words kill, words give life

the beginnings of an as yet untitled fiction

Posted in books and stories by Kaitlin on March 5, 2010

by yours truly:

Something tickles my nose. Unwilling to open my eyes, I twitch a nostril. Then, I hear a faint buzzing as it moves to rest on my cheek. A fly. I softly blow and it leaves. It’s the time of evening when everything monochrome. A breeze brings the sound of the river and I reach for my sweater.

It’s wet and sticky. The ground must be muddy. Standing, I shrug my arms through the clotted cashmere. I tug it down before folding the throw I was lying on. It’s sticky, too. Oh well, I need to do laundry anyway.

I head for home through the trees and gathering dark. Hopping up the two steps, I pull out the key. When I push on the knob, the door opens. Did I forget to lock it? A chill runs across my back despite my sweater.

My hand slides up the wall finding the light switch. The lamp lies on its side light spilling across the floor. Two streaks of red pass over the threshold leading to a slumped form in the middle of the room. My landlord.

“Mr. Petersen?”

I drop the throw and step into the room.

“Mr. Petersen, are you alright?”

Red covers the front of his shirt.

“Oh, my God, are you bleeding?”

He sits legs splayed like an abandoned baby doll, red-splotched shirt in place of a bib. Two steps bring me to him. I slowly kneel beside him.

“We’ll go to the hospital, OK?”

I reach two fingers towards his neck to check his pulse. Not meeting the resistance I expect, my fingers squish as my knuckles pass his skin.

I scream and jerk back my blood-soaked hand.

The motion knocks his head back. His throat opens to the bone, and in the middle of his windpipe, sits the mouthpiece to my clarinet.

Bang Ditto

Posted in books and stories by Kaitlin on October 12, 2009

“Bang Ditto” is a book of poems and short stories by Amber Tamblyn. Yes, that Amber Tamblyn, “Joan of Arcadia” star and cool sister of the traveling-pants-hood.

I’m skeptical of actors who cross over into other fields, especially writing. But I decided to give Tamblyn the benefit of the doubt.

“Bang Ditto” is a slim book, but Tamblyn’s frankness makes it interesting. Do I like her poems? I haven’t decided yet. But I keep reading and  rereading them. Maybe that answers my question.

An excerpt from her poem”Earthquake” –

My entire life has been a huge earthquake I slept through. All I know are the aftershocks.

The sound of glass being swept up in my lover’s bedroom.

A story I don’t remember telling is the headline of every newspaper the moring after.

My blackouts in big lights. All I see is the damage I’ve done.

My mother is the news anchor, never allowing me to escape her natural disaster.

caution: author at work

Posted in books and stories by Kaitlin on June 4, 2009

Coming to

The policeman behind the pens and stapler moved his mouth slow, drawling with every twitch. A woman stood unblinking until he extended his right index finger to the semicircle of chairs upholstered dried blood with tattooed arms.

Then she moved to stand in the center of the dirty wooden arc. She stood as a man walked past crying blood, a pair of women stumbled past stuck together with last night’s necessity, sweat and vomit and  three officers pushed a handcuffed senior citizen past in a wheelchair.

A policewoman walked up to her, touched her arm and walked down a hallway. She followed the officer into a cold room. There was a woman sitting at the table whose damp waving hair met the neckline of a stiff police sweatshirt.

“Deanne?” She reached out a hand to touch Deanne’s shoulder, but it slid past into a four-inch bulge of extra fabric. “Deanne?” she whispered again as she knelt on the floor. She picked up Deanne’s hands and held them in her own. Careful to avoid the raw fingertips she rubbed her thumb in circles on the back of her palm. “Deanne?”

She tilted her head down and then away. “Riley.” She murmured the name to a fuzzy corner across the room.

“I’m here.”

A drop of water beaded in Deanne’s left eye, but it did not escape the waterline. Riley stood still stooped to cradle her hands. Shielding her from investigation with her back, Riley gradually lifted her up. Deanne stumbled toward the door hugging her tightly. They walked out of the room carrying the cold with us.

She watched Deanne’s slow steady breathing before walking to her bathroom. Riley closed the door and locked it before turning the light on. Pushing off against the wall, she launched herself to the counter.

Riley opened a drawer and perused the contents before sliding it closed and moving to the next. Her hands shook as she pulled the third drawer open. Riley reached in and grabbed a shiny maroon toiletry kit the color of Deanne’s bruised cheekbone.

Riley’s eyelids squeezed tight but hot salty drops slid past onto her hands while she unsnapped the case. She closed her fingers on the small pair of scissors and slid them from their sleeve.

Sliding down to the floral bath mat with the counter against her back, Riley opened the scissors and watched the blade push against her arm.

It slid a couple of inches around her arm near the inside crease of her elbow. She lifted the scissors and watched the thin line change from slightly darker than skin tone to primary red.

I breathe. I think.

Quickly I stand up and clean up the scissors and my arm. After flushing the unused toilet and running water, I glance around the bathroom before turning the light off and opening the door. I pull on the sweater I left draped over the end of the bed.

When Deanne stirs and murmurs, I sit on the floor beside her and whisper, “I’m here now, everything will be alright.” Leaning against her dust ruffle, I close my eyes and drift off fully and peacefully here in the present.

Tagged with: ,

book cover dos – valentine’s day

Posted in art, etc., books and stories by Kaitlin on May 27, 2009
imaginary book cover for a one page short story

imaginary book cover for a one page short story

This is another pseudo cover. This story was a short exercise I wrote for a fiction writing class a while ago:

St. Valentine’s Day

It was their fourth date. Fifth in Evan’s mind, counting the half-hour spent at a coffee shop after class. One date too many in Natalie’s mind as she stared at the strips of rare steak covering his salad.

His fork carried a chunk of red meat to his mouth, dripping dressing down his chin. She drank from her water glass, two slices of lemon, no ice.

“You were right,” Evan said with his mouth full. His eyes were Oreos with the cream squished out.

Natalie pointed to the corner of her mouth.

“About what?”

He wiped his mouth.

“Salads can be good sometimes.”

She looked at the crushed crouton dropped on the table. Evan swished Dr. Pepper around his teeth.


She tore a piece of lettuce with her soupspoon.

“You aren’t eating. Don’t you feel good?”

Natalie swallowed the tortured leaf. He took another mouthful.

Evan’s eyes were chocolate-iced custard-filled doughnuts. She looked back at the crouton.

“You know what I was thinking.” He flicked the crouton in her lap. “Natalie?”


“I was thinking this Friday we could go to – ”



Natalie picked up the crouton and dropped it in her water glass. He followed her actions. Their eyes met.

“I don’t want to see you.”

She inhaled three times. Evan breathed once.


“I don’t want to go out with you.”

“On Friday?” His eyes were espresso with a ring of foam. Evan inhaled three times. Natalie breathed once.

“Yes.” The soggy crouton sank. “Saturday would be better.”

He raised a piece of red meat to his mouth, dripping dressing down his chin.

imaginary book cover

Posted in art, etc., books and stories by Kaitlin on May 26, 2009

After admiring the design of many a dust jacket, I’ve decided to make imaginary book covers for some of my short stories. This cover is for a story titled “Myrtle and Clayton” about my grandmother and her brother when they were kids. If you are tempted to be a Judgey McJudgerson, consider I only spent a couple hours on it and used images found on google.myrtle and clayton