My poem titled “Too Good to be True”

poetry

 I’ve never been able to ruin something
Too good to be true,
Because once something starts to feel
Too good to be true,
I turn and run
Before I have a chance to ruin anything,
Anything at all.

-Collins 

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Story excerpt from “Canaries Don’t Sing”

short story, writing

 

They never believe you when you say you’re innocent. In many cases, they would be right, but in this case, they’re wrong. I’ve done quite a few questionable things in my life, but that’s only due to my line of work you see. In this instant though, I didn’t do it. I didn’t murder anybody. I’d been framed. Unfortunately for me the judge lays down the verdict and pounds his gavel. I bet he gets a rise out of doing that.

I sit reflectively as spectators mill out the courtroom doors and into the mid-day heat. The bailiff that waddles over resembles a sausage stuffed into a casing. He roughly pulls me up and slaps the cuffs on. I’m sure they expect women to make a scene or a fuss, lord knows many do, but I’m not one of them. I’ve been trained to be calm cool and level-headed. My partner tips his hat as I pass, a remorseful look crossing his face.

“I’ll get you out of the pen as soon as I can.”

Good old Murray. I nod and let the bailiff lead me away through the door adjacent to the judge’s chair. I have time to mull over the events of just three days prior as I’m searched, stripped, and fingerprinted.

The date was April 29th, 1942. My partner, Murray, and I were assigned to obtain vital information about trafficking of rare gems in and out of the country. The target, Mr. William Tucker, was suspected as a trafficker. It was my mission to seduce him during one of his parties and trick him into confessing. All was going well, I had Tucker wound around my finger. He had a thing for blondes, which worked in my favor. Anyway, I had him in a room upstairs spilling his guts. Murray was downstairs in the party keeping watch. When I’m done with Tucker, I turn to go but he has other ideas. He grabbed me and started kissing me, I resisted and when he became more violent, I snatched a vase from a nearby table and broke it over his head. I checked to make sure he was still breathing, which he was. This wasn’t part of the plan, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before. I went back downstairs and melted into the crowd. Joining Murray, we quickly excited the estate.

The following morning the newspapers declared William Tucker had been murdered. Witnesses saw me go upstairs with him and I came down alone. Immediately I had the fuzz at my door. I cursed myself for not being more discreet. I stuck with the story that I had gone up and he had become physical, which is why I had shattered the vase over him. They asked me to explain how there was a gun with my fingerprints on it at the scene. I said there was no gun. They had said there was and they matched the prints from the vase to the gun. I was promptly arrested. Fortunately I had given the information to Murray so he could relay it to our superiors.

I just have to sit down and shut up and soon Murray will have me sprung. After all, agencies don’t generally want their spies locked up in prison. It’s bad for business.

The bailiff guides me to a cell, pulls the door open and shoves me inside. “You’ll settle in nicely Pearl,” he laughs as he slams the door.

-Collins

Story excerpt from Riptide novella

short story, writing

Here’s a little peek at our novella project tiled Riptide.

 

 
                “Are you dead?”
                I open my eyes and see a little girl in a red and white striped bathing suit standing over me. Her curly hair is pulled into two pigtails and there’s still baby fat visible around her face. I groan and blink the sunlight from my eyes.
                “No.”
                She lifts a Popsicle to her lips and licks it. The sight of food clenches my stomach into knots. I haven’t eaten in almost two days. I shove up from the suitcase and stretch my arms over my head, hearing popping sounds as my joints pull apart. The drooping fronds obscure us from prying eyes on the beach. She must have wandered off.
                “You know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers, right?”
                The girl smiles and rocks on her heels. “I’m Poppy. What’s your name?”
                “Stella.”
                “Now we’re not strangers,” she giggles. Catching me eyeing her Popsicle, she holds it out to me. “Do you want it?”
                I feel stupid taking food from a little girl, but the rock of hunger sitting in my gut couldn’t care less. I gingerly take the Popsicle and take a bite off the top. The taste of strawberries melts over my tongue, erasing the sandpaper feeling.
                “Thank you.”
                Poppy waddles forward and touches my head, patting my hair. “Where’s your mommy and daddy?” Her eyes are large and all-encompassing as she waits for an answer.
                I chew on the Popsicle slowly. For a kid who couldn’t be more than five, she sure asks a lot of questions. “I ran away.”
                She frowns. “Why?”
                I lean back, sinking a hand into the warm sand. “Because they didn’t love me.”
                “Parents always love their kids. That’s what my mommy says.”
                I chuckle at her ignorance as I lick the Popsicle stick clean. “Well it’s a nice thought.”

-Collins 

My short story titled “Weakness”

short story, writing

I was listening to Jaymes Young’s song Moondust this evening and it conjured a scene in my mind I just had to share with all of you. It’s a sad reality for some, that it seems like there are some things that have a pull stronger than love.

 

“What are you trying to say?”
She paused at the door, turning slightly so that the early morning light that seeped through the window fell across her face. I watched her mouth open, then close. She tapped a nail against the wood of the door and let out a sigh. “What I’m trying to say is…”
“Just spit it out, won’t you? Break my heart,” I shouted, pushing my palms against my eyes to keep the tears from coming. “Break it into a million little pieces.”
I felt a touch like the tickling of a feather against my knuckles and dropped my hands to my sides. Defeated, I looked up into her eyes, at the emerald pools that shimmered there. It felt like years since I had seen them so clearly, so precisely that I could make out the minute changes in color, like stones below the surface, glinting in the sun. I longed to stare into her eyes a little longer but she lowered her gaze, resting in on the floor.
“It wasn’t my intention to break your heart,” she said. “I’m doing this to protect your heart from all the pain I’m doomed to cause it. Please believe me.”
She wasn’t making sense to me. She was saying one thing, but her tone implied something else. I glanced at her in confusion. “Don’t leave me. You’ll only hurt me by leaving.”
“You know that’s not true. I’ve been slipping for a while. I can’t keep it together. I’m not that strong.”
“You’re doing great. You’ve been trying—“
“Dianna.” She pulled up the sleeve of her frayed sweater above the crook of her elbow. A dozen ugly purple marks contrasted harshly against her pale skin. She looked up at me hesitantly like I might hit her.
My voice was a whisper. “Mom…”
She backed away from me as if she were afraid her very presence might wound me.
“You were doing so well,” I croaked. “I just got you back.”
“I told you. I’m not strong.” She shoved her sleeve back down and pulled her pack from the floor, slinging it over her shoulder. She looked like some wayward traveller, already tired from nights of sleeping in bus shelters against cold concrete.
I stepped toward her, the image slipping from my mind, replaced by some frantic need to keep her here. If I could keep her here, I could keep her safe. “Dad. We can tell dad together. He’ll help you. Yeah, he’ll help you find a treatment center that’ll…” I trailed off as her expression changed, falling into shallow peaks and valleys. “If you won’t stay for me, what about Mercy, hmm?” I made my voice hard. “What about your other daughter. She’s only five, she needs you.”
“Di—“
I cut her off before she could piece together another flimsy excuse. My resolve slipped from my chest like sand through my fingers. “Get clean! I know you can do it,” I pleaded.
Mom rubbed her arms slowly in little circles. “I can’t.”
“Just admit it. You love the drugs more than us. More than your own children.” My words sounded hollow, like hearing a church bell echoing from miles away. The truth lingered heavy between us, hovering like some thick fog. Neither one of us had had the courage to say it before. We both thought it before, many times. But to actually say it was something different. It had a strange finality to it, like it was the start of terrible ending.
“Maybe I do,” she whispered so low that I thought I’d misheard her, but when she reached for the door knob, I knew I hadn’t.
This was it. This is how it was going to end. She was going to walk out of our lives, with Mercy sleeping soundly in her bed and dad away overnight on business. A trembling began in my knees and made its way up my torso to my shoulders. I felt like I needed to grasp onto her, to her arm, her leg, to keep her here by shear force, but that was absurd. I couldn’t make her stay. My love wasn’t enough to change her mind.
She drew open the door and stood silently, silhouetted against the street lights for a moment. Desperately I tried to memorize her features. My eyes traced over her cheeks, her lips, her brows. They were so familiar but I felt they might slip from memory the next time I thought of her and then she’d seem more like the ghost of some distant aunt I’d met once when I was eleven.
“You’ll be better off without me,” she said. “Mercy won’t have to grow up going through what I put you through.” Her voice broke and she choked back something like a sob before continuing. “I… I love you.”
I stood frozen as she shut the door quietly and disappeared out of my life. It felt cold in the room suddenly and I sat on the floor, curling my knees to my chest. I hated her, but I loved her all the more, and that was what made me hate her the most.
“I love you too, Mom.”

-Collins