It was a bit like trying to comprehend how much a billion dollars was.  Most people can’t.  Even those who have a billion dollars probably can’t quite grasp exactly how much that really is.  The human brain is just not capable of understanding a number that large.  Figuratively, sure, but not really.

Not really.

In a lot of ways it was like having a billion dollars – more than you could ever conceivably spend in a lifetime.  In multiple lifetimes.  You’d just never reach the end of it.

And it was nothing like having a billion dollars.  It wasn’t one lifetime of never having to worry about anything ever again.  Instead it was watching everything you knew and everyone you loved die, decay, and be forgotten.  It was watching your home disappear from the face of the Earth.

It was watching the Earth disappear.

It was being utterly, utterly alone, and yet no closer to the end of your life than you were to the beginning.

It was the ultimate curse.

She once thought that to live forever was to finally have all the time in the world to do all the things she had always wanted to do; to be free of the threat of death seemed the ultimate freedom.  But the things of her dreams had not been eternal.   Time to travel, but nothing left to see.  Time to dance, but no one left to play the music.  Time to write, but no one to read her words.  No one to tell the story of her life to, or pass along the knowledge of a billion years.

It was only now that she understood the cage; the key to her freedom lost.  Forever.


A Fairy-tale Ending

‘Don’t,’ he says.

I stop mid-reach.  One of my many lady’s maids instead retrieves the spool of ribbon which a careless sweep of my hand had sent tumbling to the floor to unravel like a satin snake.

He takes my hand and kisses it.  And I want to scream. I know he does not intend to hurt me, but that word has become a glass shard, piercing me each time it passes his lips.

‘Don’t,’ he says, when I reach with my napkin to soak up a spilled glass of wine on the table.

‘Don’t,’ he says, when I begin to straighten the blankets on the bed after rising in the morning.

‘Don’t,’ he says, when I do anything which betrays my shameful past.

I know he thinks such things are beneath me.  Perhaps he has forgotten where he found me; the poor girl who slept in the soot of the hearth.  Me, who waited on a step-family as a servant lest I be locked away without food. Me, who would be beaten for the slightest lapse or offense until I had learnt my lesson.  Me, who once saw a promise of freedom, but now find myself locked in an even tighter cage than I had been.

My life before, a never ending stream of ‘Do this,’ and ‘Do that’, now hemmed in on all sides by ‘Don’ts.’  I am more a prisoner in this life than I ever was locked in the little attic back home.

He follows me as I turn away, calling me ‘beloved’ and asking what is wrong.  He grasps my hand again, but I pull away.

‘Don’t’ I say then, and I wonder why I did not say it to him before he put the slipper on my foot.

A Dark and Stormy Night

The fire burned brighter, sticks tucked into the glowing heart to fuel it as a talisman against the night. The walls around them were filled with images of hunting, of fat animals that came with the grasses and filled their bellies. They seemed to run across the walls as the fire licked at the fresh wood.

Sasa sat wrapped in a deer hide, holding her baby brother on her lap. She was held in thrall by Eo, the shaman woman who seemed able to perform miracles as dust from her fingers causing the fire to burst for a moment then settle back. She fed it plants which filled the air with a sweet smell. The bones at her neck and wrist clattered with each movement she made.

“When the strong winds blow, and the skies grow black, and the fierce call of the sky god sounds like the tumbling of rocks down the mountain, then you know that Raddan comes, spitting fire before him.”

Sasa remembered the first time she had seen the blinding fire flash, heard the terrifying sound that came as it passed overhead, but Raddan himself she had never seen..

“But what does Raddan look like?”

“Would you defy the sky god, young one?” Eo asked, then laughed at the child’s innocence and put a hand on her head. “I will show you this, and more, if you wish to follow in my ways.”

Sasa had long desired to learn the magic that Eo wielded, to be a wise woman and healer of the people, and to not be afraid. Sasa’s mother had not lived beyond her brother’s birth. Eo had nourished him at her breast instead, but Sasa was nourished by Eo’s teachings.

“I want to follow you,” Sasa said. “I want to know what you know.”

Eo smiled. She had hoped Sasa would follow her, for she had lost her own child and had no other to train up.

“I will show you all the hidden knowledge of the world,” she said. “How to find the dust that burns, and the plants which heal, and to know when to move with the birds, and how to stand against the dark.”

Then she took a bone on a strap of sinew from her neck and placed it around Sasa’s.

“I will show you Raddan. And you shall grow strong.”

Continue reading

We’ve Got Evidence

Yes, New York, it’s Donald T.,
Michael Cohen and Sean Hannity
All the monkeys in the circus
Are claiming to be out of work because
What a sight
Is on the TV
There’s talk of felony

We’ve got evidence
And with all this evidence
You will never, ever, ever,
Get off.

All who watch the news agree
We expect a guilty plea
Exercise your higher reason
As we investigate for treason
What could they be hiding?
Judge Kimba Wood will be presiding

As we sift evidence
There’s just so much evidence…

A wire transfer to a porn star might be just the tip
Suspicious Seychelles meetings and an undisclosed Prague trip
We’re reviewing every document for intent to collude
And maybe there’s a pee-pee tape of Russian prostitutes

Oh, we’ve got evidence, we’ve got so much evidence
And with evidence… evidence… evidence… evidence… evidence….
You’ll never get off!

Parody of “We’ve Got Elegance” from the musical/play Hello, Dolly!  Obvious references are obvious.

Writing Prompt: Revolution Radio

Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: Revolution Radio

You’re a local disc jokey with a morning radio program. On your show you often take phone calls from commuters to talk about music and celebrity gossip, but on this particular morning you pick up a caller who says he’s going jump off the top of your building unless you play every song he requests during your show—and he’s purposefully picking songs that are hard to find or that he knows you hate! Start with him calling in and write this scene.

The intern gestured wildly through the window, pointing to the phone and holding up four fingers. Troy made a note to talk to her about professionalism but picked up line four anyway.

“KRED, you’re the air.”

Troy waited, met only with some heavy breathing.

“Good morning, you’re on the air with T-Roy. Who’s this?” he tried again.

A muffled sound of someone blowing their nose followed, and then the cracked voice of a woman. “Is this T-Roy in Tacoma?”

“Yes it is, and you are live on the air,” he said, glaring at his intern. “Who is this?” There was another pause, and Troy could hear himself in the background. “Ma’am, if you turn off your radio this will go a lot easier.”

“I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I can’t do that.”

There was a strange disconnect in her voice. Despite the sniffling and occasional crack, her voice seemed otherwise devoid of emotion.

“Well, my intern seems to think you wanted to talk to me,” he said. Troy’s hand hovered over the button which would end the call.

“The view is really quite pretty from the top of your building,” she said, followed by another sniffle.

“Excuse me? You’re on the roof?”

“Well. For the moment.”

Troy finally gave his intern a big thumbs up. In the other room she nodded and got on the phone.

“Well, ma’am… sorry, what did you say your name was?”

“Rome,” she said after another pause.

Troy could still hear himself in the background, a few second’s delay between broadcast and reception.

“Rome, huh? That’s an interesting name. Well, Rome, what can we do for you here at KRED?”

“I want you to play a song.”

“Well, we’re not really taking requests at the moment-“

“You’ll play this song,” she interrupted. “You’ll play it, because if you don’t…”

Troy waited, but dead air is death on the radio. As soon as he decided she wasn’t going to finish the thought he spoke up.

“What song did you want, Rome?”

“Four to the Floor,” she said. “Four to the Floor, or I’ll take the short way down.”

The intern gestured at the window again and gave a thumbs up in return when Troy looked over.

“I don’t think I’m familiar with that one,” he said, meaning the song itself but leaving it open to be misinterpreted. He resisted the urge to ask her to ‘hum a few bars and I’ll fake it’.

“Starsailor,” she said.

Troy had never heard of it, assuming it was the artist. He scribbled a note as he spoke.

“Is that any relation to Rosebud?” Troy laughed at his own joke. “Well, listeners, it sounds as if Rome is saying she’ll jump if I don’t play the song. Have I got that right, Rome?”

Rome gave a few heavy breaths.


Troy held up the scribble for his intern, indicating she should find the song.

“Okay, I’ve got our station intern looking it up.”


“I must say, this is a rather extreme way to get a song on the radio, isn’t it?”

More breathing, then the sound of pops and bumps as the phone, and presumably the person holding it, moved.

“Rome, you still with me?”

“I can see Jefferson park from here,” she said with a hint of wistfulness.

“Well, Rome, I’m just keeping an eye on our station feed for what some of our helpful listeners have to say. ‘LB’ writes ‘How did someone get onto the roof, don’t you have security?’ That’s an excellent question ‘LB’. I’d like to remind our listeners that they can send in their comments to or to my show, @T-RoyKRED. KRED, the station with cred.

“If you’re just tuning in we’ve got Rome up on the roof who’ll be jumping if I don’t play this song she’s requested. Rome, how about you tell us a bit about what brought you to this moment while our station intern continues to look for this song.”

“I’m afraid you won’t find it very interesting,” she said.

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Troy said.

“Are you going to play the song?”

Troy looked at the queue on his panel; ‘Four to the Floor’ was scrolling on the read-out. He glanced at the monitor in the corner, watching the live news coverage play out silently. A crowd was gathering along the street. The intern held up another note.

“Just as soon as we find it, Rome.”

“I can’t wait any longer.”

The camera zoomed in.

“Why is that? What is motivating this kind of extreme behavior? We’ll be having psychologist Dr. Landstrom joining us a bit later in the studio to discuss what drives people to these actions- oh, and it seems the fire department has just arrived on the scene. Isn’t this exciting? I remember when I was a kid, I got to ride one in the parade. These men and women, many of whom are volunteers, just do such an amazing job, don’t they? If you see one, why not give him or her a handshake and thank them for their service.”

“Play the song,” Rome insisted.

“These things take time,” Troy said, trying to assure her.

He kept his eye on the monitor, where she was just now stepping out onto the ledge.

“Lots of good comments still coming in @T-RoyKRED; looks like someone went and worked out that it will take you a little less than six seconds to hit the pavement if you simply step straight off the edge, but if you jump first, it could take almost seven. These are the kinds of daily things most of us just don’t think about.

“Once again, listeners, this is T-Roy in Tacoma and we’re broadcasting live here on KRED, the station with cred, as someone named Rome seems to be considering jumping from the roof of the station building unless I play along. I mean a song.” He hadn’t meant that at all. He had been right the first time.

“Rome, are you a long-time listener and is this your first time calling in?”


“Listeners, if you’ve got any advice you’d like to offer Rome, write in at or send a comment to @T-RoyKRED. If it’s good I’ll read it on the air. ‘KarlX’ just sent in a note which reads, ‘Should have packed a parachute.’ Ouch. I mean, he’s got a point, but…”

“You want a comment?” Rome said, voice still dull. “You want a statement?”

“You’re making quite the statement already, Rome,” Troy said. “Aren’t you? Isn’t that what this is really about? Not some song?”

A brief silence.

“You won’t play the song.” It wasn’t a question, nor even a statement. It was a resignation.

“You’ve hardly given us enough time to find it. It seems to be a very obscure request.”

“Nero fiddled…” she said, then took a step.

“One… two… three… fou- huh. Maybe I count a little slow,” Troy mumbled, then put on his DJ voice again. “Well, listeners, it seems Rome may have been a little confused, I believe the phrase is ‘Nero fiddled as Rome burned’, not ‘fell’. But there we have it: Rome has fallen.”

The music began, Troy talking over the first few bars before the lyrics kicked in.

“And now, a tribute to Rome and others like her; here’s ‘Four to the Floor’, by Starsailor.”

He muted his mic and swung open the door to his sound booth where the station manager was standing.

“Good job, Troy. We’re already showing a spike in ratings, with an estimated forty percent jump in listenership in just the last five minutes!”

One of the secretaries covered his phone receiver with his hand and whispered, “This is the third new company asking for our ad rates.”

Troy turned to the intern and gave her a pat on the back.

“Good job, kid. I was worried at first but you really pegged that one! There’ll be a bonus in it for you.”

As he returned to the booth, he added, “Get me a coffee and let me know when the psychologist gets here!”

Troy settled back into his chair and listened to the last few lines. Catchy. With any luck, it would hit number one on the charts. As the song ended he turned his mic back on.

“Once again, that was ‘Four to the Floor’. Remember, you heard it first on KRED, the station with cred.”

A Moral Tale

There were two children who were told to go play. One child had many toys, the other child had none. The child with many toys would not share any toys with the other, not one! Though the child with many toys had far too many toys to play with all at once, even the unused toys were denied the child with no toys.

Eventually the adults, realizing the child with many toys was not sharing, and could not be taught nor scolded into sharing, gave the child with no toys a few new toys to play with.

Now the child with many toys saw that the child with none was given new toys, and wanted to have some new toys, too. The child with many toys screamed about how unfair it was that only the other child got new toys and not both of them.

The child with many toys then wanted the child who had before had no toys to share the new toys, but still did not want to share the toys that had been there before.  The child with the few toys refused to share because of only having those few.

The child with many toys cried again about how unfair it was that the adults had urged and scolded to share from the many toys, but that the child with a few toys was not only not expected to share, but that the child with many toys was again scolded for wanting to play with the few new toys but would not share from the many toys.

The child with many toys blamed the child with few toys as the reason for being scolded. The child with many toys was angry at the child with few toys for getting away with not sharing. The child with many toys hit the child with few toys for not sharing.  The child with many toys had the toys taken away was put to bed, all the time wailing about how unfair all of this was, and still never learning the lesson.

How many times in life are we the child with many toys.


I close my eyes

Barely perceptible
The wind brushes past my ear
Hushed as a whispered secret

The crowing of a rooster
Rustle of feathers shaking out the dust
And a chorus of peeping chicks

Exhaled breath through a soft muzzle
And the rhythmic grinding
Of fresh grass between teeth

This inadequate language
Unable to replicate
The pitched bird-songs from every tree

Or capture the buzz
Of the hummingbird’s wings
Hovering, climbing, diving

But a distant barking dog
And the click of a shutter
Pass easily into words and imagination

From across the hills
Echo the chattering hum
Of a diesel engine tractor

And the earthy rumble of hooves