Friday, December 7, 2012

Write On Edge: Candles and Iowa Challenge

Red Writing Hood this week gave us 500 words. There was a photo of candles glowing in a church window, or a video of pictures set to Dar Williams's song Iowa. We didn't have to write about candles or Iowa though, unless we felt like it. This week's prompt is more about a juxtaposition of senses...I think...

I was inspired with a myriad of stories, but the song and the picture spoke to me of being on the cold outside of something warm, leaving me with the sensation of being abandoned and wanting. To be fair though, my life is careening beyond my control, so everything makes me feel that way.

Saw my first Salvation Army red bucket of the season today. I gave them a dollar and a smile. Smiles are something I definitely have control over and they don't cost me a penny to pass them out. I felt better and whistled Here Comes Santa Claus like no one was listening.

On a completely separate note, if I counted correctly, this is my 100th post. I wish I had something I could give away, like a contest prize or something to help me celebrate. 100 posts ago, when my editor and good friend told me I needed a blog, I didn't think I'd keep at it this long.

I can safely attribute most of these posts to the wonderful community at Write On Edge. I love all of you, and I don't say that lightly.

So, without further whining or ado, I give the following in response: Exit Stage Right

The overpowering smell of the stage makeup made her gag on the unpleasant recollection of her last performance in the prestigious old theater. Never had she felt so betrayed by her passion. Paul Devereux, her director, the man she thought loved her, he had made his choice, and now her eyes were open.

Until her dressing room was scrubbed from her history, it would keep her trapped in unwanted memories. Dumping its contents into the industrial-strength trash bag was therapeutic, even liberating. Nothing was immune to her endeavor, not even the autographed photos of fellow cast members. Her mother taught her to clean up her own mess, a virtue Sienna wasn’t willing to sacrifice just yet.

“Sienna, I…what are you doing?” Foster asked. He was the forgotten fly-master, the one no one remembered but everyone blamed when marks were missed.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” she replied curtly. For the moment, he was the physical manifestation of what was wrong with the place. “That was unfair, sorry,” she followed up with a degree of automation.

He stood wooden in the doorway, rooted for the first time since she met the man. “Is this about Paul?”

She slammed a bouquet of dead flowers into the trash bag, her cheeks flamed from rage. “It’s about all of it, Foster,” she fumed, a rant beginning to fill the space about her teeth. “Paul’s depravity is his own issue. My complacency was mine. Well, no longer. There’s supposed to be glamour on Broadway. The hard work, long hours, and back-stage drama doesn’t matter because every night, an audience loves you. But this isn’t Camelot, and I’m not living in the ivory tower anymore.”

“You’re giving up?” he asked naively.

She glared at him. “Really? That’s your assessment?” Sienna shook her head. “Oh, I see. The Prima Dona is throwing another tantrum. Well, this isn’t a test of the emergency broadcast system. I’m done, Foster. You understand me? Finished.” She fought to keep her voice under control.

He looked like a wounded puppy. “W-where will you go?”

She tied the drawstrings of the trash bag with an angry and purposeful knot. “I’m going back to that rattrap of a condo, gather up my belongings, and then I’m going home.”


Sienna swallowed in effort to shake the knot from her throat. Iowa didn’t seem like much when she left it for alluring New York. But Iowa at least was honest, steadfast. “I’ve been such a fool. I’m a farmer’s daughter and that should have been enough.”

Tears slipped from his eyes. “Well, break a leg Sienna. I’ll miss you. You’re the only one that’s ever treated me like a human being.”

She approached him, emptiness drowning hope of any pity his comment might have conjured up. “Goodbye, Foster. Do yourself a favor and follow my example. None of these plastic people care about real folk like us.” Unceremoniously, she pushed him aside and marched towards the exit advertised in cheerful neon green.


  1. Congratulations for 100th post and this is a brilliant story.

    1. Thanks! I'm pleased you enjoyed the story. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. Congrats on the 100th post! I like that she retains her need to be neat despite her anger; shows the Iowa girl still there after everything.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad that shined through. Sienna's jaded, poor thing, but she refuses to be a victim.

      I'm happy you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. great story - i love the untold story about Foster - sounds like he'd have been a better choice for her to fall in love with, and sounds a bit like he'd fallen for her already.

    1. Thanks! Foster's in the perfect position to know everyone's business and still be completely ignored. He definitely thinks more of her than she realizes. :)

      I'm thrilled you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  4. Love what you've done with the place. :-) I'm so proud of you for sticking with this, it took me several tries to find my method that worked. You're going places, darling!

    I always enjoy these glimpses of story :-) you pack so much potential into a single brief scene. Well done.

    1. Tami!!!

      Thanks for being way supportive...and for taking me under your wing...I couldn't ask for or actually receive any better a friend than the one I have found in you.

      I'm beyond thrilled that you find enjoyment in my pieces. I hope I am going places, and that you are ever willing to come with. Thanks always for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Shel, I'm sorry to read stresses between your lines, but thrilled to celebrate your 100th post. I think I can safely speak for the community when I say we love you, too.

    I like Sienna and Foster, and I'd love to follow her home to Iowa along with him, because in my genre, that's what he'd do...

    1. Thanks Cam! No need to worry about me, I'm fine. It's just a healthy dose of real life that I don't want to deal with, but I'll suck it up and do it anyway. Thanks though, for all your kind words. Makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. :)

      I don't know what I'll do with Sienna and Foster yet...would be interesting to see if I could pull off a romance. Hmm...

      I'm glad you liked the characters. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  6. First of all, congratulations on your 100th post!

    (I'm very sorry to hear that your life is careening into rough places right now.)

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. Though I'm curious as to what exactly Paul did, you made the piece about Sienna in a way that made that curiosity secondary.

    This line, I think, is so telling:
    Her mother taught her to clean up her own mess, a virtue Sienna wasn’t willing to sacrifice just yet.

    because it's a little glimpse into the type of value system she later references when thinking about Iowa.

    (Also? I am a sucker for a good theater story, so :) )

    1. Thanks! I'm happy to be around at 100. :)

      And as I told Cam, don't fret. It's just life at the moment. Christmas and New Years will happen and I'm be among family and friends and that's all that'll matter in the next few weeks.

      I'm a sucker for a theater tale too. I spent a lot of time around stages in my high school/college years. What I remember most is the smell of the makeup and the way it caked my face. I think on it now and I shiver in reaction and I say "ick". There are times I miss the actual performance part though. You'd never think it as shy as I am, but there you have it.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!