• 1995 Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol

    The wet slides down my throat and again I am unsure: wine or blood? The ceiling spins somewhere far above me, and I can’t tell. I think I smell plums, but I don’t taste anything at all.

    Maybe if I concentrate hard I’ll be able to tell. Maybe the spinning will slow long enough that I won’t throw up and obliterate the flavor of the stickiness I feel in the back of my throat. Is that iron? That doesn’t seem good. But it is kind of a warm sweetness. It could be wine. I was drinking wine, wasn’t I?

    Huh. I don’t remember how I got here. Actually, I’m not even sure where here is. Someone was with me. We were together. She? No, that doesn’t seem right. He. Definitely a he. He should be around here somewhere. How long have I been here? Huh. He. That seems right. Where is he? He should be here. Maybe I could roll over and… no, that seems really hard. I’m really tired.


    WHOA! I’m awake. Really, I’m good. Must’ve just dozed off there. Weird dream. All the air in my body was rushing out my pores, and I couldn’t breathe. Actually, it was just like how it feels… ummm… okay, this isn’t so good. I think I’m not doing too good here. Can’t… breathe… too… well. Kind of. Important.


    I’m here! Still here. Wine! It was wine. Really good wine too. 1995 Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol. This stuff’s $200 a bottle! How do I know that? I don’t care about wine. 1995 Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol. He said that, not me. Why can’t I move. Why can’t I breathe. Where…


    It spins. It spins with fins and wins the pins. The ceiling is blinking.


    He left me here. Four years together and he left me here to die on his kitchen tile. His tile. I hate this floor. My money; his floor. It can’t be. He promised. He promised me he’d… No, he must be hurt. Maybe he’s dead too.


    The sink is running. Dishes! He’s doing dishes! HELP!!! HELP ME!! Did any sound come out? HEEELLLLPPP!!! Can’t you see me?? Oh, please come… Ohh… please… Oh. Oh no. He never does dishes. He hates doing… Oh no.


    Four years. But he… he said… he. no. Four years, and he’s killed me with summer and plums.

    Some days I do a lot of staring. I stare at out the window, at the blank wall, at the cobwebs I should be sweeping off the ceiling. I stare because writing presents too many choices, too many characters and subplots and arcs. Where do I begin today? So, I begin with writing warm-up, like wind-sprints to wake up my brain and remind it to focus. I don’t edit them, and they are often short and non-sensical. Occasionally they are sublime.

    Want to read the first chapter of my book? It’s about a girl who just wants to heal her Dad from his terminal illness and ends up sparking an intergalactic incident instead. (Oops!). Check it out here.

  • Snowbound

    Horsetail Falls. PC: George Shubin

    I know it’s not spring. The frozen mess from the last few days that has now melted into a soggy blob of dripping grayness outside my window tells me so. However, the single-minded purpose and extreme frustration of the last couple years is wearing off, and my brain is starting to feel that constipated itch that universally means I need to write fiction. The subconscious part of my brain has something to say and it only gets to do so well through fiction. Life is good. Today I wrote this:

    ~ Snowbound ~

    Ripples in the frozen stream
    Flow around the rocks and dream
    Of warmer days to come.

    Ripples in my frozen heart
    Flow in warmth and dream of art
    Of days I’ll write again.

    Spring comes at last
    I’ve made it past
    My snowy heart now thaws.

  • The Sword Maiden

    Trinity Art #2 - The Sword Maiden | LenaStark.com
    Trinity Art #2 - The Sword Maiden | LenaStark.com
    I commissioned my daughter Trinity to draw this for me for another small project I was working on and then liked it so much that I wrote a story about it. This is Trinity’s first paid art piece. She was pretty thrilled. So was I.

    Siobhan unwrapped the sword carefully, noting the position of the blade in relation to her fingers. The heft, the cold solidity of the steel, the straight line from pommel to point – all was as she had left it with no chips or imperfections. Once satisfied, she pulled her shield out of the chest on the floor before her and performed the same inspection on it.

    “Don’t follow me,” Nioklas had commanded before kissing her firmly and riding hard into the night. But that was foolishness. She knew it before the darkness had even swallowed him from sight, and she knew that at some point he would likely realize it too.

    Siobhan was a sword maiden. She had sparred Nioklas since they were children. Her sword style was different but equally deadly to his and her horsemanship slightly better. The hour was late, the need now, and none else was nearby to help. The raiders would attack by morn. With the mist they would rise and drench the white, frosty ground with her own red blood, and Nioklas could not rout them alone.

    Even so, Siobhan placed her shield beside her sword on the earthen floor and fidgeted with the strips of worn cloth that had wrapped the sword. Nioklas had told her to stay, and she usually tried to respect his wishes as he tried to respect hers. He would likely be angry if she disobeyed tonight, this most deadly of eves. 

    Deep in the tangled woods behind their lodge, the yip of a fox was followed by the final, harrowing scream of a rabbit before both ended in abrupt silence. Siobhan listened, but only a feathered hush replied. Nioklas’s anger did not matter; his life did. And her life did. And both had a better chance of continuing past tomorrow morning if they fought together instead of being picked off one at a time.

    As she packed her gear and prepared her horse, she finally understood. All those years she had begged for and then insisted upon sword training with her brothers (to her mother’s horror and her father’s amusement), all that time she had spent learning a purposeless skill for a girl destined to domestic life, all the jeers and taunts and lectures – as she paused in the stillness and inhaled the vibrant breath of night, she knew what it had been for.

    She was perfectly fitted for Nioklas: for this night, this hour, this moment. One glance back at the home she loved, one forward towards the inky unknown, and away she rode into the quivering forest with the newfound glow of certainty burning in her heart.

  • Velvet Children

    Every morning as she left for school, Angelina walked  down her hallway, past the lonely picture of the Velvet Children. It was the only picture on the entire length of the wall, and for some reason Angelina’s mother had positioned it right beside Angelina’s bedroom door, like a bizarre 70’s era placard.

    It was a hideous picture. Two small children, a boy in painted green shorts with buttons attached to suspenders, and a girl wearing a swaying yellow dress, were blowing dandelion fuzz. The artist was not especially skilled and both children wore a slightly maniacal expression, as though they had been cooped up for far too long and had only just escaped. Presumably the artist had meant for them to look happy and carefree. They didn’t.

    Something else was wrong with the picture, and as Angelina hopped on the school bus, she finally figured out what it was. How had she not noticed before? While the boy’s hair was waving on the wind towards the left, the girl’s dress fluttered toward the right. The dandelion fluff swirled up above their heads in what seemed to be a funnel pattern. What looked like it was supposed to be a gentle picture of two happy children playing seemed to actually be taking place in the middle of an unseen tornado.

    Kurt sat down beside Angelina on the bus bench seat and dropped his backpack on her big toe. As the nerves sparked and her toe seemed to expand until it felt like her body was solely comprised of the one toe, she realized why she hated the painting. It was not the painting she remembered from years or even months past.

    Last year the children in the painting had been smaller, further away from the frame. She had only noticed the crazy eyes recently because they had only grown large enough to see clearly in the last few weeks. Angelina failed her math test and received and incomplete on her spelling test that day.

    When she arrived home, Angelina pulled out her ruler and carefully lined it up with the edge of the frame. The distance to the girl’s dress was 2 1/8″. She measured twice. The next morning Angelina woke up early so she could re-measure without her mother seeing her. This time the distance was 2 1/16″, and the velvet children’s mouths, clearer now than they were yesterday, curled into a vengeful sneer.


    Some days I do a lot of staring. I stare at out the window, at the blank wall, at the cobwebs I should be sweeping off the ceiling. I stare because writing presents too many choices, too many characters and subplots and arcs. Where do I begin today? So, I begin with writing warm-up, like wind-sprints to wake up my brain and remind it to focus. I don’t edit them, and they are often short and non-sensical. Occasionally they are sublime.

    Writing prompt from https://twitter.com/writingprompt