Skits and Giggles (Or I Signed Up for Improv Classes)

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Sometimes, serendipity is more than random happenstance. And from time to time, some serious coincidence inspires you to sign up for improv classes.

A couple weeks ago, I met my friend, Jacob, for drinks at Seven Grand to celebrate his completion of Corepower’s yoga teacher training program. Amidst sips of old fashioneds, we started talking about how we both, as former dancers, miss being onstage. Jacob has found a kind of performance in leading yoga classes, which is scratching the itch for him—and he asked me what I plan to do about my craving for creativity and the stage. Since dance isn’t a viable option for me anymore, I’ve thought about doing more theater, but the time commitment always keeps me at bay.

Jacob asked if I’ve ever thought about doing improv…which got me thinking. Yeah, that could be fun. It’s less of a time commitment than traditional theater, and it would get me back onstage, in a completely new way. I helped to establish and direct an improv troupe in high school, but I never performed with them. I was always behind the scenes.

It was a brilliant idea, but, of course, life and work took over that night, and I completely forgot about it…until Friday, when the suggestion came back full force—twice.

On Friday, I attended Creative Mornings San Diego, a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative folks. The topic du jour was “Game,” and the speaker, Gary Ware, recounted his personal story about getting caught up in a career that left him exhausted and stressed, with very little room (or dedicated time) for play. One of his mentors suggested he…wait for it…take improv classes.

And it was like getting smacked with coincidence. Here it was again, this mention of improv as a constructive, fun, creative outlet. As Gary talked more and more about how improv helped him create space for fun in his life, and how it changed the dynamic of his work life and his relationship with his team, I started thinking, You know, I should really think about signing up for improv classes.

The final sign from the universe? My husband, unprompted, asked me as we were walking back to our cars if I’ve ever considered taking improv classes. Okay, universe, I hear you.

That afternoon, I looked up Finest City Improv and signed up for a seven-week session that starts in June, because clearly, I can’t ignore all these signs pointing toward improv. Here’s to challenging myself with something new, learning to think on my feet, carving out time each week to play, and listening to the universe.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching every episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? I can get my hands on. Let’s hope I can rise to this level someday:

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On Discovering My Very First Gray Hair

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This morning was marked with hilarity. I woke to social media shoutouts from my good friend, Sara, for sharing a side-splitting movie review of Tarzan with her (which, let’s face it, is really a love letter to Alexander Skarsgard’s abs). In the shower, my close-to-empty shampoo bottle omitted a noise that sounded like Donald Duck cursing. And then, while I was applying my makeup, I noticed it – a single, wily gray hair decorating my hairline. And I laughed.

I laughed at its audacity. While the rest of my red hair was slicked back, this little sucker Gray hair 2was curling every which way, reflecting the morning light like an over-ambitious star. And then I spent a good two minutes trying to get a selfie that would feature my lone gray hair and its ridiculous arc. Observe.

I announced the discovery to my husband. He came into the bathroom, where I gesticulated at it wildly, smiling and laughing. He tugged on the strand and announced, “Yep, that’s yours, not a hair from one of the dogs.” We wondered together whether more of my hair is secretly silver. I get my hair dyed regularly, so it’s hard to know exactly what’s under the dye. I stared in the mirror and imagined myself with a gray coiffure.

Hipster silver fox much?

(Note – I love having red hair way too much to dabble in this experiment, but I do wish there was a way to instantly strip away all my hair dye and see what my natural color is right now.)

As far as my little gray hair’s unexpected reveal this morning? I’m not assigning blame. This isn’t about stress or the universe being unfair. Instead, I’m celebrating that I got here.

You guys, I’ve been living the my life so hard that I’m changing the very color of my hair. Perhaps I should start telling people I’ve developed superpowers.

All joking aside, I think our societal concept of aging is pretty pessimistic and messed up. There are so many products out there designed to cover up who you are and not nearly enough messages that tell you it’s okay to change over time.

Scars, laugh lines, extra cushion, gray hairs – to me, they’re all markers of a life well lived. I don’t necessarily want to reverse those things, as long as I’m healthy and happy. I want to embrace them and recognize them and move forward, rather than expending energy trying to reverse that which can’t be reversed.

So, it’ll just be me and my little gray hair over here, killin’ it with humor and acceptance.

A Quiet Place Will Make You Scream

Quiet Place movie poster

When I first saw the teaser trailer for A Quiet Place, I wasn’t all that impressed. Honestly, I thought the concept of a family that has to remain all but silent so they don’t provoke attacks by some audio-motivated “they” seemed like an excuse to make a film full of superficial jump scares and little else. I tucked the upcoming film into the “Meh, maybe on Netflix someday” category in my brain, and that was that.

However, when A Quiet Place became a Rotten Tomatoes darling and word began to circulate that it was actually a great movie, I decided to give it a chance. I left my lukewarm impressions in the dust and met my horror movie partner in crime, Nikki, at an AMC for a weeknight showing. We armed ourselves with root beer, peanut M&Ms, and all the hope in the world that writer, director, and actor John Krasinski wouldn’t let us down.

He didn’t.

Seeing A Quiet Place in a proper movie theater is a ridiculously enjoyable experience. If you like monster movies, go now!

*Before I proceed and fangirl about everything I loved about this movie, here’s your warning. While I hate spoilers and will keep them to an absolute minimum, I really do think you should see A Quiet Place before you read the rest of this…and then we can compare notes and geek out over this horror film together.

Okay, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I loved A Quiet Place so much, and it’s because the movie is such a fun experience. Here’s what made it stand out for me.

This movie has so much heart. You remember how I was afraid this film would feel like a superficial fear bomb? And that jump scares would reign supreme? Okay, there are a few jump scares, but there are quite a few moments and scenes that hit you harder (right in the gut, to be honest) thanks to their emotional resonance. And that is the golden element that drives the plot of A Quiet Place forward and allows viewers to connect with the main characters on a visceral level. This family isn’t perfect or immediately likable or without their flaws. While defending themselves from bloodthirsty creatures that want to feed on their flesh, they’re also struggling to make their family unit work. And you thought Christmas dinner with your family was rough.

Without getting into major plot points, this movie tackles some deep emotion themes, including grief, loss, and guilt, while also keeping you on the edge of your seat, because the threat is real. In A Quiet Place, Krasinski has struck a really brilliant balance between sweet moments, hard-to-watch family interactions, and straight-up survival instinct fear. It doesn’t seem like it while you’re in the theater, but you go through a lot in 95 minutes. And it’s all enjoyable and beautiful and downright scary in equal measure.

The sheer quiet of the film is actually pretty unnerving and cool…if you have a theater of moviegoers who are invested and along for the ride. When Nikki and I arrived, right in time for the lights to dim and the trailers to start, our theater was packed. We were lucky to snag a couple seats on the far end in the second row, and I immediately began to wonder what this experience would be like, what with the theater being so full. Would the silent moments of the movie actually be quite loud, thanks to moviegoers jostling bags of popcorn, slurping sodas, and making comments to their friends?

Surprisingly, no. There was this interesting thing phenomenon that occurred as soon as A Quiet Place began. Our movie theater became a quiet place, too. It was like everyone was collectively holding their breath and trying to make as little noise as possible. And thank goodness, because the silent moments of the film build this incredibly taut ambiance that’s paper thin and relies on, strangely enough, everyone’s participation. I love that this movie was able to evoke that interesting response in the audience, this desire to go along for the ride and to remain quiet, like the characters onscreen. (I will say, if you go to a theater where folks aren’t respectful or bought in, it will probably suck.)

And while much of the movie was intensely quiet, there were many moments that weren’t. And the noise wasn’t just used to provoke monsters. I mean, sure, you need sound as an impetus for the attacks, so crashes and the like were a given, but there’s really great use of music and natural sounds from the environment that build layers of emotion and also help to keep the prolonged silences from feeling stifling and too intense. Silence builds tension; noise brings release…and much-needed opportunity to discreetly reach into your super-loud-and-crinkly bag of M&Ms for a treat.

And don’t get me started about the noises the monsters make. They were a highlight of the film for me, because they were deeply nostalgic. No, not from my nightmares. Funny enough, from Disney World.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re a horror junkie like me and visited the Magic Kingdom between 1995 and 2002, you likely went on a “ride” called ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. And it likely scared the shit out of you.

A high-level rundown of the experience: park goers were invited into a theater in the round to witness a teleportation demonstration by a futuristic company called X-S Tech. And yes, we were strapped into harnesses and restraints for the demonstration, because precautions, right? During the demo, something goes horribly wrong, and instead of teleporting a human scientist into the room with us, the scientists of X-S Tech accidentally teleport an alien. Oops.

And that’s when shit gets real. The lights go out. We hear the sound of shattering glass. A security guard comes in to intervene…but he screams, and we hear the alien chomping on his bones. (Bye, Steve.) And then, the alien is lurking among us, looking for its next snack. Thanks to surround sound, water effects, and rumbling chairs, you really felt like the alien was there, breathing down your neck, ready to kill you, which ignited all sorts of delicious adrenaline in your body.

Here’s a more detailed account of the ride, if you never experienced it, or if you’d like to conjure up your own memories.

Disney deemed the attraction “too scary” in the early 2000s, and now it’s a Lilo and Stitch-themed experience, which makes my little horror-loving heart sad…but back to A Quiet Place.

I know it’s a weirdly twisted thing to admit, but when all hell breaks loose and the creatures descend upon the family in A Quiet Place, I found myself grinning. Not because the family was in peril (that part sucked!), but because the noises the monsters made were so damn familiar. They sounded like the noises the “escaped alien” made in ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

Thanks to the surround sound in our movie theater, I was transported back to Disney World and to one of my favorite theater experiences ever. That nostalgic moment? Just priceless. Thank you, awesome sound effects team.

The movie features a deaf character, and Krasinski pushed to hire a deaf actress to fill the role. And it was the right call, because Millicent Simmonds is simply captivating onscreen. She’s expressive and emotional, and her presence brings a lot of authenticity to the film. I read that she taught the cast and crew American Sign Language during the production of this movie, and I think that’s exceptionally rad. It’s so nice to see a push for inclusion and diversity, not only in storytelling and script writing, but in the casting of actors, too. I really respect Krasinski for finding and hiring Simmonds.

I also can’t wait to see what she stars in next, and I’m gonna have to watch Wonderstruck, too.

Okay, there’s so much more I could say about this movie, but I like to keep this blog a spoiler-free zone. That being said, the comments section is fair game. What did you love about A Quiet Place?

Bury ‘Em Deep Unearths More Than Monsters

Unwanted Visitors cover image

Fire-colored leaves crackle beneath my steel-toes as I follow Charlie to the back of his pickup. A gust of wind blows up the corner of the blue tarp coverin’ the body, and I catch a peep of curly black hair out of the corner of my eye. My stomach lurches, and my fingers burn. I wanna sock Charlie in the jaw for askin’ me to help him with this, but I don’t.

I don’t hit him, because I owe him. I owe him big.  

‘Course that don’t mean I gotta like bein’ here. “You got a perfectly good backyard, Charlie. Why couldn’t we bury Rooney there?”

“That ain’t Rooney.” Charlie points at the heap under the tarp. “That thing, it belongs here, not in my backyard.” He releases the latch on the back of the truck, and the tailgate bangs open, makin’ the whole bed jump. Makin’ the body jump. My skin prickles as Charlie gets to untyin’ the tarp with dry, bony fingers.

I look around, tryin’ to understand where “here” is. There’s nothin’ but leaves, old oaks, and a big expanse of grassy terrain. The smell of cigarette smoke hangs in the air, though there ain’t a soul around to be doin’ the smokin’. If you ask me, it don’t look like anything belongs here, not even a dead dog.

“Who told you ‘bout this place?” I ask.

Charlie whips back the tarp. I stare at the white wisps decoratin’ Rooney’s muzzle. I expect ‘em to move. I expect to see Rooney’s chest suddenly rise and fall. It doesn’t, despite what Charlie’s told me ‘bout the dog’s habit of comin’ back to life now and again.

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Today, my Lovecraft-inspired short story, Bury ‘Em Deep, is published in Inwood Indiana’s Unwanted Visitors issue!

On the surface, this story is about two men burying a dead dog named Rooney that has this crazy habit of coming back to life. But the real horror of the story lies in the broken friendship of the two men and the animosity between them. Sometimes, you simply can’t bury the past.

To check out the full story, get your issue of Unwanted Visitors today!

An Interview with Witchy Writer Babe Sara Dobie Bauer

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Today, Pen and Kink Publishing has a new book out in the world – Enchanted: Magic Spark! Hooray!

To celebrate the release, I have the ever-witchy, ever-fabulous Sara Dobie Bauer on the blog for an interview. But first, here’s a little about the Enchanted: Magic Spark…

The first of a trio of trilogies by three amazing romance writers. These stories all have two things in common: magic and romance!

“When Demigods Court Death” by Wendy Sparrow:
As the demigod of fertility, Aster Slone has a thriving doctor’s practice. In fact, the incidence of triplets has made it too thriving. He needs more time with his neighbor the demigoddess of death to dampen his powers. Chandra Linton being gorgeous and sweet makes his task less of a hardship. Hitting the zenith of heretofore-unknown powers without enough exposure to her match is killing Chandra. Accepting all that her crazy, but hot neighbor says is her destiny…well, it muddles her convictions, but her real concern is: does Aster want Chandra because she’s the woman he desires or because she’s Death?

“These Roots Run Deep” by Em Shotwell:
Spitfire, New Orleans weather girl, Cheyanne Murphey has everything, and that is exactly how she likes it. When she discovers evidence of her fiancé’s philandering, she refuses to let her perfectly cultivated image fall to pieces. Cheyanne has worked too hard, dragging herself up from the trailer park into New Orleans’ society, to give in without a fight…even if that means trading a year of her life in exchange for a love incantation from her ancestor’s spell book. A skyclad, moonlit dance, a mysterious potion, and magic gone awry leave Cheyanne with a very peculiar life lesson: love can take on many forms, so be careful what you wish for.

“Destiny’s Dark Light – Part One” by Sara Dobie Bauer:
In modern day Charleston, lonely white witch Cyan Burroughs has waited her whole life to lead the battle against dark witches and eventually meet the man she is fated to love. A tragic trolley accident brings Liam Cody into her life. He is her destiny, but he’s also in love with someone else. Now, Cyan and her magic family must find the dark witch who caused the accident while Cyan fights her feelings for Liam—a charming Irishman with secrets of his own.

Speaking of “Destiny’s Dark Light” and Sara Dobie Bauer…

What is it about witches that gets your cauldron bubbling? Why do you love them and love writing about them?

Ever since watching The Craft when I was, like, a fetus, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of being able to cast spells and make shit happen. I went through a phase where I played with magic, actually, although I wasn’t really serious about it. Plus, witches (sort of like vampires) are historically sexy and cool. I further fell in love with them thanks to the epic hotness levels of Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic. Meow. The idea of being able to use “powers” to do things just seems so cool. I mean, who doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts?

Give us a five-word explanation of part one of “Destiny’s Dark Light.”

Big accident in little Charleston?

Okay, okay, that was mean. Give us a longer pitch of the story.

(Jeesh, that was super mean!) In modern day Charleston, lonely white witch Cyan Burroughs has waited her whole life to lead the battle against dark witches and eventually meet the man she is fated to love. A tragic trolley accident brings Liam Cody into her life. He is her destiny, but he’s also in love with someone else. Now, Cyan and her magic family must find the dark witch who caused the accident while Cyan fights her feelings for Liam, a charming Irishman with secrets of his own.

Enchanted: Magic Spark presents the first installment of “Destiny’s Dark Light,” so yes, it does end on a cliffhanger. Part two comes out in February and part three in April!

Anyone who’s read your work (and interviews about your work) knows that many of your male love interests are based upon your real-life muse Benedict Cumberbatch. Is there a particular Cumber-look or Cumber-era upon which Liam Cody, the sexy Irishman in “Destiny’s Dark Light,” is based on?

You bet. Liam’s look is based on a precise event. Benedict did a reading at the burial of Richard III. (He’s even distantly related to the hunchback king AND he played Richard III in The Hollow Crown.) Liam’s short, auburn hair and bespoke suits all revolve around Benedict at this specific event, and yes, I am a huge nerd.

Liam-collage

Obviously, destiny plays a big role in this story. I mean, it’s in the title. And a little birdy told me there’s something about a prophecy in your tale. In real life, how much do you believe in destiny versus happenstance? How does your personal view align or contrast with those of the characters in “Destiny’s Dark Light?”

I don’t believe in “destiny,” but I believe in a guiding God, so … hmm. I believe some things are meant to be in our lives. I believe I was meant to meet Jacob Anthony Bauer at a dive bar in Charleston, fall in love with him, and eventually marry the guy. I believe I am supposed to be a writer, but is that destiny or a personal decision? Arguably, it was destined to happen because everything else I tried failed—but I had to decide to keep moving beyond the failure to eventually follow the career I loved. Perhaps, destiny is a sort of guidance, but we can accept it or deny it.

The characters in “Destiny’s Dark Light” believe in destiny wholeheartedly, no matter the crappy repercussions. Cyan was destined at birth to be the light witch who would kill the dark witch—or die trying. She’s also destined to love Liam. She might not like her destiny, but she accepts it … Well, at least in part one …

Why should readers pick up Enchanted: Magic Spark?

Readers get three very different stories from three very different female authors, all focused around magic and romance. I’ve been a fan of Wendy Sparrow and Em Shotwell for ages, so I’m honored to be included in the Enchanted series with them. You really don’t want to miss this!

Got any prophecies for 2018? (I’m thinking perhaps we could use some!)

Let me check my crystal ball—and by crystal ball, I mean my absinthe glass. Yes, I see a wedding in Phoenix. (See you there, Tiff.) I see me, naked on a moonlit Florida beach at some point. And I see a world not ruled by social media but founded on patience and love … but that’s probably only in my dreams. Oh, and I’m totally gonna hug Mr. Cumberbatch one of these days.

About the Author:

Sara_Dobie_Bauer

Photo credit: Bill Thornhill

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling, award-winning author, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody from World Weaver Press, among other ridiculously entertaining things. Learn more at http://SaraDobieBauer.com.

 

Buy your copy HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Spark-Enchanted-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0776ZP5ZX/

 

2017 Accomplishments & 2018 Goals

new years

Yes, this is how I spent New Year’s Eve 2017, and it was awesome!

Though time is a uniquely human construct, there’s something beautiful about the idea of a new year. It’s like a crisp dollar bill, fresh and full of possibility. I use the turning over of one year to the next to celebrate achievements and either reinforce or set new goals. Here’s what went down in 2017 and what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2018.

2017 Recap

In 2017, I published five pieces: one harrowingly personal essay (Shapeless), my first erotica piece (Begin Again), a politically charged (but funny!) vampire romance novella (A Taste of Revolution), and two horror shorts (He Smelled Like Smoke and The Promise). With this motley smattering of writing, I’ve realized that I’m not comfortable boxing myself into a single genre or style. I’ve embraced the fact that I write what I want to when I’m inspired to create it. And I love that approach. It seems to be working for me.  

I read 45 books this year (hitting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal – whoo hoo! – albeit just barely). My top 7 reads were (in no particular order:

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong bite somebody else

Losing It by Cora Carmack

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Joyland by Stephen King

Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer

rocket raccoon

 

Graphic novels I loved reading this year include:

March: Book One by John Lewis and Nate Powell 

Paper Girls: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan 

Rocket Raccoon #1 by Skottie Young 

 

 

 

I crafted over 100 comic book flowers for my upcoming wedding.

I survived my first hot yoga class (which got up to 106 degrees, thankyouverymuch).

My fiance and I made our wedding bands. Like, mixed-and-melted-down-the-metals-and-cranked-the-metals-through-a-rolling-mill-and-soldered-them-together-and-beat-them-into-circles-with-mallets made them.

I took the stage in an amazing production of The Vagina Monologues. wookie

I learned how to hand stamp metal.

I rediscovered my love for baking pies.

I bought my first onesie and dressed up like Chewbacca for Halloween.

I did a water nymph photoshoot with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I climbed to the very top of an exceptionally tall indoor climbing wall (six stories!).

I snuggled with an alpaca (which is the perfect way to end a list of accomplishments, right?).

2018 Goals

Read 45 books. I’m keeping this one consistent. Not gonna lie, I read some really short books on December 29th, 30th, and 31st in order to hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. This year, I want to cruise into December confident that I’ll hit my 45-book goal – and then some.

Write one story or piece a month. This one is going to be a challenge. I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing regularly (it’s like I’ve convinced myself I don’t have time because I’m planning a wedding or something!) I lost a little bit of my love for writing in 2017, and I don’t know whether to blame stress, poor planning, a lack of inspiration, a lack of self-motivation, or the monster that hides out under my bed. Whatever the case may be, I want to challenge myself to meet a deadline every month in 2018 to see if I can re-spark my desire to write consistently. Whether flash fiction, a sprawling novella, or a personal essay, I need to write something every month. And I’m going to be gentle with myself. The pieces don’t need to be ready to sell or the best thing I’ve ever written. They just need to be complete.

yogaContinue to cultivate a regular yoga practice. When Bryan and I were living in Phoenix, I was really good about going to yoga at least twice a week. There’s something about yoga that makes me feel incredibly strong and incredibly calm, which I’ve found to be a really powerful combination for me. It’s also a great way to give my lower back and other chronic injuries the TLC they need. I started working toward this goal in 2017, and I’m hoping to build upon it to keep the momentum going in 2018.

Revive my blog presences. My personal blog and the blog I share with my fiance (2geekslife.com) have been grossly neglected. Again, I’ve fallen out of the habit, and I’ve also self-sabotaged a bit. There were times in 2017 when I thought my regular musings were too mundane or too boring to publish. Time to kill that self-doubt and trust that I always have something valuable or funny or thoughtful to say. Time to trust my voice.

Okay, those are the big goals. I’m sure other goals will pop up throughout the year, and I’ll go after them with vigor and an eye for self-improvement and cultivating accomplishment and happiness.

For those of you who create resolutions or set goals each year, I hope you’re off to a great start. I believe in you! Go get ‘em!

 

Get Your Jitter Fix with “The Promise”

Jitter 6

Bite-sized horror stories usually aren’t my thing. I generally regard the horror genre as one to be savored. I love creepy world-building. Take me through the whole damn haunted house, room by room, and point out the curiosities that will make my head spin. I adore stories that are quick to unsettle you, then slowly build toward a terrifying revelation.

There’s a reason why horror lovers devour the huge tomes written by Stephen King or Dan Simmons. Dreadful stories are mini addictions. You keep turning the pages, wanting more and more – sometimes, inexplicably.

My latest horror short, “The Promise,” which is now available in Jitter #6, isn’t a page-turner – literally. It’s micro fiction, a sliver of terror, a quick hit of dread. There aren’t a lot of pages to turn, even if you wanted to (and hopefully you do!).

I wrote “The Promise” to see if I could create something turbulent and atmospheric and terrible and reminiscent of classic monster horror – in less than 1,000 words.

“The Promise” creeped out the editors at Jitter Press enough for them to include it in Jitter #6. Hopefully, it’ll creep you out, too.

The Promise (Excerpt)

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

She’d nearly choked on it that night on the moonlit beach—the sharp, pungent smell of dark promises and fragile desperation. Now, the noxious aroma threaded through her hair as something tugged at the floral comforter covering her toes. Lila’s eyes flew open. Her heart thumped in her chest.

“Mommy, there’s something under my bed.” She could barely hear Brayden’s whisper above the wave of adrenaline that whooshed through her veins. Bad memories poured over her, fresh and shocking as ice water.

This isn’t happening. You were supposed to forget. It’s been nine years.

Lila fought to keep her voice steady, for her son’s sake. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, sweetheart.” The lie was thick on her tongue.

Lila closed her eyes, attempting to lessen the sudden sting building behind them, but an image of her husband, water swollen and drained of color, painted the backs of her eyelids. She grabbed her hair and tugged hard, needing to feel something.

No. What she needed was to keep it together. She needed to comfort Brayden.

Lila swung her legs off the mattress and pulled her sleep-heavy body to a seated position. She made out a tuft of perfect corn silk hair and the glitter of Brayden’s wide eyes in the dim. She extended a hand toward him, and the next thing she knew, her darling boy was wrapped around her forearm, his little body radiating heat, his heartbeat hammering against her skin. A jolt of regret careened through her chest. She gasped, sucking in air, and gagged on sulfur. She coughed twice into her free hand and switched to breathing through her mouth.

Lila glanced over her shoulder at Martin, wondering if she’d disturbed him. Her husband lay still, almost as still as that night on the sand, but here in their master bedroom nearly a decade later, he breathed normally. In, out. In, out.

She thought of their time together—their first date, their wedding, Brayden’s birth, Emily’s birth, their grand renovation of this house. All the beautiful moments they’d accumulated together.

She’d had to save him, right?

…Read the rest in Jitter #6!