaining consciousness was wet and prickly. He couldn't see just yet, and wouldn't be able to turn his head even if his eyes were working properly. In fact all he could move were the fingers of his left hand. So he was determined to make the best of that situation until he could do more.

If he could do more. A thought he quickly would not allow himself to hold on to.

He gripped the objects between his fingers. No, it was a substance. He flattened his hand and ran the back of it...

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She had made her bed and she now had to lie in it: that was what her mother had told her and what she now believed. So she was lying in it, like a good little girl – meek and mild, silent and compliant: behaviour that had got her to where she was now – unhappy, stuck, unravelling. Because old habits die hard, you see, and it is difficult to change. How does one forget three decades of learned behaviour? How does one peel off and discard the labels people attach? They don’t, that’s how, because they can’t – not...

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He was obviously part of the mob.

If you didn't know the mob like Claudia did, you would have said that was a foolish statement. You would have looked down and not seen a mid-level member of the criminal organisation that secretly ran more than four-fifths of the city.

You would have seen a dog.

But Claudia had been a beat cop for more than a century now, and if you survive that long, it's because you know things. You know how to look past class, how to look past species.

You saw the stance, the attitude, the carefully positioned...

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The spotlight travelled the circumference of the room in search of a victim, looking to curb its own discomfort by persuading the unwanted attention on to another. Beneath its bright glare the chosen individual trebled and froze, as if caught in headlights. Then, becoming aware of the line of eyes, the press of bodies – waiting, watching, for her to spring into action, to move, to come alive – she lifted her arms, stretching them out, inhaling deeply.

Her performance opened with a slow dance, the words of a song low and soft on her breath, barely above a whisper....

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Johnny, my boyfriend was aptly named. Laura, my dad's girlfriend called him 'The Pirate' because of his long dark curly hair, caught up around the forehead with an old blue and white bandana. Looking remarkably like Johnny Depp in his Caribbean pirate movies.

I suspected something was going on between them. Lots of eye contact, protracted, meaningful. And they were always joking about, you know that kind of banter where you can just feel the sexual tension.

Johnny was handsome so I suppose it wasn't that unusual. He looked mean and sexy in his long black leather coat, black boots...

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Marchiel stared into Francis's twisted visage. The black rose stood just behind the broken man and Marchiel wanted her. Francis put a hand on Marchiel's chest as the younger man started forward.
"No, brother. You will not have her. She has chosen me. ME!" Francis crowed in triumph. It was true. The Black Rose had chosen his twisted, fire-marked brother over Marchiel. Marchiel's heart ached at the rejection.
"You have placed a spell on her, Francis. I will break it with true love's kiss." Marchiel brushed his brother aside and continued up the steps towards his love. "Chereal," he whispered...

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The freaking tiny pebbles are getting all stuck in my shoes. Urgggg. This is stupid. I mean why did I come down to the lake anyway? I'm pretty sure I forgot to lock the door too.
Uriah always told me to get fresh air every now and then, and this shore sure has a breeze.

*A chuckle slips out of my lips.*

Yup, definitely a breeze.

This is stupid. I'm not a little kid. I can't kick off my shoes and play pirates by the water anymore. How could I play pirates by myself, anyway? Impossible.
But I can still...

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