The Leibster Award

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liebster_award1The Liebster Award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. It pays tribute to new blogs, or blogs with a follower count of less than 1,000–including Twitter.

It follows similar principles as a chain letter in the sense that it should be passed forward to a certain number of deserving blogs. As Tom Benson (my fellow blogger who nominated me) wrote,  “It’s fun and does a marketing job for all who participate.” He further stated that it also exists to encourage new people to blog and join in the social blogging community, known as the “blogosphere”. Whew…a lot of blog words there.

The word “liebster” is German in origin and has several definitions, including but not limited to: dearest, sweetest, kindest, pleasant, endearing,  lovely, cute, nicest, valued and welcome. And I know what you’re thinking if you have read my blog: “Where does she fit in?” Well, I wonder that myself.

The rules–should you choose to accept the award:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you. In my case http://www.tombensoncreative.com, and along with the link go my thanks to Tom.

2. Answer questions that your nominator has set their nominees.

3. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 5-11 blogs that have less than 1,000 followers to receive this award. (Remember, this includes Twitter.)

5. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

6. Contact your nominees and let them know you have nominated them.

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My questions from Tom at http://tombensoncreative.com, along with my answers.

1. If you could change your first name, what would you have instead?

Chloe.

2. If you could speak a second language fluently, which one would you choose?

Italian.

3. If you could live in another country, where would you live?

Italy, of course.

4.If you could reincarnate as an animal, which would you return as?

A panther.

5. If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would you lose?

Hearing.

6. Do you say, “the glass is half-full”, or “the glass is half-empty”?

Half-full.

7. If given the choice to turn back time, which year would you choose to be born?

1050.

8.Would you publish a 100% truthful autobiography?

Not just no, but hell no!

9. Who is your hero or heroine, and why?

My sweet mama. In spite of an abusive upbringing,  she was a strong and kind and loving person, a wonderful  mother and wife who did her best by her children and husband.

10. Stranded alone on a tropical island, which object from the modern world would you choose to have with you?

A computer–if it is solar powered and has a good internet connection.  :)

11. Give three words that best describe how you’d like to be remembered.

She was kind.

***

Now onward we go, to 11 random facts about me:

1. I am part Cherokee though I have–did have until it turned white–red, curly hair and green eyes.

2. I have never hunted, but bring me an animal carcass and I can skin and gut it for you. Cut it up and cook it too.

3. I was struck by lightning when I was around ten years old.

4. I lived through being hit by a tornado while living in a mobile home.

5. I don’t have a high school diploma, though I did receive a GED at the age of forty.

6. I presently own five working computers–if one includes tablets and smart phones.

7. My favorite movie character of all time is Ellen Ripley–played by Sigourney Weaver–from the Alien, Aliens, etcetera movies.

8. My favorite book is The Stand, by Stephen King.

9. I have never flown, by plane or broom.

10. I grew up a hillbilly. (Not a redneck; there is a difference if you care to look it up.)

11. I was once  the proverbial “cat lady”, but was able to get it under control. I have only one cat now.

***

My nominations–in no particular order–are:

Mandy: http://healingbeyondsurvival.wordpress.com/

Julia: http://julialundauthor.wordpress.com/

Manja: http://fallofthefishman.wordpress.com/

David: http://just1more.wordpress.com/

Candace: http://candacehabte.com/

Charity: http://charitybradford.com/

Michelle: http://michelleisenhoff.com/

Ian: http://ianprobertbooks.wordpress.com/

It’s possible my nominees have been nominated before for this award,  or have more followers than required. Not all blogs list the number of followers, so if I nominated a blog erroneously, my apologies.

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Now, here are your questions:

1. What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day?

2. Are you a cat or dog person?

3. What is your most prized possession?

4. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? (The very first thing you can remember.)

5. If you could become a fictional character, who would it be?

6. Do you believe in an afterlife–not necessarily heaven and hell?

7. Do you prefer coffee or tea–or something stronger?

8. If you had the time and/or money to go back to school/college, what would you study?

9. If for the remainder of your life, you could eat only one cut of meat, (Such as pork bacon or beef steak.) what would you pick?

10. Do you think time travel will ever be possible?

11. What prompted you to become a writer?

***

Well, people, I’ve done my part. Tom probably thinks, “Geeze, it took her long enough”. Now, my very talented nominees,  it’s your turn to pay it forward.

 

Remembering My Brother’s Birth. And Death . . .

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W. K. Tucker:

Very sad…and yet touching.

Originally posted on Healing Beyond Survival:

on stepsI woke in the middle of the night and remembered that my only natural sibling’s birthday is today; I was overcome with gratitude that I’d forgotten. We are two years apart, his birthday five days before mine. For the first time in 32 years I haven’t been consumed with memories as his birthday approached. When I realized I hadn’t been thinking about him at all lately, I felt even more grateful. That won’t make sense if you don’t know our story. The following is a blog post I wrote last December for my first blog Writing Through The Monsters of My Childhood (that got deleted):

December 19—The Day My Brother Died

They say he put the barrel-end of a 30.06 in his mouth and pulled the trigger. There would be no need for an open casket.  “But how can we know for sure it’s him?” I pleaded at the…

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The City By The Sea

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“Gavin, wait, you forgot your mask.” Lissa waddled over to the front door, holding the filter out in front of her as if it were one of the icky, four-inch roaches that prowled their apartment at night. God, how she hated those awful things, but nothing you could do but learn to live with them; they weren’t going anywhere.

“Thanks, babe.” Gavin took the black mask and slipped it on, settling it atop his blond curls instead of over his face. “But I would’ve remembered it as soon as I’d stepped outside and come back after it.” He looked down into her eyes, a gentle smile curving his lips. “You’re supposed to stay off your feet as much as possible, you know.” He laid a gloved hand upon her swollen belly. “Doctor’s orders.”

For all the good it’ll do, Lissa thought. Had staying off her feet saved her sister’s baby? Or Beverly’s? Or anyone else’s she knew? She wanted to walk, to run, to go outside, even if it meant suiting up and breathing through that hideous filter. “I want to…I’m so tired…”

“I know.” Gavin enfolded her cumbersome body in his arms, laid his cheek on top of her head. “But soon the baby’ll be here and you can go back to work—if that’s what you want.”

If that’s what I want? Lissa almost laughed. Go back to the daily struggle with the jungle that was trying to claim the city? Go back to suiting up in protective gear so the sun wouldn’t fry her to a crisp? Go back to wearing that hot, rubbery mask so she could breathe the air without it destroying her lungs and her body? Of course she did. Anything was preferable to staying cooped up all the time in their tiny apartment. And it wasn’t such a bad job as far as jobs went; after all, that’s where she’d met Gavin.

“I’d better go.” Gavin dropped a quick kiss on her cheek, then hit the gray pad on the wall beside the door. “I’ll see you this evening.”

The door slid open, and as he stepped into the metal tube—every apartment had their own—that’d take him to the street below, he pulled the mask down over his face and pulled up the hood of his insulated jumper. The door closed behind him. Lissa heard the faint swoosh of the tube’s descent.

Listlessly, she crossed the small room to the window. At least she had this: an eye to the world outside. Most of the building’s five-hundred apartments didn’t have that luxury. She supposed there was something to be said for being the daughter of the Mayor of Neo Boston.

Lissa placed her fists on the glass. How she’d love to break it, to sail out into the sky, and fly away, fly away over the sea into the pinking dawn. Maybe the air would be clean there, the winds cool and soothing, not hot and humid and blistering.

But no…she knew better. The great Atlantic had changed, just as the land had changed. It was beautiful to look at, its giant, pink-foamed waves crashing onto the thin strip of beach. But it was devoid of life. Dead. iStock_000005603711SmallNothing lived there anymore except the algae that long ago had swiped its ruddy brush over the immense expanse of blue.

And how much longer before the human race died out? Hardly any infants survived past their first year, most born sickly and weak. Some died after taking their first breath. Some died in the womb. Some were born who were not right at all, missing parts, having extra parts. And some babies were just…well… born wrong in some indefinable way. Those died too—eventually.

Lissa often wondered about the why of it. Why did the babies die? Like her, all expectant mothers were locked away inside the air-tight buildings, forbidden to venture outside even with protective gear. Had the poisoned earth somehow poisoned its people?

She looked down at the streets below, to the steady stream of ant-sized people going about their business, some walking, some on bicycles; the relentless sun reflecting off their silver suits. Only big businesses and the very rich owned actual vehicles.

A convoy of huge, green trucks entered her line of vision on the left. Lissa recognized them. Filled with produce and grain from the domed farms of Canada, they came to exchange their goods for the fruits and berries cultivated in the domes just to the south of Neo Boston. It was laughable if you stopped to think about it; everywhere you cared to look within the snarl of trees, vines and creepers that besieged the city, food grew in abundance—but no one could eat it without getting sick. Some poor souls had even died.

Lissa’s gaze drifted to the line of demarcation where concrete met jungle, to the cluster of tiny people hacking away at the invasive greenery. She used to do that, side by side with Gavin and the rest of the crew. Day in and day out. Dawn to dusk. She’d hated it then; now she actually missed it.

The baby kicked. Hard. Lissa sucked in a pained breath. Another blow jabbed a rib. Her baby boy was a fighter. Maybe he’d be one of the survivors…

Maybe.

Mustn’t get her hopes up. Mustn’t even think about it, because if she did, she’d cry, and what good would that do?

She swiped at her eyes. She wished Gavin were here. He’d know what to say, what to do to make everything all right. He’d find a way to make her laugh. That’s why she’d fallen in love with him: his ability to make her laugh in any situation. And his kisses, she’d fallen in love with them too.

A smile touched her lips—then quickly disappeared when pain exploded in her abdomen, bringing her to her knees. She hugged her belly, gasped for air. Under her clutching hands, her abdomen hardened, the pain intensified. And just when she thought she might faint, it let up.

Lissa drew a shaky breath. She reached up and grasped the windowsill, then pulled herself to her feet. She lay her sweaty forehead against the warm glass—warm yes, but cooler than her. “The baby’s coming…” she whispered. “But…but…” It wasn’t time. She had four more weeks to go.

Another pain ripped through her belly. Lissa gritted her teeth and gripped the windowsill. Gray spots danced in front of her eyes, but she didn’t give in, didn’t allow the gray to turn into black. She couldn’t pass out. She had to…tell…Gavin…the baby…

The spots of gray turned into a sea of red.

Oh God, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts! Lissa’s fingernails dug into the windowsill.

At last the contraction passed, allowing her mind to function. And for the first time since she’d found out she was pregnant, Lissa felt fear. Something was wrong; this was no ordinary birth.

She punched two numbers on the telecommunicator circling her wrist. In seconds, Gavin’s masked face appeared on the miniature screen. “Lissa, is—”

Another crash of agonizing pain. “The baby…he’s coming.” Lissa felt a wet gushing, looked down to see blood puddling on the floor around her bare feet. “Now!”

***

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Doctor Littlefield said, moving the palm-held heart monitor over Zackary’s thin chest. “He seemed just fine when he was born—except for the skin color, of course. But that’s beginning to fade, and still…”

The baby was breathing almost normally now, but earlier Lissa had wondered if he was going to pull through this time. The coughing and wheezing and sucking for air, it’d tied her stomach up in knots. Just a week old and she was already madly in love with the tiny life she and Gavin had created. She’d tried to distance herself, knowing from the moment the doctor had placed him in her arms and she’d seen the green tint of his skin that she’d probably lose him. He was one of those who were “not quite right”. But how could she not love him? She’d changed his diapers, sang to him, held him as he’d suckled at her bosom. My God, she’d even named him—against everyone’s advice.

Doctor Littlefield smiled down at the infant she held cradled in her arms. Lissa saw the sadness in the doctor’s eyes. How many babies had she helped into the world? How many babies had she seen depart it?

But not my baby! Lissa held out her arms.

After dropping a kiss on Zackary’s head, the doctor eased him into Lissa’s arms. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” she said. “I even searched the archives, anything relating to his symptoms. The closest match I got was asthma, but—”

Gavin stopped pacing back and forth in front of the window. He turned to Doctor Littlefield. “What’s asthma?”

“An ancient disease…a chronic lung disorder,” she answered. “But your son’s lungs are fine. I just don’t know…”

“You’re a doctor, you’re supposed to know.” Gavin stalked across the room, his accusing eyes on the short woman. “You should know what’s wrong with my son.”

Lissa grabbed his arm. “It’s not her fault. No one knows.”

Tears sparkled in Dr. Littlefield’s eyes. “This world we live in, it’s a harsh world. Only the strongest survive.”

“But he was strong,” Gavin said. “When you delivered him, he was kicking and squirming and bawling his head off. He was fine!”

“But…”

Gavin raked his hand through his hair. “But what?”

The doctor sighed. “His skin was…is…green, Gavin. I’ve seen it before and…and…”

“And?” Gavin practically snarled.

“Babies like your son…they don’t…” She swallowed. “Make it.”

A grim silence settled over the room, broken only by Zackary’s labored breathing.

Holding her baby close to her heart, Lissa moved to the window. Behind her, she heard Gavin and Doctor Littlefield talking—softly now—but she tuned them out as she stared out at the eternal ocean, letting its ceaseless movement take her to a place of calm, a place of peace, a place where babies didn’t die in their mother’s arms.

She heard the front door slide open, the whoosh of the tube. Then Gavin was behind her, slipping his arms around her and their baby.

And it started up again.

Zackary started wheezing, then coughing. His little lungs gasped for air as if he were suffocating. Lissa felt helpless; there was nothing she could do to ease her child’s suffering.

She felt tremors running through Gavin’s body, felt the wetness of his tears falling upon her cheek. He saw it too—the bluish tinge spreading outward from Zackary’s lips, leaching the green from his skin, turning it a milky blue. He was dying. His tiny chest rose and fell, rose and felt, each breath an enormous effort.

Lissa wanted to cry, wanted to scream, wanted to die. She wanted to give her life to Zackary and take his death.

Gavin’s arms clutched her tighter. “He’ll be resting in God’s arms soon.”

Resting in God’s arms? It didn’t make sense? Why would God create a life only to snatch it right back? Time after time after time?

There was no God! There couldn’t be a god! All this made no sense! Dead babies, dying babies, green babies.

Lissa’s heart tripped in her chest.

She jerked out of Gavin’s arms. “Suit up. We’re going outside.”

“But—”

“No buts. Just do what I say. We’re taking Zackary outside.” Gavin looked at her as if she were crazy. And maybe I am.

Clutching her limp son in one arm, she rushed into the bedroom and came out with her and Gavin’s suits and face masks. “Hurry!” She slung Gavin’s suit and mask in his general direction, then gently placed Zackary on the sofa and tugged on her suit. On with the face mask, then she picked up her son and ran for the door. She hit the pad, the door slid open and she stepped into the tube. She looked back. Gavin stood in the middle of the room, his mouth hanging open, his silver suit and black mask on the floor near his feet.

Lissa didn’t hesitate. She hit the pad inside the tube, the door slid shut and she and Zackary plummeted downward.

In seconds, the opaque tube glided to a gentle stop. Here was where Lissa hesitated. She looked out upon the city through the cloudy walls of the cylinder, gray concrete surrounded by the green beast of the jungle. Was she doing the right thing, taking her son outside into the poisoned world? What if she were wrong?

She looked down at the still face of her son, his glazed eyes, the almost indiscernible movement of his chest. He was moments away from death.

With a cry of primitive rage, she slammed her fist onto the pad. Better he die free out in the open than inside the confines of the prisons humanity had built for itself. At least she could give her son that.

She stepped out onto the mid-day street. Behind her, the tube slid closed. Clutching Zackary, she moved out of the shade of the building into the ferocious sunshine. She looked up at the fiery orb, its blinding rays muted by her face mask. She smiled. “I give you my son…”

She held out Zackary’s still body.

And the sun took him.

His chest hitched. He gasped. He coughed. And then he breathed. He gulped in air that was death and it brought him life.

As Lissa watched in wonder, the green of his skin grew more pronounced. He waved his arms. His little legs kicked. But the most wondrous thing of all was that he began breathing normally.

She laughed in delight.

“How did you know?” Gavin asked.

Lissa had been so wrapped up in Zackary’s transformation, she hadn’t heard Gavin’s approach. Through the visor on his face mask she saw the wonderment she felt echoed in his eyes as he stared at their son. “It was the green,” she answered.

His gaze moved to her. “The green?”

Lissa cuddled their squirming infant. “Remember in school…photosynthesis?”

Gavin nodded. “Chlorophyll…carbon dioxide…he needs that, not oxygen.”

“Yes.” Lissa looked up from her living breathing child, up to the blazing, scorching sun.

Tomorrow, a new dawn would break over the city by the sea, a new dawn in the history of mankind. And her son would be a part of it.

 

298. The radiation will kill you

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W. K. Tucker:

This story will stay with me for a long time.

Originally posted on 300 stories:

“The radiation will kill you,” I tell her, but she doesn’t listen. She wants out. She’s tired of this life without sun. Without open space. Without joy.

It’s been five hundred and seven days since the event came without warning. Luckily we got underground in time. But we had no time to look back. No final glimpse of Earth as we knew it. That mushroom cloud and the fast approaching nuclear winds would be our last impression of home.

“You really want out, don’t you?”

She nods.

I don’t blame her. The food on the shelves is rapidly diminishing. We face certain death here anyway. Why not speed up the process? Why not enjoy another few minutes of Earth air before we inevitably die? How much more painful than starvation can radiation poisoning be?

I look into her eyes. She’s no longer the sprightly companion she’s always been. She’s weary, hasn’t…

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Sleeper on the Loose

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W. K. Tucker:

Excellent story!

Originally posted on Odyssey of a Novice Writer:

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“What do you mean we’ve got a Sleeper on the loose? Christ, Lowenstein, how the hell did that happen?”

I sighed and ran a hand through my short purple hair. “Look, if I knew the answer to that question, do you think he’d be missing?”

I could see Hrabowski was pissed. His usually placid, pale face was quickly turning red, and his eyes lost their habitual bored-with-the-world look. Right now he looked anything but bored. He looked like he wanted to reach through the monitor and strangle me.

“I knew it was a mistake to send a woman to do a man’s job,” he grunted.

I ignored the remark. “Sir, he’s got to be somewhere on this ‘droid. I’ll find him.”

“Who’s the Sleeper?”

Now I hesitated, knowing this was going to send Hrabowski through the roof.

“It’s Yuri Gorshkov,” I said, waiting for the explosion.

I didn’t have long…

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Sunday Photo Fiction – The Flaming Ball

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W. K. Tucker:

Great flash fiction story. Wish I had written it. :)

Originally posted on fabricating fiction:

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We stare intently at the flaming orange ball, through squinted, watery eyes. ’10 seconds to launch Sir,’ Jim informs me.
I turn to my second in command. ‘What do you think our chances are?’
‘Good,’ he lies. He is sweating as much as the rest of us.

With an almighty roar the ball catapults into space. There is a whooshing in my ears reminiscent of the time Dad taught me to swim. No matter how many times I slipped under the grabbing waves he never let me go. I managed a few strokes with tired arms and emerged triumphant from the ocean, running to our picnic spot to be encircled by a dry towel and my mother’s pride.

We silently watch the ball’s progress on the monitors. The control room feels suffocating, too full of silent prayers and regret. I remove my tie and try to loosen my top button…

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The Panther

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W. K. Tucker:

Love Stephen’s stories. He may be even weirder than I am…and that’s a good thing. 😊

Originally posted on Stephen Thom writing:

This story is not about a panther.

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The Panther

‘Howard,’ she shouted as she stuffed files into her bag and flung a scarf around her neck. ‘Howard, you should check the paper today. Even just a look at the jobs section. You’ll feel better for it.’

Howard nodded, peeling himself off the sofa to walk her to the door. ‘I know it’s up to you and…I want you to be happy; I do, it’s just, I realised this morning it’s been two years. The routine, it could do so much for you…’ She continued rambling whilst checking her face in the hall mirror. He nodded again and kissed her out of obligation. A forced smile flickered over her lips and she was off, her heels clicking down the drive. He waited until she got into the car and waved a final time, receiving the same wan smile in response. He…

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