New Story in Progress!

I’ve got a good start to this new short story I’m working on… what do you think so far? :)

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Ethel March woke up on the morning of November twenty-first feeling weightless.  This was especially significant because Ethel March weighed in at about three-hundred-ninety pounds on a good day.  She didn’t know the exact number, of course, because the last time she’d stepped on a scale had been thirty years and two hundred pounds ago.  And she hadn’t looked at herself in a mirror, except to get something out of her eye, since before she’d retired from the post office in the late nineties.  But Ethel did know that she normally felt groggy and stiff and extra heavy in the mornings, particularly when, like today, she’d fallen asleep in front of the television slumped sideways in her worn, leather recliner.

This morning, however, instead of blearily opening her crusty eyes and licking her parched lips and rubbing her sore neck and peeling her clammy skin from the sticky leather and arduously hoisting herself from the sunken seat cushion, Ethel March found herself standing in the middle of her cluttered den with no memory of how she’d gotten there.

Actually, the term standing didn’t quite fit the situation.  For when Ethel looked down toward her swollen feet, she became confused by the fact that they weren’t below her.  Nor were her legs.  She made to raise a pudgy hand to her mouth in a gasp of shock, but she didn’t have a hand either.  Or, it seemed, a mouth.  For all Ethel knew in that moment, she was a pair of eyeballs floating in midair.  She turned slowly to face her recliner, or rather imagined turning, afraid of what she might find there.  But the moment she saw it, she felt strangely at ease.

There, in the oversized chair, the head tilted onto a shoulder at a dramatic angle, the mouth hanging so far open a finch could nest inside it, was Ethel March’s obviously dead body.  A tiny pile of ashes sat on the arm of the chair below the cigarette butt dangling limply between two singed fingers, and Ethel was glad the house hadn’t burned down.  Although she would realize later that she very much would have preferred a house fire.  At least then, someone would have noticed her.

Copyright © 2016 by Angie Tonucci.

1938

Today I thought I’d share a very short piece I wrote as a writing exercise back in 2008. I know it’s kind of cheating my “write something every day” rule to post something I didn’t actually write today. But hey, I’m writing this paragraph. :) Anyway, as writers, we should exercise our creativity muscles as often as possible! I forget that sometimes, even when I’m stuck and can’t think of anything to write. I mean, I have like five writing prompt books, including a couple I made myself. Plus the entire internet. I have no excuse to say I can’t think of anything to write! The other really cool thing about practicing, even when I know I’m not necessarily writing “publishable” material, is that I can go back and look at old, unedited stuff and see how my writing has improved. The following piece, for example, is the first and only draft. I’m literally copy/pasting it here with no edits, which is extremely difficult for a professional editor to do, because I can see at least a dozen ways to make it better! But it’s nice that, after all these years of practice, I have actually become a better writer. Here’s to another seven years of not giving up on my dream. :)

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“1938”

Back in 1938, before train stations became airports and before hard whiskey became mojitos, people were different. Before the work day averaged twelve hours and before roads took up more space than forests and before children killed other children for the sheer feel of power coursing through their trigger fingers, people were better. Most people anyway. Now days the only good you see in people is when they’re trying to make up for all the everyday badness of themselves. There are only a few truly good people who take on the burden of repairing the disasters of others.

In 1938, I was an eleven-year-old Hispanic boy living in southern California. I’d heard tales of a war that seemed to only have just ended and tales of a depression so great some people hadn’t made it through. Rumors of a new war circulated, but what difference did it make to me? I was eleven, and as far as I knew, eleven and the few years before it were the only ages that existed.

Eleven and fearless. I didn’t know I really had nothing to fear in 1938. I could never have guessed I’d fear more now as an 81-year-old man than I did walking home down dark alleys and across abandoned railway tracks at night as a little boy.

As children we think we’re as grown-up as we’re gonna get. Our young brains can’t imagine the maturity we will gain every new year of our lives. The dramas we face as kids are as important to us then as impending battle is to an army general. Our pleasures as precious and wonderful as a bride’s wedding day is to her and her groom. The summer day my mother found an extra dime in my father’s trouser pocket and gave it to me for a soda at the drug store was the greatest day of my life to that point.

In 1938, before lasers ruled cosmetics and before the American dream was built on credit, I was eleven, and things were different, and things were better, and I didn’t have a worry in the world except which flavor of ice cream soda I should choose.

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Copyright © 2008 by Angie Tonucci

“Forty-Three Grandparents” E-Book Available for Purchase!

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Whenever anyone asks 13-year-old Kayla Green about her family, she creates elaborate stories. Other than temporary foster families and group homes, she’s never had a family who was committed to keeping her and loving her forever. But when a mysterious visitor arrives to meet her, Kayla can hope, for the first time in her life, that she won’t have to make up stories anymore. (30 Pages / Ages 10+)

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EXCERPT

“Somewhere among two group homes and four overcrowded foster families, I’d had seven birthdays. On my most recent one, only a month ago, my last foster mom, Mrs. Carol, had given me a card with five dollars inside and said she hoped I was used to foster homes because nobody would adopt a teenager. A week later Mr. Carol had accepted a new job in Louisiana, and I’d packed my meager belongings into my tattered red backpack to enter group home number three.

The Harry S. Truman Home for Juveniles of Clark County wasn’t so bad. They had especially good pizza on Wednesdays. Most of the other kids were nice enough to a plain-looking, blond-haired girl who stayed out of everybody’s way. School was within walking distance. That was good now that it was springtime. I didn’t even mind the rainy days. Somehow I always felt cleaner after walking to school in the rain.
One thing I noticed about being thirteen was that all your teachers accused you of having an attitude all the time. If I accidentally rolled my eyes or made a funny face I needed to “watch the attitude.” I wasn’t even sure what that meant. But if I raised my eyebrows in confusion, I was sent to detention. God forbid I should sigh in frustration at being misunderstood. I’d be suspended.

At least by thirteen I was getting used to puberty. I had a year-and-a-half of menstruation under my belt, no pun intended. I had moved out of training bras and into women’s (even if they were still only an A-cup). I remembered to wear deodorant every day. Okay, almost every day. I even occasionally managed to put mascara on without stabbing myself in the eye. Not that mascara would do much to make my face look less fat or my hair less stringy or my chin less pimply. I said I was getting used to puberty, not that I liked it.

For a month, Mrs. Carol’s words had rolled around in my head. When I looked at myself in the locker-room mirror after gym class that Friday afternoon in April, I knew she’d been right. I’d better get used to belonging to the state of Missouri because I was never going to belong to anyone else. President Truman could be my dad. The Home’s Director, Mrs. Smith-Jeffries, my mom. Let the other kids get jerked around in foster homes. I was done moving.”

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