I should have lived in Victorian America, when melancholy was in high fashion—she’d whisper as I lay spooned around her. More often than not, I found her curled up in bed, staring at the wall. Only I witnessed her bravery in rising after days of feeling like nothing. She remained alive by sheer will.
And my cooking. I loved to cook for her. She ate everything and delighted in it, even when the beast held her tighter than I ever could. Food comforted her, and kept her alive, if not lively.
She rarely left her little home overlooking the river. The little house hung like an afterthought upon the bluff, threatening to come unmoored at any moment and tumble into the river. Incredibly, she worried not at all about the inevitable possibility. Her reason—This house will fall when I’m ready.
I love this house—she said quietly—Did you know it used to be a hermitage before this area was developed? I did, but shook my head, encouraging her to continue with the story about our local river king, whom most called a saint for the miraculous happenings during his time in this home.
Susurrations of gossip followed her through town as she walked, head up, eyes straightforward, never lingering to purchase anything beyond necessities.
Until I followed her home one day and she invited me in as though she were expecting me. From that day on, I made her purchases along with my own, but nothing staved off the beast, her modern day melancholy. The conversation that first day immersed us in an ongoing dialogue of slightly differing philosophies and worldviews, with matching intellectual curiosities. Love blossomed that day.
I saw it happen.
On my way up the switchbacks with an angelfood cake and a handful of wildflowers, the ground trembled. A cracked formed on the edge of the bluff just under the overhanging edge of the house. It shook, and slowly shifted downward.
Until it tumbled and slid down into the river. A hand may have appeared out the window. Perhaps not.
There’s no explanation for my continued climb to what was now the top, where I found the beast dangling. It lives in me. I shall not love in that way again.
In the quiet of twilight, when everyone else was gone, I went out to
Dad’s garage behind the house. He was working on our old Ford Ltd.
Sitting on a stool
in from of his worktable, I posited, “Daddy?”
“Yes, baby?” He
responded while putting parts together. He’d tried teaching me
mechanics, but it didn’t take, leaving him so frustrated that he
yelled at me to go back inside and learn how to cook. I can’t cook
“Daddy, I need a
lock on my door.” The silence expanded to fill my head with his
“What the hell do
you need a lock for? You’re not locking me and your mother out of
that room. We pay the rent here. Whatever you’re hiding we’ll
find out anyways.” Holding the part, he dropped onto the creeper
and rolled under the car.
tired of Sam coming into my room without knocking. He comes in when
I’m dressing and won’t leave no matter how much I scream. I gotta
grab my clothes and go past him to dress in the bathroom.”
The creeper flew out
and Dad sat up, looking at me with his crazy eyes that scared me, but
I held my ground. “Are you serious?”
He stood up, wiped
his hands on a red rag, and paced the room, shouting, “That little
sonuvabitch! That little bastard! I didn’t raise no son of mine to
be a pervert. I didn’t raise him to be peeping at his sister.”
Daddy stopped, looked me straight in the eye, and asked, “He never
touched you, has he?”
“God, no! Ain’t
it enough that he’s looking at me? That he’s coming in my room
without permission?” I hugged myself and shivered, having not
thought of that possibility.
“Alright, baby, I
gotcha,” he reassured me as he looked for a lock in his tool box.
After picking up his drill, he left the garage, me following him
inside and down to my room. A simple latch lock went onto my door in
a few minutes. Daddy kissed my head and returned to his garage.
That evening, I was
reading in our downstairs family room when my brother got home from
his after school job. Daddy was waiting for him. Soon as the door
opened, he launched into him, reamed him out clean. He didn’t even
show up for dinner.
dressing the next morning, Sam’s voice boomed through my door, “You
awake in there, Serena?” A little chuckle turned into a BAM as he
hit the door that wouldn’t open. I stood quietly in front of my
closet, one leg in my pants, as he pounded the door and hollered to
be let in.
My journal is filled
with possibilities of what coulda happened without that little lock.
Erin was born in Missouri and moved to the
East Coast in 2007. She holds an A.A.S in General Studies with an
emphasis in Police Science, a Certificate of Education from Germanna
Community College and a Bachelor’s of English, Linguistics, and
Communications from the University of Mary Washington. She enjoys
writing, acting, dabbling in the stock market and cryptocurrencies,
and playing instruments. An introvert to the core, Erin
self-identifies as a doughnut enthusiast and in her free time if
she’s not price shopping for lye, she enjoys long walks in dark
forests carrying her favorite shovel.
Tell me about
your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic
Most of the time I
write between phone conferences with various celebrities while I’m
traveling on my private jet. I find that it’s the optimal place to
write, up in the clouds, on my way to a tropical coast. Joking…
I can’t say that I
have a process. I write. That’s pretty much it—one word and then
next and the next. I never force myself to write; I don’t keep a
set schedule or judge myself on the plethora of days and times I
should be writing and I’m not.
On warm days
(spring, summer, early fall) I have an outdoor spot where I write. It
serves as fantastic inspiration, but I won’t say where it is.
As far as magical
spells go, the fairies keep stealing them. Every single time I
concoct a new one those thieving little jerks come along and take it
from me. So, I would be more than happy to divulge the spells, but I
no longer have them. Perhaps interview the fairies. They will tell
Walk me through
the publishing process as an editor of anthologies, from soliciting
submissions to marketing the final product.
I wouldn’t call
the publishing process ‘walking’. The better term would be
stumbling. It’s not an easy feat. Publishing an anthology would be
my excuse for turning to alcoholism. But really, I think it’s a
matter of being very clear on the submission call…VERY clear in
terms of what I’m looking for, what I expect in terms of
formatting, word count, content, etc. Doing this seems to help.
It’s working with
a large number of artists, all with different tastes, styles, and
trying to combine everything into a single volume; it can be fun and
challenging particularly because it is multi-genre. I’ve really
been fortunate to have worked with extremely talented authors and
poets which has helped make publishing both “Cocky-Tales” and
“Rejected” wonderful experiences.
Marketing is always
a tough one. I approach it a bit differently. I don’t do what they
call “link drop”. I’ve always worked to build a relationship
with my audience from participating in real-life events to going
Facebook Live, I appreciate everyone who takes time to leave a
comment or follow my page, and I enjoy interacting with them as much
as possible. When I market an anthology, I want my audience to also
get to know the authors here and there—bios are important to me. I
loved posting the rescue pet photos that a few of our authors had
Talk about your
support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?
I feel like I have a
larger support system online than in real life. Per the last
question, I’ve taken time to try my best to build genuine
relationships and express my appreciation because, wow(!), sometimes
the interaction blows my mind! I’ve made a number of great online
friends who are also authors or aspiring authors, and they are
In real life I
wouldn’t say I necessarily have ‘cheerleaders’. Although, I’m
not opposed to cheerleading uniforms (i.e. Dallas Cowboys…anyways,
that wasn’t the question. Was it?) I have a handful of friends,
and I think if I ever wanted to quit writing, they’d probably try
to talk me out of it, lol.
How does life
influence your writing and vice versa? Feel free to share anything
you want about When She Walked Away. Also, blatantly exploit this
opportunity to advertise all your freelance work.
I think every piece
of fiction is sourced from bits and pieces of reality. My life
influences my writing in significant ways. While the experiences
don’t exactly parallel, I think there’s parts of me in overall
situations or traits in characters. If it wasn’t personal on a
certain level, I wouldn’t write it.
When I write I also
find I’m discovering myself. Maybe not in the initial piece, but
once I am finished and I step back and see the complete picture, I
find something new within me that I hadn’t recognized. Art is cool
in that sense.
What do you love
most about your creativity?
It’s a good way to
escape. My creativity allows me to process situations in abstract and
escapist dynamics; otherwise, I don’t know that I could deal with
some things through the lens of “normal society”.
Tell us how you get acting roles! Don’t leave out the unglamorous,
hard work parts.
Luck? Accident? I
turned down my first role two times. I felt I was gracious and polite
about it, having recognized the opportunity to be involved in
something as big as Netflix, but it wasn’t where I thought I wanted
to go in life. Finally, I ended up taking it.
After that, I
decided I’d do some background roles. I only ever meant to stand in
the background as ‘popcorn eating patron number 137’, but at my
second job which was “Unmasked”, the director pulled me and gave
me a speaking role. Then and there I made an important decision:
Nothing is worth doing if it doesn’t scare the hell out of me.
Acting is practice,
practice, practice…it’s investing time and finances into the
craft. It’s driving to audition after audition, most are spur of
the moment. It’s coming home from the gym, sweaty, at ten o’
clock at night, changing my shirt, putting on makeup, fixing my hair,
and self-taping an audition or several.
after rejection, and sometimes you don’t even hear that “no”.
What I do is submit and move on. Dwelling and checking email every
second of the day is like concrete. It holds you back. Submit, move
on, move forward, let go, because if it is meant to be, it’ll
happen. And when I do hear a “yes” (YES!) it is so worth it, the
entire process is worth it.
“Sure, Hank, no one is your enemy. We know. But let’s keep our tazers at the ready just in case, okay, my friend?” Waltraud snagged the book from Hank and stuffed it in the front of her shirt, bumping his tazer up with her own. “Why does your book smell like puke? It’s overwhelming my own fetid swamp in there.”
“It’s regurgitating the hate that surrounds–“
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. Sorry I asked.” Shoulder to shoulder, they strode stealthily through the starship’s upper deck, three starkiller robots on their heels like big dumb dogs with 4317s holding ammo that detonated on contact. When one hit a human head, it was a fireworks of organic material. Hitting a robot endangered them all. Sometimes the difference wasn’t obvious. The starkillers were programmed to follow the instructions of Waltraud alone.
When she turned the corner and her head disappeared from a blaster ray, the starkillers turned to Hank, who said, “No one is my enemy.” They fired.
ring, please.” Father Monahan turned to Jeffrey, whose gaze sent
everyone’s eyes to the back of the room. Whatever he was looking at
was not apparent, and all returned their attention to the couple.
groom stage-whispered angrily at his best man. He couldn’t be
bothered right now that his lifelong friend’s unrequited love
hadn’t shown. For god’s sake, it was his wedding. If Jeffrey
ruined it, their friendship was in question. It had been faltering
ever more as this obsession had grown.
Laila slowly opened
the heavy church door, hoping for a quiet entrance. She was late,
hadn’t been expecting to come at all. Susanna had begged her to
come. Her little sister’s wedding was a must, but she understood
that HE would be there. They agreed that no one wanted the commotion
that would ensue from her presence. Yet she desperately wished to see
her baby girl she helped raise marry the man of her dreams. The door
squeak echoed around the three-stories’ tall ceiling. Acoustics
were fantastic in here—as a singer, she was impressed. Then all
eyes turned again to the back of the room.
Halfway up, Laila’s
ex-husband Henri sat with two of their children, both of them excited
about baby sister as flower girl. Upon seeing Laila in the doorway,
with sunlight haloing her auburn hair, he stood up, snapped his
fingers for the kids to follow, and headed to the door. As he walked
down the aisle, he heard a gasp from the front, but didn’t turn to
find out from who. In his peripheral vision, he noted a tall man in
black on the left get up and head in the same direction. He did not
want to know who this guy was. Henri reached back for his children.
The sound of little feet running behind him assured him that all his
kids were coming.
Suhatra can move only her eyes. In her peripheral vision, she watches him flip switches like a mad scientist. Frankenstein images come to her, unbidden, terribly unwanted. The tingling begins in her fingers, moving up. This is so nerve-wracking, she’s afraid of farting right out loud. This thought causes her to make the tiniest little hiccough. He spins and leans into her face. “Be quiet. Don’t breathe. We’re very nearly ready to begin.”
He explains the anesthetic effect of the ionization process. The tingling continues, spreading throughout her body, then down to her toes. When it reaches her face, she absolutely, positively wants to scream, “Stop!” She lies completely still, keeping her eyes open, waiting for the cue to focus on that dot on the ceiling. This is supposed to hold her eyes in place long enough for the molecular rearranging to settle her new features without error.
The horror stories she’s heard. Wandering eyes causing a living nightmare of a cubist face make her want to focus now. Yet she’s been told that everything must be still at once, no breathing even. The eyes must focus on the dot at the proper time, as concentration may wane if held too long. She wants no cubist look, just to walk free again as an unrecognized individual. He whispers, so as not to disturb her stillness, “it’s time now to focus on the dot. In 7 seconds, your molecules will rearrange to create a new you. You won’t recognize yourself. Ready . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Voila! You are no longer gorgeous. You are normal. Normal, I say. Sit up, dear. Look. Look.”
Drew stood on the beach, savoring the moment. He was still processing that he was doing exactly what he wanted, and at only 19, starting his chosen career. At 19. He sent his thanks out to the Universe as loud as he could.
“Thank you!” he screamed out across the ocean.
“Yo, bud. What’s up with that?”
His new best friend and right hand man seemed intrigued at his fervor.
“Counting my blessings, friend.”
“Cool.” They hung together side by side absorbing the moment.
“Who’s that chick? Is she with us? I thought I knew everyone.”
Drew responded by waving and yelling, “Hey, Linda!” To Garret, he explained, “It’s my cousin.”
As Linda came closer, Garrett stood taller, straightened his t-shirt, and pressed back his hair.
“No way, man. She’s off limits.”
“Why? She’s hot.”
“The less you say to her, the better. She won’t understand. Her brain takes things literally.”
Watching the staircase tilting in the wind, Linda whispered to herself, “I’m not going up there again. It’s too scary.”
“Why would you? It’s dangerous,” responded a voice from the crowd.
Drew had said every scene could be viewed from the top, yet Linda hesitated. She’d been torn between the years of her mother admonishing her to never touch the stairs and her favorite cousin including her in his movie production.
“No, I can’t do it today.” Tears raged behind her eyes as she raced home to release them into the comfort of her own pillow.
“Hey, brah, your aunt’s on the phone. Does she want you to come to the big house? Shall we hold our breath as we tremble in fear for you?”
“Nah, she’s not like that. Maybe we should quiet down a little, though. Can you pass that around?”
His crew watched as Drew’s face transformed into a visage of ultimatum expectation. After replacing the phone, he scanned the group.
“Did anyone do something I need to know about?”
Quiet faces with wide eyes stared back at him with no sign of guilt.
“Tremble in fear, my friends.”
The longest mile, he thought, as he walked from the carriage house through the dusk to see his aunt. He entered and went toward the light to stand in the doorway of the front room.
“I trusted you.”
Her voice slashed his brain. With no clue to his transgression, Drew considered a general apology, but determined that it was too soon.
“I’m sorry.” Automatic response. He mentally crossed fingers that he didn’t just imply guilt.
“Sit.” He took a chair nearest the egress, eyeing his aunt carefully. Her eyes seemingly riveted to the fireplace, she stated in a soft, yet damning voice, “You broke that trust.”
“What can I do?”
“You’re ignorant of your egregious error.” He stared at the fire with her. Tears brimmed his eyes. “My daughter climbed one of those rickety staircasees every time your crew hit the beach to film.”
“Why?” Names raced through his mind. Who would tell her to do that?
“At your request, Drew, according to her.”
“What? I never . . . fuck . . .”
“Please, Drew. There will be no fucking in this conversation. We’re both educated adults with intelligent vocabularies.”
“Yes, Aunt _____.”
“Those staircases have remained on the beach for over five decades, the last two against my wishes.”
“I know, I know. They’re from that movie. They bring tourists.”
Tuesday, December 14, two black mambas attacked Dr. P–, biology researcher with the University of S–, as he was observing the behavior of the reptiles. Black mambas are normally shy, and they will turn away from human contact. When they feel cornered, they can rear up four feet in an attempt to frighten an attacker.
In a rare event, two snakes worked in a tag team effort to bring down a human being. Dr. P–’s assistants, L– and J–, biology students at the university, watched the first snake bite him on the left thigh, then chase the researcher toward them, when they saw a second snake bite his other thigh. Dr. P– first told them to help him to the car, but at the second snake’s appearance, urged them to run.
The two assistants stated that they sat in the car, and every time they opened the door, one of the two snakes would race toward them. The most deadly snake in the world, the black mamba’s bite is 100% fatal without antivenin within minutes. Therefore, it was too late to help Dr. P– when they arrived with help an hour later.
Dr. P– was the procurer of reptile species for the university’s natural history museum. He also produced articles for their scientific journal on reptile behavior, including a recent article on antivenin procedures. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.