Happy Valentine’s Day & Hats Off to Women’s Horror Month

Roses from Ishmael

Ishmael thought the flowers would be a nice touch. Roses were her favorite, red roses to be exact. These were slightly black around the edges and void of fragrance, but they were roses nonetheless.

“You’re not old enough to remember when roses had a smell are you?” he asked the cashier as he handed her a twenty dollar bill.

“No sir, I guess not.” She replied handing him a rumpled one along with thirteen cents in change.

“I bet you’re not even old enough to buy beer.” He said tucking the flowers under his arm. The young woman gave a weary smirk and he shoved the change into his coat pocket. “I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you’re old enough to sell it.” Ishmael yanked the eighteen pack of Bud Light from the counter and strolled to his truck.

Just outside of the city limits he reached across the seat and twisted the first cap off of a tepid bottle. The clanking of the glass was comforting and the warm beer eased the queasiness in his stomach. He downshifted and let the black Chevy pull itself along the narrow country lane as he sipped the Bud and drank in the scenery.

The summer heat had taken a toll on the coastal Bermuda that waved its browned tops as he drove past. Ishmael nodded and gestured back, feeling a kinship. But relief was on the way, the weatherman said as much when he interrupted the radio host to announce tornado warnings in effect until eight o’clock this evening.

As he pulled into the drive he sucked the last bit of suds from the third bottle, took a deep breath and sighed.

Her car was parked in the usual place. He felt hopeful, nervously adjusting the flowers and dusting the fallen petals to the floorboard before popping a wintergreen disc into his mouth.

The mint clung to his cheek like paste as he gagged; the stench of evergreen caused him to heave with panic. A mouth full of juniper berries was an unpleasant memory to say the least.

His tongue swept his mouth in search of spit. After several frantic jabs his lips gathered to form weak whistle and he forced the disk from his mouth. The candy landed with indifference and Ishmael kicked at the dusty drive covering it and his boot in a fine white powder.

“Honey I’m home.” He called from the kitchen. “Arianna? Sweetheart? Are you here?” he spoke gently as he made is way toward the guest bedroom.

The squishing of his boots on wet carpet went unnoticed, much like her silent cries.

“You’re in there aren’t you?” He asked pressing his hand to door. “Speak to me, please?” Ishmael ran his fingers across the buckled paint and continued, “Ari- I’m sorry. You have to believe I never meant to hurt you. You believe me don’t you?”

Ishmael’s statement was honest but how could she believe him? He knew how she loved her perfect house; how hard she had worked to make the quaint space a home. He knew too that it was him she loved, only him but jealousy blinded him to the fact.

“I was only trying to make a point… a stupid point I know but I never struck the match Arianna. It was an accident. Can you forgive me?”

A sharp snap came from the other side of the door and his heart dropped. He made his way back to the kitchen and tossed the roses into Tuesday’s dishwater.

How many Tuesdays had passed? Her silence set a new record. She had never shunned him so long and the guilt that urged him to buy the flowers – the same remorse he felt every time he lost his temper was quickly being replaced by irritation; an all too familiar annoyance building in the pit of his stomach. It would simmer there until it bubbled over and rumbled through his empty gut, lapping against raw nerves, reviving memories of every rejection and hurt feeling he had ever known.

Ishmael felt the heat rise in his face and throb in his ears as he gripped the counter to steady his frame. Trembling he strained to recall what the therapist had taught him. It was not working. The only happy thoughts he owned were of her and they had been supplanted by unbearable memoirs, images of unforgiving eyes. Her eyes once bright and smiling now flamed and pierced him with accusations. The same eyes that gave him comfort now cut him to the bone. She had a way of doing that – shaming a man without a word and shame was a thing he hated.

He had been ashamed for as long as he could remember. Even as a small boy, before he had ever heard the word or perceived its definition – he felt it. He ate shame for breakfast and bathed in it before going to bed each night. He knelt on it as he said his prayers and iced his beer in it and sometimes he hid it in a bundle of flowers. Yes shame was his unfaltering companion, the one sure thing he could count on.

Jutting his face toward the heavens he prayed and waited for an answer.

Oblivious to the first drops that landed Ishmael continued to pray. As the rain drenched his upturned face, mingling with his tears he steadied his breath and waited for an answer, an absolution that refused to come. Instead the wind swirled in the open roof above him showering his blistered face with twigs and scorched bits of fiberglass, a foul reminder of things that could not be undone.

“Am I beyond forgiveness?” He pleaded toward the thundering sky. “Will you always be angry with me?”

Ishmael tried to stoop amongst the debris, to kneel if for no other reason than sheer exhaustion but the charred drywall held his fists.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” he croaked, his throat too dry to scream

“Damn you Arianna!” He cursed through cracked lips, unable to summon any moisture, unable to summon anything. Not so much as a heave could he muster from the memory of juniper on an elementary playground. He would now welcome the kicks of a bully in canvas sneakers, the scratching of coarse pungent needles against his face and the bitterness of their berries.

Ishmael heard the machines approaching; he could hear the men talking just prior to the wall landing. They used words like ‘total loss’, ‘unsalvageable’ and ‘condemned’. Words he had come to terms with, things no amount of roses in the world could fix.

He laid his head against the sooty timber that permanently fixed him and asked once again, “Arianna? Ari-honey… are you here?” and again she refused to answer.

Happy Valentines Day to you all and hats off to the women who dare to write horror.

1 and a 2 and a 3 … A Pilgrim’s Prayer [Again] & Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

Once upon a time a long, a long time ago (before Black Friday), Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest and a time to give thanks.

The early pilgrims did not have the conveniences we enjoy today, yet somehow they survived. (I know, it’s CRaZy, right?!)

 I didn’t really know any of those pilgrims but I did see a John Wayne movie once. John knew a pilgrim when he saw one. He seemed to know a lot of pilgrims, but that was a long time ago too.

I propose we are all pilgrims, each one of us on a journey of sorts; our own personal pilgrimage.

Aren’t we all looking for something? Be it a quest for self-confirmation, a truth, a cure, enrichment, enlightenment, comfort, a friend, a lover, a job, a meal, or a place to lay our weary head at the end of another long day.

I believe life is a journey, or at least it should be. It would be terrible to think we were just flailing through this experience, killing time on this giant floating gumball, while waiting for the next Black Friday specials.

I believe we all have one destination, though we travel many different roads and I trust that we have choices.


Hopefully we will choose well. On the occasion we take a wrong turn [and we will] I pray we have enough sense and humility to stop and seek direction, to reassess our route and to be considerate in our voyage.

So here’s wishing all of you pilgrims a Happy Thanksgiving and may we all, whatever road we’re on, take time to look ahead, pause, and meditate on the many things we have to be grateful for, put aside our grievances and give thanks.

My personal prayer: I pray our good seeds of hope, humility, toil and courage produce abundantly; that love and kindness grow wild like the weeds of early spring – fruitful and undeterred. And your harvest be rich with wisdom and discernment.


👋

Let’s play a game… #GameOn #WinMoney #PlayFree #VideoStar

Let’s play a game.
This #justforfun video on FaceBook sparked some debate over The Real Janna Hill. Some say I am an imposter. Maybe I am 😉
Post a video clip IN THE FACEBOOK COMMENTS SECTION below my hot mess crazy recording declaring YOU are The Real Janna and amuse me. e.g .  “I am the real Janna Hill….”
If you have trouble posting on the Facebook page  get a friend to help or send me your video direct and I will see that it gets posted .
I believe in #GenderEquality so men — feel free to have a go at it.

There is no limit on entries.

Have fun. 😀
Oh and [drum roll] The video with the most likes/reactions wins a $50 gift card of your choice.  Encourage your friends to like your video. Game ends May 31st 2018

P.S. Use #TheRealJannaHill for easy tracking.

#GameOn #WinMoney #PlayFree #VideoStar

Dissing or Discussing Poetry (Thoughtful Thursday)

We are still two months away from NPM and poetry discussions are abuzz.  I love it!

I’m not even upset that one “genre” is dissing the other – I am just happy poetry is being discussed.

I clicked on a link/interview that was shared with a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and then BOOM I was knee deep in reading, searching and lurking a dozen other sites.

I [honestly] never considered a genre when writing poetry and probably couldn’t categorize if my life depended on it.  But [speaking of dissing] I’ll share Thoughts on Writing from Getting Me Back.

Except from Getting Me Back (The Voices Within)

Published May 17 2017


Thoughts on Writing  (The Requirements of an Author)

Desire: A congenital need to tell the story.

Determination: It is not enough to walk a couple of blocks or run five miles on a treadmill, come prepared to hike the Himalayas and explore the abyss.

An exoskeleton: A thick skin will not suffice — no indeed. Colleagues and critics are apt in the sadistic art of shaving and burning the thickest of flesh; their tireless wheel of pumice leaving the toughest callouses raw and bleeding. They will thin your skin; get beneath it and prove your vulnerabilities. Like a flesh eating bacteria they will consume you — kill you if you let them.

A poker face: Never let them see you sweat.

Gratitude: Because no one owes you anything!

Grace: For the rise and the inevitable fall.

Pills and booze and smoke: Because it is a hard and hateful world and you are not a god-damned ant.

 

Is it Enough to Just Show Up?

Is it Enough to Just Show Up?

We all need to do a little soul searching from time to time but you should do a little self-searching too.
Don’t just google yourself.

Sure Google is probably the most widely used search engine in the USA but it is not the only one.

Take a swing at Bing and Ask yourself; Yahoo you and waddle over to DuckDuckGo.
Hopefully you are showing up somewhere on the first page of each search provider.

I have to admit I was quite happy to see that Janna Hill (that’s me) was easily discoverable and was going to talk more about discoverability until the husband’s grumbling caught my attention. You see, he was helping by browsing “images”.
So the focus veered off track.

train-wreck
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Hmm.” He said as he shook his head, “Um-um-um. This is not good.”
I spun around and nearly broke my neck, tripped over a chair getting up and I’m sure I had an arrhythmia too.

“You took those ridiculous pictures!” I griped as I hobbled closer. “And now you’ve made me break my foot!”

Sometimes I think the husband is trying to rain on my parade and wreck my crazy train.
“Oh, it’ll be okay.” He grinned at the feet he has no sympathy for before he assumed a more serious tone, “Have you ever heard of Dogpile?”

“Nope — never heard of`em.” I truly wanted to reply with a festering, “Yes. I stepped in something like that when I married you” but I didn’t because: A. that is not true, and B. I noticed some of the images were… well they weren’t bad but…
Example: this post from 2015, Winter Makes Me CRaZy also makes me look crazy. It (and a few other things we found in searching Janna Hill) left me pondering…

I had to ask myself, “Self, is it enough to just show up on the first page of these search engines? Should you reconsider the books/material you have published as well as the images that pop up on page 1? Maybe clean up your act?”
And then I answered myself as honestly as I could, “Self – suck it up. Heck yeah it’s enough! It’s not an arrest record or nude photos so go with it.”

Whoo-whoo all aboard! Even the husband concurred.

Crazy Train
After all, I am just living out loud and flinging cake against the wall.

  • This should not be construed as advice to be reckless with your career or your future but to hopefully find you are present in your career and future.
  • Photos compliments of Pixabay.com