Attending the Great Lakes Book Bash a few weeks ago as an author signing at the event, it hit me how lucky I am to finally be doing what I should have been doing all along. Even if I never get past publishing three books (which I sure hope-to-shout I do, as more stories are in my head, pushing every day to get out), being able to produce something I am proud of and being able to semi-easily get it out in front of people is awesome! (Still working on how to get my books in front of the RIGHT people, but, all in good time, I guess…)
I feel like there are people along the way who were instrumental at me getting to this point, and they probably are not even aware of it. I feel like now might be the time to give them shout-outs. It wouldn’t be possible to do them justice in the back of a paperback on the flat page–I require links and multi-media.
I have already blogged about past teachers, such as dear Mrs. Raines who gave me my all-time favorite book way back in 2nd grade and dear Mr. Clark who put up with my crazy, even making me co-editor of the school newspaper when I never would have selected myself for such a job.
I feel like I should also mention my asbestos friend. We were writing buddies in 8th grade, and we still are now. (And I’m not sure my subject matter has changed all that much 😉 ) Extra kudos to her for being my beta reader. And apparently Linus to my Charlie Brown.
My best friend was fundamental to my development as well, although we enjoyed more art and drawing together than words. I don’t draw much anymore. But I love to do off-beat craft projects, such as Werecart creation and mystical giraffe repair. The skills I honed around her have now been funneled into logo, advertisement, and marketing materials.
Mixed media table display for The Riley Sisters series.
In college one day I was talking with the head of the English department. He realized I had taken a butt-ton of classes in his area. He asked me why I didn’t minor in English. I said I wasn’t really interested in any of the higher level classes, which I would need for it to be an official minor on my transcript and all that. He suggested I just take an independent study with him. A class where all I do is write whatever I want to? Awesome! Too bad the story I worked on that semester sucked. But it was nice for someone to have yet again directed me closer to something I was already interested in. It seemed like most of school was crap I would never use again. (Algebra, I am talking about YOU!)
I was never a big reader (don’t be so shocked). I was always in love with television and the stories it told and the visual and aural (get your mind out of the gutter) experiences it could offer. If I grew up in today’s bounty of technology, I would probably be making programs on YouTube now rather than books. After all, Radio and TV production is what my bachelor’s degree is in.
Somehow “bachelor’s degree” made me think of Bachelor Chow from Futurama.
Speaking of which, I guess I should thank Steve in the Communications department of my alma mater for giving me A’s, and the delusion that I could create my own Riley Sisters series book teaser trailer. Blame him. It was great fun to make though! Click on the link below.
I did have plans to become a writer. When I got my first big grown-up job, I even bought myself a Word Processor. (It was 1999. I didn’t know any better.) I sat in front of it, and realized writing was hard. So, I made a conscious decision to give up that dream… until years later when I would learn that I must write because I can’t not write.
I should thank the now-defunct Borders, for providing me with invaluable book industry knowledge that I learned through osmosis from all those in cubicles near me (or those who were in cubes further away and were just loud). I got to experience first hand the evolving business of books, and the dire consequences of falling behind. I began my current venture with more awareness about the industry than many do.
And thank you to my green-haired friend and my crazy friend, my co-workers along the way, who kept reminding me daily how much I loved to write. Whether it was a fresh-off-the-presses poem I wrote, one they composed, or just reciting song lyrics to one another, they were continuous reminders of how much the written word touches our lives every day. (If I could say that about Borders, they might still be in business.) Creativity, in any form, is essential to our lives on this planet.
I didn’t really read, and find out what I liked to read, until I got my own apartment in June of 1999… and had no television for a month. I read a lot of books in that time. And I fell in love with Gaia from the Fearless series by Francine Pascal. For more on them, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/03/14/fearless/ While all the books are not cohesive (and I don’t even think they are all penned by Ms. Pascal), they drew me in and kept me hooked. I have been primarily a YA fan ever since.
But I never imagined I could write one until I read a little book called Twilight that changed my life in a lot of ways. For more about my Love of Twilight, start with this post: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/08/love-of-twilight-part-1-the-books/ Some people skewered it for not being a tome of high-brow literature. But that is not what it was ever intended to be. And that is exactly what I found accessible about it. It seemed like something my asbestos friend and I could have written. This opened my options back up to writing again, but I still wasn’t actually doing it more than in my dream journal. For more on the dream journaling, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/01/dreams-part-one-dream-journal/
I would never have a blog if it wasn’t for my former co-worker Dane. One day he mentioned that he had one, and I was fascinated. Anybody could get one of those? And FOR FREE? I pondered it for several weeks before I took the leap. What would I write about? Would I run out of things? The answer to the second question is apparently “no”, as it is now 4 1/2 years later. And the blog, well, that kept me writing until a big idea struck me, and then I had a book. And another. And another. And it is all Dane’s fault, because he had a blog and I wanted to copy him.* It is one of my fondest memories of him. That, and the time I was in a meeting sitting next to him and I felt my in utero son kick for the first time. That was just a coincidence, I think.
And thank you to my sister-in-law who, when I told her that I thought I might be writing a book after we had gone to a showing of the movie Safe Haven, didn’t laugh at me. She was one of the first people I told. That was The Wind Could Blow a Bug.
The Wind Could Blow a Bug by Jennifer Friess
Thank you to my dog Dave for letting me pet her furry long orange coat when the anxiety gets to be too much. She just senses when I need her. Except if she is sleeping really soundly–she is coming up on 13 years old, after all. She is never allowed to die. She knows this. I tell her every day.
Rub mah bellah!
Of course I have to thank my son and husband for putting up with my fits when the computer breaks or I cannot find something and my whole world seems to be falling apart. And a million other things that can’t all be listed here. I also thank my son M for not destroying a whole box inventory of my books… yet. (I feel like that day is coming.)
And to anyone else I may have forgotten– My head is stuffed full with fictional towns and characters. Sometimes that makes it hard to process life properly.
*Note: This does not entitle Dane to any royalties from my burgeoning writing career.
Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books: The Wind Could Blow a Bug – AVAILABLE NOW! When You Least Expect It – NEW RELEASE! Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!
I saw these at Walmart and left a big puddle of drool on the floor. The new covers are hauntingly cool, although I hate change, so I will always like the first generation of covers the best.
I almost bought them for the sake of having them and supporting the series, even though I already own them all. What stopped me was the typeface. In the original editions of the series, there were no actual chapters, just a typeface change that signaled a character, location, or time shift. This was AWESOME!
In the new books, they have converted that unique typeface, and now the only thing that sets it apart from the rest of the page is that it is bold. Bold? How lame.
But sooo excited to see these re-released, although they might feel a little dated to new teen readers.
I severely hope that this means a movie is on the horizon.
Remember, I already have the soundtrack selected;)
In 1999, Francine Pascal (creator of the hugely popular Sweet Valley High) created a new series of books called Fearless. Fearless and Sweet Valley High could not be more different. As I remember it, Elizabeth and Jessica never had any real problems while attending Sweet Valley High. Poor Gaia Moore knows nothing but problems, starting with her unusual first name.
I psychotically totally love the Fearless books. There are thirty-six of them, plus two super editions. I own them all. They are some of my most prized possessions. I feel an intimate connection to the loneliness and uncertainty that Gaia feels throughout these books. She spends most of them lost and alone. She has only a few people she can truly trust. Being a teenager, she often misses this simple fact. Or she resists it to try to keep those on the side of good safe.
See, Gaia is not your normal seventeen year old girl. The books are called Fearless because Gaia lacks the fear gene. The books hypothesize about why that is, but I don’t believe they ever conclusively explain it. As in any story where there is a mutant, there is someone who wants to capture and study said mutant. In Fearless, that is Gaia’s father’s evil twin brother. Through most of the books he is known as Loki. Loki, and at times others, send evil henchmen to capture the lithe blond seventeen year old girl. They do not realize until it is too late that Gaia is a powerhouse of a fighter. Very few things take her down, except maybe tranquilizers. She skulks around Washington Square Park in jeans and a dirty T-shirt with her hair hanging dirty around her face. Maybe some dried blood in it. Probably not hers. All the boys at school think she is drop dead gorgeous. When she makes it to school. But no one ever tells her that. So she goes around believing she is an ugly freak of nature, as we all do in our teens. And sometimes twenties. And thirties.
Pascal introduces several potential suitors for Gaia through the course of the books that cover her senior year in high school. Sam is introduced first. He is described as handsome and a good chess player. Sam is proved to be a big wuss and drags down the later books. Later, Jake is introduced. He can match Gaia in a fight, but seems pretty lame other than that.
Through all the books is a classmate named Ed. First Ed is in a wheelchair and Gaia’s best friend. Then Ed can walk (through miracle surgery) and is Gaia’s first lover. The shipper in me truly believes that Ed and Gaia are soul mates. Too bad Pascal didn’t think so too. I had to write my own fan-fiction (included at the end of this post) to get them together again.
My favorite books:
1. Twins #19
This is the book where Gaia and Ed have sex…while she is under the effects of an experimental drug. But still, a shipper’s dream come true.
2. Sex #20
The book after Gaia and Ed have sex. Of course, Ed almost gets killed going out for morning after breakfast and that is the end of the potential of their happily ever after. It is all about distancing yourself from the one you love, so that they may not get hurt:(
3. Gaia Abducted – Super Edition
Gaia is kidnapped to a mental hospital, brainwashed to believe her mother is still alive, and finds out she had a brother she never knew she had. Too bad Jake is the one to come and rescue her.
Fearless is a wonderful combination of teen-angst, spy-drama, love story, and crazy soap opera all mixed together. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It is too bad the series lost focus at the end. I am almost positive that the series’ final books were written by other writers. They had Gaia doing things she never would have. Like having a dress outfit and a hair dryer in her possession after evacuating from her apartment to a boarding house. And sitting idly by while her father leaves her again for more CIA assignments. It took her too long to reunite with him. Neither of them could have bared to be apart and possibly in danger again. Especially after they had two undercover Russian agents that lived in their apartment with them.
I was so sad when Fearless concluded. There was talk of a new series being made called Fearless FBI, featuring Gaia training to join the FBI. Only four books were made in that series. After reading them, I could see why. They were also uncharacteristically Gaia and had none of the magic of say the first twenty books of the original series. The WB made a pilot for a Fearless TV show. Rachael Leigh Cook played Gaia. Bad casting—Cook isn’t even a blond. The pilot can be found on YouTube.com.
I always believed the books were better suited to movies. I envisioned five movies. At the height of my obsession, I made five soundtracks for them. [To see my five Fearless playlists, go over to I’m not stalking you. on Facebook. Don’t forget to “Like” the page while you are there.]
I also truly wanted to get Gaia and Ed together. This is a DRAFT of the start of a story about them meeting while Gaia is working for the CIA…or as much of the remnants as I could find floating around my house.
P.S. – Holy crap! I found 11 pages!
Here I am. A zombie. I can remember sitting in school, feeling this way. So tired. I’m just going through the motions. So how did I let myself get “trapped” again. Maybe that is always the ending when you stop running. You run, and when you stop, then you are trapped, wherever you are at.
It is times like these that I let my mind wander back to that night with Ed. I have had a few rather exceptional nights since, but nothing really compares to that one. The last time I saw Ed was when I was in a Krispy Kreme downtown. I looked out the window and saw him running by. Imagine–running. It made my heart fill with happiness for so many reasons.
1. Ed was alive.
2. Ed was safe. How do I know? Because I am not around him.
3. Ed is still walking. Not like he would suddenly stop, but…sometimes, she wondered if she had dreamed it all…him escaping the wheelchair.
4. Ed was running, but not as if he was being chased. As if he was late for a meeting or a class or something.
Just a little part of her had wished he had glanced in. After all, every time he saw a Krispy Kreme, shouldn’t he automatically think of her?
Had Ed even gone to college?
And then she had a sick memory hit her like a speeding kick in the gut. Sam. College just made her think of Sam. Poor Sam. He was probably out of danger now. But his head and his heart would never truly heal from all the torture that being close to her had caused him.
And then she looked back at the computer screen. But it was blurry. She realized she was starting to cry. All those teenage years that seemed so horrible. I mean, they were. But I did have some truly great friends.
She picked up the phone.
This is what she did every time she felt this low.
She called D.
After a few quick rings, it picked up. D. actually answered…he usually never did.
“Hello! Hello!” he screamed excitedly.
“D., it’s Gaia. How come you answered the phone?”
“Yellow. I knew it was you. The ring was yellow.”
“Baby bro, maybe you should work for the psychic friends network?”
“Too many friends already.” She could hear him smiling through the phone.
“When are you going to come visit me again? There is a new art gallery I want to show you.”
“Maybe soon maybe. I did 4 more pictures this week. University Bob wants one for the hallway.”
“The hallway?” D. had been seeing Bob Shaffer from the University of Illinois since Gaia had found him and taken him out of the mental hospital. Bob had made lots of progress with D. But, Bob said, because D. was treated badly during his fundamental learning years, instead of learning reading and socializing, as everyone else does, that D. would probably never fully be able to live on his own. This was fine by Gaia. She knew that D. would never want to be alone. He had come out of his shell so much in the past 4 years.
If only she could have known him the first 13 years of his life. What a waste.
“The hallway at the school……black, Gaia black.”
“Oh, at the University. Sorry about the darkness. I was thinking about Loki.”
“Don’t. He makes you angry. Angry–no.”
“How about you come up next weekend? Bring your paints, so you can paint the city.”
“OK. I’ll tell Nellie to put me on the train…Daisy has sticky buns in her oven. Don’t tell!”
“What? She’s…..oh god, is Daisy pregnant?”
“Shhhhh!” He was giggling. Apparently Gaia hadn’t gotten an update on Daisy’s dating life lately.
“That will be fun for you to play with, D. I bet you have never been around babies….well, actually, neither have I.”
“Gotta go. Dinner. Fried Chicken. I wish you could eat too. I see you on the weekend. The city is better now. Family is better now.”
But before she could figure out what the meaning of his words were, he had hung up. Chicken did sound good.
Too bad she was supposed to stay here in the office and break these 7000 pages of code tonight. Oh well. It could be worse. She could have 100,000 pages.
And just then she saw something new in the screen. All of a sudden, this desk work didn’t seem quite so boring after all.
Ed hadn’t been out to a concert in, well, awhile. He was busy with taking classes part-time and interning the rest. He was glad his small group of friends had drug him out here.
The place was packed. Fearless was playing tonight. They had platinum albums now. People knew them all over the world. Ed could remember when they were nobodies and could not even fill a bar.
He was getting smushed with bodies from all sides of him on the dance floor. But he was happy. Because he could do this. Once upon a time, in a wheelchair or crutches, he wouldn’t have been able to find this pleasurable, getting pummeled in the pit.
“Hey, watch it, buddy!” Ed heard himself yell, although no one else probably could, over the guitar-volume-so-loud-it-was-just-static and the ringing of their own ears. He could accept normal pit violence as much as the next person, but some rather strong guy had plowed into his back rougher than was really necessary. A fleeting thought occurred to Ed, that, if this guy was big and angry, that might be just the thing to start a fight.
Ed cautiously looked over his shoulder as best he could, but the guy was gone. There was only a waif-like girl behind him with pit stains on her T-shirt. Her own? Who could tell. Her short blond hair was plastered to her sweaty face. She took her hand that was already in the air, probably for crowd participation purposes, and pushed a glob of it back out of her eyes.
And Ed lost all the air in his lungs.
How could she still be this beautiful? And what cruel twist of fate had put her next to him at a concert? Or was it a pleasant turn of events?
STOP IT ED! He screamed inside his own head. It had taken too long and been too hard to push her out of his mind. He wasn’t prepared to do that all again. He had to get away.
He took one last look at her happy face. HAPPY? Gaia Moore. Who knew. She certainly had never been around him. He wondered if she was still being constantly followed and tortured by her sick Uncle. But whatever the answer, she seemed to be coping fine. She was living a fine life without him. If only he could make eye contact. To gaze into those pools of blue one more time.
But he forced himself to push through the crowd and run away. He knew how. He had learned from the master herself.
She loved pits. If someone got hit hard, they wouldn’t suspect the little blond-haired girl behind them. Suckers. She could anticipate the movements of the crowd. She knew when they would shove forward, when they would shove back. She knew when a skinny kid with shoes the size of bulldozers was heading for the back of her freakishly tall head. So naturally she knew when do duck. The concert was taking a lot of the energy out of her though. Must be her body thought she was fighting, which was kind of the truth. Look at all these 15 year olds, she thought. To them, this is SURVIVAL. Their goal is to survive the pit. Too bad they hadn’t ever been targeted by several secret organizations, trained operatives, and professional hit men. On a daily basis.
She sensed the crowed was pitching right. She had her feet firmly planted. She wasn’t going anywhere. Until the guy landed right on top of her. The song ended and the crowd was going INSANE with applause and screams and jumps. People were jumping on HER. This was unacceptable. She punched and kicked a bit. The guy finally started to move. It seemed there were also 2 more guys on top of him. Gaia was glad for a change that she wasn’t a normal 22 year old chick, who might be a bit overwhelmed by this. Just as the crowd died down to listen to the band’s chit-chat, she heard it.
She jumped up and swung him around by the shoulders. Either she had had a concussion and was delirious (known to happen), or this was really and truly Ed in front of her. She threw her aching arms about him, even as he rubbed at where she had pummeled him. She didn’t care that she hadn’t seen him in years, or that they had parted on bad terms. She had to take this opportunity for all it was worth.
“I’m so sorry, Ed.”
And she meant for more than the violence
Love pummels. How long had it been since Ed had received any attention, Gaia style?
He had been so close to escaping the meeting. But when the crowd thrust him backward, there was nothing he could do. And the soft creature underneath him using him as a human punching bag could only be ONE SHE-WOMAN THAT HE KNEW OF. His kidneys and arms ached where she had thrust her hard knuckles into him. Well, he had been beaten up by a girl, but at least he knew she wasn’t a normal girl.
Oh, ya, he knew that. Because she was the perfect girl.
It was so hard to push these thoughts to the back of his mind, especially now that she was hugging him emphatically and breathing her hot breath into the side of his neck. Actually, she was breathing so deep, that he thought perhaps she was trying to inhale him inside of her.
Stop it, Ed. Just your imagination. As the next song started, he broke halfway free from the hug and led them over to a less crowded area. Gaia almost felt as though she were leaning on him for support–God, did that feel good. Exceptionally strange. But then, that is how must events were with Gaia. You could leave a conversation with her 20X more confused than when you started.
He pushed her back lightly, still holding a firm grip on her arms. She raised her head just enough so that he could see her eyes. Those eyes. They shined so bright in the dimness. Or, was that….Was she actually crying? He had seen her cry many times, for sure. But was this over him.
“Are you alright? You can’t tell me I hurt you down there. I know better.” He gave her a sly smile.
“I am now.” Her eyes seemed to cloud up for a minute, and then she blurted “I need a milkshake.”
And it was like they had never been apart–ever.
“You are WORKING for the CIA now? Gaia, that is crazy. That is like Dorothy working for the Wicked Witch. I thought with your Dad and Uncle and everything, you would want to stay away from that.” Ed and Gaia were sitting in a dinner, hunched over their chocolate milkshakes and greasy cheese fries. Ed watched in awe as she shoved 20 fries in her mouth at once. What a Goddess. Down boy. We are just making friendly conversation.
“Yes, but tell me, Ed, what else am I really an expert at?” Ed could think of about 30 subjects, off the top of his head. But he kept silent. “I am so used to running and hiding and observing and, well, kicking asses. I have become accustomed to this horrible life. And I am hoping D. will come to live with me soon. That would be nice.”
Uh-oh. D. Was that mono-syllable a name? It sounded like a rapper. Was this Gaia’s boyfriend? He supposed. How could she not have one. Probably a big guy. Lots of muscles and a big—ugh. His heart was a little heavier now. But his head was relieved. He tried to move away from this topic.
“Is it safe to ask about your Dad?”
“Safe as can be. I buried him a year ago.” Her voice was hollow.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Gaia— I was hoping it would never come to that.”
“It’s OK. I mean, Loki finally got to him…but then I got to Loki.”
“I shot him about 20 times in all his major organs. But, knowing how unreliable bullet wounds could be, I squeezed his last breaths out of him with my own 2 hands. I am not worried about it wrecking my Karma or anything. I mean, if anything, I should get some sort of planetary bonus for stopping that man that hurt so many people. I did it for my mom. And I know she was smiling somewhere.” And as she looked up at Ed’s saddened face, she was smiling. She had returned her family honor. She wasn’t Japanese, but that transferred to any culture, right?
“So, all your running is over?” Ed tipped up his shake cup and let the last remaining lump slide down his throat.
“Not really. My job at the CIA is to follow the tracks of the former members of the Organization and the Russian Mafia and such. All the groups we destroyed when we destroyed Loki. Except, he had smart people working under him. They will see this as their turn to rule now. It is all very sick. But I am sure there are many of them that would LOVE TO SEE ME DEAD. So, I would really be doing this job, whether I worked for the CIA or not. It is just self-preservation—to always be looking out for the people who are trying to get me. And plus, I get nice big paychecks. I have a very nice apartment now.”
“Oh really? While I am slumming it with 5 other guys in a 1 bedroom. So, where is this lap of luxury located?” Ed smiled widely.
“Oh, where do you think?”
At the same time they both mouthed the words silently.
Washington Square Park.
And so I let him breathe on me. I let him touch me with his warm sticky tongue. And I OO-ed & I COO-ed as if I liked it. And I let his hand caress my breast and tweak my nipple. And I giggled as if it felt good. As if his grimy fingernails so close to precious parts of my body didn’t give me a visceral reaction almost too strong to hide.
I let his grimy fingers clumsily enter me. Dig at me. As he laughed. As he filled my face with his rancid teeth-rot breath. I dug my mouth into his neck, just to keep from hurling. And the dirt and salt on his neck became thick in my mouth. Traces of gunpowder and cocaine as well.
And I climbed on top of him as he wanted me to. And I let him have me. I have never had to go this far for a case before, but I could feel it coming. And it won’t be the last time. I almost think the agents back at headquarters enjoy—GET OFF—sending a young blond girl into the clutches of perverted slime balls. I tried not to think of Ed. But I did. And a little Sam too. And I made my tears look like tears of lust. And I played it rather convincingly. I even had a cheap cigarette with him after. All for the sake of the job.
For the job.
“Oh, Come on Derrick. Let me spend the night. It ain’t no big thing. Why I gotta go all the way across town back home at 1am, just to come back at 7am to go to St. Mary’s with you?” Gaia drawled it and whined it all together. She so should have been an actress.
“No way, sweetheart. I don’t want you in that deep. My boyz and I, we into some shady stuff, ya know? [chuckle] It’s better that you don’t know. Dat’s the whole point.”
“But, if I stay, we have time to go another round, baby.” And Gaia closed her eyes, and ran her hand down his chest to his manhood, and pumped it a few times teasingly. And with her eyes closed, she could pretend that maybe this stinky creature was actually Ed.
Ed called me that night. I didn’t hear the phone. I was still in the shower.
Gaia went to go pick up D. at the Amtrak station. He came up every few months or so to visit her in New York. The train was the easiest way for him to travel. He could get on, with a minimal amount of train-switching. It had to be hard on the kid though. It was like a 10 hour ride or something between Kansas and NY. He passed the time, though. He always had such a beautiful collection of sketches to show her when he arrived.
D. had gone to live with Daisy in Kansas after Gaia met him in the psychiatric hospital because he has a keen awareness of auras and energy. Coming from a hospital, NY was like a Pandora ’s Box for his gift—too much to handle.
Wow, that sounds certifiably crazy. But I lived it. I know that is how it went down.
“Hey D.!” Gaia called to him. He came up and gave her a giant hug. He now stood about 5 inches taller than her. He had such a simple soul, like that of a child, yet now he was in a man’s body.
As they road in the cab back to Gaia’s apartment, she couldn’t help but notice how much calmer D. seemed on this trip. He seemed to be taking in everything for the first time. But Gaia didn’t pressure him. There were many things (innumerable things) that must float in his mind every day, that she would have no way of understanding. As usual when she looked at him, Gaia felt a pang of hurt, for all the years she didn’t know he existed. All the years that he was by himself, without the love he needed.
“D., will you see who is at the door?” Gaia shouted from the bedroom. As an afterthought, she added, “Don’t unlock it though, ok?” Even though the wall blocked her vision, Gaia knew that D. had glared in the direction of her shout, with his best ‘I am old enough to answer a door’ look. He just didn’t understand that this was New York, where things were more dangerous. Criminals lurked everywhere. Especially outside of CIA agent’s apartments.
D. cracked open the door. He was eye to eye with a most non-threatening man. He appeared to be a college student. He looked most surprised to see D.
“Uh, I thought this was Gaia Moore’s apartment?” His eyes seemed to roll around in his head, as he tried to look into the apartment through the narrow opening.
“It is. Come in.” D. quickly unlocked the door and opened it wide for the man to enter.
“You must be D….” He said, as he cautiously entered the apartment. “I’m Ed.”
“Hi Ed. Nice to see you. You want stuff to eat?” As Ed looked at him hesitantly, he heard a rustling coming from the backroom (the bedroom???!). Then he heard her bark.
“D., I told you don’t let anyone—oh, hi Ed! What are you doing here?”
Ed couldn’t believe how casual Gaia was—well, ya, he guessed he could. If she was used to her boyfriend being about, why would Ed’s presence be any different. But this guy seemed—strange. Somehow not has smart or aware as Gaia. And he was a string bean. Ed thought Gaia had reached the bottom of the stud pile when she had fished himself out, but jeez. This guy took the cake.
“I, uh, just stopped by to say hi. I was wondering if you wanted to grab a bite to eat or something. We still have plenty of stuff to catch up on.”
“Oh, that sounds great. But it will have to be short—I have some work I really have to get done this weekend. Can D. come along too—oh, I didn’t introduce you. Ed, this is D., my brother.”
A brother? When did this come about? Wow, Gaia was beaming as she showed him off like a new car to Ed, complete with hand motions. He had to crack up in spite of himself. He had been jealous over A BROTHER.
She could remember when walking out the door didn’t mean being possibly exposed to Monkey Pox or Wes Nile. There was a time not-so-long-ago when no one had ever heard of Mad Cow Disease or SARS. Heck, last year no one knew about RAMPO or Wallaby Measles. Why was it that the diseases with the initials were always the scariest? Maybe because words just could not describe them. Or, that they were so “dirty” that their actual name could not be repeated in polite company.
Gaia decided to walk through the park on her way to work. It was very much out of the way and would make her late, but why should she care if she was late to school.
School? Where had that come from? Maybe from all the time she had been spending w/Ed lately. She walked past the mini Arc de Triomphe. She had been so impressed when her father had taken her to see the real one in Paris. Was she impressed by it’s size? Maybe how old it was.
No, it was not any of those things. She could be truthful to herself now. She had loved that she had seen it with her Dad. She had had some sort of school-girl delusion that she would be back to Paris, visiting it with him an infinite amount of times. She had been back to Paris. But the Arch wasn’t the same. Hope made things seem brighter. She was running low on that now.
She didn’t have much hope left. Between D. trashing her apartment at all hours of the night, and the people at work accusing her of being a spy (and not the kind they knew that she was), her life seemed bleak. She should just send D. back to the farm, cut her loses in NY, and leave. Be the truck stop waitress she had always wanted to be.
Ya, right, Gaia. Good way to get a restaurant full of bloody bodies fast.
There was nothing in the dark apartment but the sounds of them. The sound of their hearts beating. The sound of their rushed breathing. Their lips, gently sucking and kissing. This is how she and Ed should have been all these years. But that thought filled Gaia with a deep sadness. One she had to bury deep and try not to miss a beat. This could not last. That was the horrible realization. So she had best enjoy it as much as she could now.
They were already bare chest to bare chest. God, Ed has some muscles hidden under his baggy T-shirts. She ran her hand up and down his back, feeling them twist and ripple with each move he made. She reached down, fumbling for the snap on his jeans. Her whole body hungered for him. Well, mostly one part, that was throbbing uncontrollably. She could feel his body tense for a second. His breath paused. Then he simply kissed her with more passion and wanting than he had up to this point. Gaia just wanted to rip her heart out of her chest and put it inside of him. She hoped he felt the same way too. God, her heart was beating so fast. So loud. Like gunshots. Oh wait, that is what those are. Of course.
Gaia rolled Ed off of the couch and onto the living room floor. He didn’t even know what was happening. Well, of course he knew that people were shooting at them from every direction. Who could miss that? The only light in the room was coming from the firing of the guns. It was almost like being in the strobe lights a club. With the added effect of deafening explosions and the stench of smoke filling the room faster than the gunmen themselves.
Gaia was moving, what was she doing? Standing up! That has to be a bad idea. But then he realized she had a gun and was firing back. She must have pulled it out from under the couch cushions—always a smart storage place with a mentally impaired person in the household. But it took her only seconds to put them all down. And as the silence crept back to Ed’s ringing ears, he realized that she had killed them. Not wounded them till they ran or were unconscious, as in old days. Gaia killed now.
It saddened Ed. He knew that it was kill or be killed. Her life had always been dangerous. But not to this degree. Not to the degree that she had to end other people’s. Gaia walked across the room and flipped on the light switch. She went around and carefully checked all the bodies for breathing and pulses. Then she picked up the phone and said some sort of Agency mumbo-jumbo. The whole time Ed just watched how calm she was. He admired her. Not many people could keep up with this pace of the circle of life. And being fearless had nothing to do with it. She still was shirtless. But her creamy skin was covered with grime from firing the gun. Her face even had streaks of dirt.
As bad as Ed felt for himself, for loving this girl who would never be “Typical”, he knew it was bigger than that. This girl that he loved so much, this woman, would never have a relaxing moment in her life. It broke Ed’s heart to think that way, but he knew it was true. She pulled an old ratty shirt on over her head.
“I’m sorry, Ed. But it looks like you will have to be a witness on this one. I’m so sorry….”
Her voice trailed off and her eyes looked so sad.
“I don’t mind, really. I know this is how it is. Just don’t shut me out again, OK? If you can handle something, I can handle it too.”
“But…I am afraid you won’t be able to.”
And then the door burst open. The room was flooded with agents, without even a knock. It was suddenly so cold in the living room. Ed looked around for his shirt.
Yes, she was walking through the park keeping her eyes open for danger. But she wasn’t looking for it, HUNTING IT, like she used to. Gaia had learned a long time ago, that she didn’t need to go searching for it. DANGER FOUND HER. So, when the hands grabbed her from behind, she wasn’t all that surprised.
Actually, annoyed was more like it. Hadn’t she played this game long enough? Did other people’s lives involve the same crap happening over and over again in a seemingly endless cycle? She supposed so. They just had more benign things, such as losing their jobs or houses or leaky plumbing.
She leaned forward and flipped him over her head easily. This guy was a lightweight. She was used to big burly thugs. The moonlight shined off of his foot long knife. The bigger it was, the easier it was to disarm him of it. But he held on tight. He kept flinging the knife toward her. Gaia deflected it, again and again, with her boots, with her arms. She could feel a warm streak of blood pumping from her arm. But she kept on. She managed to land a stunning (LITERALLY) left hook onto her attackers face. As he reached up to temporarily cradle his face, his black hood from his sweatshirt slid off.
In that second, he had her down on the ground, the knife to her throat. He was snarling rude things into her face. But all she could hear was the ringing in her ears. Was it Sam? Who cared. For all the torture she had put him through over the years, just by knowing her, he had every right to kill her right here.
This guy definitely had the thin frame. And the same face. But plastic surgery could easily duplicate that. There was no warmth in his eyes. But, that didn’t prove anything one way or the other. Now she could feel the blood running around to the back of her neck, toward the ground, wetting, matting her hair into ugly clumps. TEARS came.
You are so stupid Gaia. If you want to live, you must act now. You have played this game before. She repeated these things to herself. But the problem was, the game had changed. Her Uncle—what a dumb title. It isn’t like they had ever bonded over ice cream or anything—had only wanted to capture her. He wanted her for scientific experiments. And in some demented way, he actually did seem to have some sort of caring feelings toward her. She knew in her heart that he would never have allowed her to be killed. NOW she knew this. She didn’t then, though. It was all still sick and twisted.
But these guys—they wanted blood for blood. And who knew which side this Sam was even on. Was he angry that that she had killer her Uncle…or let her father die? Or some other totally random reason.
Gaia, you are too old to be using phrases like “totally random”. And you won’t get any older if you don’t stop this RIGHT NOW!
She sprung into action. If she would have been a split second quicker, she wouldn’t have felt the knife starting into her muscles. But she knew she wasn’t majorly injured. But this guy was going to be. As much as she hated herself, hated them, for making her kill Sam (well, at least this image of him. It was so easy for these groups to have people made over.), she knew it was one more painful, horrible moment in her life she would never forget.
Gaia plunged the knife deep into his chest and abdomen, over and over. Now their blood mingled together there in the park. Spilled on the ground.
“Oh Gaia, how can you do this to me? I love you.”
The voice was a stranger. But she still answered him, as if he were Sam. As if he wasn’t a killer. As the last breaths of life slipped from him.
“You love the person I used to be. And I loved you once. When you were real to me.”
She threw the knife down on his body and walked away. She got a few funny looks on the subway on the way home, being covered in blood and all. But she was still alive. A small blessing, but she supposed a blessing non-the-less. She would scare D. to death when she walked in the door like this. But if he wanted to live with her, it was best he know what he was going to have to deal with now.
When I was doing my pre-employment things for the Agency (how dumb, since I was already well knowledged in all they do), they made me have a medical exam. I was seeing Sam again at the time. But I was still quite shocked when the doctor, in his thick foreign accent, informed me I was pregnant.
Sam and I had always been careful. But I guess accidents will happen anyway. But I didn’t want to be one of those people who refers to children as “accidents”. To be truthful, I had never thought of myself as a maternal person. I once saved a baby from being kidnapped. I was way more clueless with what to do with the baby than I was with what to do with the bad guy.
I was going to step up to the plate. I figured I could figure it out along the way, as I have all my life. Anything I had ever gotten myself into, I could get myself out of.
Of course Sam, well, he had his own ideas. He instantly turned into Mr. You-can’t-leave-the-house-you-can’t-live-on-donuts-anymore-let’s-get-married. Heck, if the child inside me was indeed mine (that is usually how it works—but this is MY life), how could it survive WITHOUT Krispy Kreme chocolate crème donuts and Gray’s Papaya Hot Dogs? I guess Sam had his heart in the right place. But how could a baby ever survive inside me, with my life.
I had a few fights early on-really, no big deal. But I still had the inevitable black out, which Sam went BERZERK and took me to the hospital. Both times, it showed that while I was out, the baby’s heartbeat was weaker.
Then, well, there was an all-out fight for my life, complete with knives, guns, and plenty of street kickboxing. I was about 4 months along, maybe more. I took about 3 strong blows to the stomach. When I woke up, the bad guys were gone, but I could smell the strong scent of blood. I was slightly shocked to realize it was coming out of me. I went to the hospital, and they confirmed that I was now just a single organism again. No longer with parasite. Needless to say (for so many reasons), my relationship with Sam wasn’t the same after that. Of course, our relationship had never ever been typical. Sam kept asking me why I had fought, knowing it would be deadly to the baby. I told him the only answer I had. If I hadn’t fought, both me AND the baby would have been dead.
Poor thing never stood a chance. It was a girl. No one knows better than me that this isn’t a world for girls. I can’t imagine having a child that has to just SURVIVE like I have had to.
A part of me was so relived. It isn’t that I guess I don’t not want kids someday, it is just that I know in my heart I should have them with E—
I didn’t just think that. I can’t think that. This is ME. THIS IS MY LIFE. I will never be able to have E—the, um, kind of life I dream of. To go a whole day and not look over my shoulder.
I am Gaia Moore. And every day I try not to die.
Would you like to trade lives? For a day? An hour…