#AmWritingChallenge – Days 1-10

This month I’m participating in the #AmWritingChallenge on Instagram. In case you haven’t heard of it, each day you take a photo of something related to your life as a writer. I’ve provided the list below:

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Today I decided to post my photos and captions from the first ten days of the challenge. Feel free to leave comments below. Also share links to your own photos if you’re participating in the challenge too!

Follow me on Instagram at Life_Of_Dude

Day 1 – From Where I Write

Now that it’s warm outside, I write on the couch in our backyard.

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Day 2 – A Page From Your Manuscript

I write short stories, and this is from a current work in progress

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Day 3 – What You Drink When You Write

I drink coffee and water while writing. I save the whiskey until after 6…

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Day  4 – Procrastination Device

Mine is my laptop, so I can watch YouTube videos

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Day 5 – Inspirational Quote

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Day 6 – Morning Habit

Most mornings I go to the coffee shop to get some work and writing done

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Day 7 – You computer

Pretty self-explanatory. Does the site on the screen look familiar?

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Day 8 – Neglected Project

This is a short story I started a year ago and never finished. Hoping to revisit it soon.

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Day 9 – Shelfie!

My shelf runs along my dresser…

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Day 10 – Your Published Works

My flash fiction piece “Bandleader Bob” was featured on the Drabble last month – new 100 word stories published everyday!

Lisa Edamame

It was a cool and cloudless Saturday evening. Yes, I’m starting this story this way because this is the truth. I’m not lying, unlike my co-worker who fixed me up with Lisa. She was a sweet girl, really. We shared a bowl of edamame. She requested brown rice instead of white to go with her chicken teriyaki. We talked without pause, until I excused myself to give Connor a call.

“How’s everything going buddy?” he asked.

“Everything’s great. Perfect. Peachy,” I said.

“She’s great, isn’t she?”

I said nothing.

“Ah, you know I don’t always get your sarcasm,” he said.

“Obviously.”

“So what’s wrong with her?”

“With her? Nothing. No problem at all. She’s sweet, we both have an extreme dislike for pears.”

“I’d tell her the same thing I’ve told you. You dislike them because you disliked them as children. If you give them another chance -”

“She’s married.”

Connor said nothing. I looked down the street and saw a guy dressed in a colonial costume. He stopped at the corner, removed a hat from the sack he was carrying and placed it in front of him.

“What do you mean she’s married?” Connor asked.

“How didn’t you know she was married?”

“I swear I didn’t.”

“I know you didn’t.”

“Really? You believe me?”

“Yeah I do.”

“That’s good. I wonder why she agreed to go out with you-”

“She thinks I can get her a job, that’s why.”

Again Connor said nothing. I looked down and saw the same guy, now wearing a white wig. Only the wig was too large and covered his entire forehead. Performers like him were common downtown. The week before I saw Elmo, only the eyes were unevenly glued on the face and caused a lot of children to cry.

“You told her I had openings in my department,” I said.

“Because you do.”

“Not yet, not until next week. No one’s supposed to know until after our meeting next week.”

“I didn’t know.”

“My own team doesn’t even know yet.”

“You haven’t told your team yet?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“That’s beside the point. You shouldn’t have told anyone that my department’s getting restructured.”

“You’re right, I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Now I’m worried she might say something.”

“She’s not that type of woman. You’ll be fine, just tell her the truth.”

The man in the colonial costume started shouting at the people who walked passed him.

“How do you know? You just met her at the tech conference last week.”

“Alright, I don’t know, would you rather me tell you that?”

“I should just get back inside,” I said.

“Alright buddy, and you should’ve told your team what’s going on already.”

I hung up my phone and watched the man shout and wave his hands.

“What are you wearing?” he said to the college guys walking by in jeans. “Those carriages seem to be driving themselves,” he said while pointing to the cars driving by.

“What is that device in your hand?” he said. “Yes you, come over here,” he said, pointing to me. I walked over. “I saw you talking into it. Can it hear you? Does it talk back?”

I told him it was called a “Lisa,” after its inventor, Lisa Edamame. After all, why did that guy deserve the truth from me, when I couldn’t give it to my team?

The Dogs

Outside the tables were surrounded by chairs occupied by those who wanted nothing more than to enjoy the sunshine. Or so I thought. Some opened the umbrellas and adjusted the position of the metal chairs they sat in. Was the sun a little too bright? The sky a little too blue?

Some of the tabletops were covered with plates of egg biscuit sandwiches, the coffee shop’s special. Others were covered with black coffee mugs and glass tea pots. The Sunday paper was spread out on another, pulled apart by section. as if it were a tablecloth.

Underneath all the tables and chairs lay the dogs. Retrievers and terriers and pugs, just as diverse as their owners above them. They were calm and quiet; trained and obedient. Some were on leads though most were not.

Sometimes I’d look one in the eye and sometimes I’d get a tail wag in return. Most of the time they’d stare at me for a moment, maybe lift and tilt their head, and then rest back on the concrete.

Last week I took the same seat like any other Sunday. I sipped my coffee and watched a few friends at a table a few feet away. The raised their glasses in a toast. The coffee shop was the closest thing to a brunch spot In this town. Their glasses clanked and a lab barked. Then a basset hound, followed by a Saint Bernard. Then the others. The owners bent over to try to calm down the larger ones. An older woman set her dog in her lap. Others screamed at theirs to shut the hell up.

Eventually they did shut up. Nobody knew what really happened. I didn’t, not until now, thinking it over in that same spot. The dogs were scared, yes, but maybe not just because of the glasses. What if that was the breaking point? What if all along, the sun was a little too bright? The sky just a little too blue?

Procrastination

Because every writer has trouble with procrastination…

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We sat on the sofa underneath the wooden awning attached to the back of our house. We were procrastinating.

I had an assignment due at midnight. Six hundred words on the value of going to business school. The latest ranking of the nation’s top business school was released the day before – the first of several to be released that year. It was a little after eight, and I found the sunset, the breeze against my skin and the squirrel running up the oak tree to be much more interesting.

“I’m taking the job, it makes the most sense,” Justin said. He held his phone and rubbed its case as if there was a stain. The job, an assistant manager at his uncle’s liquor store, was offered to him that morning. He had to decide by midnight..

“But I really don’t want to work for my Uncle,” he said. “I promised myself that I’d never work for my uncle.”

“We’ve all lied to ourselves,” I said. The sky turned a deep orange and I couldn’t see the squirrel in the oak tree anymore. I could hear it, though. I listened to the squirrel because I found the sudden, quick sounds it made to be much more interesting.

“The money isn’t bad, and I’m sure my Uncle would let me take the summer holidays off.”

“Just call him and say you’re gonna take the job,” I said. “You know you are.”

Justin stood up and tossed his phone on the sofa. “And you just write the article. How hard is it? Take the top schools, look up some facts and that’s it.”

“They want me to tell a story,” I said.

“And you write fiction, so what’s the big deal?”

“I wonder if most people find the school rankings more interesting than the actual experience of college. I’d say so.” I pulled my legs onto the sofa and tossed Justin his phone.

“You must have hated business school,” my roommate said. He went into the house and I heard him on the phone, telling his uncle he would take the job.

I didn’t hate it. Business school was good to me, it was what I needed at the time. Something practical, because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I wanted to believe I was a corporate man, but I knew I was lying to myself.

And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t inspiration, but something like relief. I knew I found the angle to the piece due in a couple hours. But I also knew in another moment or so, the angle I found I would consider self-pitying or narcissistic.

By ten-thirty I had no choice but to write. The idea I was on at that moment was the topic for the article. I wrote it and sent it off. I felt proud and I felt scared. I told myself it was great and I told myself it was awful. I also knew I had another piece due the following midnight, and I couldn’t wait to be back on the sofa, finding things that were much more interesting.

War

At Sean’s apartment, we played cards. We played on the floor because the movers came and took the furniture that afternoon. He asked to stay at my place that night and naturally I said yes. Jen was staying with her parents and she preferred if she didn’t see him that night.

“I haven’t played war since I was a kid,” I said. I was winning after drawing a couple tens, queens and aces.

“It’s easy, gives me time to think,” he said.

“About what?” I asked.

“About anything, about what’s next.”

The next day Sean would be moving to the city. His cousin’s roommate just moved out and needed someone to help with rent. I knew Sean would’ve preferred to have his own place, like me, but money was tight.

Nevertheless he was, at that moment, on a lucky streak. His sevens beat my sixes; his Jokers beat my tens.

“Will Jen still help move tomorrow?” I asked.

“She said she would.”

About a year ago, Sean helped me move out of the apartment I shared with Gabby. Or rather, it was a refurnished garage. It was good for the two of us until we realized we weren’t good for each other. At that time Sean met Jen and he was happy. Together they helped me move.

“We should get back to my place,” I said. “It’s almost nine.” I was back in the lead after drawing a queen and king. I lucked out when Sean drew a two against my four.

“When we finish this game, we’ll go,” he said.

I wanted to let him win. He needed to catch a break, even if that break was winning a card game. I knew the game would go on – sometimes with me in the lead, sometimes with Sean. It was just something I couldn’t control, something out of my hands.

Basement Scene

I was in the hospital, the emergency room, waiting. Waiting for an update on the something that happened. I wasn’t alone – Justin was there too, just as he was when the something happened. We called a Lyft driver to follow the ambulance that came to take Toby away.

I really can’t explain, that something that happened. It’s easy to describe what happened before it – the party, the beer pong and band playing AC/DC covers in the basement. Toby played bass guitar for the band. He stepped out onto our porch during intermission. The clock struck midnight minutes before and the bitter cold air greeted us into the New Year.

“2013,” Toby said. He smoked just like the rest of us. Between breaths and the smoke it seemed as if we could see the time rise and disappear.

“Thanks again for playing tonight,” I said. Toby and his band had a chance to play New Year’s Eve at a bar downtown. He convinced the rest of his band to play in my basement. We charged five dollars a head and over fifty people came.

Justin was out on the porch too. He was the lead singer. He sang “Highway to Hell,” right before midnight. Out on the porch he took a quick drag from his girlfriend’s cigarette and told Toby to come back into the basement for a couple more songs.

“We could’ve made more,” he said to Toby. This was probably true. I stayed outside and finished my cigarette with some people I didn’t know. The lights flickered and screams came from inside.

I ran downstairs to the basement and saw Toby unconscious with his bass across his chest. Everyone had a different story. He blacked out. He shocked himself. He mixed the wrong substances.

And that’s why Justin and I were in the emergency room, waiting. We didn’t know what happened, and we wanted to know. I was very worried about Toby, I was. I also wanted to know if it, the something, was somehow my fault. If the wiring in the basement was faulty. If I pressured him into taking one shot too many. I really, really hoped it wasn’t my fault. I was worried for Toby, but I really hoped it wasn’t my fault.

Bandleader Bob

Earlier this month a drabble of mine was published on the blog The Drabble. I wanted to share this with my readers, and I encourage everyone to follow this blog. Flash fiction published almost every day!

man-playing-a-saxophone-pvBy Cole Thomas

We worked in an office — a “cool” office, no cubicles! — and our team leader was Robert. We called him Bandleader Bob.
“We still meeting Bandleader Bob?”
“Way to take that on Bandleader Bob!”
Then one day, Bandleader Bob quit.
None of us were sure why. We speculated he was bored, or depressed.
Month’s later, after teammate Tina and I started dating, we visited a new Jazz Club downtown.
The quartet walked on at ten, and playing the sax was Bandleader Bob. His notes soared and Tina’s face melted.
And all that time we joked.

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