Monday, January 30, 2012

Just thought you might like to know...

Monday's and Wednesday's posts will be postponed until at least Thursday.  I have two deadlines to meet.  One, I am working on a four part story for The First Line.  Two, I am working on doing 100 submissions by February 1st.  I hope you are just as busy in your writing as I am! 

I am sorry for any inconvenience. 

2012 Countdown
Stories Published: -
Stories written: 2
Stories submitted: 80
Stories rejected: 4

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friends with (Facebook) benefits

I hate twitter. 

I've tried to use it, but I'm extremely dreadful about updating it.  Facebook, on the other hand, is my distraction of choice.  I'm always on that dang site!  I figured I might as well make it worth my while. On the side of my blog is a brand new button.  A "friending" button. Dum, dum, dum...

You can now friend me on Facebook!  Wooo! 

So please, friend me.  As I write this, I am the only person who likes Rebecca L. Dupree as a writer.  Please don't make me a dork.  Add yourself to the list.  I look pretty silly making a page that only I like.  I believe this is a smart move, not only for marketing, but also for me.  At least now I can network while I'm procrastinating. 

Have a great weekend!

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Stories submitted:  75

Stories rejected:  4

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

100 submissions by February 1st?

Do you think I can do it? 

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Stories submitted:  72

Stories rejected:  3

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Excuses

Obliviously, in the grand scheme of things, I am NOT a big time writer.  That is the first thing that needs to be said.  I don’t know if I am qualified to give out any advice.  But I’ve been itching to get this off my chest, so here I go. 

In my “inner circle” of friends and family, I’m kinda of a big deal.  (Heh.  Anchorman reference.  Love that movie!) I’ve been published a half a dozen times, run this blog, and I have about twenty stories I push my friends and family read.  A lot of people have said, “Dude!  How do you do this?  I never have time to write!”

                Well, it’s a heck of a lot of work. As my fellow authors out there already know, being a writer is a big job.  A job you don’t get paid for.  Someday I might, yes, that’s true, but for the most part I take hours out of my life to devote to my craft.  I give up time with my husband, hanging out with my friends, and other hobbies just to write.  I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV.  My house is mostly a disaster and I don’t fold most of my laundry.  I write.

                I have a job.  I have three kids and a dog and a cat.  I squeeze in my craft because I want the stories inside of me to go into the world.  I want to captivate and excite readers.  I want to be someone’s favorite author. 

                So….write.  That is my advice to you.  The difference between a person who wants to be a writer and a person who is a writer is just words on paper.  DO IT!

                And don’t forget to submit your work.  But that’s another blog post.


2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Stories submitted:  71

Stories rejected:  3

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Trenton

Taking a much needed break from writing and submitting--my son turns seven today!  I can't believe it's been that long.  At this moment, seven years ago, I was watching South Park in a birthing suite.  Trenton was on his way into the world.

Happy birthday, my darling!

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Stories submitted:  63

Stories rejected:  1

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Rejection of the Year. Should I celebrate?

I’ve noticed that a lot of journals are beginning to ask for $2.00 to submit to their magazines.  That’s fine with me. I don’t mind donating.  But to be honest, I’d rather e-mail my stories or submit through submishmash, and then I can pay for a subscription to a few journals a year.  By studying other people’s work I improve my craft, plus I just like to read.  

But sometimes, I make exceptions. 

Two nights ago, I spent two dollars and submitted “Houseplants,” a one act play I am trying to get published.  The theme of the work was right.  The play is an amazing piece of work (in my opinion).  I thought it would work out.  HA!  Only one night later, while I was working on more submission, I had the biggest letdown.

                REJECTION!  First one of the year.  Boo.

                First of all, I was already having a crappy day.  Second of all, it felt like they didn’t even read it!  It was less than 24 hours before it came hurdling back through my e-mail account.  I was so let down.  I guess I’m just trying to find a home for my one-act play.  They’re so hard to place!  I really enjoyed writing it.  I guess now I’d really enjoy finding it a home.  Anyone know of any journals that accept one-act plays?  Hmmmm?

                As we all know, rejection is part of the joy of a creative life.  Back to the submissions list.

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Stories submitted:  60

Stories rejected:  1

Monday, January 16, 2012

She's taking me hostage... in my brain!

                Have you ever had a character take over your story?

                I know what it’s like to have a character “tell” you things about themselves as you write.  I just wrote a story about a lady who had six kids.  Even though it wasn’t important to the story in any way, I had to write down their names and ages of her children before I could finish the work. 

                I’m experiencing something new.  I’m writing a story now about a lady, Kathe, that has suffered a terrible tragedy.  I’m finding it is very hard to write about her in a cohesive way.  I keep jotting down little parts of her story, and then move on and add a little bit more of the narrative.  It’s like she’s inside my head—she’s just letting me know a fraction of what she’s going through.  The more she trusts me, the more she tells me.  Her way of thinking is taking over mine.  I hate to say this about a character, but she’s a little bit crazy. 

                Or maybe it’s me.  :P 

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  2

Submissions:  52

Rejections:  -

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coffee Tears

It was a night to celebrate. 

            What was she celebrating?  It didn’t really matter.  The freedom took over Patricia.  It seeped into her veins.  Friday night was an aroma in the air.  It enveloped her in a cloud of liberty and independence.  Jobs were scarce, jobs sucked, but they were a requirement of life.  The necessity of it didn’t mean she had to like it.  Once the clock struck six, this woman shed the shackles of the wage slave and headed out into the wide world of being herself. 

            In her apartment, she prepared for the evening.  A glass beaded necklace she made, a silky dress that would stretch during dancing, black boots with wide heels—an outfit both stunning and practical.  Her mother and father approved of a more conservative dressing style, but she had the feeling if her brother could see her, he would approve.  She kissed her fingers and touched them to a picture of her family, a ritual she performed several times a day.  Grabbing her coat, she left her apartment to join the rest of the happy masses at the bars.

            Patricia had come from a family of traditionalists.  They were old-school in a boring way, not the fun thrift shop way.  Church was mandatory every Sunday, rain or shine.  Her father was retired military, and her brother had followed in his footsteps.  Her mother wore pearls to cook dinner.  Despite their conventional ways, they taught Patricia to follow her heart and her passions.  So after twelve years of homeschooling in the suburbs, Patricia hugged her parents goodbye and moved to a one bedroom apartment in a nearby city. 

Like most people starting out in the world, she was required to get a job.  It didn’t crush her spirit.  Eventually, she planned to open her own funky creative cafĂ©, complete with great experimental food and a festive atmosphere.  But for now, the weekend was her only chance for self discovery.  She worked on her paintings, she worked on her poems, and she created culinary master pieces.  The weekends were snapshots of what her childhood was, and what the rest of her life would look like, once she could afford her dream. 

            Saturdays and Sundays were for creativity, that was for sure, but Fridays were for dancing.  After the daily call to her parents to tell them she loved them, she would enter the realm for the joyful, the carefree, and the ones just looking to score.  Patricia knew she deserved this blissful feeling.  The past year was a blur of pain and ruin.  It was surprising how wonderful it felt just to live normally. 

            Jacey and Marissa met up with her at the tavern.  They didn’t have clubs in the city where Patricia lived.  Just bars where the second floor was devoted to dancing.  It didn’t matter to Patricia.  All you need to have a good time is some loud music.  The three girls took full advantage of the night.  They danced.  They chatted.  When it was required, she joked and giggled.  Other people she knew came to talk.  It was an ordinary night. 

In other words, she was not prepared for meeting him. 

            His name was Chad.  Judging by appearances alone, he was what she always dreamed of.  He waved at her from across the room.  She returned his greeting, but didn’t approach him.  Men in bars didn’t interest her.  If a guy sent her a drink, she would refuse it.  Patricia liked soft, soulful men with intelligence and creativity.  She had learned, from experience, bars were not the way to go meeting that kind of man. 

            But he didn’t send a drink.  He came to talk to her.  She found out quickly he wasn’t drunk, which made him even more appealing.  He complimented her necklace.  It was the right thing to say to her.  She had worked so hard on this piece of jewelry.  The colored glass beads glistened in the dim light of the bar.

Patricia felt warm inside. 

It was a simple case of attraction.  Chad made her feel special.  Nobody had made Patricia feel that way in a long time.  After the horrors of last year, this was a state of mind she could get used to being in.    

            They talked.  And at 2 AM, when the bars closed, he walked her from the hot pulsating dancing room to her one bedroom and no-cable apartment.  They took the long route, weaving in and out of the sidewalks.  He held her hand and kissed her cheek goodnight.  Like a gentlemen, he promised he would call.  He watched her open the entry way and go inside.  For a moment, he gazed at the closed door.  When he was sure she had really gone in for the night, he turned and started to walk home.  He didn’t even feel the cold.

Safe inside her house, Patricia gloated with happiness.  She made one final text to her parents, letting them know she was alright.  Tossing the cell aside, she collapsed in a tired heap on her futon.  Patricia dreamed of candy hearts and rose petals.  She forgot to take off her necklace. 

            Buzzzzzzzz.  Morning. 

The alarm went off; it was time to get up.  She never removed her party dress from the night before.  It stunk of anticipation and excitement.  She stood on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall into the feeling of infatuation.  New love was an obsession.

            At the moment, there wasn’t time for love, it was time for breakfast.  She had a standing Saturday morning date with a few friends at the diner down the street.  Mia, Stanley, Jerry, Liza: their names stood out in her mind like yellow roses in a vase.  Mia was left over from her homeschool co-op days.  Jerry and Liza were met at previous jobs.  She couldn’t remember how or why Stanley had started joining them to eat. 

            She pulled on her orange sweat shirt, pulled her waist length hair up in a ponytail, and tied on a dirty blue pair of Chuck Taylors.  She left her necklace on.  It reminded her of Chad.  Patricia was ready to take on the world. 

If it would have been a movie, the weather would have been sunny and mild.  It was not a movie.  It was a foggy, dark morning.  She walked through the haze to the corner diner, humming the entire way.

            As she pushed the door open, the smell of fried eggs and coffee attacked her nostrils.  Patricia’s stomach felt squished.  It was empty and needed to be filled up with the kind of comfort only a greasy spoon can provide.  Her group was already there, sitting in the booth.  Night owls can never catch a break—she was always last.  The table was already a sea of nondescript coffee mugs and bowls of creamer. 

“Hey guys,” she said.  Five sets of overtired, red eyes looked up at her, while one hooded head stared down at the table.  It was unusual for someone else to join them; most other early 20-somethings they knew preferred to sleep in.  “Who is our guest?”

It was Chad.  He lifted his eyes and pushed back the hood.  “Hello, Patricia,” he said.  “I saved you a spot.”

She felt her face getting red.  She shimmied out of her sweatshirt and scrambled into the booth next to Chad.  Under the table, he squeezed her knee.  They made eye contact.  Winning the lottery could never feel this good.    

Stanley spoke directly to Patricia, breaking her love incrusted daze.  “When Chad came home last night, he was talking about this wonderful girl he met.  When he described her, I knew it had to be you.  So I invited him to breakfast.  I didn’t think you would mind.”

Patricia shook her head.  “Nope, I don’t mind.”

Liza waved her hand in the air over the coffees.  “So what do you guys think of the latest republican debate?”  Liza was interested in things that were bigger individuals.  She carried around her voter registration card like some people carried pictures of their children.

 “Ugh, is it that time again?”  Jerry was making a little log cabin, using the provided coffee stirrers.  Now he was attempting to put a roof on it with sugar packets. 

“We watched it,” Stanly said, nodding to Chad. 

Mia wrinkled her nose.  “God, I hate politics.  Do we always have to talk about this crap over breakfast?  If this will be the conversation, I would rather be home.”

Jerry stuck out his tongue.  “You sound so uneducated.  Go back to sleep here at the table.  At least it looks like you put in an effort to care.  Personally,” Jerry continued, “I would like to see Ron Paul will the nomination.”

Stanley pointed his fork at him.  “That’s because you’re a pot smoking hippie.”

“And what’s wrong with that?”  Jerry asked.

Liza rummaged around in her bag.  She tossed several brochures and flyers on the table.  “I collect these from the different republican groups that organize on Main Street.  It’s kinda fun watching their party all fractured right now.  Usually they’re like a gang.”

Liza had circled different quotes on the flyers.  She had scribbled comments and phone numbers in red pen all over them.  When it came to politicians, Liza put more effort into selecting her favorite then most brides did choosing their dresses.  Patricia glanced down at them.  Several different head shots smiled back up at her.  Patricia was not in the mood for politics.  She was watching the flutter of Chad’s eyelashes.  Though he was sipping on coffee, he was also studying her.  He didn’t seem interested in the conversation either.

Mia picked up a brochure.  “Liza, I thought you were a democrat.”

Liza sniffed.  “I judge all parties equally.  If you run for office, you are under my scrutiny.  Remember that, Jerry.”

“Me?” Jerry replied.  “I didn’t know pot smoking hippies could run for office.”

Stanley chuckled.  “Wasn’t there a mayor that was found doing cocaine and was re-elected for another term?”

Liza nodded.  Marion Barry.  That happened in the 90s.”

“Yeah, but people liked that guy.  I don’t think Jerry’s that likeable,” Mia said.

They laughed.  The waitress set steaming piles of pancakes and eggs in front of them.  Chad squeezed Patricia’s knee for the second time.  This time, he didn’t remove his hand.  Patricia silently put her lips together in the shape of a kiss.  Liza, seeing their interactions, rolled her eyes.

For a few moments, they ate in silence.  Patricia got a good morning text from her mother.  She responded, and then stuck her phone back in her pocket.

Mia, who had known Patricia the longest, was the only one to notice.  “Your mom?” Mia asked.

“Yeah,” Patricia said.  “She likes to stay in touch.”

“Understandable,” Mia said. 

Chad looked at Patricia, but she only gave him a sad smile and a small shake of her head.  There was plenty of time for knowing the devastating details of her life.

Liza, who had absolutely no interest in any kind of human interaction, turned the conversation back to the candidates.  She picked up a picture of an exceptionally well coifed man.

“What do you guys think of his chances?” she asked.

Jerry shrugged.  “He’s out of touch with people.”

Liza focused on his statement.  “What do you mean?  Back that up!”

“He’s a jerk.”

Liza waited for Jerry to add to his statement, but he was munching on his hash browns.  “Doesn’t anyone want to talk today?” she pouted.

Patricia felt rude.  She humored her friend.  “I agree with Jerry.  I like Ron Paul.”

Liza waved the brochure she was holding.  “That’s because you were homeschooled.  All homeschoolers are libertarians—like Ron Paul.  It’s a fact of life.”

Mia laughed.  “You’ve got to be kidding.  I was homeschooled and my parents are registered democrats.  They’ll vote for Obama in the next election.”

“Then your parents are idiots,” Liza shot back. 

Patricia stirred her coffee.  “I just like Ron Paul’s foreign policy.”

Chad spoke up.  “You’ve got to be kidding.  Ron Paul is out of his mind.  It’s a dangerous idea to pull out of other countries.  That guy is going to make America look like a bunch of wussies.”

Patricia felt cold inside.

 “Our image?  I think the more important issue is all the Americans losing their lives overseas,” she said. 

“Well, sometimes a few Americans have to sacrifice their lives to protect certain values,” Chad said.  “A few people dying for our way of life is a time honored tradition.”  All eyes were on him.  He squirmed under the attention.  “If you go to war, you gotta expect a few heads will get blown off,” he finished lamely. 

Mia choked on the bite she was eating.  Liza hit her coffee mug on the side of her plate causing some to splash out.  A puddle of coffee had fallen on the pamphlets and flyers.  The table fell silent.  Nobody moved.  Nobody talked. 

“What?”  Chad spoke, his voice a few octaves higher than normal.  “What did I say?”

Nobody spoke.

Patricia broke the silence.  “My brother was killed in Iraq.”

Chad went white.  “I didn’t know.  I’m so sorry.”

 “You shouldn’t be sorry for your beliefs.  My brother felt the same way—before he burned alive.”  Her voice was even.

The silence around the table was painful.  Nobody wanted to speak or move.  Patricia looked at the picture of Ron Paul.  Little drops of coffee had landed on his face.  It looked like he had been crying.  Patricia was determined not to shed a tear. 

“It happened almost a year ago.  I’m healing.  It was a mistake.  Let’s talk about something else.”  Patricia took a sip of coffee.  “Please.”

The conversation continued.  They avoided politics.  Even Liza started talking about frivolous subjects she usually avoided, like movies and TV shows.  Patricia listened, but she wasn’t really there.  Chad’s heavy hand still grasped her knee. 

Patricia stood up.  His hand fell away.  “I have to go to the bathroom.  I’ll be right back.”

Mia studied her.  “You ok?”

Patricia had a habit of sobbing in the bathroom months after her brother was announced dead.  Public bathrooms, in Patricia’s opinion, are the best places to cry.  Their bleak setting is a perfect backdrop for a person wallowing misery.  But she wasn’t wallowing in misery.  In fact, Patricia felt ok. 

“I’m ok.  I just gotta pee.” 

When Patricia returned, she sat with her legs pointed out of the booth.  She didn’t let Chad touch her knee.

When breakfast was finished, one by one her friends left the restaurant.  Jerry had to help his cousin move.  Mia had to work at noon.  Liza was off to some political rally. 

“Well, I have a full day of playing video games ahead of me.”  Stanley looked at Chad and jiggled his car keys.  “You wanna catch a ride back?”
            Chad stared at Patricia.  “Nah, I have something to finish up here.”

When they were all gone, Chad’s eyes pleaded with her, but he didn’t touch her. 

Patricia broke the silence.  “You didn’t know.  How could you have?”

Chad spoke.  “I am so, so sorry.”

“It’s fine.”  Patricia got out of the booth.  She freed her sweatshirt, which had been stuck under Chad.  She struggled to put it on.  It caught on her beads.  She heard a snap.  Her necklace broke.  A waterfall of glass beads hit the floor with a deafening crash.

“Oh, I’m sorry.”  Chad jumped at the floor and started grabbing the beads.

“Chad,” Patricia said.  “Don’t bother.”

He handed her the fragments he gathered.  “Can I see you again?” he asked. 

“I don’t think so.”  She shrugged again.  “Good bye, Chad.”

If it would have been a movie, she would have kissed him.  Instead, she got out of the booth and left the diner.  The fog had disappeared, the rain had started.  Her face was wet, but it wasn’t because she cried.  Like the poster of Ron Paul and his coffee tears, Patricia looked sad.  It concealed her inner feelings.  She had never been so hopeful for the future. 

Besides, it was still early.  She still had the entire day ahead of her. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Submission hell and a question

How do you submit your stories? 

Submitting is my least favorite part of the writing process.  I love writing, I don’t mind revising, even starting a new story can be fun, but save me from submitting.  I usually do it all at once.  I take one day away from writing for this purpose.  I sit down, write out my introduction letter, go to the websites, check the submission guides, and write my address on the envelopes.  I will stuff everything into a neat little package and head down to the post office.  I shell out the $12.00 or so it takes to send them out.   I whisper “good luck” and run away from the post office as quickly as I can.  Then I sit back and wait for the acceptance letters to come pouring in. 

I did this yucky chore on Saturday night.  Ahead of time I had made a list of the places I was going to submit my story “The Present” to.  That list was 3 pieces of paper long.  I like to do simultaneous submissions, even though I know if I was an editor I wouldn’t accept them for my magazine.  I finished 28 submissions, and I have about a page and a half left to go.  Then I have to start submitting for “The Scrapbook” and “Pam’s Glasses.”  SO MUCH WORK!!!!

But, if you don’t submit, how will you ever get published?    I believe in my work.  I know it’s good enough to get published.  So it’s MY responsibility to get it out there.

One last question: Has anyone out there ever written a story about a current event?  I am thinking about using the Republican nomination as a basis of one of my stories.  It would be the situation, not using any real life people as characters.  (The only people I like to write about are the people in my imagination.)  Depending on how it turns out, this story could look very dated in a couple of months.  I’m thinking I will write it now as I see it in my head.  If I like it, I will revise it at a later date to make its time period more ambiguous.  As I said before, it’s not really about any of the nominees.  I’m hoping I’ll have it up on Wednesday.  Then you can see what I mean. 

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  1

Stories submitted:  29

Stories rejected:  -

Saturday, January 7, 2012

busy so far this year!

                I am sorry I skipped Friday’s post.  Here is it, one day late.

On Wednesday, I posted my story, “The Danger of Knowing Your Name.”  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I wrote this story in 2011, sent it out a few times, and didn’t get a hit.  It has finally found a home on my blog.

                On the topic of publishing to my website, a few entries back I said I was going to put up ALL of my 2011 work on the blog.  Since then, I have put up two stories.  They’re good stories, and I’m proud of them.  But honestly, now that I’ve reviewed my work from the past year, I’ve decided that four of my stories that haven’t been published yet are really good.  I have made the decision to continue submitting these four stories.  If they have not been published by the end of the year, I will put them up on the blog to share with all of you.  Until then, I believe I should give them a fair chance at being published.

                So I’m hot on the trail of getting my work out in 2012.  I have already written and submitted a story for The First Line.   I am writing a four part epic tale to also submit to The First Line for the February dead line.  Today, I am planning to find places to submit to for three of my four stories.  The fourth one I will submit to Strange Horizons.  Their submission manager opens again on the first of February.    My goal for 2012 is to have twelve stories published.  You could say one story for every month of the year.  Or double last years publications.  I just want to say I published 12 stories this year. 

                Final thought for the day:  I have added one thing to my writing bucket list.  I want to be published in Strange Horizons.  They do not accept simultaneous submissions, which is why I am saving that fourth story.  I will wait for that February 1st deadline. 

2012 Countdown

Stories Published:   -

Stories written:  1

Stories submitted:  1

Stories rejected:  -

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Danger of Knowing Your Name

Standing under the streetlight, the boy smiled at me.  I could feel his eyes on me, hoping I would speak first.  I would wait.  It is always better to wait.

            “Hello,” he said. 

            I nodded.  The longer I held off talking to him the better. 

            “Having a good time tonight?”  He asked, trying to pull words out of me.  His eyes looked at me with longing.  It was obvious he was out searching for a girl. 

            I glanced at the ground.  Kicking at a rock with my shiny black boot, I shrugged my shoulders.  “I guess it is ok.  I’m not really into these kinda scenes.” 

            He nodded vigorously.  “Yeah, me either.  I just needed to get out tonight.  You know, chase the bad vibes away.  Forget your troubles!  It was a rough week for me.”

            The boy was good looking.  He had dark hair, strewn around his head.  His clothes were fashionable and new.  I guessed his age at about nineteen or twenty.  I really couldn’t judge anything by his looks.  And for the purpose I wanted him, I didn’t want to know anything about his character.  I stay emotionally uninvolved with these people as much as possible.  Although I was giving him cold vibes, it was obvious he wanted to get involved with me.  It amazed me the level of determination young males had.  He was willing to try anything to get me to look at him, fawn over him, and love him.

With false confidence, he lit a cigarette and looked down the road.  I know the look, I’ve seen it before.  He was trying to come up with the next clever thing to say.  Lucky for him, he wasn’t going to have to think for long.

            We stood together, shivering on a side street in the cold.  Tiny bars lined the top half of the street, but where we were it was pretty desolate.  The sounds of people partying and having a great time were mere echoes to our ears.  Surrounded by empty warehouses and boarded up storefronts, the end of the street is the place where people come to smoke, flirt, throw up, and stumble home.  During the day college kids parked their cars here in order not to pay the parking garage tolls, but at night people ruled the road.  Tonight it was quiet.  It was just us.      

            “Those things will kill you,” I stated, looking back at him.  I titled my head, just a bit. 

            He lit up like a street light.   I could almost see him congratulating himself on getting me to talk.  “I’ll be long dead before cigarettes get the chance to do me in.”  He let out a drag.  “Besides, lots of things will kill you,” he joked.

“You don’t know how true that statement is,” I replied. 

“When I came out to have a smoke I saw you were out here alone.  Are you waiting for someone?”

            “Oh, yeah.  I’m waiting for a car.”

            “It would be a shame to wait all alone.  Do you mind if I wait with you?”

            “I don’t mind being alone.  But it is always better if I have someone to wait with.”  I smiled at him.  There wasn’t much time left.  I could feel it.

            The smoke from his cigarette was curling up towards his face.  He looked so happy.  For a second, a flicker of something sparked in my mind. 

            I did something I never did before.  Abruptly I asked, “What is your name?”

            “Nathan,” he replied.  “And yours?”

            “I’ll tell you my name when we know each other better.”

Nathan threw his cigarette down on the sidewalk and ground it out.   He lit another.  Our boy Nathan was a chain smoker.  He offered me one, but I refused.  He shrugged.  “Ok, miss no-name, let’s get to know each other better.  You’re obviously not a smoker.  What do you do for a job?”

“I don’t have a job.”

“Ok, fair enough.  Blame the bad economy, like everyone else does.  Then, alright, what can I ask you?  Ah, yes.  What do you do?  Like, for fun and stuff?

“I don’t really have a life.”

“Come on!” He laughed.  “You are not making it easy for me to get to know you.  Here’s a question.  Why have I never seen you downtown before?”

            “I guess I’m not around that much, Nathan.  I only come out when I have a reason,” I replied. 

            “Really.  What was your reason tonight?”

            “I came here tonight to meet you.”

            He shifted his weight.  He was moving in to make his conquest.  “Well, I guess that makes me extremely glad I came out.”

            He moved closer to me.  I could smell the alcohol on this breath, the nervous sweat on his hands, and the excitement racing through his body.  He leaned in for a kiss.

            Nathan didn’t get to kiss me.  At that moment, a red car came swerving down the street.  It picked up speed as it passed each broken down and abandoned building.  It made a long wailing noise, like it needed to be shifted.  The awful sound bounced off the walls and pounded into my eardrums.  The car weaved on and off the road.  Squealing from the tires disrupted the silence of the night.  It missed three garbage cans near the road, a stray cat running across the street, and the streetlight.  The car did not miss Nathan.

            Nathan was tossed up in the air.  For a brief moment his body was airborne.  He reminded me of an angel about to take off into the inky darkness of the night.  Nathan was not an angel.  He landed on the dark pavement with a sickening noise.  Instead of taking flight, Nathan’s body would never move again.  The car went on to drive a few feet away until in smashed head on into a brick building.  The wheels kept spinning, going nowhere. 

            I was at Nathan’s side in a moment. 

            “Nathan,” I whispered.  “I wasn’t lying when I said I came here tonight for you.  I did lie to you about one thing.  I have a job.  I am a death watcher.” 

            Nathan tried to speak, but he couldn’t.  He looked up and me.  His eyes could focus, but I could tell they wouldn’t be for long.  The blood was flowing freely now, getting on my clothing, but that does not bother me.  He was feeling scared, but that emotion was slipping away from him.  He would be gone soon.  My cold hands brushed the dirt off his face.  Without meaning to, I smeared a tear resting on his cheek.  It left a wet track down his cheekbone to the edge of his mouth.   Then I noticed he wasn’t crying.   It wasn’t his tear.

A shock wave ran threw me.  The tear was mine.  I was the one that was crying.  I felt like throwing his body into the street.  It was my emotion I was feeling, not his. 

            I swallowed my shock and held him until I felt his soul dissolve into the night air.  When a soul goes it goes quick, like cotton candy dissolving in a mouth.  I laid the body down on the ground and got up.  Nathan was gone.  Already his blood was disappearing off my body.  Soon there would be no trace his life had ever touched me.  I glanced over at the lady in the car.  She was not dead.  Her body was draped over the steering wheel.  Her head was bent at an odd angle as it rested on the car door.  As bad as she was, she was not in need of my services.  At least not yet.  I don’t know if and when she would be, but judging by the looks of her, I’m surprised I didn’t have double the work tonight. 

            I looked down at the body that used to belong to the human named Nathan.  Whatever emotion I had felt was drying up.  There was no longer any desire to know his name.  To make sure, I stole one last long look at the body.  When I was satisfied, I walked away.  I don’t particularly like looking at dead humans, even if I am a death watcher.  Honestly, I don’t particularly enjoy looking at any kind of human.  I left the corpse on the ground for some other human to find.  They would take care of it. 

As I walked away, I noticed the curl of smoke coming from his cigarette.  He was right.  He was dead before the cigarettes got a chance to kill him.  I stubbed it out.  No need to start a fire. 

            I turned my back on the streetlight and wandered off into the darkness.  It occurred to me I never told him my name.