Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Fine Line

At first I struggled with the prospect of being alone. But I had gotten used to it. A new-found sense of freedom made the time pass quickly and eased my conscience somewhat.
And then today I found an old photograph taken of us when we were toddlers. A Christmas picture with Santa taken at the mall. We were smiling. We looked happy in our matching outfits. Thankfully, I didn't remember it.
And I didn't recall when things had changed, only that they did. We'd grown up together, with so many things in common and yet we were so different from each other. I'd always been the one that cared too much, until one day, I just didn't.
That day had come two years ago. It had been two years since I'd held her in my arms. Two years since she'd died. Two years and I could still feel her pulse weakening beneath my fingertips. She had passed out but I didn't turn loose of her, I couldn't. Her words echoed in my head and my grip had tightened.
"Loser. You'll never be anything, and no one will ever love you. You're ugly."
It was her morning mantra directed at me as she greeted me at breakfast every day.
Tears had streamed down my face as hers had turned an off shade of blue. My were fingers were locked around her neck, all I'd had to do was wait. I remembered it fondly just like it was yesterday. I'd counted in my head until she'd stopped breathing. Had I known it would be that easy I would've done it years before I finally did.
How odd that the old photo made me miss her. The duality of loving someone so much that you actually hated them had always been my cross to bear. And now, apparently, so was the guilt.
She had been my best friend.
My only friend.
My twin.

©2015 Garden Summerland

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ten til Six

I stared down at the phone in my hands. It seemed like I had been waiting for hours. It had only been ten minutes, it was almost 5:30.
I checked the volume. I turned it off and then back on again. I changed the ring-tone. Five times. Still nothing.
It had now been twelve minutes.
I needed an answer. The test had been positive. What were we going to do?
Maybe he hadn't gotten the message yet? It had gone straight to voice mail.
What a thing to say on voice mail.
“Danny, I'm HIV positive.”
That's all I'd said. My voice hadn't even cracked. In fact, I wasn't upset about the potential death sentence I'd been handed. I'd known since yesterday afternoon, but couldn't bring myself to call my lover until this morning. And now....
I should've told him in person. But I just couldn't face him. I was ashamed even though I'd done nothing wrong.
This didn't happen to people like us. I thought this kind of thing only happened to junkies and promiscuous amorals. Not a committed couple of three years.
We'd always been careful.
I thought for a moment... had he been unfaithful? Was this his fault? Surely it wasn't mine.
I'd only been with two other men in my entire life. But what about Dan? Somewhere deep inside me, I blamed him. Yes, it was his fault... it had to be. He had been with a lot of women before me. He had used drugs. He was... well he used to be one of those promiscuous amorals. I thought he had changed.
Still the phone didn't ring.
I laid it face down on the table in front of me. I sipped my latte and tears began forming in my eyes.
I didn't want to cry. Certainly not in a busy coffee shop.
I swallowed back my pain. No. I would not do this. There was no point in getting upset. There was nothing to be done now. And the doctor had said that with proper care, my prognosis was good. It wasn't like in the 80s; there had been quite a few medical advances, and I could live a long healthy life. As long as I followed a certain protocol.
The words echoed inside my head. “Certain protocol”.
If Danny had followed a certain protocol I wouldn't have this dread disease.
Suddenly I didn't want him to call and I wished I'd never called him. But I had been specifically instructed to inform anyone I'd had intimate contact with in the past ten years. I was thankful I'd only had to make one call.
It had been fifteen minutes.
He wasn't going to call me. How could this even be happening?
My life was coming apart at the seams because of sex. And carelessness. Oh god how would I tell my parents? My family? What had I done to deserve this?
My heart beat wildly inside my chest and my brain was swimming. I needed something stronger than a latte. I put ten dollars on the table and got up to leave. There was a liquor store around the corner.
Nausea swept over me and I felt faint. The room began to go dark... I was falling; then I felt my head crack against the tile floor.
My eyes fluttered and there was blood everywhere. And people.... they were scrambling around me.
I screamed at them not to touch me. I squinted and strained to see the huge white clock on the wall. It was ten minutes til six. I began to convulse and then everything went black again as my phone vibrated in my hand and my new ring-tone played. Mad World; it certainly was.
My last thought was of Danny and how much I had loved him. I wondered if he was finally calling me back. I'd never know.

©2015 Garden Summerland

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Q & A with Bella Carter

This post is to introduce everyone to Bella Carter, who has a brand new release,
"Final Reunion" available on Amazon now!!
Follow the link to download. It is currently FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Bella Carter is the author of several titles, most recently, Final Reunion. When not diving into imaginary worlds, Bella enjoys spending time on Lake Michigan with her little dog and her husband.

At the keyboard, she hopes to draw the reader in and make them a part of the story, taking them to places they would not ordinarily go.

Okay, here we go, Bella Carter & ten questions!

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve loved books and the idea of writing since I was a child. My favorite class in high school was Creative Writing and I believe the positive feedback I received is what really made me want to be a writer.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

My latest took me nearly a year. But I did not work on it only. I tend to hop around from project to project.

3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Lately it is spotty. Lots of distractions come with Summer time fun. When I do get settled in I usually write a few hours a day.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure how interesting it is but I am addicted to post it notes. I have them everywhere! I can’t seem to function without them.

5. How do your books get published?

I independently publish all my books. I love having control over every aspect. This allows me the freedom to write and publish when I feel like it.

6. When did you write your first book?

I published my first book, Minnesota Winter, under another pen name, Lucy Burton in 2012

7. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Drink coffee and visit the lake. My husband and I recently moved close to Lake Michigan and we absolutely love it! My favorite thing in the world is to drink coffee and walk my little dog on the pier.

8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have three titles under Bella and I think my favorite is the first, Loss of Innocence.

9. What do you think makes a good story?

A character you can connect with is what I feel makes a great story. Hopefully the author is able to pull in the reader in a way that makes them experience the same ups and downs as the characters.

10. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I was madly in love with Indiana Jones and wanted to be an archaeologist. But then I discovered writing and knew being a writer was what I was meant to do.

You can find more books by Bella on Amazon

Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July

I forced my eyes to go blurry as I stared out the window. It made the others seem like ethereal beings floating weightlessly on the front lawn. Their white gowns flowing in the slight breeze seemed to glitter in the sunlight splintering through the foliage of the giant oaks. The beings waved and danced for me. They could be angels. I wanted to believe in them.
Then they came back into focus. They were not angels; they were just crazies. Like me.
I blurred my vision again to try to make the bars appear thinner. I wished I could slip through them and fly away. I closed my eyes and concentrated. Nothing happened. If only I knew the magic words I'd long since forgotten. How long had I been here?
I stepped away from the window.
I surveyed my room for the hundredth time that day, and it was only ten o'clock. The journal on my bedside table mocked me. I had been instructed to write in it whenever I felt... sad. I smirked. I could've filled a thousand journals by now. They had given me crayons. I laughed at them, then I ate the entire box. 48 colors. Weren't they supposed non-toxic? Idiots give those things to kids.
On the upside, it had gotten me a short reprieve from these four walls. I'd been rushed to the infirmary in the middle of the night with horrid stomach cramps. It had been worth it.
The next day I'd asked for colored gel pens. Unsurprisingly they denied my request.
How was I supposed to write you a letter?
You never visited me; and you never called.
No one did. I'd been forgotten.
I would have been sad about that, but I had figured out a way to make all of you remember me.
You'd see me on the news next week and then you'd all be sorry. Then your recollection of me would return; how you'd had me locked away. Forgotten. Not even a fond memory.
A month ago I'd taken up smoking. You'd find that out too.
Jerry, one of the night orderlies had taken a liking to me.
He brought me chocolates and let me sneak out with him to smoke.
I wondered what he expected in return. Too bad I'd never find out.
In a few days, he would burn with the rest of us.
July was about to get hotter.
Four days til Independence Day. Exactly two years since they'd put me in this cage.
A part of me wished I could escape to see the fallout. But it was more poetic to go down in flames.
You will have to live the rest of your life knowing my death is your fault.
Maybe you'll miss me as much as I've missed you. Maybe you won't.

My dying wish is that all of you will suffer as much as I have.

 © Garden Summerland

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Today's Feature:
Liam Rooke 
Actor, VOA, Author, Personal Trainer

Growing up in South Yorkshire, a small ex-mining town called Barnsley, I was the little chunky child who quietly watched the world pass by. Family and friends viewed me as reserved, an introvert. Primary years passed by as I watched others succeed at school, not being aware of what, if anything, I was good at or knowing which direction my life would take. My motto was, 'if I keep quiet, no one will know I'm here.' Trying hard in my studies, I couldn't quite find my calling until the final year in primary school when there was an announcement for a production of Sweeney Todd. Unknown to anyone, I put my name forward for the part of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber and fortunately, as no one else wanted the part, the teachers had no option but to give it to me! Everyone was sceptical that I could ever learn the lines, never mind speak them! How I amazed everyone!! My mother cried at each performance and others stood in awe - they couldn't believe what they were seeing. The transformation was unbelievable. In front of an audience, I had finally found my niche in life. I will never forget the headmaster at school saying to my parents, 'Of all the children in the school, Liam was the last person any of us would have imagined could have done that. Brilliant, you have a budding actor on your hands.' I had been 'bitten' and from then on took every opportunity to pursue acting. My confidence and self esteem, from being non existent, soared and I truly believed I could do anything if I applied myself. Having gained the necessary qualifications, I applied for College to study Performing Arts. Distinctions across the board led me to University; maybe not the right avenue, but I needed to prove to myself that I, ‘Liam Rooke’, could study for a BA Honours Degree and graduate. Not being academically favored, I had to work harder at theory, but sailed through practicals and performed lead parts in numerous productions. Gaining a BA Honours Degree 2:1, I progressed into the entertainment industry and have T.V., film, short film and voice over credits, and have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I also have my own projects including traveling to Sweden to take a role in a Swedish comedy which has been aired throughout that country. I am currently taking on various workshops and seminars to continue my professional development. Alongside this I decided to pursue a Personal Trainer qualification, not only to add another string to my bow, but to keep myself in tip top shape and have a thorough knowledge of body transformation. My experience ranges from academic to intense practical work in all areas of the business. I love what I do and am eager to climb the creative industry ladder and get involved in what I can when I can. This is who I am and people know me for my creative spirit.

Liam has also authored five books:

Please visit his Amazon Author page:

Follow Liam online:

Friday, May 1, 2015

The F Word

Allie pushed the cart down the aisle, as Noah trudged along behind her. She stopped in front of a pastry display.
"What do you think we should get?" she asked him, his face already aglow with glee.
Before he could answer, the old lady's voice broke into their bubble of happy contemplation.
"Lard-ass needs to eat a carrot."
It was louder than a whisper, and although not specifically directed at them, it was clearly audible. It echoed in Allie's head.
Noah turned around with angry tears in his eyes and spat at her, "Hey lady, I'm fat not deaf. I have feelings ya know."
Allie tugged at the sleeve of his jacket.
"Come on, let's just get out of here."
She threw down the bag of chips and the box of donuts she'd just picked up and then nudged him towards the front of the store.
"We'll stop at that little place down from the house and get Gramma's snacks. I'd rather pay double there than subject you to shit like this."
He pulled away from her and hurriedly headed for the exit. People stared. They always did. At 6'1" and 375 pounds, he was three times her size. He wasn't unhealthy, he was just... large. He'd had lab tests run and blood work done, and every imaginable medical scrutiny you could imagine. There was no reason for it. Except as the last doctor had said, Noah liked to eat. And eat he did.
Allie was one of those people that most would call, "lucky". She had a high metabolism and burned up everything she ate seemingly as soon as she ate it. She could stuff herself on junk and although it made her feel like crap, she never gained an ounce.
Noah on the other hand, need only look at a donut and poof, five pounds would appear out of nowhere.
Allie had accepted him as he was from the moment they'd met, but her friends and family had been heartless and cruel. They called him Orca, even to his face. Needless to say, their time spent with anyone she knew had been cut to the bare minimum. She was in love with him, and as far as she was concerned, there was just more of him to love. As long as his health wasn't endangered, what was the problem?
Judgy people were the problem. Nosy people were the problem. Stupid people were the problem. And most of all, Noah's resultant lack of self esteem was the problem.
They rode home in silence. This wasn't the first time, and Allie knew it wouldn't be the last. Uneducated bullies. That's what they all were.

Allie pulled into the drive and shut off the car. She turned to Noah but he jumped out of the car, slammed the car door and rushed into the house. She followed him in and opened her mouth to kick in with her usual speech to try to make up for the ignorance of the general public.
"Noah, it's not you, they just..."
"Don't use the 'f word', " he interrupted her before she could finish.
"Why not? I don't think it's a bad thing."
"Because it's judgy that's why. It's.... shaming."
"Shaming? What the hell are you talking about? You own it. It's SEXY. You're sexy. It's you... it means you are being YOU and not caring what anyone else thinks."
He chuckled. "Because I like to eat?"
"Yeah," she nodded approvingly. "Because you like to eat." She laid her hand on his rounded cheek and caressed the smooth plumpness. He smiled and his dimples deepened. She loved to see him happy.
"You know, most people don't share your affection for..." he trailed off.
"Fat? Come on, it's not like that. You make it sound like it's some kind of fetish or something. I'm not attracted your weight... I love you. I love you for who you are and how you are. I want to see you happy. That is what makes you attractive to me. Not six pack abs, or rock hard bi-ceps. It's your smile. The way your eyes light up when you're eating a cheeseburger or chocolate ice cream. You know the real reason I love you, right?"
He nodded his head and looked away from her.
"Yeah, sure."
She kissed him on the cheek.
"I'm gonna go get a bath... soak off this day."
"You okay?"
He turned back to her and kissed her on the mouth.
"Yeah, I'll be just fine."

The next morning Allie was up early. She turned on the television and was shocked that the local news had pre-empted her usual national morning program. She turned it up as she grabbed a cup and filled it with coffee and cream. There was a missing woman, last seen yesterday afternoon at Tomlinson's Grocery on 5th & Main. That's where they had been. Then they showed the woman's picture. Allie dropped her coffee. It was a picture of the woman that had called Noah "lard-ass".
She jumped when she heard Noah laughing. He walked up behind her and put his arms around her waist and began kissing her on the neck.
"Now see, that is what I call Karma."
A cold chill swept through her, but she didn't pull away from him. No, absolutely not. He'd been with her the entire night. Except... he had taken Gramma her snacks after they'd gotten back. But he'd only been gone an hour. No. It was unthinkable. She shook her head. Not Noah.

Noah looked up at the picture on the television screen and smiled to himself. The old lady had clawed at him as he'd heaved her body over the side of the bridge into the icy water below.
He breathed a happy contented sigh and nodded his head. Every now and then he struck a blow for the fat guys.

 © Garden Summerland

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Price for Love

"My god Jamie, what have you done?" I said it out loud as I shook my head and scanned the damage. He'd left a huge mess this time. Blood spattered on the walls; it was everywhere. And pieces of... flesh. It was going to take me hours to clean it up. I hadn't gotten used to it. I never would.

He had blacked out again. He was lying on the floor next to what was left of her. His hand still gripping the knife and a piece of her dress. Her head was turned towards him, her brown eyes open and a half smile on her face. He had done that; positioned her afterward.

"Oh James..." I tried to speak but I felt it rising in my throat; the sandwich I'd had an hour ago mixed with bile and stomach acid. I opened my purse and threw up inside it; all over the plastic baggies I'd brought. I should have been better prepared. It hadn't made me sick like this before.

I told myself I didn't care. I looked down at him; lifeless like the corpse next to him. He was a beautiful monster. Light blond hair with curls at the nape of his neck and honest blue gray eyes, with the longest, darkest lashes I'd ever seen on a man. He looked like a harmless California surfer instead of the serial maniac he was. And I was in love with him.
Years ago I'd found him like this with another dead girl lying next to him. He'd strangled her. I'd disposed of her body then sat with him until he came back around. It had been the start of a three year love affair, and there was no turning back.

I went outside to look around. My car was parked on the street. Apparently he'd left his somewhere and they'd returned in hers; it was parked in the drive. I wondered why she hadn't pulled into the garage, he should've insisted. There were no neighbors with a clear line of sight; the house was on a lot at the end of the street. A cul-de-sac; it was a rule.

I couldn't keep doing this. It was sick. He was sick. And I was no better. I ran down the steps and fell to my knees next to a flower bed in her front yard. I heaved, once, then twice... thankfully nothing came up. There was nothing to be done about it; I loved him. But how many more would pay the price for my demented obsession with James Albright?

I felt safe when I was with him. I knew he'd never let anything happen to me, I kept him out of jail. I was his safety net, and... he loved me.
And in the eyes of the law, I was an accomplice. An accessory after the fact. I couldn't stop him now even if I wanted to, and he knew that.

But I didn't want to. He knew that too. I enjoyed his devotion and it made me feel special that he allowed me to live. But I couldn't keep cleaning up after him; it had begun to make me physically ill. And it was my DNA that was being left all over everything. I was as careful as I could be, but forensics were tight these days. They knew what was going on. And as much as I took away evidence of him, I left some of me behind. Maybe he knew that too.

I forced myself to calm down. Slow breaths and a little blue pill did the trick. I could do this.

I retrieved plastic gloves and towels from the car, and my 'kit', which contained garbage bags and disinfectant cleaner. I pried the knife from his hand and took the piece of her dress. I washed the knife in the sink and put it back into the wooden holder on the counter. The small ripped piece of cloth went into my purse, along with any pieces of her. The purse would have to be burned now anyway. I was having to improvise, and I didn't like that. That's when stupid mistakes were made. Jamie had taught me that.

I wrapped her body in one of the huge black bags from my kit and dragged her to the garage. If he'd had her pull in like he was supposed to, I could've put her body in the trunk of the car. Now I wasn't sure what to do. I rolled her out the door onto the garage floor and left her there. I'd have to wait until dark, or until Jamie awoke. He would be disappointed in me. I'd let him down.

I feared no retribution, he would hold me and love me. Kiss me and tell me it was okay. I lived for those moments of approval. And I'd worked hard for each one I'd gotten. But I was at a loss this time, I couldn't carry the body by myself. He would have to help me. Wasn't he the one that hadn't followed the rules? I wouldn't dare point that out.

I returned to the bloody mess in the living room, sized up the situation then headed to the kitchen. I filled the sink full of soapy water and got to work. Within an hour I had most of the blood mopped up and the dirty towels in my trunk.

I sat on the sofa and flipped through fashion magazines as I waited for James to awaken. I watched him for another hour. How I wanted him to kiss me and tell me how much he loved me. Why wasn't he waking up?

Now it was getting dark. I'd been there for three hours. Something was wrong. I knelt down, placing my hand against his cheek. It was ice cold. He was dead.
Later I'd find out that he'd had a cerebral aneurysm. His death had been quick.

It was better than he deserved.

©2015 Garden Summerland