Two elderly ladies are squabbling over a squashed-looking yellow suitcase a few feet away, and you are staring at an enormous blue duffel that’s been going around and around the luggage conveyor since it hummed to life fifteen minutes ago. You know it’s hers: you wandered close enough once to see her name on the tag and she told you what it would look like besides. You’re too nervous to touch it. You’re too nervous to do anything but try to read the book you brought with you, and you alternate between parsing out the same sentence you started with and stealing glances at the duffel, your heart a painful squeezebox, your stomach in knots.
There is a flicker of movement over your book’s edge. You look up again: you catch a glimpse of the duffel before she slams into you, taller than your imagination had her, impossibly colorful and beaming. Her smile’s sharp and she’s laughing against your hair, and she looms and her arms twist over you like vines. Her headphones smack your hearing aid. It gives an indignant shriek and momentarily deafens you, but you don’t mind because she’s clutching you tight and you work your elbows up around her too, marveling at how small she is in your grasp. On Skype she’s all shoulders: here she’s everything. You’re holding the world, your world—holding her. You pull her closer and she digs her fingers into your hair, ruffling it all over. She says, “Hi!”
sunaaae asked: Hello Ash! I'd first like to say that your writing is one of my favorite things that I've come across recently. I've really enjoyed reading your stories, and your blog in general. Second, what would you suggest to do when you are stuck coming up with a story? How do you go about developing a cohesive plot? A lot of times I get ideas on what to write, but I never know exactly how to tie it all together. I hope you're having a nice day ( ´ ▽ ` )ﾉ
I’m so glad you enjoy my writing. <3 It means a lot to hear you say it — to know that someone likes reading what I write even a fraction as much as I like writing it in the first place.
In terms of coming up with a story, well, hm. Maybe this isn’t the best thing to say or the advice you were expecting, but to me plot’s kind of something I toss in the trunk and only let out when it starts to really kick and put up a fuss, y’know, maybe manages a few dents. In other words, I write down the idea first and if the plot behind it gets loud enough, I’ll show mercy and start trying to work or weave it into what I’ve already established. I think too many stories are sacrificed even before they’re written because authors worry too much about where those stories will go. Don’t worry. Short stories are fine. Stand-alone, leave-‘em-guessing stories are great. They fire the imagination, both yours (the author’s) and mine (the reader’s). Only please write them. Don’t keep them to yourself.
It’s always better to share.
While you can always send me questions if you so choose, today I’d like to hear about all of you! How are you doing? Are you looking forward to anything? Has something excellent recently happened to you? If so, what was it and why was it excellent?
Lastly, is there anything I can do for you today to make your day better?
irissteth asked: I just read your Marks the Spot story and.. I dont even. What happened after that? Obviously you're okay.. but.. did you tell on him? How did you make it home? I just.. so many questions.. but if you want them to stay unanswered I understand. Also.. I'm really sorry that happened to you. That shouldn't happen to anybody.
I walked home, or crawled when I couldn’t walk anymore. I eventually got within sight of my house and my parents spotted me limping up through the weeds at the edge of the street. They knew something was wrong. They came to help me.
Of course I told them what happened. Of course I told on him. I felt bad for getting the kid dirty — I felt awful because I knew he was probably going to be unfairly punished for it too. But I didn’t mean to muddy him up. My actions weren’t malicious, and even if they had been malicious I was nine and mud only stains, and he meant to maim or kill me. (What if I’d fallen facedown on the wire?)
I know my parents talked to the kid’s father, and I know that when I got back from the hospital the fort in the fields had been torn down. There was nothing left of it but broken cinderblocks.
I never saw the kid again.
TW: violence, sharp objects, blood.
I talked to him once.
There’s a boy who lives in a house across the fields two weekends out of every month. Your parents don’t want you to play with him. “He’s disturbed,” your dad says. “Got kicked out of a few schools. Lighting fires, getting in fights, that kind of thing. You just be good and keep away from him.”
But the kid builds a fort out of scavenged cinderblocks and scrap wood in the wheatgrass between your house and his, and you think this is intensely cool. You go to him in his fort, and you find him sweaty and older than you by a couple years, his hair matted in dark curls at his temples. It’s high summer and he’s wearing boots almost up to his knees, buckles polished bright. He’s got on a green jacket and a funny hat. You stand in the doorway of his fortress and ask him what he’s supposed to be. He looks at you under the lank of his hair. He says, “I’m a soldier, you little dumbass. What else?”
“You look like a dweeb.”
He stands up. The milk crate he was sitting on before clatters backward, and he looms over you. You stare peaceably up into his face. When he breathes down on you he smells like sweat and chocolate, and his hand comes out, but instead of hitting you he pokes you hard in the chest. You don’t have boobs yet, so it doesn’t hurt. “You look like a dweeb,” he replies. All the air wheezes out of him in a sigh. He heaves himself down again. After a pause, you step into the fort and close the door behind you, and you sit down with him. He shifts over a little to make room.
Weeks pass and the two of you see lots of each other, but you aren’t exactly friends. There’s lots of reasons why not. He’s almost a teenager, first off. You’re nine or ten, still firmly wedged in “little girl” status, and he tells you one day when you try to follow him home for lunch that his daddy will beat him black if he ever catches him playing with you. “He’ll think I’m a sissy,” the kid says. “I ain’t no sissy.”
Likewise you can’t take him to your house. Your parents won’t beat you—they don’t beat you period, you don’t even know what that means—but they won’t let you see him again either if they find out you’re talking to him in the first place, and he’s the only person nearby your age who can or will have anything to do with you. He talks to himself almost constantly in a low mumble under his breath—he chews on his lips, darts his eyes around, walks in careful crouches through the head-high grass around his fort. He has more knives than you have digits. Buck knives, pocketknives, an itty-bitty weird blunt blade he keeps in his boot. Disturbed, your dad said, but you live in the middle of nowhere. Your scant neighbors either don’t have kids or the kids snub you, call you names, flip you the finger. Your options are limited and you like the boy despite yourself. You think maybe he likes you too, a little, because on the hottest evenings he brings a clear mason jar out into the fields and helps you fill it with fireflies, his huge hard hands gentle under yours.
You trust him.
mitaukano asked: So I'm curious and I know I probably missed a cool personal story post in the past about this but what got you into martial arts? Are you more into Japanese, Chinese, South east Asian, Brazillian, etc? I'm highly curious after Yamino posted that gun show.
There’s no cool story to this one, really! I got into martial arts because I was attacked as a child and, following that, my family wanted me to be able to defend myself (if the occasion ever rose again wherein they couldn’t defend me). I’m a high-ranking black belt in Shotokan karate, and I’m schooled in several of its similar “sister” disciplines and branches.