Snapshot Stories Pt. 2/?

I can’t say how many of these there will be. These three snapshots compose the second post in a series I can’t put a number to. The first can be read here. Thankfully, these didn’t manage to be as depressing as the first set, with #6 perhaps being the exception. These, more for me maybe than anyone else, have been a blessing. They give me a small writing project as I travel to and from work. They allow me to hone my craft in the little ways. They keep me immersed in writing, even when it’s not a big project. Plus, they’re a ton of fun.

In honor of the snapshots in the hall.

#4

The sign screamed, “DANGER” but he didn’t hear it.  Instead, he leaned casually against the edifice, pulling his tie tightly into a knot. The sheer walls of smoothly cut stone rose sharply around him, but they didn’t intimidate him. Even the dark hole marked with danger didn’t intimidate him. This was his territory. He was comfortable in it. If he’d wanted to, he could have dusted the stains of his pants and boots. If he’d wanted to, he could have had a suit to pair with his tie. But he didn’t want to. He was proud of the stains and his clothing. Every stone, every pipe, every rail had passed through his crafting palms, and that gave him power.

#5

She despised nothing so much as country roads. The car’s thin wheels carved its own rivers in the road, but the second the infernal machine crossed another set of tracks, the car jumped, and her teeth set to rattling. The only thing keeping her hat on her head was a ribbon that only ended up choking her. The driver argued that the view was beautiful, as if that could persuade her. Dust aggressively rained into her eyes. How could she see any view in conditions like this? Much less enjoy it. Besides, the views hid behind pitiful fences of basic wood and wire. She’d have to look past the eyesores just to appreciate the mountains. No, she despised the whole endeavor: the hot sun, the bumpy roads, and she resented the dust hiding in the creases of her favorite dress.

#6

Hell was smoky – the heavy kind of smoky that accompanied the acrid smell of burning wood. Hell was carpeted with thick, grimy dirt and prickly, broken branches. Hell had no sun. Hell had no sky. And hell heard only the cries of fallen men and echoing gunshots. He didn’t count the soldiers next to him as signs of life. Either they were dead men walking, or they’d long since given up on being anything else. The trees, destroyed and splintered, still reached for the unseen sky in a wicked parody of fingers. His own fingers twitched in reflex as he peered through the scope and waited for the illusion of a pause to end. In hell, there was no peace. And every time peace settled in his bones, he reminded himself that it was a lie. This was hell. This was war.

Just a reminder that these are not historical and include no basis for fact. They are only the musings of an overly-inspired writer trying to glimpse into a moment of time. Still, I hope you enjoy them.

Snapshot Stories Pt. 1/?

Many photographs line the hall in route to my office. Though they are all recognizably pictures that are housed in the Archives, they are not obviously attached to moments, stories, or people. It’s a long hallway too. Walking by them everyday inspires me, in a sense. Every photo in that hallway has a story we cannot hope to glimpse. It’s both beautiful and sad. I can’t speak for the people in these images. I can’t pinpoint their emotion or their history. But they still make me wonder.

I should clarify: the following paragraphs are not stories. They have no beginning or end. They are snapshots, like I see on the wall on the way to work. They are based solely on my initial impression of the photo. I leave many specifics to the imagination because I can only hope to imagine them as well.

I don’t expect much from these snapshots. I jotted them down on the metro, or while walking around, or whenever the next sentence hit me. But at the very least, I hope they make readers feel something, anything, in honor of the snapshots in the hall.

#1
Every soul in town had found their way to that street. Fabric scraped on fabric as the bodies undulated, struggling against each other to move forward. Someone hit her – hard – from her right. Instinctively, she elbowed back and pulled her hat more tightly to her head. People around her moved with a purpose, even if they weren’t going anywhere. She wondered if the crowd pressed around her was slowly pushing her back, away from the square that she, and everyone else, tried so desperately to reach. She wanted to push back against the pressure and come up closer to the front. But this sea couldn’t be cut through so easily, and the people that comprised it were determined to oppose her. Instead, she planted her feet and fought the sway and hoped to witness what she could.

#2
“Stay close to me,” she whispered fiercely.
They were hesitant, enough to stay by her, but she worried about their curiosity. There was not much for them at home. Frankly, she wouldn’t blame them for wandering off if they could find something better. Part of her still hoped for them. But what remained of her hope trickled away from her as slowly as the grimy water trickled into the drain. The part of her that wanted them to stay clung still to their grubby arms. But even that part was uncertain enough to let the course fabric lay loose in her grasp. Hair fell in matted tangles in front of her eyes as she stared blankly toward the end of the cobblestone street. She didn’t know where they would all end up. And a dying part of her still fought to care.

#3
This wasn’t a line, he thought; it was a stalemate. If he moved at all, it was only to shuffle a few inches forward before settling into waiting again. He didn’t dare set his suitcase down, for fear someone would make off with what precious belongings he had left without a thought to him. But his arm tired the longer he carried his things, and the thought of taking the risk was so tempting… Worse than the pain creeping like a worm up his arm was the desolation he had to look at while he stood. There was no where that had gone untouched by the damage, no safe place to rest his eyes. He pitied the souls of the children who couldn’t fathom the situation. He empathized with the families struggling to stay calm. But all the staring and waiting and shuffling and standing had distanced him from the rubble, and he wondered only where he’d end up, without worrying over the home he’d lost.

More of these turned out sad than I intended. Of course, in order for a photograph to be in the Archives, it must have permanent relevance of some sort. And I suppose many of the moments that have permanent relevance are the tragic ones.

Just a reminder that these are not historical and include no basis for fact. They are only the musings of an overly-inspired writer trying to glimpse into a moment of time. Still, I hope you enjoy them.

“That of the Moon” Short Story

So this has nothing to do with D.C. except in that I wrote it on the plane ride here. It is inspired by and dedicated to my good friend, Nick Koontz. Much love goes to him from up here, and I’ll be so glad to see him again in December. While I had said half-jokingly that I was going to write him a short story, it ended up being such a fun writing exercise so I’m glad I did it. Though I hope the piteous amount of sleep I got before the flight doesn’t affect the quality of the piece. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave a review!


The silver of his hair was that of the moon. Though the silver disk never dropped below the surface of the ocean, he’d long stared at it and admired it’s might. The ocean obeyed the moon, and so did he. There was an awesome power the moon possessed that moved the waves toward shore and churned the currents in the depths of the sea. Every night he glimpsed it, he reached out his hand to touch the hanging medallion, but it always eluded his fingertips.

Air stung harshly against his gills, even on the peaceful nights like these. His trips to the surface were few, far between, and only to witness the glory of the night sky. The sounds were different up here too. Instead of muffled noises of an underwater world, this side of the sea was stark and clear. Waves danced against each other with quiet splashes of delight, making him long to join them. Once, he’d even heard the tremendous crash of thunder on a stormy night. Though, admittedly, it had terrified him then, he reveled in the memory now.

The world above held little appeal for him. Water was his comfort; when it enveloped him, he felt at home. He put up with the stinging air, but he hated it. He admired the sounds, but no more than the familiar song he heard under the sea. No, the only reason he visited the sky at all was to see the glorious moon.

With his face upturned, he offered a short prayer. His hopes were not grand, but that didn’t matter. The moon would listen, and that alone was enough. Webbed fingers brushed his lips and raised the kiss in farewell to the sky, the waves, and his moon. With a last forced breath, he combed his hand back through his silver hair and dove again beneath the black.


Love you, Nick! Hope you liked it! Stay genuine!

Of Dragons and Men

At night, my blanket is tucked under my legs, the air on full blast. My weapon is in my hands and I find myself fighting dragons.

All of my imaginary friends are dragons. I suppose they represent different things. This sounds so silly if you don’t appreciate the metaphor. As a writer, I live in a fictional world. I see the little things around me as inexplicably magical. It’s like my imaginary world is imposed on the reality around me. My problems appear as fearsome dragons. And currently, my dragon is writer’s block.

Every time I face the beast, I end up getting burned. I’m exceedingly disappointed in myself for failing every attempt. I can make no progress in my quest — writing a novel — until the serpent is slain and I can proudly stride over it’s hollow carcass.

Okay, I think my metaphor may be getting a bit frightening.

In the process of editing my novel, I keep encountering these obstacles that protect the rest of the story, but don’t allow me to reach it. I have a readership group that is waiting on me to finish another few chapters so they can read and give me feedback. And here I stand, just staring up at a scaled dragon. And I’m so prepared: I’ve got my wooden sword in one hand and my tin-foil shield in the other. Wow, writer’s block can make you feel helpless.

So I finally got past the particular instance of writer’s block that was really getting to me. I aimed high. I wanted to be able to complete the novel by Halloween. Now it’s looking more like it will be Christmas. (But that’s with NaNo sandwiched in there too.)

Really quickly though, I’m not addressing ways to get around writer’s block. There are tons of suggestions out there and everyone differs on which tactic is best for them. No, my encouragement of the day is more along the lines of: just because you feel helpless, doesn’t mean you are. I felt so useless up against this block. It wasn’t coming to me. Even the characters, who have lives of their own, weren’t helping. But I’m the freaking author! I control this world. I can make it happen. I can put them through hell or I can get them out of it. I have the power to say yes or no. The writer manipulates the story and the world.

My wooden sword became a sharpened blade, my tin foil a refined shield (maybe with a little inkwell crest on the front). And I can slay the dragon.

Zutara Week 2013 Compilation

Not everyone on my blog may be interested in reading the fanfics I wrote for Zutara Week 2013. Still, I figured it’d be good if I compiled the links to all of them. Of course, I have no rights or claims to the characters, but it is a cool experience to try and get in their heads. And, seeing as I posted my thoughts on fanfiction already, with reference to this week-long project, I figured I’d share.

Calor “Heated Words

Euphoria “Heritage of Water and Fire

Voices “If Not for the Voices

Gravity “Alone in a Nation

Bound “Save the Cabbages

Soothe “Searing, then Soothing

Spark: I’m afraid I never quite finished the last one. My job got so hectic and it was the only one I didn’t get around to in time. It’s halfway finished, I’m afraid. If I get it up ever, I’ll fix it here.

I’m not proud of all of them; some of them were pretty rushed. But I had fun and that’s the important part, right? I hope you enjoy these!

Couch Potatoes Anonymous

Oh hey! Did y’all know I have an unhealthy addiction to television shows? Well-written ones, mind you.

I’d laugh, but it really is a terrible thing for a college student. I have far too many. I watch them when I fix my meals and sit down to eat. If I can’t keep up that way alone, I set aside a weekend every now and then to just catch up. It really got me thinking when, just yesterday, I got hooked on Downton Abbey. My Nana is recovering from a heart attack, so my entire family has found themselves butts glued to the couch, eyes riveted to the screen. As this type of drama is typically not my “cup o’ tea,” I didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, not only a well-written story, but distinct, entertaining, real characters. So, alright, I admit I was wrong to judge by the pilot.

Downton Abbey has added itself to:
The Vampire Diaries
Once Upon A Time
Arrow
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
How I Met Your Mother
Doctor Who
Sherlock
Grimm
Beauty and the Beast

Not to mention, I am adding the following this fall season:
The Originals
OUAT in Wonderland
Agents of SHIELD

Don’t even start me on the Chinese and Korean “bubble shows” Karen got me started on in Thailand.

Judge me all you want. I realize that’s quite the diverse list and some of them may be considered “nerdy” (but you are never too old for Marvel) but I stand proud. Especially since I count these shows to have some of the most entertaining plots and characters on television today.

It takes a lot for a writer to write a novel. Or a screenplay. It’s effort. So imagine the effort (although often a group effort) it takes to write a story in 20-40 minute episodes, with 16-22 episodes a season that last for several seasons that progresses every, single episode! (Forgive the run-on sentence.) It amazes me to see the plot twists, the complexities of character, the spider-web story-lines, the interactions and emotions that evoke a real reaction from the audience.

In fact, I can’t watch something well-written without wanting to write. I sit down in front of my television with a notepad and pen to start sketching out relationship webs, brainstormed ideas, or preliminary character concepts. Similarly to books, a good story just makes me want to write one of my own. I want those fascinating characters and intriguing stories that keep the audience laughing, crying, and on the edge of their seats.

So, that’s my excuse then. Television inspires me. So an addiction must be okay. If you need me, I’ll be over here, blazing through my massive list of tv shows.

“Guidance, Worship, & Celebration” Haiku Series

The last three spiritual disciplines were discussed as our internship winds down. To be honest, the poems haven’t been as easily inspired as they were when we began. I am becoming very tired. Still, I strive to be creative, even in a study time. Hopefully everyone will enjoy them.

Sharing your vision
Allows critiques to refine
To the best results

Seek out counseling
The guidance can clarify
Every clouded thought

Wisdom from others
Will outweigh our own judgement,
Our own biased mind

Understand their heart
Before giving food for thought,
Empathize with them

Spirit to spirit
Worship draws near the divine
Holy of holies

Bring our whole being
Beyond the mental limit
Thrown into worship

Celebrate living
Find strength in the joy of action
Free, alive, happy

Dance, learn to laugh more,
Don’t lose imagination,
Party all night long

Copyright Renee Rhodes July 21, 2013