The Treehouse

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From a distance, the dilapidated treehouse looked the same as it always had: a scaled-down version of the big house on the property. As he walked closer, Jay could see the broken windows, the peeling blue paint, and the missing shingles.

When Jay Morton and his mom had come to live at the Bridger House in 1986, the treehouse was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. Built on a platform that wrapped around two huge live oaks, it seemed like something out of a fairytale.

Clayton Reed—the eight-year-old owner of said treehouse—had been equally exotic. Red-haired, freckled, and as skinny as his name implied. Not to mention the most creative person Jay had ever run across. They’d bonded over stories; novels, comics, anything they could get their hands on. Jay had loved to fall asleep to the sound of Clayton reciting the fantastical tales he seemed to pull out of thin air.

Although Jay had been forbidden to hang out with the son of his mom’s boss, the boys found ways around the rules by secretly meeting in the treehouse. It was their safe haven. Later, after the Reed family lost their money and the Bridger House began to crumble around them, the boys—now young men—would meet in the treehouse and drink. They’d kissed for the first time in the treehouse and had the first fumbling sexual encounters. The boys had promised to keep in touch when Mrs. Reed abruptly let Jay’s mom go and they’d been forced to move to Charleston so she could find work. After a while, the promised emails and phone calls had dwindled to nothing, but Jay had never forgotten Clayton.

Now, more than twenty years later—Jay was back in the town of Summerville.

When Jay had decided to buy an old house on the outskirts of Charleston and fix it up, nostalgia had led him to look in Summerville. When he realized the Bridger house was for sale he knew it had to be fate.

He’d bought the house sight-unseen. It was a crumbling old wreck and would take an obscene amount of money to fix up, but he had to believe fate had guided him and that it wasn’t some ridiculous mid-life crisis.

Behind him, the crunch of underbrush announced someone’s arrival.

“I had a feelin’ you’d be back here,” Clayton drawled.  Jay’s skin prickled, despite the late summer heat and he turned to face his old friend. Twenty years had done him well. Still freckled and ginger haired of course, but the carrot orange had softened to a reddish blond and his blue eyes were bright in his handsome face.

“Yeah, couldn’t resist taking a look at the old place,” Jay admitted, giving his old friend a lopsided smile. “Hey, by the way.”

“Hey, yourself.” Clayton’s smile was blinding. “What are you doing in town? I couldn’t believe it when I got your message on Facebook after all this time.”

Clayton held up the keys he’d gotten from the real estate agent. “Just bought the place. From the old crab traps in the root cellar to the treehouse out back, the Bridger property’s mine now.”

The open, friendly expression faded from Clayton’s face and with a solid, skull-rattling blow, his fist connected with Jay’s jaw.


It took me a while to write this, mostly because the story kept shifting. As it did, I quickly realized there was a hell of a plot bunny here. Clearly, Jay and Clayton have a story that needs to be told. Who’d like to read it?

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

 

 

Flash Fiction Monday – The Artist’s Muse

 

The skritch, skritch,skritch of charcoal against paper was the only sound in the room. Marshall glanced briefly at the page, before looking up at Luka again. He didn’t know which was worse: staring at the drawing or at the man?

Not that Luka was a chore to look at. Far from it. His fallen angel face and loose curls made him a dead ringer for the model Cellini had used for his marble Narcissus.

Marshall was no Renaissance sculptor, however.

Just a struggling art student who couldn’t hold down a day job. Or keep a relationship together.

He let his gaze roam over his former sub again, his pencil tracing the lines his eyes followed.  Up the corded muscles of Luka’s neck, sharply angling to trace the jaw, curving over full, sensual lips. Marshall’s pencil—and heart—stuttered.

Something flickered in Luka’s gaze at the change in rhythm, but he was too well trained to move and disrupt Marshall’s art. Luka had picked the pose and Marshall regretted letting him. It was beautiful; no question about it, and the light was impeccable. But something about the way Luka’s temple and shoulder met the window revealed a disconcerting reflection. Although angled at a three-quarter profile to Marshall, the reflection in the glass made it appear as though Luka was focused on him. As if the long-lashed, sad eyes were staring straight at him. Imploring him.

Marshall ducked further behind his easel and scrutinized the sketch of Luka. The edge of an eraser traced down Luka’s nose, brushed the tops of his eyelids, and left little curlicues of light to highlight his hair.

Stilling, Marshall looked at the piece with a critical eye, his heart aching as he acknowledged there was no more to be done. Not for the sketch—which would be handed over to the gallery at the end of the week—or the relationship.

In truth, it had been over for a while now. Marshall had only asked Luka to model after the gallery curator begged him for an additional piece to complete the collection.

He cleared his throat. “I think we’re done.”

Luka didn’t move a muscle. “You think, or you’re sure?”

“I’m sure. It’s done.”

There was a bitter twist to Luka’s lips as he straightened and stretched. Without even the sound of the charcoal on the paper, the room’s silence became oppressive. Luka dressed, neither quickly nor slowly, but with the typical graceful economy of movements he always used.

Marshall mourned as the beautiful dancer’s body was swallowed by denim and cotton. He’d never see the strong, lissome curves again, unless he went to Luka’s performances, which he couldn’t afford.

At least I’ll always have my art, he thought bitterly as Luka reached the door.

“Thanks for agreeing to this,” he said aloud.

Luka hitched his canvas bag of dance clothes higher on his shoulder and paused with the door half-open. “It doesn’t have to be like this, you know?”

“Yes. It does.”


 

This story came together quite easily for me. Almost too easily. There’s a wicked plot bunny nibbling at me right now. What do you think? Would you want to read Marshall and Luka’s story?

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

What’s the Opposite of Writer’s Block?

I posted this image on FB today because it made me giggle.  Sometimes my characters DO feel like imaginary friends.

 

I’m grateful that writer’s block is something I rarely have to deal with.  Don’t get me wrong, my creativity (and focus) ebbs and flows.  Some weeks I feel like I can’t find enough hours in the day to keep up with the ideas in my head.  Other time, it’s like pulling teeth.  I do my best to write even when I’m not feeling especially productive, although often I focus on other things, like writing book reviews or blog posts.  Sometimes I work on a story and just re-read what I’ve already written and make minor tweaks or plot out where I want to go next.  There’s always something I can work on.

Avoiding writer’s block is one of the main reasons I have multiple stories going at once.  It’s a very effective tool for me because if I’m feeling blah and uninspired about a particular story, I can work on something else for a while and it sparks my creativity.

Unfortunately, right now I feel like I have the opposite problem. Lately, my imaginary friends have been talking my ear off and I can’t get them to stop! I’m drowning in plot bunnies and I have a difficult time focusing on what I should be working on, namely the holiday shorts and book three of the Equals series.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Russ and Stephen.  I love the characters, I love their story, I love their relationship and the way it’s evolving. But I have so many other characters impatiently waiting their turn and it’s a daily struggle to focus on what I need to work on.

I feel ungrateful complaining about an excess of creativity; after all, it could be worse, right? I could be completely stuck and unable to write.  But it’s hard to feel grateful when the number of projects I have in my plot bunny folder keeps piling up.  I have no idea when I’ll get to them and just thinking about them gives me anxiety.

What am I going to do about it?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I guess, but I’d sure love to know if you have any tips!

What can I do to get my characters to speak a little more quietly or at least wait their turn?

 

 

Plot Bunnies 2

Plot Bunnies 2

My friend Red sent me this and it’s sending plot bunnies frolicking through my head. At the moment I’m juggling more of them than I can handle so it’ll have to go into the archives for “someday”. It’s too good to forget though. Someday, I’ll tell his story.

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Edited to add: I just ran across this picture and think he might be who the man at the cafe is waiting for.  Hmm.